Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why would you....?

One of the things about doing some baking at home is that you keep on asking one particular question: how did that first come about?   What I mean is, how, for instance, did someone work out that using gelatine in food was a good idea?   Gelatin (or gelatine), as Wikipedia tells us, is a translucent, colorless, brittle (when dry), flavorless, solid substance derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones.   Who first discovered it anyway, and why would you go from there to using it in food?

Or take this?   In one of the recipes we used today we separated the egg white from the egg yolk.   Who would have thought this was a good idea, and having separated them, then go on to whisk the white in such a way that it becomes no longer liquid but something that's able to be tipped upside down in the bowl and still stay there?   Doesn't that strike you as odd?

All cooking is a kind of chemical experiment, I guess, and each recipe is basically just a set of instructions telling us how to change certain elements from one thing to another, combining them in some cases, altering them in others.   But even recipes in themselves are curious: we know from seeing cooking programmes on TV that chefs are always experimenting: but they're experimenting with the things that are known.   Who experimented in the first place, and why?

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