Thursday, August 13, 2009

Around and around: Centrifuges and Rotary Evaporators

'Cooking Issues' has two great articles on how and why to use two pieces of chemist's equipment in the the kitchen: centrifuges and rotovaps. Both separate a substance into its component parts: centrifuges by density and rotovaps by volatility. Cooks can use them to separate flavors into purer essences. Thinking about capturing the pure 'truth' of an ingredient led me to think also about the sous-vide technique, often used to cook meat while altering its flavor and texture minimally. Protecting the integrity of the ingredient seems to be the common theme, but what about other goals a cook can pursue? Does using a traditional process lend value to the final dish? I indeed find myself thinking in circles when I try to assign value to tradition, novelty, 'soul,' purity.

Sous-vide filet, rotovap'd red wine syrup, and root vegetable emulsion, or pot roast?

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