I was recently introduced to interesting insights in molecular gastronomy. I learnt about Homaru Cantu, founder of MOTO restaurant and his ideas of ‘miracle fruit’ and a first step to saving world hunger, as well as how it extends our definition of ‘food’. I have my reservations, and I am no scientist or professional chef, but I drew a very positive lesson from Homaru Cantu’s great vision, I thought I’ll share this too.
We often think of things in their preset categories, we place things in silos and we assume exclusivity to many characteristics. We examine in-depth, but not widely. We find aerospace engineers and business gurus, experts in their specific field of studies, but no longer see the great thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle whose studies span various disciplines. Times have changed, I am well-aware, but I wonder if this change has done more good/harm to our understanding of the world.
I started to think about me – or us. My current job requires me to predict the future – meet consumers’ needs, second-guess what they desire, invent the next best technology that dominates product categories. Sometimes we try so hard to outpace ourselves, we imagine the future and neglect the past that holds the very answer we’re looking for. I recall my first encounter with the ‘History of Science’, or ‘History of Diseases & Medicine’, and realised how historians too, can contribute to scientific studies and technology. My studies of the History of Science showed me how much was known or conceived in the early years. 3D TVs aren’t a brand new thing – people wrote about highly-similar items in the past – in those days 3D TVs were probably classified as science-fiction? We mocked, laughed, and chucked it aside. Instead of re-imagining a brand new product, a close examination of past records could potentially give us new ideas which we could leverage upon. While the concept might have been impossible years back – today’s advanced technology gives us a chance to materialise it. Of course, innovation must precede invention, but science might be enhanced if history is given a chance in its playing field.
I thought about how a molecular gastronomist aimed to transform our understanding of ‘food’ with the help of ‘science’ to achieve a greater humanitarian goal. How many of us are really open to applying scientific knowledge to culinary activity? Yet how often have we associated cooking with artistic qualities? Is this an example of assumptions that may have sidelined greater potential? There are limits to what we can accept in the combinations of food and science, without a doubt – I am not entirely receptive towards ‘edible paper’ etc but sometimes opening our minds a little more can put us in a creative space which we have always strived to achieve.
Maybe, just maybe, I am not a one-dimensional office-bound individual. Maybe if I could apply some of my existing knowledge to other aspects of life, I might be able to make a difference too. I don’t purport that I can make a huge positive impact to the world but we can all start somewhere.
Try this – think about your skills or what you can do, apply it to a field/discipline that you thought was totally irrelevant – maybe you’ll come up with something interesting too! If I do, I’ll be sure to write an update here!
Cheers to the week ahead everyone!