I sat in a classroom at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences yesterday morning, and heard a talk by Ferran Adria, the notorious Catalan chef from the late El Bulli restaurant. Harold McGee, the food scientist, introduced Mr. Adria, and Chef Jose Andres translated for the Spaniard.
This talk was the first of a series, all free, and all on the Internet. Other topics will be Chocolate, Emulsions, and the Sous Vide Method.
And since this was Harvard, and free, I sat for two hours as Adria theorized about sea weed and chemistry and something called "Aspherification". Eventually he and his assistants, using a water-chemical bath, produced little yellow balls of olive oil encased in gelatin. The chef called this "Olive Oil Caviar", now for sale in Europe. They looked like bath oil beads to me. They are said to "explode in your mouth".
I am hoping that future classes will have something in them for the plain home cook, though I am interested in watching to see if they try to corral chocolate in a gelatin ball-
Dazzled by the idea of the Ivy League on Line, I clicked my way to Yale University's "Open Courses". No cooking here. But free lectures on Modern Poetry and Milton and Greek History. I enrolled my self in the last one and listened to Professor Donald Kagan's introduction. And there are twenty five more hours! What happiness! To take a class because I want to. Not for credit, not so I can graduate, not so I can get tenure someday down the road-
As Stevenson wrote in "A Child's Garden of Verses", "The world is so full of a number of things. I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings!"