What can I do for you? I’ll explain with an example.
Take this beautiful scallop ceviche dish.
Looks delicious. We look at this and can immediately imagine what it would be like to eat that dish. But what is actually happening behind the scenes when we cook is not at all related to how we experience cooking.
Through the process of cooking, molecular transformations alter the macroscopic properties of our food. More specifically, with the help of an external agent like heat or acid, the proteins in the food unfold. In this state, proteins are said to be denatured.
The scallops in this ceviche for example, are cooked chemically through the process of diffusion. This form of chemical cooking relies on high salt concentrations or extreme pH conditions (like lime juice or vinegar) to denature the proteins and “cook” the food. As the acid agent diffuses into the fish, its low pH will cause the proteins in the fish to denature. As a result, the fish will become tougher and more opaque. In other words, cooked.
On a mathematical level, this is what is happening to the molecules in the scallops:
While that may be what is happening in reality, that is not how we experience food.
What I do:
I take complex realities like this…
…and turn them into human experiences that we can understand and enjoy, like this:
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Chefs of Instagram, dish by @jorgellara
Science & Food, Ceviche, http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/scienceandfood/2013/03/26/ceviche/#.XABJD3pKhTY