Look out for “The Gastronomer”

(Photo: Mette Randem)

The Norwegian journalist, writer and food lover Andreas Viestad, known to many abroad for his books “Kitchen of light”, “Where Flavor Was Born: Recipes and Culinary Travels Along the Indian Ocean Spice Route” and two seasons of “New Scandinavian Cooking” on television (DVD of season one and two is available), has his debut today in The Washington Post with a new column dubbed “The Gastronomer”. Andreas has let me know that “It will be about food and science – as seen from the kitchen rather than the lab. It is an attempt to create a sort of maverick gastronomy, with recipes”.

The first column entitled “Like Water for Chocolate” is about chantilly butter and chocolate chantilly. Elaborations of Hervé This’ classic recipe in other words!

Andreas is not a scientist, but he has a remarkable capacity for absorbing the writings of Hervé This et al. and transform this into practical advice for the amateur home cook (and my guess is that many pro’s could learn a lot as well). So if you’re looking for extreme cooking á la Adrií , Andreas is not your kind of guy:

Spending hundreds of dollars on sous-vide equipment or ordering stuff weeks in advance and toiling for two days to make a “very interesting” side dish is for people in search of a hobby, not for people who want to make something nice for dinner.

A couple of years ago Andreas invited me to proof read one of his books from a chemical perspective. The book entitled “How to boil water” (only available in Norwegian) had a similar approach as his new column – it was about how the results of food science and molecular gastronomy could be applied to “normal” cooking at home. It was quite interesting, but also challenging, because as a scientist I’m used to a different level of precision when science is involved. But then on the other hand, what Andreas writes is much more readable and entertaining than what most scientists write!

Andreas has attended several of the Erice meetings (the International Workshop of Molecular Gastronomy) and he’s frequently in contact with Hervé This and Harold McGee from whom he gets a lot of inspiration. Although the chantilly is not exactly science, Hervé has told Andreas that:

From a scientific point of view it is nothing, a mere detail, but Pierre tells me it is one of the most useful things I have ever come up with.

In my opinion the chantilly is indeed a very good place to start! Hereby his new column is recommended! And if you have never made a chantilly, why not give the chocolate chantilly a try? I’ve posted a very short recipe previously, whereas Andreas has published a very comprehensive recipe in today’s column. Enjoy!

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