Molecular Gastronomy for 4-Year-Olds


Slate write Sara Dickerman had a problem: her 4-year-old son didn't want to eat his vegetables. This problem is not uncommon, of course, but effective solutions are rare. (Personal digression: I recall one incident around age 5 when I had to sit at the dinner table contemplating my bowl of pea soup for what seemed like hours. I don't recall whether I finally ate it, but these days I love pea soup. Who knew?) Anyway, Dickerman tried the standard solutions -- cooking with him, putting more vegetables on the plate, eating her own vegetables with gusto -- to no effect. Dickerman figured there might be a way to make vegetables fun. Here's what she did:

Frustrated but not yet willing to give up, I enlisted the help of an unlikely accomplice: El Bulli chef Ferran Adria. Adria is perhaps the most famous chef in the world, known as a leader in the field of "molecular gastronomy"— a kind of kitchen alchemy that transforms prime ingredients into surreal concoctions using high-tech tools and commercial food additives. His recipes are full of surprise and playfulness: strange juxtapositions of hot and cold ingredients, intensely flavored frozen powders, and mysterious liquid-centered gelatin orbs made through a process called spherification. The Adrian table is as much magic show as it is dinner, and I wondered if the Critic might have an affinity for such playful food. After all, he's a fan of alphabet pasta, fruit gels shaped like Legos, and animal crackers. ...

After making tomato spheres, broccoli spheres, and carrot "air," Dickerman pretty much gave up (it was too weird for the poor kid). But anyway, read the rest for a fun overview of how molecular gastronomy might -- or might not -- make vegetables fun.