“If Dahl could dream it, if Wonka could do it, Heston at least wants to try.”
Heston Blumenthal, chef and proprietor of The Fat Duck in London, and apparently a crazy lunatic of the most enterprising stripe, thinks in his crazy-ass mind that he can create a spoonful of food that changes flavors as you eat it, Veruca Salt style. Funny thing is, as far back as 2004, he had already brought it into the realm of possibility.
I stumbled on this dusty old article online the other day and thought it too good not to share. I haven’t heard any further developments, but think of the possibilities. From Seed Magazine:
Heston is no longer content merely to challenge our aesthetic assumptions: He wants to expose the very machinery behind the tongue. He wants to make a mouthful that is as alive as the sense of taste itself. After all, in Roald Dahl’s surreal children’s classic, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wonka does it, remember? His factory invents a gum that holds within it the narrative of an entire meal, beginning with mashed potatoes and roast beef and ending with a satisfying blueberry pie. Wonka shows the gum to a character named Violet, with the caveat that she shouldn’t try it because the gum has yet to be fully tested. Violet, of course, tries it anyway. Afterward, she becomes a blueberry. It’s true she was obnoxious. Nevertheless, you would think that such adverse side effects would discourage imitators: Not Heston. If Dahl could dream it, if Wonka could do it, Heston at least wants to try.
Heston makes a stable mousse out of only chocolate and water because he’s a nut
So he got together with Harold McGee to see if they could “create a spoonful that would change in your mouth as you were eating it.” Heston knew this magic trick of taste would require a dazzling display of chemistry. Everything from evaporation volatility rates to the timing of the distinct flavor peaks would have to be exactly calculated and meticulously tested for the spoonful to work. But slowly, Heston and Harold came up with the spoonful’s dramatic arc: It would begin with a delicate whiff of basil, continue onto salty olive with a little bouquet of thyme, and end with a crescendo of cooked onion. “The whole thing is still a work in progress,” Heston admits, and, like Wonka’s recipe, “not quite ready for the customers yet. It will be hard, but we did get some results. The lab, however, has never been so messy.”