What's for Lunch?
A good cook is an artist. Some of us cook (when we have to cook) by closely following the recipe, not changing anything. Others cook with a sense of experimentation – “let’s try this and see what happens (often followed by a call to the local pizza place when the experiment didn’t work out). The really good cook knows the basic recipe, but also knows how to tweak things for a better result.
News You Can Use
- “Cookbook chemistry” is a term often used to describe those laboratories (more often than not used in high school or college freshman chemistry classes) when the student simply follows the directions and makes notes on the end result. There is little experimental design involved and the outcomes can usually be predicted ahead of time. The experiment is often written up in the form of a recipe, with the ingredients and amounts listed first, followed by the “recipe” for the process.
- There is also another aspect of “cookbook chemistry” – actual cookbooks that teach some chemistry. One such book advertises that you will not need liquid nitrogen for these recipes and explains how adding fat to your eggs will create the perfect omelet. Others go into the chemical processes in detail, showing that cooking is basically chemistry. The fundamental processes of cooking are analyzed and pertinent chemical reactions are described and explained.
- One convenience of cooking is that the recipes are given in easily manageable units. We don’t get a recipe that calls for 0.25 moles of eggs and
1×1021particles of sugar. We get cups for solids and liquids, and a few weights for some items such as meat. There is no need to do the conversions. That’s a good thing – what would 0.25 moles of eggs really be?
- Watch a video about the chemistry of cooking at the link below:
Show What You Know
Use the links below to learn more about chemistry and cooking. Then answer the following questions.
- At the Fat Duck, what is used to prepare mousse?
- Why should asparagus be cooked in fat and not boiled?
- What is a problem with consuming raw meat, fish, and eggs?
- What is the metric equivalent of one tablespoon?
- How many ounces are in 100 mL?