Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Food science

At the beginning of June, I had the pleasure to attend my first conference about food science: The 7th International Symposium on Food Rheology and Structure.

I love food, my family loves food. With my sisters and brother we talk about food almost each time we meet. My aunts and uncles do the same. We love making food for each others and for our guests. My wife has the same kind of sensibility.

I love food, I love to cook. I love to improvise a new dish. I have dozens of spices in my kitchen, and I try to master their use, alone or in combination. I became versed in some recipes, likes lasagne bolognese, but I take on new challenges as often as possible. I often knead pasta or udon, I made chocolate éclair when they were impossible to find in Tokyo.

I love food, I love to understand it. My scientist brain can't be turned off when I cook. Mayonnaise is an emulsion, flour a granular material. When I make white sauce, the size of the eddies generated by my spoon is a visual indication of the Reynolds number and thus the viscosity of the sauce undergoing a sol-gel transition. Boiling water is a thermostat at 100°C.

I love food, I study it. My first independent project as an undergrad was about mayonnaise. Then I learned that soft matter science was a thing and went up to the PhD studying rather inedible soft materials. Freshly arrived in France as a postdoc, my new boss asked me if I wanted to study "waxy crude oil" or yoghurt. Of course I chose the later. I studied it as a physicist during 3 years and now finally I was able to present my results to food scientists.

I love food, but I am not a food scientist. I am not trying to formulate a new yoghurt. I don't make the link between the mouth feel adjectives rated by a panel of trained consumers and mechanical measurements. I am more interested by the physics that it reachable through the study of food systems.

I love food, and it was a pleasure to meet the food science community. I discovered very interesting systems, I heard interesting questions being raised, I received nice feedbacks about my contribution (see below). I even met a reader of this blog, hello Dilek!

I love food, I will meet this community again. I have been invited to Journées Scientifiques sur le thème Matière Molle pour la Science des Aliments, a conference to unite the French food science community. It will be held in October 28-29 in Montpellier.