Although you may know me best as a baking and cooking fiend through this blog, I’m a chemist in my day job. Which means, I get especially excited when I see the pairing of chemistry and food. I admit that there are aspects of molecular gastronomy that completely freak me out (I have a hard time drinking out of beakers that other people have bought, so the idea of using a rotovap, which in my mind is linked to the synthesis of compounds in lab, to make food is bizarre). However, there’s a lot behind the movement from a chemical standpoint.
So, imagine my surprise when, a few months ago, Chemical and Engineering News published a story on cool blogs and books that focus on the molecular part of molecular gastronomy. The one that really caught my eye was a blog out of Norway that’s written by an organometallic chemist. He started exploring flavor pairings of foods that shared volatile components (these are the parts of the food that you smell and taste), but that you might never think of linking together. Like bananas and cloves. Or white chocolate and caviar.
In late July, a new challenge was posted! Unlike the previous challenges, where the two paired ingredients were listed, this challenge included only one: raisins.
This meant that the first step was to pick a paired element.
Using this handy-dandy chart, I picked mustard as my pairing element. After contemplating my meal for far too long (and for long-past the August 31th deadline!), I finally made this fairly tasty chicken, mustard, and raisin dish.
I don’t think the raisins featured strongly enough, but it was fun to come up with a mixture of (in my mind) disparate elements. And the mustard and raisins did go really well together! You can check out some other interpretations here.