A Watched Pot – Food Chemistry No. 1

Food is chemistry. I think that’s one of the reasons that it holds such mystique: talented cooks are not only preparers of nutrition, they are practical chemists. There is a lot to learn about the natural world just by making food – and if you truly understand food and food preparation, you have also gained an intuitive understanding of chemistry, the modification of molecules to create a desirable result.

Food and chemistry have always gone hand-in-hand. One of the earliest and most popular alchemical processes was the manufacture of aqua vitae – the “water of life”. Today we call the process “distillation”, and transliteration of “aqua vitae” gives rise to the words “whisky”, “eau de vie”, and “vodka”.

The Alchymist, In Search of the Philosophers' Stone by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1771.

When the aqua vitae starts glowing, it’s time to call a cab.

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