Thursday, 5 August 2010

Food: So it IS Rocket Science After All

Here’s Alphonse’s picture; and here are Ann's wonderful words…

“The Royal Society celebrated its 350th anniversary in 2010 – virtually every scientist you have ever heard has been a Fellow of the most prestigious scientific society in the world. It started life as a dining club, and when Joseph Banks was president in the 18th Century, a guest from France recorded the dinner menu:

‘The dishes were of the solid kind, roast beef, boiled beef and mutton… with abundance of potatoes and other vegetables which each person seasoned as he pleased with the different sauces which were placed on the table in bottles of different shapes.’

And to drink: bumpers of strong beer – porter, served in cylindrical pewter pots, ‘preferred to glasses as one can swallow a whole pint at a draft.’ Then decanters of port, Madeira and claret, served with cheeses in mahogany boxes, which were rolled around the table. Then a few bottles of champagne, followed by tea and bread and butter, coffee, then brandy, rum and strong liqueurs. The meal finished at 7.30 as the Society’s meeting started at 8pm. There is no record of what was discussed…

This and other scientific and culinary delights appear in a book published by the Royal Society – But The Crackling Is Superb. There are many contributions from the wilder shores of gastronomy – fish fillets coated with marmalade, whale milk, a basic sauce whose main ingredients are milk and vinegar.

But you might want to try Plasmolysed Banana. ‘Mash a ripe banana roughly. Sprinkle with half a teaspoon of sugar, then mash more thoroughly. The sugar increases the osmotic pressure inside the cells and plasmolyses them; this reduces the fruit to a palatable pourable cream.’

And for the non-scientists among us, plasmolysis is defined as the shrinking of the cell contents away from the cell wall when a plant or bacterial cell loses water.”


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