Guys. I’m going to start talking about Food Science, and you might be a bit confused, but stick with me.
As I mentioned in the critically acclaimed interview with myself, I am often inspired to write stories based on the cast of characters in my own life. (Trust me, what a cast it is!) Most recently, I’ve been working on a Kid-Lit series inspired by my sister Jane and her adventures in Food Science.
My sister’s culinary creativity started at a young age. Jane could bake the perfect cheesecake by the time she was ten. I have burnt Easy Mac…twice. Jane can solve any kitchen catastrophe using her talented tastebuds. I once cried bitter tears of frustration into a batch of lumpy chocolate sauce before throwing the entire saucepan into the garbage. Let’s just say, we’re at different levels.
The cool thing about Jane (besides her older sister) is that she’s also been interested in science from a young age and, when it came time to pick a major at Penn State (We Are!), she found the perfect mixture of her two passions: Food Science!
Thanks to Jane, I’ve learned that Food Science is the technical and tasty study of the science behind our favorite foods. Different from baking soda explosions or potato electricity experiments (don’t get me wrong, those are cool, too), Food Science instead offers nuggets of scientific information that answer culinary questions like:
Question: How do corn kernels turn into delicious morsels of popcorn?
Food Science Fact: There is a tiny bit of water inside every corn kernel. When heated to the correct temperature, the water in the kernel turns to steam and expands. The expanding steam pushes against the sides of the corn kernel until…POP…you’ve got yourself the perfect snack.
Question: What gives pretzels their distinctive pretzel-y appearance and taste?
Food Science Fact: Before baking, pretzel dough is dipped in an alkaline bath. This special mixture, such as baking soda flakes and hot water, changes the way the dough’s proteins and sugars react with one another. The result? A dark brown color, crunchy outer skin and perfect pretzel bite!
Question: What happens when you tap a cake pan on a hard surface before baking?
Food Science Fact: No matter how well your mixer works, tiny pockets of air will always stay trapped inside a cake batter after it is poured into the pan. If light and fluffy is the texture you want, leave those bad boys alone. But, if a chewy bite is what you’re after, tapping the pan against a hard surface will force those stubborn little air bubbles up to the top where they will break open, leaving behind a dense and delicious dessert.
Learned something new, right? Me, too.
Think it would make the perfect premise for a Kid Lit book? Me, too!
Like every author should, I’ve been doing my research and learning as much as possible about this fascinating world of Food Science. (Bonus: I get to eat the research!) I thought it would be fun to share what I’ve learned and introduce others to this often misunderstood concept. Plus, as Clelia and I bring my Kid-Lit manuscript to the wide world of publishing, it might make them hungry to learn more and I need to be prepared to feed them as much Food Science information as possible. (See what I did there?)
So, if you start to see pictures of pancakes or stories of spaghetti fill my feeds, now you’ll understand why.
How does Food Science play a role in my Kid-Lit series? You’ll just have to wait and see! In the meantime, Jane is off to the Culinary Institute of America to pursue her passion for Baking and Pastry Arts and I’ll be here, typing away and hoping she sends me any edible leftovers from class.