A NOTE ON THE TRANSLATION THE ENGLISH VERSION of La cuisine note-à-note differs from the French edition in several ways. At the American publisher’s request, and with the author’s approval, the contents of the original book have been reorganized so that there are now seven main chapters rather than twelve, and a list of further readings has been included at the end of each chapter. The Columbia edition also contains twenty-nine black-and-white illustrations and a section of twenty color plates not found in the book published by Belin in Paris.
TABLES, FIGURES, AND COLOR PLATES TABLES TABLE 2.1 Variations of Density and Viscosity as a Function of Temperature 73 TABLE 2.2 Simple Dispersed Systems 77 TABLE 2.3 Selected Gelling Compounds 100 TABLE 2.4 Random Dispersion with Two Objects of Various Dimensions 102 TABLE 2.5 Inclusion with Two Objects of Various Dimensions 106 TABLE 2.6 Superposition of Two Objects of Various Dimensions 108 TABLE 2.7 Interpenetration of Two Objects of Various Dimensions 110 TABLE 6.1 How Should an Artist Go About Being an Artist? 187 FIGURES The birth of note-by-note Molecules 18 cooking 6 Empty plate 38 Paraethylphenol crystals 7 Polyhedrons 41 Natural 12 Platonic solids 41 Artifical 13 Topological equivalence 48.
WHY THE NEED FOR NOTE- INTRODUCTION BY-NOTE COOKING SHOULD BE OBVIOUS NOTE-BY-NOTE COOKING? Trust me: I always use words with due re- gard for what they mean—but I don’t deny myself the luxury of metaphor. In the phrase “note-by-note cooking,” the noun that is modified is cooking. In French, the word cuisine denotes a room, the kitchen, but it refers above all to an activity, cooking, well described by the title of a book I wrote a few years ago that was published in English under the title Cooking: The Quint- essential Art. The original title is more revealing: La cuisine: C’est de l’amour, de l’art, de la technique. By this I mean that the cook’s primary purpose is to show love (which may or may not be wholly sincere—though the reader will have guessed that I myself favor honesty in matters of the heart) to his or her guests. Beyond that, the cook seeks to make something good, a work of art in the best case, and to make it well, according to some standard of technical excellence.
SHAPE ONE HOW SHOULD WE GO about creating a note-by-note dish? In creating a tra- ditional dish, some chefs begin by making sketches; others go to the market; others simply sit down and think. Any of these methods, even the second one, might work in note-by-note cooking. But let’s try sitting down—in front of an empty plate.
44 + SHAPE Which form should we prefer, concave or convex? Consider the difference between the English place setting, where the fork is placed with its tines up- ward, and the French place setting, where the fork is placed with its tines downward. The choice in this case conceals a question of politeness having to do with one person’s sympathetic concern for the psychological and physical comfort of others: a fork placed in the English manner confronts the person across the table with a set of sharp, menacing prongs, whereas the same fork, turned face down, presents a softer, more rounded aspect. Again, as a matter of courtesy, the blade of the knife is customarily turned toward the plate, and not outward in the direction of the person sitting next to us.
SHAPE + 49 surely, reality itself will do. If art seeks above all to arouse emotion, however, the rules of linear perspective represent a step backward, one that Picasso and other painters of his generation adamantly refused to take.
T WO CONSISTENCY IN THE FIRST CHAPTER, where we started from the empty plate that the cook seeks to fill, I barely touched upon the question of consistency, ignoring gases and considering only liquids and solids. But these are crude notions. Cooks know perfectly well how to make things that are much more inter- esting than ordinary liquids or common solids: emulsions, sauces of various kinds, pastries, and so on. Between solid and liquid an entire continent re- mains to be explored—an almost infinite number of variations waiting to be discovered by anyone who is willing to go to the trouble of producing them. This is a truly magnificent opportunity, for we have seen that a dish is created by assembling masses having not only different shapes, but also different con- sistencies. The art of combining them in a harmonious whole accounts for a large part of the happiness we feel when we eat food that has been expertly prepared.
CONSISTENCY + 55 that follow, we shall look more closely at taste, odor, trigeminal sensations, and color. For the moment, however, let us examine the culinary prohibi- tion against serving a dish that has a homogeneous or uniform consistency. The reason for this, of course, is that the crispness of the skin of a roasted chicken is indispensable if the tenderness of the meat itself is to be fully appreciated; so, too, carving a roasted leg of lamb at an angle perpendicular to the bone, in the French manner, presents a whole palette of contrasting colors and textures, from the crispy brown of the exterior to the bloody red of the meat nearest the bone. But there is much more to the matter than meets the eye.