Thursday, November 12, 2009
Last weekend, I volunteered for the open house of McGill. I had to promote the program of Food Science to people that have most likely never heard of it before! I always had some trouble explaining what I was studying in. Even my parents are still confused... It's about food but it's not nutrition, and i'm not a cook either!
In a nutshell, I study everything from the harvesting of the food product to how it arrives on your table. That is every little step from the post-harvest storage, processing, quality control, packaging, sensory evaluation... that's us! Food scientists! Everything you see on the shelves of a grocery store has to go through us! So as I was explaining how wonderful our program is to these insecure students, I realized how I will miss it! And seriously, if you love food, there is no better place to be!
Imagine, we have a food microbiology lab where we understand how microorganisms affect our food by making cheeses, wine, sauerkraut... in our post-harvest technology of fruits and vegetables, we understand under what conditions should F & V should be stored and we visit carrots and onions storage facilities!!!! ( and we get free food too!) And who would imagine can packaging can affect the quality and the appeal of a food so much? Seriously, I can talk about Food Science for hours and hours!
Especially now that I am the president of the McGill Food Science Association, I've had the chance to share this passion to the students! Lots of work, but so worth it!!! After organizing a frosh all about food, a bbq, a bakesale, an apple picking trip and a molecular gastronomy workshop, I can positively say that more and more people got to know and want to know more about us! And it is only the beginning...
So recently, we have invited the renown alchemist Laurent Réveillac to our beloved Macdonald Campus. I have met him several times in the past through the beer fest in Montreal and i've also taken a molecular cuisine class with him. All I can say is that, that man transpires passion! In the food business for more than 26 years now, M. Réveillac travels around the world to share his knowledge and love for the gastronomy! Exploring the never ending possibilities of molecular cuisine, his talents range from cooking with liquid nitrogen to creating fluorescent dishes! Seriously, how cool is that?
Basically, molecular cuisine explores the innovative and scientific facets within the walls of a kitchen. Also referred as the science of deliciousness, this field allows a whole new plethora of exciting textures and unusual flavors to your everyday dish! The students from our campus had the opportunity to understand and experience this whole new trend!
We successfully gathered around 50 persons for this workshop, including food science students as well as curious students from other programs. M. Réveillac started off by introducing himself with a video of all his discoveries and recipes. Foie gras cooked in liquid nitrogen, flying foams of apple juices, spaghetti made with cantaloup juice... let's say it was quite impressive! Then, he made an espuma of fruit juice. An espuma is a foam created by introducing gas such as carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide within a food to create infinitely small bubbles under pressure. Any kind of liquid can be used with this application and the result is absolutely yummy!
However, the most impressive recipe was the crème brûlée made with apple cider and cooked with a thermomix (a multi-tasked processor which can mix and cook at the same time!). Then, the dish was finalized with a splash of liquid nitrogen to create this incredibly smooth texture! Liquid nitrogen is at -196C and when it comes in contact with food, it freezes it almost instantly. By doing so, very very small crystals are created which yields a crème brûlée like you have never tasted before. It just coat your palate so perfectly and the flavors are a perfect marriage!
Finally, he cooked some meringue made from egg whites, sugar and apple cider, in the liquid nitrogen creating a crunchy and cold exterior and hot and flowy interior. I must say that everyone was pleasantly surprised! You can visit our association website for some pictures!
Here is the link: www.freewebs.com/fsamcgill
Lots of interesting informations such as food related events in montreal, gastronomical books and links and addresses that may be quite entertaining for a foodie :)
Overall, this event was a huge success and we made some students more curious about this new trend! The possibilities are endless and the creativity and curiosity of one can only lead to marvelous discoveries!