Like other art forms, the culinary arts have gone through many changes and trends over the years, but none as exciting as the new era of modernist cuisine.
The term was popularized in the books, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, a series created jointly by a scientist, a chef, and an artist, which should tell you a lot about the concept.
Much like the way French Impressionism broke the rules of traditional realism in painting, modernist cuisine takes kitchen creations and presents them with a completely different, fresh perspective. It makes you look at food in a way you’€™ve never thought possible, adding elements of conventional art and science to create culinary wonders, and allowing you to experience dishes in totally new ways.
Modernist cuisine was born from the concept of molecular gastronomy which is the science (specifically the chemistry and physics) behind food preparation. Singular ingredients are broken down to their most basic essences, cooking processes are renewed using modern technology, and textures changed completely using scientific tools. By approaching cooking from a technical point of view, many long standing cooking myths have been debunked, such as the need to salt your water when cooking green vegetables and that searing meat first will lock in its juices.
Taking the theories of molecular gastronomy, and adding a huge foundation in aesthetics, modernist cuisine was formed. Far beyond the importance of simple plating, just as much emphasis is placed on how a dish looks as on how it tastes. Many chefs who practice Modernist Cuisine specifically try to trick a diner’s mind into expecting one thing, but then experiencing something entirely different. Scientific processes and modern technology have introduced exciting new ways to present and prepare food. For example, liquid nitrogen can be used to flash freeze and shatter sauces and immersion blenders and carbon dioxide can be used in creating essence foams. An underlying theme behind Modernist Cuisine is that one should expect the unexpected, both in what one sees and what one tastes.
Whether Modernist Cuisine is a groundbreaking approach to cooking or just another flash in the pan still remains to be seen, but even if it is just another culinary trend, it offers the world a greater understanding into what food actually is at its most basic level, and how the human mind perceives it. Modernist Cuisine lays down an exciting foundation for the future of the culinary world.
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