« Freakonomics Radio

19. Waiter, There’s a Physicist in My Soup! (Part 1)

2011-01-26 | 🔗
The "molecular gastronomy" movement -- which gets a bump in visibility next month with the publication of the mammoth cookbook "Modernist Cuisine" -- is all about bringing more science into the kitchen. In many ways, it's the opposite of the "slow food" movement. In this episode, you'll hear chieftains from the two camps square off: Alice Waters for the slow foodies and Nathan Myhrvold for the mad scientists. Bon appetit!
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This podcast dynamically inserts audio advertisements of varying lengths for each download. As a result, the transcription time indexes may be inaccurate.
Thanks to Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch, ass, pennsylvanians or scratching their way to fine and with new every month, big top rises and second chance, drawings, excitements, always in order so try, Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch offer your ticket to fund and get yours. Did I keep on scratch? It must be eighteen or older. Please pay responsibly benefits older pennsylvanians every day, if you like to listen to for economic radio without ads the police. Do that is sticker premium five dollars a month and you can get a free month trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that sticker premium: dot, com, promo code, freak thanks Would you have for dinner last night, pastor with
mushroom, sauce, grilled cheese, sandwiches, artichokes and cartoons and capers had left overs. I would call a that mire of lemon fennel treat got hot dog unstring. So would you have for dinner last night and more important? Why Do you spend a lot of time thinking about what makes it to your plea and how it got that way? How this amazing collaboration of agriculture in economics and politics since science, lots and lots of science gets roughly. Ten billion of us FED every day. This episode, you'll, hear from some people spend nearly all their time. Thinking about that, so filling reserving it up into courses go ahead. Grab your fork, we're gonna start you off with the cook book and all cookbooks
from a w on Y see an american public media. This is Reaganomics radio, today waiter, but there's a physicist to myself. Here's your house Stevens Upper, raise your hand if you really like to eat meat to what's not like food is awesome. If even fun hearing people talk about food, something timeless really pick no walnuts off a tree and fall cracking them open and eating. So it was a very a you suck air which allows you to dry food at low temperature. First thing Monday, called the fishermen and see where we are Water is a polar substance,
What that means is the charge is not evenly distributed as another way to say they stick together, thinking about route vegetables in in the fall and winter. I am seeking nuts tried nuts berries seeking a bag Chancellor Sera thinking about tried beans. Greens, like lentils, peace and inappropriate to perfect medium rare. Then you Duncan liquid nitrogen freezes. The outside, then we fry, it would probably be prior or use John, I malice voters. I'm the owner of shape pennies restaurant in Berkeley. California, and I M also found where the Shape Homies Foundation
Ok! Well, I'm Nathan, your vote, and I am both an inventor cookbook, Arthur I trained as a physicist. I work with Stephen hawking Quantum field theory incur space time and the origin of the universe. Alice waters is the guy the mother of the slow food movement, locally sourced back to nature feeding frenzy, that's epitomised by her restaurant shape. Unease in Berkeley, California Waters might be the person most responsible for turning or gigantic into a household word for leading the charge to eat. Slow food, simple food, real food Nathan merely old is the former chief technology officer Microsoft. He graduated from high school at fourteen. Has Phd by the time he was twenty three now is in his early fifties, and these become a bit of a Polly math he's an accomplished nature, photographer mountain climber. He collects rare books and rocket. Genes. After leaving Microsoft, he cofounded
invention, company called intellectual ventures outside of Seattle and Bellevue Washington, the inventors on his staff are trying to come up with a better version nuclear power a better way to perform brain surgery, the trying to stop hurricanes and global warming, We have a whole diversity of of projects and people right beside I'd the the kitchen is our in secondary Are we grow mosquitos and we mosquitoes because we have a number of anti malaria projects and You have no your enemy. so so we grow malarial mosquitos and literally right beside the kitchen, we grow thousands of mosquitos so We can test different ways to kill them, attract them repel them. our single most dramatic way of doing it is device, the spots mosquitoes in the air and shoots them the sky would laser beams and
That sounds like something from an Austin Powers movie, but by God it works that kitchen miracle keeps mentioning. It your standard, little office, kitchen microwave, a fridge, hotly An miracle doesn't think about cooking. Where you are, I do cooking is an example of applied physics because, of course, heat applying heat to food is the key technique and cooking. Obviously those things that you serve cold, cook, but the single biggest technique and cooking is applying heat and the physics of heat, conduction, weather or heat radiation and convection. Those are very import. To cooking chemistry is also important, because there are lots of different chemical reactions I meet browns, for example, resurrection called the my art reaction first described in the nineteenth century by a french physician. That's what makes meet brown
there. But there is also carmelites reactions. That's what makes colonel the wonderful colored is most of the time, by the way, a menu her it says, carmelites used. They really Meyer dies, but it doesn't sound is good South, so many uses capitalized Nathan, mere bold is part of a movement. Range: fascinating, growing movement known as molecular gastronomy. He traces its roots to the midnight teenagers when there were a hand predicted. A guy named for Andrea in Spain started experimenting with techniques that were, pushed the envelope of what was possible in food. These chefs brought lot of science into the kitchen. They use the tools of chemistry, physics, even engineering, to build new textures new sensations to do things. You might not have thought possible or advisable with food to today.
