Science and Cooking at Harvard SEAS, 2015!

It’s been a long while, so I decided it was high time to hang out in lecture hall C of Harvard’s Science Center for the opening lecture featuring Harold McGee and Dave Arnold last night.  Overall reaction?  I still have a nerd crush on Dave Arnold.  He’s like a puppy when it comes to food science and related interests.  How can anyone not like him?

Before the lecture started, the audience was handed plastic packets filled with sugar-related items.

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What the?

I don’t eat a lot of sugar anymore!

Confusion ensued.

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Continue reading

Harold McGee and Dave Arnold, Nov. 10th lecture

I did not make it to the “Science of Cocktails.” Joe, a gracious reader, gave a really quick summary in his comment under a previous post called “lecture note.”

However, my sister (aka Stealth Eater) went! She is going to type up her notes and send them to me. I will post them as soon as they are in my inbox. (^_^)

Harvard SEAS lecture 11/7/11, Dan Barber

Subject – Reclaiming Flavor.

Much to my surprise, Harold McGee was around to introduce Dan Barber to the audience.

  • Flavor molecules are actually a defense mechanism. Believe it or not, the flavor molecules are toxic to small insects and mold. It doesn’t seem toxic to humans, because we essentially dilute herbs by cooking. Physical/environmental stress to plants will cause the plants to boost flavor and antioxidants as a coping mechanism.
  • You can take advantage of this.  For example, a component of mold cell walls is chitin.  Chitin also exists in the exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans.  You can pulverize lobster shells and introduce it to plants, purposely tricking them into stress mode and make the plants increase flavor and antioxidants.

That pretty much ended Harold’s bit, and Dan’s presentation started. Continue reading

lecture note

Yes, I went to the lecture tonight, featuring Dan Barber.

Although his subject matter is very nerdy, I still find it very interesting and inspiring. I got home late so I’ll have to write up the summary tomorrow.

Other points of interest, youtube videos of this semester’s lectures are being posted –

Harold McGee and Dave Arnold will be doing an additional lecture this Thursday at Jefferson 250, talking about the Science of Cocktails. You must register to get a seat (it is free though). Unfortunately, I was unable to write down the exact URL to register. I only remember that it was via surveymonkey.  I will not be attending because I have class that night.


EDIT:  Thanks to a reader, here’s the URL to register for a seat for Thursday.

Getting back into the swing of things

1. I haven’t been cooking nearly as much as I wish I were.

2. I’ve been lazy about posting garden pictures even though I took the trouble to take photos. I guess there’s just not much to talk about at this time. I have a few more eggplants that are maturing, and my mom and I have a winter melon growing. Our tomatoes didn’t do so well, but that’s mostly our fault. My thyme and rosemary plants are happy, and my tarragon plant is a slow grower in the grand scheme of things. It’s been raining a lot the past three days, which is great for my newly installed rainbarrel (with huge thanks to my sister and her landscaper). My shiso plants are pretty awesome… too bad I don’t use enough of it.

3. The SEAS lectures started this week. I went to see Harold McGee and Dave Arnold. There’s not a lot to write about but I will summarize nevertheless! I meant to write last night and just clean forgot about it. I haven’t had to think about the lectures since last fall.

4. I have a lot of things going on this fall. Likely this will mean that I am going to be very selfish with my free time. I expect a lot of cooking and very little socialing. Good news for this blog, not so good news for my friends. lol!


EDIT!  – The lecture has already been posted, so I guess I won’t write a full entry on it.
I missed Harold McGee last year, but I think he covers most of the same things – the history of cooking discoveries like pressure cooking, low temperature cooking, and haute cuisine.  I highly suggest watching the parts with Dave Arnold.  Harold McGee is like a favorite uncle while Dave Arnold is like the cousin you want to party and hang out with.  Dave demonstrated several things: dragon’s beard candy, vodka infused with coffee, clarifying lime juice with agar agar, and a video on making a fish dish with meat glue to get wood grain looking designs.
Dave Arnold’s blog is fun to read as well…  Lots of geeky food things going on.