Tuesday, July 8, 2008

In Good Taste

I feel much refreshed after taking a weekend off from blogging. Sometimes, as hard as it is to imagine, I just have nothing to say, or rather I feel like I have nothing to say. This weekend, I did not get near a computer and as a result, I got in a bit of reading long overdue: the obits of Robert Mondavi, an essay on hyenas, a bit on the Teapot Dome scandal, and other not particularly work-related materials.

But in surfing the latest Gourmet (July 2008), I came across an article entitled "The Corrections." This title is surely not all that enticing but what caught my attention was the photo of a standard family reunion name tag stating "Hello, my name is Joe; I am pumpernickel negative." That along with the subhead "Recent discoveries show us that practically everything we think we know about the science of taste is wrong, wrong, wrong." hooked me.

It is thoughtful stories such as this one by Bruce Feiler that keep me reading Gourmet, when I rarely crack the other lifestyle-oriented magazines such as Bon Appetit and Food & Wine. The story's thesis is that the decoding of the human genome is letting scientists truly understand taste in novel ways, ways that make the classic bitter-sweet-salty-sour model archaic.

The story looks a bit forward to the day when flavor scientists can perhaps engineer foods specifically to the tastes of each particular individual.

I left the engineering world after many years simply because it wasn't creative enough for me. Am I worried that someday flavor engineers might replace chefs and that people might consider what I now do as a chef to be archaic?

Not in the least. For let us not forget that cooking is an art and not a science and all the scientists in the world cannot replace the love and care that a chef puts into a dish.

No comments:

Post a Comment