Spring 2020

Molecular Gastronomy and Food Science: From Test Tubes to Taste Buds

Listed in: Chemistry, as CHEM-100


Christopher B. Durr (Section 01)
Patricia B. O'Hara (Section 01)


Living organisms require resources to fuel the processes necessary for staying alive. We require a certain number of calories to fuel metabolic processes and to provide building blocks to replace old cells and build new ones. Our food should provide a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals that we need to consume regularly for a healthy existence. Yet humans have developed another relationship with food that can be either enriching or pathological. Sharing meals with others, developing the skills to enjoy the sensory pleasures of food, learning about other cultures through their gastronomic habits, and eating moderately while consciously are all examples of a deeper productive relationship with food. On the darker side, food can be a palliative to relieve our stress or satiate our addictions to sugar, fats, or salt. Modern humans can be so far removed from our food sources that we lose the connection between animal and meat and do not know if the food on our plates contains added hormones, pesticides, or genetically modified products. This course will examine our core requirements for food as we eat to live, and some of the cultural, social, historical, and culinary dimensions as we live to eat. Readings will include On Food and Cooking, by Harold McGee, The Third Plate by Dan Barber, We Fed an Island by José Andrés, and selections from Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Billet.

The two sections will meet together for 80-minute lecture/demos twice a week, and each section will meet separately for a culinary lab once a week for 80 minutes.  

Limited to 32 students. Spring Semester. Professors Durr and O'Hara.

If Overenrolled: If overenrolled, preference will be given to upper class students (seniors, juniors, and sophomores


Community Based Learning, Lab Science Course, Science & Math for Non-majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020