Molecular gastronomy, the scientific discipline concerned with the physical and chemical transformations that occur during cooking. The name is sometimes mistakenly given to the application of scientific knowledge to the creation of new dishes and culinary techniques.
The scientific discipline—which was introduced under the name molecular and physical gastronomy and later shortened to molecular gastronomy—was established in 1988 by Hervé This, a physical chemist, and Nicholas Kurti, a former professor of physics at the University of Oxford, who were interested in the science behind the phenomena that occur during culinary processes. Although food science had existed for some centuries, its focus had historically been on the chemical composition of ingredients and on the industrial production and nutritional properties of food. Molecular gastronomy, on the other hand, focuses on the mechanisms of transformation that occur during culinary processes at the level of domestic and restaurant cooking, an area that had historically tended to rely heavily on tradition and anecdotal information. Molecular gastronomy seeks to generate new knowledge on the basis of the chemistry and physics behind culinary processes—for example, why mayonnaise becomes firm or why a soufflé swells. One side goal is to develop new ways of cooking that are rooted in science. These techniques are called molecular cooking, whereas the new culinary style based on such techniques is called molecular cuisine.
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