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A New View of Food and Cooking [Slide Show]

Take visual tour through the scientific phenomena at work in the kitchen—and explore the new world of high-tech, science-inspired cuisine

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SWEET STOCKING STUFFER

With modern culinary tools like vacuum chambers and ingredients like gum arabic and trehalose, innovative chefs can create delicious dishes that fool the eye. These airy "coals" are entirely edible and actually quite tasty.....[ More ]

EDIBLE FOAM RULES

Edible foams, like the vacuum-inflated chocolate shown here, follow the same simple geometrical rules that all foams do. Among those rules: the intersection of bubbles always joins exactly three films and each pair of films always stabilizes at an angle of exactly 120 degrees.....[ More ]

INSIDE YOUR GRILL

Hamburgers cooked over a bed of coals are irradiated to perfection by infrared waves. Grills cook foods mainly through radiant heat, so the sweet spot of the grill—where food cooks evenly—is affected by the height of the grill above the coals.....[ More ]

STEAMING CROSS-SECTION

When steam condenses back into liquid water, it deposits an enormous amount of energy—the so-called latent heat of vaporization—on the surface supporting the water. We thus expected steaming to almost always be faster than boiling at cooking vegetables.....[ More ]

HOPPING HOT

Water droplets skitter across a screaming hot griddle because the part of the droplet that hits the hot metal bursts into steam and forms an ultrathin layer of vapor that suspends the droplet. This phenomenon, called the Leidenfrost effect after the German doctor who described it, also occurs when liquid nitrogen droplets are spilled onto a surface at room temperature, as shown here.....[ More ]

COOL TRICK

Next time you throw a party, try this fun trick with supercooled water. Place a clean bottle of pure water in the freezer for a couple hours until it is very cold but not yet frozen. Then gently pour it from a height into your guests' glasses and watch the water freeze on contact.....[ More ]

WATER BALANCE

Fresh foods are mostly water—so to understand cooking, you must appreciate the unusual chemistry and physics of water in all its forms. These graduated cylinders show the percentages of the mass of various foods that comprise water (clear liquid) and fats (yellow liquid).....[ More ]

pH EFFECTS

The color of some foods shifts dramatically when their environmental pH changes. Even the difference in pH between hard tap water and purified, de-ionized water can have visible effects on the brightness of some greens.....[ More ]

POTATO SECRETS

Granules of potato starch form shapes in this photomicrograph.....[ More ]

CRYSTALLINE VITAMIN

When viewed through a microscope fitted with polarizing lenses, a crystal of vitamin C takes on a colorful fractal appearance.....[ More ]

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