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Molecular Blogology

I am knee-deep in writing the blurbs for the Creme de la Creme. In fact, I am at that point that happens every year where my fancy rationing system has failed and I am woefully behind and slightly panicked that I will not have it ready for January 1st and wondering why I didn’t ask for help and absolutely positive that I will have the whole list complete by Wednesday morning regardless because Josh is not going to stand for me working on the list on New Years Eve.

You may be wondering then why I am using precious minutes to write a blog post rather than work on a blurb and the reason is density. The Creme de la Creme list is quite literally everyone’s best work, so there aren’t the piddly posts you can skim updating the reader with information about every meal they’ve eaten since last Thursday or giving a few sentences about their latest transfer. This is bones and blood instead of clouds and air.

Which means that I need to take a break from time to time in order to clear my brain of all the images that pile up one on top of the other–the prometrium capsule on the floor or the delivery room guest or Uncle Bobby (these images will make sense and stick in your mind too after I post the list). Reboot.

My fancy rationing system is ruined year after year because I only use hours that wouldn’t have been allotted to something else to compose the list. Meaning, I take the time I would have written posts or read blogs or googled elementary school classmates instead of using time which is allotted to the twins or cooking or pulling together yet another Wonder Pets Chanukkah decoration (and yes, for the record, Chanukkah is over. But Chanukkah decorations know no calendar).

To be honest, most of my googling as of late has been about molecular gastronomy. What is molecular gastronomy (or “mg” as we like to call it over here)? I’m so glad you asked because I loooooooooooove to talk about it. In fact, I love it so much that I was slightly panting this evening as I asked my brother if he wanted to swing by my house at 10 a.m. tomorrow because I was picking up Thomas Keller’s cookbook, pant, pant, pant. It is somewhat the science of cooking, but probably more accurately described as the encroachment of science on food. It’s using technology to create new textures or temperatures, turning everything familiar on its head and making the most bizarre constructions accessible.

I haven’t actually gotten into trying out the recipes I’m finding as I read (though I did ask Josh if he thought a drop of onion soup suspended in a fragile shell casing titled “cube of comfort” would be as satisfying as the Gruyere draped mess I was planning on serving to Lindsay Tuesday night. Oui? Non?) so right now it’s still at that love stage where I think it is the most interesting thing in the world instead of the most frustrating. It’s sort of the same thing as the first few dates vs. the middle of the relationship. In other words, of course it seems worth my time right now because it is exciting and new and interesting and I’m just giddy every time my fingers type French Laundry.

Perhaps I simply love molecular cuisine because of its excessive use of quotation marks on the “menu.”

To make the list, I’ve had to cut back on my excessive googling of Heston Blumenthal and Herve This. And it made me think: when I get to the end of my life, will I think this was time well spent. Will I be happy that I used my downtime to learn about molecular gastronomy (or, before that, sugar art and before that, Bob Fosse dance moves) and on that end, will I be happy that I used so many hours to make the Creme de la Creme list?

And the answer to both questions, I think, will be yes. Because both are about learning. About putting yourself squarely in a situation outside your ken and attempting to understand. Being open to the possibility that everything–from food to emotions–can be very different from what you currently hold as truth. That every moment has unique qualities that cannot be replicated, but can only be appreciated.

Making the list is satisfying–I literally feel full when I lay out each ten blurb set. And learning something new is satisfying even if the feeling is ephemeral. Even if the knowledge also makes me realize how much there still is to read, discover, know. And I’ll never get to all of it. You only get to live one life and I think the amazing thing about the Creme de la Creme list is that you get to try on so many other ways life could have gone. You get to read about how something felt that you either experienced yourself or is outside your realm of experience. But it is all accessible because you are empathetic, open-hearted, and we all have a base desire or drive that is similar from person to person. The list is about the multitude of ways you can try to reach parenthood and all the things that could happen along the way.

So this is all time well spent–from googling molecular gastronomy to reading about how someone’s belief in G-d has changed after a loss–it is all part of the whole and I’m just grateful that the community comes together to do this every year.

I take a lot of care with the blurbs–I try to sit with each post and truly listen; sum it up with a sentence or two for others to serve as a doorway to the post. I worry a lot that I’ve missed something, misunderstood, worked too quickly. I worry at a level that I don’t reach with the weekly Roundup, which is so similar to the list. So forgive me, in advance, if my blurb for your post wasn’t perfect. They are all malleable and can be changed if I misunderstood.

Back to the list.

*And by molecular blogology, I mean the writing equivalent to cooking’s creative cuisine–the way technology encroaches on community, changing the shape and structure of friendships. By fuck, I think I just invented a new area of study.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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