A new discovery?

30 Jun

Another great week has passed. Unlike the two weeks before, I only worked at Alicia until Wednesday, as I fell pretty ill on Wednesday night. I am still sick, but I am recovering slowly, relaxing and drinking tons of water. Despite my illness, this was probably the best week yet. After spending the weekend together with the other interns in Costa Brava, I returned to work full of energy (and pretty sunburned). I am really getting to know the people at Alicia, and I am becoming more and more accustomed to the working environment. As my Spanish is improving, I am able to communicate more clearly with the senior chefs and scientists as well as with my co-workers, though most of the current communication happens somewhere in the intersection between Spanish and English – that is, Spanglish.

Yet, my Spanish communication skills have improved significantly since I arrived. Together with my increasing gastronomic knowledge, this allowed me to inform my supervisors about an interesting observation that I made on Wednesday.  As I mentioned earlier, testing recipes is a part of my work editing the gastronomic lexicon. One of these recipes was an “herb sauce” made from pure mint juice and a thickening agent, locust bean gum. The recipe was successful and produced a very refreshing sauce with a relatively high viscosity. After the product was approved by my supervisor, I decided to try to mix some of the fresh sauce with cold water to drink. Dropping small amounts of the mint sauce into the ice-cold water, I discovered something incredibly interesting. As soon as the liquid entered the water, it formed small, solid, spheric bodies. These bodies floated in the water and could be moved around freely without any changes in texture. Surprised by this observation, I decided to drink the water, expecting to encounter a mint “solid” while drinking.

While I was drinking, however, I could feel no texture. In fact, the “solid” bodies seemed to explode as soon as they reached my mouth, leaving only an incredibly fresh mint flavor. This was confirmed when I tried to remove the “bodies” from the water and it did not work. As soon as the bodies were removed, they became the viscous mint sauce they were before entering the water. I immediately consulted my supervisor, a food scientist who was one of the people behind the cutting-edge creations of El Bulli. When I explained to her what I had seen, she did not believe me, as the viscous mint sauce should normally dissolve in liquids. To prove my point, I showed her the process. She was surprised, and called other scientists to come observe what just had happened. After an intense conversation in Catalan – none of which I understood – it became clear that no one could explain what had happened. The scientists decided to sit down and work on a proof.

Meanwhile, I decided to test if the same process worked in liquids with different properties, such as pH, salt concentrations, etc. Here is the result (The proof is currently work in progress):

In cold water; the time of discovery.

It worked in Bacardi, 37.5 % alcohol

It worked in pure vinegar, very low pH.

It worked in olive oil.

It did now work in Soy Sauce

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One Response to “A new discovery?”

  1. vayumi July 1, 2012 at 1:09 PM #

    Reblogged this on FireBellies.

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