In sum the most expensive restaurants in the world. They produce. Some of the most sought after dishes maybe like to start with the weight beat soup with liquid nitrogen frozen crab, That's it, then. Maybe I'll move onto the basin pan seared with bacon bits tapioca starch, alongside a d treated leak, ring with a goat, cheese sphere and chile, powder unformed, carrot juice and for dessert, maybe you'd like to smoke our virtual chocolate king from night for his the actual ventures, kitchen mere vulgar created. Some chefs, who appreciated molecular gastronomy as much as heated who looked at the kitchen as a place to experiment, have fun were you cut up watermelon in a meat, slicer and then vacuum infused start?
to itself so that you can deep fry yourself. Some watermelon potato chips were you'd, considered the cheeseburger, the humble cheeseburger, a piece of food that worthy of a scientific overhaul. It you'll probably hamburger if you'd like to of the meat cooked perfectly list. I'd like it, medium rare, but jewels the outside to be brown and crusty, and it's very hard to get the outside brown crusty without having a fairly thick layer of sort of a grayish over cooked meat in there, You ve ever been into a hamburger. Looked at it, you'll see prickly a thin. hamburgers only very tiny amount. That's actually medium rare turns out. There is a way to solve that and ultimate hamburger? Is you take the hamburger you cook it surveyed Sylvie? That means under vacuum, when you seal food in a place bag and cook it very slowly in a warm water bath. Are you not
back himself use potent zip block bag of so that its not compressed the trends of the compression, the vacuum. We think it's the texture, so then you could get a perfect medium rare. Then you Duncan, liquid nitrogen would freezes the outside. Then we deep fry it with partner be prior or use a torch on it. A blow and either one will give you these incredible, crusty outside, but because you put in liquid nitrogen that prevents it from over cooking, see that perfect, medium, rare hamburger. Should make it clear here that Nathan, mere bold hasn't been doing all this experimental cooking just for kicks or to feed the envy. he on his staff. He is about to publish a book, a combination, cookbook encyclopedia and science text called modernist cuisine. It was produced by team of about three dozen people shafts raiders editors photographers? It covers ever
thing from microbiology in the kitchen to simple explanation of heat and water, which marvelled notes is the single most important relationship to understand when you standing over stove well, it is a encyclopaedic treatment of the science of cooking. How cooking really works and describes mom cooking techniques. It involved the course of the last twenty years. It has many volumes, many pages so give us a give us. Some of the vital seller sticks six volumes. Twenty four hundred pages. Thirty five hundred color photographs sixteen hundred recipes. My favorite statistic is: if you took the can you put it all in one line? Just at the ten point, size you'll be six miles long talk about the sum of the physical acts involved, in making the book so we're looking at a photograph here on your screen, traditional cooking and it seems to show if I can
without knowing a cross section of a pot with something that little hammy in perhaps its uppercross a poor growth. Ok- and it looks as though there fire embers coal, colon grass above and below so some kind of denial of any its inner cast iron data, but we're looking into the pot as though we have three division. It's a cut, it's a describe. How do you make that? So that was one of the key concepts? in the book was that we want to show people what happens inside the pot inside the microwave ovens inside whatever thing there cooking in, and so we cut alot of parts in hand, We got a whole microwave ovens in half, we even cut a five thousand dollar professional steam oven in half. In order to show people what processes are going on during the cooking process.
