The science behind the famous Chez Panisse fruit bowl

Judging by the popularity of cookbooks like On Food and Cooking, The Food Lab, and Cookwise, it is safe to say that EYB Members enjoy learning about the science of cooking. If this describes you, a new column called ‘Housemade’ in The San Francisco Chronicle by culinary scientist Ali Bouzari might interest you. Since April 2018, Bouzari has been taking readers “on a guided tour of the silent sciences, brilliant ideas and awesome techniques behind your favorite restaurant menus.”

The most recent article dives into the phenomenon that is the Chez Panisse fruit bowl. Bouzari describes the science behind the uber-ripe, glistening, juice-bursting-at-the-seams fruit dessert in great scientific detail. But rather than confounding the reader with a ton of technical jargon, he explains the science with eloquent writing. Bouzari’s depictions of the fruit are to food journalism what a stunning Instagram image is to food photography – you can all but taste the flavors of the peaches and berries that he illustrates with words.

Chez Panisse Fruit

You can see this in the way Bouzari describes a portion of the ripening process, whereby fruit becomes sweet to attract birds and mammals to eat it so its seeds can be more widely distributed. “Ripening fruits drop their protective physical coatings of tough fibers and dampen chemical deterrents like astringent tannins and abrasive acids. Deep 401(k)s of starch are liquidated to fast cash in the form of sugar, and cell walls crumble to allow easier access to the sweetened nectar when bitten. Scraps of the disintegrating structures rocket upward to explode enchanting perfume into the air, and tasteful, utilitarian, green chlorophyll cedes the floor to garish pigments of every other color, a botanical “Everything Must Go” banner hung high.” Read more at The San Francisco Chronicle

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  • monique.potel  on  January 3, 2019

    I do not enjoy the writing of Bouzari that seems more preoccupied by his writing fioritures than by the subject he is trying to relate
    The subject was very interesting but I found the article tiring

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