What is molecular gastronomy?


Molecular gastronomy is a field that explores the science behind the processes of cooking. It delves into the chemical and physical transformations that occur in food when it is cooked. A prominent reaction in the culinary world, discussed in relation to molecular gastronomy, is the Maillard reaction. This reaction involves the browning of food when heated, which enhances its flavor by creating new and complex flavor compounds. For example, when you cook a steak or roast asparagus, the same fundamental chemical changes occur, leading to the brown crust and enhanced flavors associated with well-cooked food. This reaction is not just a simple change; it involves a complex cascade of chemical transformations, which vary slightly depending on the ingredients being cooked, but consistently result in the development of richer and more complex flavors 1.

Culinary Chemistry Insights

Kenji and Sean delve into the Maillard reaction, explaining how heating food creates complex flavors through chemical transformations. Kenji likens the process to breaking down Lego pieces and reconstructing them into a zoo of new compounds, highlighting the transformative power of cooking.

Mindscape Podcast

Mindscape 103 | J. Kenji López-Alt on Cooking As and With Science