8/21/18 Show feat. Dr. Chris Smiet on Flavors and Food Chemistry

Featured image: The famous Sichuanese mapo tofu, a dish that exemplifies the local mala palate. Note the careful dash of brown numbing seeds (huajiao) on top! (Courtesy J. Kenji Lopez-Alt)

On the menu today: Dr. Chris Smiet, a postdoctoral scholar at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, shares his expansive understanding of food chemistry. What prompts plants and spices to develop the complex chemicals that make them so flavorful to us humans? Hear how basil and carrots have special diversity amid similarities, and how modern cooking moves away from “recipes” and toward a general understanding of how ingredients mix in a scientific sense.

Chris mentions a book that taught him the essence of cooking: it was On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. Pick up a copy to experience an encyclopedic foray through milk, molecules and your tastebuds.

Plus, listen to the preface before the interview for other topics in science:

  • There’s an overview of nanofabrication, the process of making tiny structures for electrical engineering, computer circuits. One central process in making these tiny marvels is to stack thin layers of metal on top of clean silicon chips.
  • A new glowing object in the auroral skies of Canada is not related to inflowing plasma from the sun, and thus represents a different atmospheric phenomenon than we’ve seen before.

The playlist can be found on WPRB.com or below.

Screenshot from 2018-08-25 12-33-25

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