December 05, 2011
The physics of taste: "Flavor Network and the Principles of Food Pairing"
Excerpts from a November 29 Technology Review article:
Some years ago, while experimenting with salty foods and chocolate, the English chef Heston Blumenthal discovered that white chocolate and caviar taste rather good together. To find out why, he had the foods analyses and discovered that they had many flavour compounds in common.
He went on to hypothesize that foods sharing flavour ingredients ought to combine well, an idea that has become known as the food pairing hypothesis. There are many examples where the principle holds such as cheese and bacon; asparagus and butter; and in some modern restaurants chocolate and blue cheese, which apparently share 73 flavours.
But whether the rule is generally true has been hotly debated.
Today, we have an answer thanks to the work of Yong-Yeol Ahn at Harvard University and a few friends.
Their main conclusion is that North American and Western European cuisines tend towards recipes with ingredients that share flavours, while Southern European and East Asian recipes tend to avoid ingredients that share flavors.
In other words, the food pairing hypothesis holds in Western Europe and North America. But in Southern Europe and East Asia a converse principle of antipairing seems to be at work.
Food pairing seems to be one principle operating in some parts of the world. How far antipairing can take us has yet be seen, although customers to the Blumenthal's restaurant, The Fat Duck, may be among the first to find out.
Read the abstract of the scientific paper here.
You say you're not satisfied with an appetizer — you want the entire tasting menu.
No problema: you can download the full article as a PDF here as well.
[via Richard Kashdan]
Psshh! Bottle Opener
"Slim line bottle opener gives you a visual of the sound you hear when you open a bottle."
Just the thing for the synaesthete in your life.
Enameled steel; 8.5" x 3.25".
Mutant Shower Head
Observer of things both obvious and subtle, Rob Walker makes a living on the border between in your face and "I didn't notice that."
He recently encountered the shower head pictured above in a hotel bathroom, but was equally interested in the sign that accompanied it.
"Refresh yourself," it said in large type, and then in slightly smaller type: "restore our world."
His musings on the odd hardware and software are worth a diversion from whatever else it is you think is important.
A rose by any other name...
As promised at this time yesterday, the source of the phrase "A rose by any other name": William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."
Three Bridges Half Marathon — A run in the country
Yesterday's race started at 7 a.m., with the temperature a crisp, clear 27° about 15 miles west of my Podunk town, the race taking place at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The unedited video above marks my first attempt at bookofjoe race TV.
It's unedited because after hours of teeth-gnashing frustration and failure I was unable to figure out how to use iMovie on my iPhone, iMovie on my Air, or YouTube's built-in editing functions.
No matter, I'm gonna make lemonade from my lemons and call myself a disciple of the Dogme 95 school of filmmaking.
Reflections and whatnot on the event:
• It's a small race, limited to a total of 150 runners for the half marathon + marathon. The course consists of a loop which half marathoners do 1+ times and marathoners do 3+ times. It's very rural and beautiful, running alongside rivers and over bridges, with almost zero road traffic. Can't wait for next year's.
• The only reason I made it to the start was because I was fortunate enough to tuck in behind three other cars headed west at 5:45 a.m. on a pitch-black Sunday morning when there were NO other vehicles on the road. I figured they had to be going to the race so I just followed them, being joined by about a half-dozen cars behind me by the time we arrived. My GPS said "You have arrived at your destination" but I didn't see anything like the start of the race so I just followed the cars ahead of me, which proceeded another mile or so and made a series of turns which, trust me, I'd never, ever have known to do on my own, what with the darkness and absence of road or race signs.
• I finished in 2:23:20 = 10:57/mile x 13.1 miles. The temperature was up to 44° by then.
• I estimate I spent about 5-8 minutes filming as part of that overall time.
• For reasons unknown — but most likely related to late-intra-race fatigue/delirium — footage I shot of my approaches to miles 11, 12 and the finish never made it into the iPhone.
• The final product (up top) documents the staging area and events during the 15 minutes prior to the race's start, along with my approaches to miles 8, 9, and 10. You will note ambient music during the mile 10 episode, not intentionally placed there but rather the result of my inadvertently clicking on some button in iMovie during my failed effort to edit the video.
• My time at mile 10 was 1:51; doing the math, that means the final 3.1 miles took 32 minutes. Especially during the last two miles, I was really moving and felt strong and thought to myself, this is the way running should be but rarely is for me. I looked at my GPS watch a couple times during the final two miles and saw I was moving at about an 8:10/mile pace, for me really smoking. I guess I'm in better shape than I thought.
• This race was SO much easier than the Marine Corps Marathon, during which I kept up an 11:30/mile pace for the first 11 miles and passed the half-marathon mark at 2:32, some nine minutes slower than yesterday. Of course, ahead of me lay a 3:15 second half, with pure misery from mile 16 to the finish.
• My thinking that the MCM training gave me an excellent distance base from which to proceed with half-marathons and their ilk in the future by simply maintaining what I've managed to build appears spot-on, and I'm going to try to do a half-marathon — or at least a 10-miler — every month or two from now on.
• I think I can take a minute/mile off yesterday's time, dropping down under 2:10, if I keep it up AND learn how to integrate my iPhone into the race experience (take into account the 5-8 minutes spent fumbling around with the phone as related above). Yesterday I carried it in a belt pouch that required me to slow down to unzip it, then take off one of my gloves — Mr. Stupid here of course neglected to wear his iPhone-compatible gloves purchased specifically for this purpose — turn it on, go to the iMovie icon, and start filming while walking. Another dumb thing I did is leave my iPhone armband at home: it would've made access so much easier.
• None of the many tricked out action cams that I've seen let you see the footage as you're shooting unless you hold your connected iPhone or whatever in your hand. Not a solution. I will await further developments in this field. I'd like a heads-up display wirelessly sent to glasses or a little viewer, and hands-free voice control. It will happen, without a doubt. Sooner would be better.
Curly Cable for iPad and iPhone
It's a Kickstarter project already funded at three times the level required to move into production — with 54 days to go.
From the Kickstarter website:
This project is dedicated to all very intense iPad and iPhone users.
At the end of the day we always run out of batteries — and that's when we need more to use our iDevices.
But — common recharging cables are VERY SHORT and they make the use of the iPad and iPhone very uncomfortable.
That's why we propose to you the Curly Cable: an extendible spring cable that allows you to keep using your devices — in a comfortable way.
The Curly Cable never tangles and extends from 8 inches to 70 inches (20cm to 180cm).
Curly Cable is long enough to let you relax on a couch and:
• watch an entire movie (without draining the batteries)
• play your favorite video game nonstop
• talk for hours to your friends
• surf the web all night
$15 gets you one once they start churning them out.
"Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten"
I love this.
Coffee Bag Cap
Wrote Melissa A. Trainer in a December 1 post on Al Dente: "If you buy your coffee beans and they come in a bag, then you might be interested in the Copco Coffee Bag Cap. Sold with a coffee scoop, I think this nifty innovative cap could be very useful."
"I buy my coffee in a bag and it is quite a nuisance to deal with. I usually just dispense some of the coffee into a Spode coffee container that sits near the coffee maker, but the bag of excess beans is still messy and annoying to have around. The coffee cap was designed to deal with this issue. The cap is designed for easy scooping and fits a one pound bag. The cap also helps to keep the coffee fresh."
[via Paul Biba]