Friday, January 23, 2009

Finally, a Reason to Care about Science

There is always something interesting going on at Harvard. Like, for instance, a visit from the best chef in the world, Ferran Adrià (of impossible reservation El Bulli in Spain). Adrià is responsible for molecular gastronomy, an approach to cuisine that uses experimental techniques based in chemistry and engineering to produce new preparations of food. You've probably seen it practiced (usually badly) by several "Top Chef" eliminees of the past few seasons. The foremost American practitioner is probably Grant Achatz of Chicago's Alinea (where Fosco had an ethereal and surreal meal in December 2007).

But dinner at El Bulli is beyond pretty much anything that you can find in this country. Dinner is a 35 course tasting menu. Adrià is a living legend, responsible for some of the most fascinating (and funny!) food preparations you've ever seen. Here is his "letter soup":

You can find an entire slideshow of his creations here.

Adrià's visit to Harvard is especially notable, however, because it came under the auspices of the Harvard School of Engineering. According to the press release, Adrià's talk actually focused on the use of hydrocolloids. Even more interesting, this visit allowed the signing of a "Memorandum of Understanding"(!) between El Bulli and the Harvard SEAS, which allows for a staff exchange(!!) between the two institutions. How cool would it be to be an engineering grad student who got to spend some time doing research at El Bulli? (Well, assuming that it could ever be cool to be an engineering grad student...)

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