actions (phenomena) and also to study the relationship between the what the cook does and the
physical and chemical phenomena resulting from what he or she does: “the head should drive the
Chemistry in the kitchen? Physics in the kitchen? This is not new, as even Marie-Antoine Careme, the
famous of all French cooks wrote in the first page of the first volume of his treatise L’art de la cuisine
francaise, in 1847i : “« In the houses of craftsmen, stock is the most nutritive food, in spite of what
wrote the Journal Le Gastronome. Women care about the pot, without knowing any chemistry; they
only learnt from their mother how to do it. First they put meat in an earth pot, adding the necessary
water (two litres of water for three ponds of beef meat); then they put the pot at the corner of the fire
and, without knowing it, they make a chemical process. The pot heats slowly, heat of water increasing
gradually, and dilating the muscular fibres of beef, so that it dissolves the gelatinous matter that is
between them. By this way, with slow heat, scum is floating up slowly; osmazome, which is the tastiest
part of meat, dissolving slowly, gives some unction to the liquid, and albumin, which is the scum
producing part of muscles, dilates easily, goes up forming light scum. Thus, by the simple process of
slow heating, the women obtain a nutritive and tasty stock, as well as a good and tender boiled meat”.
Careme was not the first to...
Careme was not the first to speak of chemistry in cooking, as Marin also wrote in La suite des dons
de Comus: “Cook’s science is to dissociate, digest and quintessence meat, to draw from them
nutritious and light juices. This kind of chemical analysis is indeed the main part of our art”.
These two quotations recognize fairly that there are some relationship between cooking, on one hand,
and chemistry and physics in the other hand. However they are wrong, strictly speaking. Indeed, it is
not true that cooking is science, because a craft is not a science (i.e. the exploration of the
mechanisms of phenomena). Cooks have to produce food, but scientists have to produce knowledge.