Science & Cooking: Harvard’s Free Course on Making Cakes, Paella & Other Delicious Food

I can hard­ly think of a more appeal­ing nexus of the sci­ences, for most of us and for obvi­ous (and deli­cious) rea­sons, than food. Add a kind of engi­neer­ing to the mix, and you get the study of cook­ing. Back in 2012, we fea­tured the first few lec­tures from Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty’s course Sci­ence and Cook­ing: From Haute Cui­sine to the Sci­ence of Soft Mat­terTheir col­lec­tion of rig­or­ous and enter­tain­ing pre­sen­ta­tions of that which we love to pre­pare and, even more so, to eat has since expand­ed to include one- to two-hour lec­tures deliv­ered by sharp pro­fes­sors in coop­er­a­tion with respect­ed chefs and oth­er food lumi­nar­ies on culi­nary sub­jects like the sci­ence of sweets (fea­tur­ing Flour Bak­ery’s Joanne Chang), how to do cut­ting-edge mod­ernist cui­sine at home (fea­tur­ing Nathan Myhrvold, who wrote an enor­mous book on it), and the rel­e­vance of microbes, mis­os, and olives (fea­tur­ing David Chang of Momo­fuku fame). You can watch all of the lec­tures, in order, with the playlist embed­ded at the top of this post.

Alter­na­tive­ly, you can pick and choose from the com­plete list of Har­vard’s Sci­ence and Cook­ing lec­tures on Youtube or on iTunes. Some get deep into the nat­ur­al work­ings of spe­cif­ic dish­es, ingre­di­ents and prepa­ra­tion meth­ods; oth­ers, like “The Sci­ence of Good Cook­ing” with a cou­ple of edi­tors from Cook’s Illus­trat­ed, take a broad­er view. That lec­ture and oth­ers will cer­tain­ly help build an intel­lec­tu­al frame­work for those of us who want to improve our cook­ing — and even those of us who can already cook decent­ly, or at least reli­ably fol­low a recipe — but can’t quite attain the next lev­el with­out under­stand­ing exact­ly what hap­pens when we flick on the heat. One school of thought holds that, to come off as rea­son­ably skilled in the kitchen, you need only mas­ter one or two show­case meals. When asked to cook some­thing, I, for instance, have tend­ed to make pael­la almost every time, almost out of sheer habit. But now that I’ve found Raül Bal­am Rus­calleda’s talk on the sci­ence of that tra­di­tion­al Span­ish dish, I can see that I must now, on sev­er­al lev­els, raise my game. View it below, and feel free to take notes along­side me. You can find Sci­ence and Cook­ing in our col­lec­tion of 900 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Sci­ence & Cook­ing: Har­vard Profs Meet World-Class Chefs in Unique Online Course

MIT Teach­es You How to Speak Ital­ian & Cook Ital­ian Cui­sine All at Once (Free Online Course)

How Cook­ing Can Change Your Life: A Short Ani­mat­ed Film Fea­tur­ing the Wis­dom of Michael Pol­lan

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • Ronyjahid says:

    I fol­lowed the instruc­tion and my pael­la was real­ly fine with a fine Socrat­ic. The “do not stir” rule makes all the dif­fer­ence. Also the toast­ed saf­fron is real­ly nice and from now on I will do the same for risot­to and oth­er dish­es.

  • Sridhar Krishnan says:

    Kind­ly let me know the details of the course
    is it avail­able online
    how much is the course fees

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