commonly used to stabilise oil/water mixtures.
Role in food
Water is the most abundant molecule in nature. Most foods contain primarily water (eg. vegetables
contain very high amounts of water, as do meat and fish, and diary products like milk and eggs). Many
of these substances therefore lose mass if they are cooked at high temperatures, because the water
contained will evaporate, making the cooked mass less than the raw mass.
In food, water is often perceived as “tenderness”. Hard cheese contains much less water than soft
cheese, and is therefore less tender. A rare steak (where little liquid has been evaporated during the
short cooking time) is much more tender than a well-done steak (where water evaporation is much
II - 1 (of 9)
Beginning with experiments and observations on culinary ingredients
Let’s begin at the beginning: the egg.
The first, crude, level of description is that eggs are composed of a shell, and some matter inside. The
matter inside is clearly divided into two parts: the white (you could say albumen, but it’s exactly the
same, as in Latin, albumen means “white”) and the yolk. The egg white is yellow, and the yolk is
orange. One can also see some membranes, in particular around the white, but also around the yolk.
You can even pierce the membrane around the yolk and let the yolk flow out of the membrane from
one small hole; afterwards you get the membrane only. Do you know how it tastes?
The shell is seldom used in the kitchen, except that it can be emptied and used as a vessel for some
culinary material. Do not forget that because it is very thin, the shell is fragile… when the stress is
applied perpendicular to its plane. Otherwise, it can be very robust: for example, you could not break
an egg by pressing the two extremities against each other, because you would have to break the full
length of the egg, which is made of calcium carbonate (a particular kind of “stone”). Want to
understand why? Just look at the vaults of cathedrals… or carry out the experiment of pressing the