The very best chefs are not mere cooks, they are also chemists, engineers and of course, artists. Ángel León is one of these, always curious, always looking to find new ways to create culinary sensations.
He wants to go deeper to find something you didn’t know existed: “What’s more hedonistic, eating something no one on the face of the earth has ever tried, or eating another f-cking spoon of caviar?”
Cádiz’s native son has dedicated his life to the sea, Chef del Mar, the locals call him, approaching the ocean like most chefs approach the farm. Seafood is not just fish and mussels, there’s also plants with roots and leaves and fruit and one of these is chef Léon’s latest focus - Zostera marina.
But now, he believes he’s discovered the centerpiece of his ambitious dream: fields of rice stretched out for miles of paddies, the feathery stalks - protruding from the sea itself. Scientists have long identified seagrasses as one of the most vital ecosystems in the fight against climate change, but what few knew is that those blades of grass also contain clusters of small, edible grains with massive potential.
With more research, effort, and with any luck, eelgrass could be cultivated at scale and since it grows in salt water, which most of the water on Earth is, there is room to grow.
"My approach to what I do in my job — and it might even be the approach to my life — is that everything I do is the most important thing I do. Whether it’s a play or the next film. It is the most important thing. I know it’s not going to be the most important thing, and it might not be close to being the best, but I have to make it the most important thing. That means I will be ambitious with my job and not with my career. That’s a very big difference, because if I’m ambitious with my career, everything I do now is just stepping-stones leading to something — a goal I might never reach, and so everything will be disappointing. But if I make everything important, then eventually it will become a career. Big or small, we don’t know. But at least everything was important."
"Waves of Abandonment" The number of neglected abandoned oil wells in Texas alone is startling, the result of lax regulation and jerks running oil companies.
A fascinating story in New Yorker magazine on redesigning sugar. There's currently two competing approaches to reducing the harmful effects of sugar while keeping the taste benefits as well as the important role sugar plays in baking—artificial sweeteners fail to deliver the crumbling important in certain types of pastries.
One approach is mixing sugar with indigestible, but effectively harmless additives like silica, or changing the make-up of the sugar molecules just enough change how it's metabolised:
"Each silica grain is less than a fiftieth the diameter of human hair—invisible to the eye and undetectable on the tongue. DouxMatok’s production process embeds them throughout each sugar crystal, like blueberries in a muffin. /... / The atoms in a sucrose molecule are usually stacked in a well-ordered lattice, but when this structure becomes what scientists call “amorphous,” its atoms frozen in random chaos, it dissolves on the tongue much more quickly. Incredo’s exponentially more soluble structure rapidly saturates your taste buds, delivering an intense hit of sweetness."
The other is finding a different enough kind of sugar that the human body doesn't quite know how to approach:
"Allulose caramelizes, it fluffs, it stabilizes, and it delivers both mouthfeel and crumb structure in baked goods. “It behaves like a sugar because it is one,” Carr said. Yet, despite the fact that this rare sugar behaves almost exactly like sucrose in the kitchen, it remains sufficiently alien to pass through the human intestine without being digested or fermented."
There might just be another way by simply gradually reducing the amount of it, much like it's been gradually increased for tens of years:
Hampton mentioned that, before he came to Tate & Lyle, he worked at PepsiCo, where he managed to cut salt levels in British potato chips by half during a five-year period, without anyone noticing. “Can you do it with sugar as well? That’d be interesting,” he said.