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Molecular Gastronomy vs Hunter Gatherer – FIGHT!

a hand holding a flower

Which new food trend are you into? Has anyone noticed how strange it is that the molecular gastronomy and hunter/gatherer food movements happened simultaneously?  It’s like we’re bored of regular ole yummy food.  Are we so pampered that we have to make it super difficult to create meals that will blow our minds?  Please tell me what you think, I’m dying for a debate.

Adam Melonas‘s “Octopop”: a very low temperature cooked octopus fused using transglutaminase

I’m not sure yet whether I’m amazed or annoyed with molecular gastronomy.  Possibly, it’s like when photography became an art form, I just have to learn to appreciate the new medium.  My past as an art director has me enraptured by the new frontiers of food design that the food science mind contrives. +1 point to molecular gastronomy, it’s cool looking.  But it leaves me a bit cold, it treats food most distinctly as a product.  A set of bells and whistles that react to our heavily studied desires.  I don’t like my food being treated like a brand new car. With it’s use of rotary evaporators, gels and the ubiquitous ‘foam’, it leans food towards being complicated and elitist.  But check above the photo out.  I don’t know if I want to eat it, but it sure is purdy.

Oyster Mushrooms in BC, gorgeous aren’t they

Foraged meals have the potential to be spectacular right from the start. As the Italians fully understand, something that is freshly picked and grown native to your area tastes like a little piece of place and time.  The challenge is in getting familiar with the forageable ingredients native to our region, a skill that is quite lost on us in Canada as most of us are immigrants.  A hefty chunk of foraging fear comes along with the territory, mushrooms are scary (or not if you learn about them – check out this mushroom ID trip)! On an intellectual level, I understand the hunter/gatherer movement, it fits in nicely with the ‘eat local’ mentality which is essential to our survival.  We’re looking to have a closer connection with mother nature, so that she doesn’t turn her back on us.  Intuitively, I ‘feel good’ about this trend more so than molecular gastronomy.  Foraging is something that we need to be careful with though, so that we don’t tax our dwindling and fragile natural ecosystems.  Foraging is challenging and time consuming, no doubt.  But hand picking a chanterelle, bringing it into your kitchen and introducing it to butter and a good sherry is simple magic.

Chanterelles + a bit of butter + a splash of sherry = magic.

Not that these trends are mutually exclusive as the worlds top rated restaurant NOMA would attest to.

But what do you think?
Chef Robin