Reine Barbar made a report for the first Molecular Gastronomy Seminar in Lebanon.
Here it is :
Report on seminar N° 1 of Molecular Gastronomy in Lebanon
28 March 2011, from 16h00 till 18h00
Sofil-Catering, Pavillon Royal,BIEL-Beyrouth
I. Introduction on Seminars of Molecular Gastronomy:
Prof Hervé This exposed to the present the idea behind the seminars of molecular
gastronomy and their description.
What we are trying to do:
At these monthly meetings, cooks, scientists, teachers, engineers, food writers are
considering open questions on culinary transformations (home or restaurants).
Once a month, and more precisely the second Monday of each month, from 4.00 PM to 6.00
PM (no seminar in July and in August).
Food laboratory at the Faculty of agricultural Sciences- USEK, Kaslik.
Free, upon invitation (sent by email) and previous inscription (if possible)
How we work :
Each seminar has four parts :
1. The introduction presents news of Molecular Gastronomy activities in the world.
2. The participants begin with a presentation of the results they got since the last seminar
4. Then the group discusses the question of the month, preparing experiments to be done in
order to solve open questions.
3. The participants decide the topic of the next seminar.
Experiments can be done, if necessary, and results of experiments can be shown to the
Why it is important :
This seminar helps to :
clean culinary practices
promote scientific modelisation of culinary practices
explore culinary “precisions” (all the advices that are added to the “definitions” of
dishes given through recipes
modernize culinary teaching
add a research activity to culinary teaching
present to the culinary world new ingredients, methods, hardware...
Under the direction of :
Reine Barbar- Lara Hanna Wakim
Food Science Department
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences
Holy Spirit University
PO BOX 446., Jounieh, Lebanon
T: +961 9 600874
II. Exposition of molecular gastronomy and the “cuisine note by note”:
Prof Hervé This introduced the terminology of molecular gastronomy and its difference with
It should be said vigorously that molecular gastronomy is a scientific discipline and a
branch of physical chemistry that looks for mechanisms of phenomena occurring during
culinary transformations. The discipline was named by Nicholas Kurti (1908-1998), the
other founder of molecular gastronomy and Prof Hervé This.
Molecular cookery: yes, molecular cookery, also called molecular cuisine, or science-based
cooking, is cooking, and not science. Of course, also, it would be silly to consider that
molecular cooking (or cookery) is a question of using molecules for cooking, as all food is
made of molecules... but some journalists and chefs did not take time to consider that
“molecular cooking” is a composed expression, proposed only to make the distinction with
molecular gastronomy. And as molecular cooking is cooking, it means producing dishes.
"Note by Note Cooking" is a new way of cooking that will be next after Molecular Cooking.
It was proposed by H. This in a Scientific American issue in 1994.
These dishes were not done using directly meat, fish, vegetables and fruits, but instead
compounds or simple mixtures of compounds, from which the chefs made all aspects of the
various dishes: shape, consistency, color, odor taste, trigeminal sensations...
III. Experimenting some Lebanese culinary “precisions”
III.1. Mixing order of arak with water:
Lebanese traditions always specify to put arak and then add water and never in reverse.
Otherwise, the beverage will not be very homogenous and white.
We did the experience with a precise measure of quantities of arak and water (1/3 arak and
2/3 water) and organized 2 glasses: Glass (A) by putting arak and then water, Glass (B) by
putting water and then arak.
No visible differences were seen. Some interventions by the present members specified that
it could be due to the purity and quality of arak used. Some future test should be done with
the use of traditional “arak baladé” made in artisanal way in some Lebanese villages.
III.2. Whitening effect on “moutabal”:
Prof Hervé This asked the present of their recipes to make “moutabal”.
Some people use laban, then tahina then lemon juice and salt that they will mix with
Others specified that they use tahina, lemon juice, water, salt then laban.
Other possibility will be to mix eggplant, tahina, cold water and lemon juice.
Two experiments were done as following:
A: Mixing directly grilled eggplant with tahina and then lemon juice
B: Mixing aside tahina with lemon, adding this mixture to eggplant.
Eye observation resulted in noticing more whitening effect in the case B where the lemon
juice had a direct whitening effect on tahina and then on Moutabal.
As with taste, a triangular blind test was done with the 2 samples. 3 samples were
presented to one person and he was supposed to say which one was different from the 2
others. The test revealed no perceivable difference among samples A and B.
Microscopic observations were done on tahina in order to visualize its emulsion state.
III.3. Choice of Topic for next seminar:
All present expressed their suggestions for topics for next seminar.
The suggestions were as following:
Three layers cocktails
White sauces with the example of sauce béchamel
A vote was done in order to specify the majority and the majority decided to explore the
elaboration of sauce béchamel.
The next seminar was decided for the 11th of April from 4.00 PM to 6.00 PM.