REFRESHING POPULAR SCIENCE THROUGH MOLECULAR CUISINE

M. García-Teneche, J.M. Fernández Novell

Universitat de Barcelona (SPAIN)
That people are not interested in science is not true! Just looking at the journals web statistics you can realize the fact that the most numerous visits are on scientific topics such as climate change, asteroids that can collide with our planet, future trips to the Moon or Mars, the subjects of medicine or genetics and many others. For this reason, the Official College of Catalan Chemists, in collaboration with the civic centres of Barcelona, has designed workshops about science applied to normal life to refresh and, in some cases, disseminate science to the whole society, especially for adults and the elderly.

Molecular cooking can be understood as a scientific discipline developed in the last twenty years by high-level chefs all around the world; Ferran Adrià and Carme Ruscalleda are some of the most popular ones. This discipline is the combination of chemistry and culinary techniques and allows experimental learning of some chemistry basis. Non-formal courses developed with a molecular cooking background give the opportunity to people, all over ages but with a special interest in adult, to learn on the newest science. In our case, workshops are performed in civic centres all around Barcelona and the main objective is to propagate science everywhere. In the science to molecular cuisine workshop, we work and explain the core ideas of liquid nitrogen freezing, protein structure change and spherification procedures. To understand nitrogen-freezing basis, ice creams and cocktails can be prepared, and lack of water solidification is noticed in the product. To appreciate protein structure change, egg white colour and structure modification due to temperature is compared with egg white changes when pH is modified. Finally, spherification as one of the most impressive molecular cooking techniques is used to explain the basis of ion bonds. Another workshop is about the Periodic Table, chemical elements and cuisine workshop where we explain the physical and chemical properties of elements such as copper, iron, aluminium, lean and the alloys such as brass, bronze and stainless steel. Finally, experiments are carried out with bioelements and biomolecules such as sugar, oil and proteins. The response of the participants has been very favourable to continue in this way.