If you think anything like I do, when hearing the words food chemistry, you automatically think of our wholesome food being pricked, prodded and chemically altered. Because back when we were young, food, was just food, no chemistry involved. Yes, times have changed with science experiments and chemical reactions becoming the norm amongst, all things, but please, not with our food!
Or rather, yes please, with our food.
Even though food chemistry may sound intimidating at first, once understanding exactly what it is and why it came about, we can see how it can be beneficial when used in F&B (food and beverage) and to enhance fine dining. Questionable at times are also rearing bogus food trends, such as molecular gastronomy. Are they soon to become our future food?
“A food chemist is the equivalent to a private chef. With all their knowledge of food chemistry, they develop and improve the smell, taste, texture and colour of food, creating future food trends.”
What is Food Chemistry
Food chemistry began as a simple study of the components of food, fats, protein and carbohydrates, of each particular food, such as meat, carrots, milk etc. It also expands to vitamins, minerals, enzymes, food additives, colourants and different flavours. It is the close analysis of what we grow, cook and eat everyday.
We all know each food’s properties, such as smell, colour, flavour and texture, whether we are friendly with the kitchen or prefer to leave the cooking to our friend, the private chef. Either way, we all have somewhat of an idea regarding the changes in properties when foods are mixed together or exposed to cooling or heating during preparation and cooking.
The study of food chemistry is what allows the professionals, as well as us, to understand these changes in properties and chemical reactions. This understanding gives food scientists the ability to predict processing conditions and formulation changes, creating superior food products and meals.
A food chemist, what I would say, is the equivalent to having a private chef. With all their knowledge of food chemistry, they are able to develop and improve the smell, taste, texture and colour of food, creating future food trends, according to each ones needs.
Over the years, food chemistry has evolved into a complex discipline, studying how F&B can be altered due to certain chemical reactions and food processing techniques, with the outcome, a more attractive and favourable substance.
Better Wine & Greener Avocados
Some of these reactions are enhanced and necessary in creating good food. Enhancing a meal such as speeding up a process as fermentation of grapes, to make wine or colorants to give meat that red juicy colour. Whereby others are prevented, such as lemon juice on a bright green avocado, to keep it from browning and preservatives, not only to keep foods from going bad too quickly, but making them that much more palatable.
Both these processes create perfection amongst each food product, utterly important to ones fine dining experience.
When those words “food chemistry” are put together, you still can’t help but think that although it has its positives, good food is still being tampered and altered unnaturally before we eat it. It often doesn’t look or taste like anything it started off as. Food chemistry plays a definite dominant role in food of today, quickly expanding in all areas. Molecular gastronomy falls under food chemistry, but is more of a complex discipline.
Is it all Molecular Gastronomy?
Now, those words, they bring some interesting yet scary ideas to mind. Getting right down to food’s molecules and making it sound like something out of this world is happening! This newer discipline, investigates the chemical and physical properties of food and how these change when it is cooked. It investigates how different methods can modify the texture, taste and smell of a food. With this understanding, inherit the ability to create weird and wonderful dishes from food components, as well as non food components.
Is this such an unusual and weird concept?
Having a look at what we already eat on a daily basis, known as “good food”, having gone through so many processes and the addition of colourants, preservatives etc. It’s pretty much molecular gastronomy, without even trying to be.
Although the basics of molecular gastronomy are part and parcel of food chemistry, new age chefs use it to create novel and unusual dishes, that sometimes, the mind cannot fathom, until tried.
These chefs are good chemists, creating the same exact tastes of certain foods, using a mixture of chemicals (liquid nitrogen, amongst others) and components, sometimes without having used any part of the food itself. This kind of molecular cuisine has become popular and widespread around the world.
Recently the Italian Ministry of Health, has banded the use of liquid nitrogen in restaurants, decreasing those who use this chemical-based cooking style within their kitchens.
It is still however acceptable and popularly used with food in Singapore, in allocated molecular gastronomy restaurants and bars. This discipline of food chemistry is seen in some bars and restaurants in Singapore at the moment, with an increasing interest along many others.
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This science-based food, is not for everyone. A drink or two, using the same concept, may be a staring point. In this case, enjoy a non-scientific private dinner with your date, moving onto a different kind of party, enjoying a weird but definitely enjoyable cocktail at the Tippling Club.
Whether you are or aren’t looking out for that new-age dinning experience, it’s worth a trying this exquisite molecular cuisine at least once in your life! And where better to do so, than in Singapore, where it is still very much alive and thriving!