Kitchen Mysteries_ Revealing the Science of Cooking Part 12

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SALT: I pity those who lack it. Cooking salt is sodium chloride, which, in solid form, is composed of a network in which chloride ions and sodium ions alternate. Chemists also call salts those substances obtained by the reaction of an acid and a base (cooking salt can be obtained by the reaction of hydrochloric acid and soda).

SALTPETER : Pota.s.sium nitrate. This is an explosive, but it is very useful in the salting process.

SAUERKRAUT: A food obtained by fermenting cabbage in a brine (which see). Have you ever tried stuffed pheasant on a bed of fresh sauerkraut?

SKIMMING: The process by which a sauce is refined.

SOLID: A cl.u.s.ter of molecules very close to one another and immobilized by intermolecular forces.

SOLVENT: A liquid used to dissolve molecules. Lipids (which see) are good solvents of odorant molecules, as are terpenes (which see). Water is the main solvent of foods.

SOUFFLe: Has only one fault: it collapses.

STARCH: Granules made of two kinds of molecules, amylose and amylopectin (see both). Starch granules make gels when water diffuses into them.

STOCK: A concentration of flavors and gelatin that is obtained by browning fish or meat in a very hot oven and then cooking it for a long time in a large quant.i.ty of water in the presence of carrots, onions, and ...

SUCROSE: This is table sugar, a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose residues. SUGAR: This is the crystallized form of the sucrose molecule. Sugar deposited on the surface of fruit or meat extracts the water from it by the phenomenon of osmosis. "Sugar" is also synonymous with "glucide."

SURFACTANT: A molecule composed of one part that dissolves easily in water and one part that is happier in fatty substances like oil. This kind of molecule can stabilize small oil droplets in water by coating the surface of these droplets, with the hydrophobic tail in the oil and the hydrophilic head in the water. Conversely, surfactants, also called surface-active molecules, can disperse drops of water in oil by arranging themselves with their heads in the water droplets and their tails in the continuous phase of oil.

SWEETENER: A compound that tastes like and is used as a subst.i.tute for sugar.


TANNIN: Tannin's astringency is due to its property of binding itself to the lubricating proteins in the saliva and blocking their functions. These molecules are phenolics.

TASTE BUDS: The group of cells on the tongue and in the mouth that possess receptors for sapid molecules.

TEMPERATURE: A value indicated by a thermometer, which must not leave the kitchen because its use is so helpful in cooking. The higher the temperature of a substance, the more the molecules in this substance are agitated by rapid, random movement.

TENDERNESS: A term used for meat; different from human tenderness but resembling it.

TERPENES: Odorant molecules from plants.


VANILLIN: The molecule princ.i.p.ally responsible for the aroma of vanilla. Exactly the same molecule, with exactly the same atoms in the same positions, is found in vanilla beans and in the test tubes of chemists, but the synthesized one costs much less. This does not mean, however, that the odor of vanilla is the same as the odor of vanillin, as vanilla contains many other odorant molecules.

VINAIGRETTE: A fairly stable emulsion of oil in water. It lacks the surface-active molecules of egg yolks that would turn it into mayonnaise.

VISCOSITY: A fluid is viscous if it flows with difficulty. Certain sauces, such as bearnaise, have a viscosity that depends on their rate of flow. Very viscous when it is immobile, bearnaise sauce takes on a sublime fluidity when it enters the mouth. My mouth is watering at the very thought of it.


WATER: It is ubiquitous in food. There is the story of the oenologist who, while tasting wine with his eyes blindfolded, was given a gla.s.s of water without knowing it. "Hmm! This one doesn't have much odor or taste. I can't seem to identify it, but I can a.s.sure you that it won't sell."


YEAST: A wonderful microorganism when domesticated to make bread, kugelhopf, ...

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Kitchen Mysteries_ Revealing the Science of Cooking Part 12 summary

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