“Gastronomers of the year 1825, who find satiety in the lap of abundance, and dream of some newly-made dishes, you will not enjoy the discoveries which science has in store for the year 1900, such as foods drawn from the mineral kingdom, liqueurs produced by the pressure of a hundred atmospheres; you will never see the importations which travelers yet unborn will bring to you from that half of the globe which has still to be discovered or explored. How I pity you!”
Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)
If Brillat-Savarin only knew how exceptionally prolific these words would be, he may have placed bets. Modernist cuisine and molecular gastronomy , the study of food and it’s chemical and physical interaction, has become more than an abstract tool but a mainstay of every burgeoning young chef’s repertoire.
One of my favorite observations was by Gordon E Moore. In his 1965 paper Moore suggested that technological advancement for computer processors doubles in efficiency ever 2 years, then later refined, 18 months.
Moore’s Law seems no longer to only effect computers, but the very essence of the human condition. This transition in the fabric of human consciousness includes not only the way we eat but also the way we think about food. Farm to fork, localism, a quest for knowledge, and a taste for transparency is sweeping over the US. We are in a new and exciting transition in food culture. The way America perceives food is changing; we are changing.
Unfortunately evolution is not easy nor as progressive as any if us may want. To competing laws help to balance the rapid growth and diversity: Gates’ law and May’s law. Both of these attribute that though hardware efficiency doubles, software systems lag to compensate. This anchoring can be seen very much in big food producers, agricultural business models, and our very own chef & F&B friends who will not embrace the changes as they come.
The idea that, “this is how we have always done it” or “profit over conscientious reform” are the equal and opposite reaction that defy long lasting change. But, there is a unique beauty in this opposition. As we tread water into the future we must pick the battles that have the deepest and most meaningful implications in the advancements of modern cuisine. This refinement is the constant catalysis in the development of the new world of food. Which idea is worth fighting for? Which idea will develop the minds of aspiring chefs? Which idea is the unifying force for the next global evolution.
It is up to the brave to decide, and the rest to follow.