Tuesday, June 2, 2009

For the true food geeks

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge redhotpokerglass.jpg

For every person who is content to put popcorn in the microwave, there is another type of person who wonders what would happen if you put that popcorn in a specially built oven capable of heating to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It is this person for whom the blog Cooking Issues exists.

Forget the boring name. Cooking Issues is on the cutting edge of food invention. The blog is run by The French Culinary Institute with a special focus on "tech and stuff." It often highlights processes that are five or even 50 years away from being seen in regular kitchens.

Just last week it discussed the merits of chilling a cocktail glass with liquid nitrogen as opposed to water and ice. Over-the-top? Nonsense. "It turns out that dry airpots can carry and dispense liquid nitrogen

perfectly ... it's the

fastest and most effective way to chill a glass -- just don't swirl any

into your eyes."

Last month it focused on the shot Red Hot Poker. Many shots are lit on fire but very few require a flame-retardant mitt and protective goggles. Not content with the flavor of regular hot buttered rum, a group at FCI decided to heat a poker stick to 1,700 degrees and see what happens when you mix it with alcohol. What happens is a flame shoots several feet high and the alcohol's almost instantly vaporized. So the team turned down the heat to 1,000 degrees with much more pleasant results.

Some of the professors are discussing topics that are so out there it might be hard to follow them: "Transglutaminase, hydrocolloids, immersion circulators, vacuums, etc. have all allowed Nils to take classic flavor combinations and improve upon them."

Even with the technical mumbo-jumbo, it's still a fun read. Fans of both Myth Busters and The French Chef will find something here to entertain them and in 20 years, when some of these inventions become mainstream, you can tell everyone you already know about them.

(Image of a Red Hot Poker via Vidiot)

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