Skip to main content

Science and Chocolate

This is the first week of my online Science and Gastronomy course with Coursera. I was a little nervous about the 'high school level science' prerequisite - I dropped chemistry and physics and miserably failed my O level biology - but I'm happy to report that I'm more than managing the science bits, probably down to the clarity and the sound-bite design of the video lectures. And I'm learning stuff! I use that exclamation mark consciously. Learning stuff at school tended to be a drag, apart from French. I am sure there are people who reveled in, and blossomed during, their senior school years, but I definitely wasn't one of them. But with age, maturity and the desire to expand my knowledge of the world, learning is now exciting.

Science of Gastronomy Course Banner
So far I've learned the difference between convection and conduction, how to make water boil at more than 100 degrees centigrade (add salt or sugar), and about leptin (the appetite inhibitor) and ghrelin (the hunger hormone), and about neural control.

The idea that variety and contrast in food types, flavours, colours, temperatures and textures can make for a more pleasant eating experience isn't news to me. And I doubt it'll be news to the majority of the other food bloggers who are also subscribed to this course. 

And then we got to chocolate. I love chocolate but I don't want to keep eating it, why? announced the title of one of the video lectures. Ummm... but I do! And I'm betting it was a man who wrote that. (I accept, in advance, any accusations of gender bias or sexism.) Okay, I do have a satiety level but I think it's a lot higher than 10 pieces, which was the amount of chocolate suggested for one of the first assignment's sensory-specific satiety tests. 

My own test involved eating nine crackers followed by one piece of chocolate at three minute intervals. Cracker, in the UK, tends to mean a Jacob's or a  Carr's Water, and I'm thinking that the course leaders, who are based at the University of Hong Kong, had more of a prawn cracker in mind. Or at least something of a similar size. There was no way I was ever going to munch through nine Jacob's Cream Crackers in half an hour so I cut my Jacob's into four and got on with it. 

All the ingredients you need
for a vanilla and caramel fudge cone.
I have never, in the whole of my life, been so obsessed with a small piece of chocolate. And I think you can probably guess that my 'pleasantness' score was pretty high when I got to it. 

The rest of today's diet will be rather more varied: a thai chicken and salad wrap with a trickle of Nando's hot Peri-Peri sauce. And an ice-cream cone, the box of which called to me in the sweetest of voices from the first aisle of Waitrose's this morning. I'm pretty sure that my  sensory-specific satiety levels are pretty high when it comes to Carte D'Or Vanilla too.

Hungry Writing Prompts
Write about something you learned.
Write about not wanting to eat.
Write about a test.
Write about an obsession.
Write about ice-cream.

Popular posts from this blog

Pie, pie glorious pie

So often when we talk about food we are talking about family. In fact that was how the hungry writer blog began, nearly six years ago: weekly memories or life stories linked by the theme of food. Food is nurture and love. It can be celebration and anxiety too. It can also be a battleground, as the parents of young children know so intimately! Which is rather a satisfying segue into the family featuring in this week's blogpost: The Radfords. Because if anyone understands the feeding of children, really, really understands, it has to be Sue Radford who, with her husband, Noel, has 19 children. You can read about the family on their website but don't rush off yet as what I really want to talk about is pie. And specifically Radford's pies.
Noel Radford has been a baker for 25 years and opened his own bakery in 1999 in Heysham, Lancashire and makes pies with locally sourced ingredients. That, along with his skill as a master baker, means that the pictures of the 'filled to t…

Eat, laugh, cry, remember: Baked Camembert

Once, on a holiday in Malta, I dressed Tony up in my gypsy skirt and stretchy white vest, used two satsumas for breasts and made up his eyes and lips with the brightest colours I had with me. Then I took a photograph. He didn’t seem to mind, in fact he seemed quite tickled by the fuss and attention to detail, but the quantity of rosé we’d shared at Snoopy’s restaurant on the seafront in Sliema earlier in the evening might have had something to do with that.

This was 1988. There were no digital cameras for instant viewing (and, praise be, instant deletion). The only instant photographs at the time came courtesy of Polaroid, with their packages of square film and box-like cameras, and slid out of the front of the machine on shiny thick card that everyone huddled over and watched develop. But they tended to be party cameras, appearing at Christmas, birthdays, engagements. You captured your holiday photos on a proper camera, one you had to load and feed film into, then unload and drop off…

The Mythic Biscuit: Oreos

My childhood biscuits were mainly plain but had lovely names: Marie, Nice, Rich Tea. Quiet biscuits. The kind of biscuits that would never interrupt a conversation. Polite, not pushy. At the other end of the spectrum, and only irregularly present, probably a result of practical economics, were cheeky Jammy Dodgers, irritable Garibaldis, and self-contented and reliable Bourbons. And even more irregularly, the flashy inhabitants of a Christmas Box of Biscuits: Pink Wafers. I ate them at the same time as not liking them very much, a bit like Miss World Contestants in sparkly dresses, too much eye make-up and a saccharine idea of world peace. 
I'm in the mood to think, and personify, 'biscuits' because the lovely team at Oreo sent me some samples of their new Oreo Thins. I hadn't heard of Oreos until the early 1990s when a friend asked if I would bring him back a packet from a Florida holiday. I forgot and pretended I couldn't find them. 'But they're everywher…