Wednesday, August 17, 2005

New Meaning to "Under Pressure"

I've been shaking my head ever since reading this article in The New York Times this past Sunday. It's about a "culinary revolution in vacuum-packed bags". I've seen Oprah Winfrey tell everyone how fantastic her vacuum sealer is and Clement of A la Cuisine extolls the virtue of using it to keep food fresh. This I can appreciate having been the victim of freezer burn too many times to count.

What I find hard to grasp is the notion of using this to cook food. I believe, like my Opa post, that simple is best. I love more traditional forms of cooking where I can taste as I go and smell the delectable aromas during the process. According to the article "Cryovacked...[that's what it's called]..will enhance the experience of tasting diced watermelon". My question to you is....what is wrong with the natural taste of ripe watermelon? That sugary, juicy taste, the crisp crunch when you bite into it, all those juices when you actually cut into it and the unique aroma.

Read the article and let me know your thoughts. Am I the only one who wants to hear the sizzle, smell the aromas, watch the magic as culinary delights take shape AND keep life uncomplicated in the process?

7 comments:

Ruth said...

Unfortunately I've lost comments from the last day or so. My apologies to Joe, Keiko and others for that.

Technology is a beautiful thing - except when it's not!!!

Everything is back to normal now and I look forward to your comments.

stephen said...

Hi Ruth...I just finished the article and I had a totally different reaction to it...yes, I love the physical pleasures of cooking (the sizzle, the aroma, etc.) but more than that I like the food on the plate...and what sous vide seems to be about is keeping the aroma from escaping into the kitchen (and out the vent) and the flavor from draining out with the juices...so that it can stay in the food...and for me that sounds pretty good...it's not about the bag, it's about a method of cooking at low temperatures for long periods of time in a sealed vessel...yes, it sounds right now like the home cook might be frozen out of this new method, because of the equipment involved, but then again I never thought I'd have 40,000 songs in my pocket a few years ago...I think that if you love food you have to be open to the next thing, and it may well be sous vide...finally, if you read carefully you'll see that the chefs most of us deify are on the sous vide train - Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter, Daniel Boulud, to name a few...these guys are all in the forefront of this movement and this has to tell you something...

anyway, thanks for bringing the question up and making a place for discussion of it...

Joe said...

Sorry your comments are having problems!

Ruth said...

Stephen, thanks for your perspective. I guess I'm just resistant to change.

I personally love the smell of food cooking/baking in the kitchen and all over the house so I'm never disturbed by escaping aromas although I concede to not wanting juices to escape.

To me, part of the joy of cooking for others is not only seeing their reactions to the taste, but hearing them take a giant sniff on entering my home and saying those magic words - "what's that wonderful smell?!"

McAuliflower said...

What a wonderful way to phrase it Ruth. You summed up my issues with my microwave!

I couldn't help but shake my head after that article for a couple reasons...
-Vacuum packing does nothing special to marinate in flavor. It's been scientifically proven that storing food under-pressure does not cause a marinade to penetrate any further than simmply immersing your food in the flavored liquid.
-I read the online version, which translated to being 6 "pages" long. I've never seen a cooking article get that much length awarded it to it before! I wish a more worthy cooking subject would warrant that length of attention. :)

Cryovacking is a good option for building in season meals meals to store away for revelation in the winter. Uses other than helping storage... just looks like the chef/emperor has new clothes on.

Ana said...

Pity I was to late to read the article. It is not available for free any more.

Anonymous said...

I witnessed this technique at a French restaurant in Saint Sauveur Quebec about 15 years ago. The owner was trying to figure out how to market this product to other restaurants. His idea was to prepare fine French cuisine in these vaccum sealed packages, ready to heat and serve. I tried his vaccum packed duck and it was amazing. I have been waiting since for a home version of the special oven and some great dishes at the supermarket. I think it's a great idea for people on the run who want to eat quality foods.