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CHAPTER 5

A SCIENTIFIC AND SYSTEMATIC VIEW OF COOKING

Cooking with technique, cooking with method and cooking with technology

Cooking can be understood as a technique used by cooks to obtain results; as a method, given that it follows an ordered procedure to obtain a specific result; and as a technology, which, together with technique, allows new processes and methods of elaboration/production (particularly in the food-processing industry) to be developed.

 

The culinary technique, the culinary method and the culinary technology behind strawberry jam

We provide an example of the previous explanation with a specific elaboration – strawberry jam.

 

Cooking from the scientific point of view

The objective, scientific view offers us valuable information about food products and culinary techniques, as it can explain their compositions and reactions. From this perspective, we approach cooking as a hypothesis, when there is no certainty about the result that will be achieved; as a theory, when this hypothesis can be confirmed; and as a principle, when we can be sure of the result that will be achieved.

 

What happens as we cook can be explained by science

We come to the scientific view of cooking, which explains it as a scientific process that combines physical, chemical and biological reactions.

 

Frying an egg with science

We provide an example of the theory put forward in the previous section by considering all the reactions that take place when we fry an egg, showing that we can explain this process with science.

 

Cooking is experimenting with food, although it is not doing science

In no way is cooking the same as doing science, even though cooking is full of reactions and processes that can be explained from a scientific standpoint

 

Cooking with a scientific mindset, cooking with a scientific method

If a cook draws on the scientific knowledge of an expert for guidance, there may be a scientific mindset in their cooking. There is also a parallel between the order of scientific method and that of culinary method, both of which are focused on producing results.

 

Understanding cooking as a process

We can speak of a culinary process because, while we cook, we move through overlapping stages which contain different tasks for which resources are used and which, in combination, allow us to achieve a result.

 

Stages of the reproduction process in the fine-dining restaurant

The process of reproducing the elaborations that become part of a gastronomic offering involves a series of stages (all of them essential) that make it possible for customers to taste them in a fine-dining restaurant.

 

Graphic representation of cooking: a flow diagram of the reproduction process

The culinary process can be represented by a flow chart which shows the succession of stages, with the facts and operations that are necessary to achieve the expected result.

 

Resources are essential for cooking: without resources, there is no process!

Resources, gastronomic or otherwise, are needed in order for processes to work. We refer to the products used for cooking, including, among other things, the food and the tools and techniques needed to transform it.

 

Systems and subsystems: the complexity of connecting cuisine to the restaurant

The various stages in the process that allow reproduction to take place in the restaurant and the context in which we find the resources necessary for it to be implemented form a system – the reproduction system of a fine-dining restaurant.

 

The tasting system: a system for eating and drinking

In order to be able to taste the result of cooking, both at home and in the restaurant (where this is part of an experience), we also need a series of linked stages, and resources that are focused, in this case, on making the actions of eating and drinking possible.

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