Approximately a month ago Harold McGee suggested that the term “molecular gastronomy” should be ditched. Now Ferran Adrií who has been visiting San Francisco claims that his cooking is often incorrectly labeled molecular gastronomy. More on this from SFGate.com:
Adrií says what’s come out of his experimentation has often been misunderstood and incorrectly labeled molecular gastronomy or molecular cooking.
“Come on,” he said, throwing his hands into the air. “It doesn’t mean anything. People think Ferran Adrií and they think chemist. ”
Harold McGee fills in:
“What he’s doing doesn’t start or end with science,” McGee said in an interview. “It’s just one of the many tools he uses.” He takes natural ingredients and transforms them into something interesting.
I guess Ferran Adrií wants his cooking to be not only molecular gastronomy (or science if you like), but a lot more than that, namely art. Perhaps this can be traced back to an artificial boundry between the “hard” and “soft” sciences? At this point I think it’s important to take a look at some definitions of molecular gastronomy. Thorvald Pedersen has definied it in a way that overcomes this boundry. According to him, molecular gastronomy is “The art and science of choosing, preparing and eating good food”. This definition captures the important point that there is an interplay between art and science.
Since Ferran Adrií goes on using many techniques which are familiar for chemists and other scientists, but still quite unusual in the everyday kitchen, I see no reason not to label his cooking molecular gastronomy. One could say that when molecular gastronomy misses the artistic dimension, it is perhaps more of academic interest. (But those who are comfortable with science know that it has a beauty of it’s own!)