Chemistry of Food and Cooking: Plutonium Chef
How can we measure the qualities and desirability of a finished recipe both quantitatively and qualitatively in order to determine the success of our recipe experimentation?
Often, you can make several conclusions with the simple combination of differences in recipes and a survey at the conclusion. This is especially applicable in terms of qualitative data. Most groups did something along these lines with our basic taste tests, both in class and at exhibition, being prime examples. By doing this, we can determine which recipe was received better. We can then easily draw conclusions on which variable within the recipe is responsible for how tasty it is.
Quantitative data is much harder to determine without going further in-depth with the investigation. In our project, we measures our sauce's viscosity to gather our quantitative data. We used 1/4 of a cup less cheese in one sauce than the other, and then used a viscosity test we came up with to quantify the results. We poured out the same amount of sauce over a flat area, and measured their spread after 30 seconds. The sauce with less cheese had spread 1 inch more than the other, meaning that it was more viscous. In this way we quantified our data.
In what way(s) is cooking like doing science and in what way(s) are they different? How are a cook and a food scientist similar or different?
Cooking and science are very similar in that they both require a specific recipe to follow in order to be successful. In the world of science, the similarities are perhaps most noticeable in chemistry, where the recipes are, similar to cooking, an essential piece, whether you are trying to perfect an experiment or you just want a tasty soup. This was impossible not to notice in class this year, both in the lab and in the kitchen.
One of the largest and most obvious differences between a scientist and a cook, however, is the fact that (hopefully) everything a cook makes is in fact edible, while most of what is made in the chemistry lab (at least in my personal, albeit limited, experience) is the opposite. However, I would trust just about any dish that came out of the kitchen, with no preference to who made it (out of the previously mentioned occupations). I believe that a chemist would be just as good if not better at measuring the right quantities of ingredients, and it's easy to see why. Who better than someone whose job requires them to be meticulous in their calculations than a chemist? The job may be slightly different, but the basic premise is the same: add the right ingredients, cook for a specific time, and end up with the finished product.