Presumably there's not a lotta resale ANA happened right. We have to have a better more than a mere Volta self publishing the book in early March. The list brace is six hundred and twenty five dollars. You can get it for little lesson, Amazon. If you randomly flip through the six volumes, you come upon some interesting things like an entire chapter on phone. with cream is, of course a farm. So is moraine. Bread is a foam. Think of it that way, but bread is what we classifies set foam gas in the bread which created either by baking powder or by yeast form. Adele, and then we have in the oven to set the starches and proteins so a tremendous amount of cooking is about forms. We want explained how do phones actually work
I mean I laughed aloud- they may be some foamed baked potato and it tastes like baked potato Butter and bacon bits in Chinese and everything in there, but it was foam and I took a bite of it. I just lit up. I can't believe how good it was. That's Pablo Homan he's a renowned computer hacker who now works as an inventor intellectual ventures but home and isn't part of the team that produce the cookbook. My projects have been worked on. A brain surgery tool were trying to make helical needles that could spiral into the brain and excess regions. The brain you can't get to a straight tools have worked on a system. First, suppressing hurricanes last year tried to cure cancer which didn't work out, but for the past
For years, Homan did said really close to the intellectual ventures kitchen. That kitchen is pretty remarkable in that you know. Unlike your kitchen, they have all kinds of amazing tools. They have a droll press in a band saw in the kitchen. but they also have a rotary, evaporate a arena and earned centrifuge of pharmaceutical freeze, dried and what they do is they make these. really elaborate recipes and some of their recipes averages like fifteen pages or something and I'll, spend like two weeks making something the size of a rape, which is amazing. I mean they can really do some amazing stuff in and then they feed me quite often, and I have no idea what I'm eating. You know. It's always some bizarre thing where they took an entire moose and still it into the dough coffee, Benin, infused with whipped cream. I turn up
coming up Alice WAR, This tells us why she doesn't like Nathan, miracles, cooking and she describes the first big MAC ever It was also the last that no.
from W and Y, see an american public media. This is for economics, radio. Here's, your host, Stephen Governor, move, a miracle point so that about two thirds of the recipes in his twenty four hundred page cookbook modernist cuisine. Can we made an irregular kitchen as long as you ve got? adventurous spirit and dont mind ordering some ingredients online. You should, however, be prepared for instructions. Lake drop, frozen cherries, fears into hot sodium algae bat or blend in calcium, who couldn't alacrity and anthem, come to fully disperse, and if you're, making gel cubes
concentrated fruit, make sure you know the acidity level. So you'll know whether to use sodium vex him at the first faint or metal cellulose E4 M is your selling agent sounds fund. Does not until you one person who doesn't think it's fun Alice waters. I asked her what she thinks of molecular gastronomy. I can't say that at that I I care not about. I can't say that and tell me why, because I'm I'm I'm trying to get back to a kind of a tasty food What it is and molecular gastronomy is trying to accomplish what, in your view,
I view it's too, you know and make it into something you can match. Surprise. You now is not to say that I haven't been delightfully surprised it's not instead, I I I am so hungry. Thanks to Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch, offs, pennsylvanians or scratching their way to fine and with new every month, big top rises and second chance, drawings, excitements, always in order. So try Pennsylvania, lottery, scratch offer your ticket to fund and get yours. Did I keep on scratch? It must be eighteen or older. Please pay responsibly benefits older pennsylvanians every day. For economics radios brought to you by square? If you run a business oh, how important it is to have a healthy cashflow. That's why we
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free in the wondering happened at the taste of the real that I am just not able to get into that which doesn't he'll real. To me, it's a kind of scientific experiment, and I think there are a good sign, and you know crazy, crazies, crazy old scientists. can be very amusing. But it's more like a museum to me, it's not a kind of way of eating that there that we need to really live on this planet together, and I'm just curious. I have to ask him: have you ever eaten a big MAC? Let's say I did Timex
I did. I went to Kansas. I was on the way to a board meeting at the landed students. Learn a Kansas and I came in on a plane and haven't eaten, and I thought I should get a little bite some phase before I went to the meeting and I then I decided I would do this little experiment and went in the tunnel structure in and out in five minutes and How was it a well it from me? It didn't it. Wasn't it wasn t They were immune with soft bread and salty french fries and I mean really objectively, it was kind of nondescript, so Alice
