The Videos: Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Mrs. Agnes Marshall, Culinary Time Traveler

2400 pages, not counting the cover
I don't know how much free time you've got on your hands, but if you've got an hour or so to kill and really, really get a hard-on over out-and-out galley geekery like liquid nitrogen, lasers and cutaway photography, then man do I have a video for you.

Thanks to sharp-eyed fan Matt (cheers, buddy!), I present this Research Channel Youtube video from a few months ago when, during its Distinguished Lecturers series, the University of Washington brought in two Seattle locals who'll be well known to anyone interested in the absolute cutting edge of modern cuisine: Nathan Myhrvold (former Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, now CEO of Intellectual Ventures) and Chris Young (who holds degrees in both mathematics and biochemistry from UW and spent 5 years working for Heston Blumenthal in the research kitchen of The Fat Duck in London before coming back to Seattle in 2007 to work with Myhrvold). Don't recognize those names? Check out the Seattle Food Geek's recent loving expose on his visit to the kitchen where Myhrvold and Young worked all the magic involved in their new cookbook, Modernist Cuisine (pictured above). That cookbook? It's 2400 pages, is kind of like an American version of the El Bulli cookbook(s), and currently retails for somewhere around $600.

Yeah, I know.

During the lecture, Myhrvold and Young talked about a lot of things. The book, sure (including a lot of their super-cool cut-away photographs and slo-mo food videos), but also dinosaurs, eating dead whales, burrowing worms, canned dog food, canned foie gras, the World Championship of BBQ (in which Myhrvold placed both 1st and 2nd) and nematodes in salmon in Seattle sushi restaurants.

The video starts after the jump. I'd lay in a good stock of beer and snacks before starting it up.

Awesome, right? My favorite part of that whole thing was probably the bit towards the end (yeah, I watched the whole thing) where Myhrvold starts talking about Mrs. Agnes Marshall, the Victorian era's queen of iced desserts, who once wrote in a cookbook of her own about the use of liquid nitrogen at dinner parties for making individual ice creams. What amazed me was that the book in question was published in 1901. More than a century ago, and this woman was already proposing something that is still one of the showpiece preparations of modernist cuisine today. That blew my mind.

Though, granted, I'd taken my own advice and had a few drinks first, so that thing about the dead whales blew my mind, too. As did all the talk about using a centrifuge to clarify stocks at 40,000 times earth gravity, the bit about mathematical models of heat transfer in food, the pictures of the rotary evaporator...

Anyway, Myhrvold and Young are everywhere these days. And with the release of the cookbook (due out in December of this year), their names are only going to get bigger. Which means that if you're already annoyed by the move towards technology and time-travel in modern cookery right now, things are likely only to get worse for you in the coming years.

comments powered by Disqus