From the blog September 20, 2010 Matt

Does It Matter Why We Love Chocolate?

Looking at Modernist Cuisine as a (nearly) complete body of work, the amount of information and level of detail can seem overwhelming. On the surface, it is tempting to think of the book as a research report or textbook on food science – but that is far from the full story. If you stumbled upon Modernist Cuisine in a bookstore’s cookbook section, you might ask, “Where’s the love?” The short answer from the Modernist Cuisine team would be, “It’s in there!”

 

Pushing the culinary envelope requires a thorough understanding of the physics and chemistry involved in cooking food. To gain and convey this understanding, we had to use some laboratory equipment and the mathematical language of science. But don’t let the technical terms fool you. We understand that love is a key ingredient in any kitchen – including ours. Our team of 20-plus chefs, writers, researchers, and photographers are passionate about cooking and sharing all they have learned on this journey with readers.

 

We’ll be the first to admit that the project (which began as an exploration of sous vide cooking) has grown into something much larger and more scientifically comprehensive than originally envisioned. The Modernist Cuisine team totally understands that a science-focused tome on modern cooking techniques isn’t for everyone (at 2,400 pages, it isn’t exactly “light reading” for the home cook). Rather, it is designed and written to be the most comprehensive resource for information on the latest techniques and the science of cooking. While that won’t resonate with everyone who loves cooking, we believe it will speak to food geeks like us.

 

In a sense, Modernist Cuisine can be compared to a book on the latest advances in neurochemistry. There exists a lot of neurological research on the chemicals that trigger feelings of love and happiness in humans. Chocolate is believed to contain several chemical compounds that interact with those neurotransmitters and can trigger the associated feelings.  Not everyone who is interested in love, happiness, or chocolate needs or wants to know the names of their associated neurotransmitters. Most are happy simply knowing that eating chocolate makes them happy without knowing exactly why that is. Others are compelled to find out exactly how the love-chocolate interaction works, and thus require a higher level of detail. Modernist Cuisine was written for them.

 

By exploring the latest advances in food science and cooking technology, the authors are not damning or seeking to replace traditional cooking techniques. Traditional techniques have their place — and their limitations. Modernist Cuisine is meant to pick up where traditional techniques and cookbooks leave off. The type and amount of detail one desires in their culinary reference material is a matter of personal taste, but knowing that there is a scientific explanation for much of what we know intuitively should not obstruct the experience. The answers are out there, but if eating chocolate makes you happy, the Modernist Cuisine team hopes you’ll continue to enjoy it whether you know why or not.

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