he doesn't like big macs at all and she thinks people Nathan Mirror of old are mad scientists. Their pyrotechnics might be entertaining if you didn't have something better to do. If you didn't em, maybe an open hearth. We can fry a free range eggs and a long handled middle spoon. If it over salad of chives and tomatoes, along with some organic bread, Alice Waters is idea of advancing? The way we eat is to reconnect with the past not only how our food is prepared, but how its grown or raised or caught what she's after above all, is simplicity. Nathan miracle, for his part, loves shape. Niece waters is restaurant, but he also loves complexity and he loves bringing science into the kitchen because he says it's already: there won't wake her, not physics happens. Okay, so
it turns out when you heat a piece of meat, there's a set of physical principles that are at work, wishing doesn't make the food hot? It's the way more. Those bump into each other that makes at heart, and if you can- I understand that in a reasonable way. I think it informs how you do cooking now. Is it possible to cocoa donors and of course it is and for people that wanted just in a wrote way repeat exactly what they were told to do without understanding. Why works? I go for it. You dont, you don't need me if all you want to do is repeat the recipes of asked, and you have no curiosity ass to how or why it works. then you don't need to have this physical understanding Amelia they develop Why does it ruin? The experience to understand how and why it works, and you know one you drive over a bridge, don't you
the civil engineer knows why bridges stand up, you know or You go up to the world floor of a building here. Don't you hope all those laws but below us we're designed by a guy who knows how, building stand up yeah, I think the informing people, whether its shafts or its food ease or it's the average person informing them some of the ways that stuff actually works? I dont see how that is a a problematic notion: Nathan,
old and Alice waters both have an obvious passion for the future of food, but radically different ways to realise that vision. Mere of old. Has a pharmaceutical freeze drier that retails for fifty thousand dollars waters isn't even on a microwave, but the amazing thing is at her. Ideas have gained so much ground a few decades ago. The organic food movement was fringe. At best. Now the USDA approves organic foods to be sold it. Homework, but what about mere folds experimental approach is supercharged your dinner with ingredients that are centrifuge that sixty thousand r p m really worthwhile. Cutting a micro. Even half is good for grins, but is that all is mere vote. Six hundred dollar cookbook just a new toy for the test, the crowd or is there a chance that all his scientific inquiry, my trickled down to you and me or better yet to the hunt?
the millions of people who could care less about molecular gastronomy, because there too busy trying to scrounge at the bowl of rice or their kids don't go to bed hungry. the fact is, it is already a lot more science in your kitchen in your food than you might think, but how much is too much? That's a question: will try to answer in part to this episode? Will look at the history of food science? Did you know there was a napoleonic prize that led to a food breakthrough, it's in your kitchen right now and will travel from France to a tomato in Morristown Indiana, with a story about the invention that you probably benefited from just this morning, when you had breakfast but company, Tropicana came to my office and said: do you think it'll work for our institution with my fingers crossed I said. Well, I think so
so we actually chains ceteris industry with the not from concentrate on shoes. So we look at the history of science, but will also Pierre into the food for you, because, as far as we ve come, there are still problems. Here's Pablo home again the hackers earned inventor who works in intellectual ventures way. We eat is wildly inefficient minuses about fifty percent of the food that we generate. Industrially doesn't get consumed. Half of it gives consumed bike in on a clerk basis, half of it gets consumed. The other half goes in the damp one way or another right. Every grocery store in America is throwing out two thousand pounds a week and expired food half of the produce- and I mean all this stuff is going on in the dumpster restaurants.
well. So that's the problem as home and sees it. What we want to know is, does he have any solutions? I start looking at ways to improve all that, partly because being selfish American, I just wanted to faster, cheaper away to eat that was higher quality, better nutrition, better flavour and all that I cannot wait for you to hear what he came up with. If you, think I was waters, didn't like a big MAC. Well, she's not, like this idea either. Not one bit, will tell you all about it in part, two of waiter, there's a physicist in my suit for now on equity and what you're fired? Here's that central freakin. Ex radio is a co production of W and Y see american public media and Dublin productions
confine more audio it for economics, radio, dot com, and, if you, to read more about the hidden side of everything go to Freak atomic stock com.
Transcript generated on 2021-03-19.