An article published today in Science Daily has a semi-rant about science communication through cooking. In the end, the article comes down to how to cook the perfect boiled egg – a subject long argued over various kitchen counters. A new method that ignores cooking time and focuses on temperature is emerging: the 6X°C egg.
While I’m still managing soft-boiling – 4.5 minutes in boiling water seems about right – chefs are moving on to specialized temperatures. Each chef has his own opinion on the exact degree, but cooking an egg somewhere between 60 and 65 °C for several hours (it doesn’t matter exactly) is now thought to produce the ‘best’ boiled egg. A single food scientist, César Vega, is speaking out about the ridiculousness of the idea, calling it “nonsense”. He argues cooking time depends on both time and temperature.
The real question is not of time or temperature, but of who out there cares? Vega, and the author of the aforementioned article, argue that cooking can be used to show scientific principals in a fun and understandable way. Most people cook everyday, meaning most people are engaging in a form of chemistry. (Although in my case, I doubt proficiency in cooking directly translates to proficiency in synthesis.)
So should chemistry and home ec. team up? I think so. From various demos I’ve done, the ones involving edibles are always the most popular, especially with younger age groups. So why not have courses explaining how yeast causes dough to rise or why egg whites can be whipped into stiff peaks? Maybe some chemical research can settle the perfectly boiled egg argument once and for all.