The starting point for this course was the MIT Open Course Ware course “Kitchen Chemistry”, which was
“ …designed to be an experimental and hands-on approach to applied chemistry (as seen in cooking).”
It is undoubtedly interesting to know that “methylmercaptan is the stuff that makes your urine smell after eating asparagus”, but this course does not only aim at teaching students to reproduce these kind of statements. Next to teaching you stuff to impress people at dinner, the eventual aims of the course somewhat more elaborate.
Firstly, we will follow the ideas of French molecular gastronomist Hervé This, if one knows the explanations science offers for the techniques and recipes handed down from chef to chef and mother to child, one can learn to adapt recipes and modify techniques proposed in recipes according to the utensils available. This is likely to be useful for any cook and allows the discussions in the course to become very practical. The first aim is thus to learn more about this scientific background of cooking.
Secondly, our aim is to extend what we understand when we say the ‘science of cooking’ to more than just chemistry and physics. The idea is to do a research project where participants in the course attempt to write something meaningful about cooking, from their own scientific disciplinary perspective. Think about the sociological approaches to cooking, how recipies might have evolved under influence of classical economics, taste and evolution – the possibilities are endless. The best projects will be sent for review to journals, magazines, or cooking blogs, to see if we can get some p2pu work published.
You might learn how to explode bananas, or make the perfectly balanced bowl of chicken soup. Either way, the Kitchen Science Course is going to be a treat. Head over the new P2PU site, and sign up, quickly.