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Cooking... lean towards art or science?

Poll Results: Cooking lean towards...

  • 40% (2)
  • 60% (3)
  • 0% (0)
5 Total Votes  
post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I know it's a mix of both, but which do you think it leans toward?
post #2 of 11

Science or Art?

I think that when cooking first came out, it was an art. Now today, we have standardized units of measurments and specific orders. It's like following directions in a science experiment.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
I think making a new recipe leans toward art, but subsequent making is pretty much science/manufacturing. The short shelf life nature of taste,texture and biological safety of finished food is the only thing that keeps cooking in batch or made-to-order production.

If food stayed good for a long time in ready to eat state without decomposition or losing flavor, nobody would be cooking. Most would be made in production line ready to eat.
post #4 of 11
That's how I feel about specials. It's a thrill to come up with a new special. After five of them it becomes work.
post #5 of 11
none of the above

I lean towards what tastes good.
post #6 of 11
I think the best cooking is a perfect and intertwined mixture of art (the sentimental, emotional, sensual) and science (observation, experimentation, prediction, timing, calculation, measuring).

Like Leonardo Da Vinci's work one aspect cannot exclude the other but by including both art and science you get a masterpiece.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #7 of 11
I sympathize with my brothers and sisters toiling on the line at restaurants too obsessed by "consistency" to tolerate good cooking, but must disagree with them. Both are important. If you emphasize one over the other, you cheat the one not prioritized and thereby cheat the dish.

If you follow a recipe exactly as to amounts and written technique, you ignore the fact that conditions vary and you can never repeat a dish exactly, but must adapt to changing ingredients, etc. Further, tasting is an important technique included in EVERY recipe although seldom written. If you do not taste, you do not know. With the knowledge born of tasting comes some degree of improvisation, even if only to salt and pepper. Further, no dish is perfect and a good cook seeks always to improve.

Finally, following a recipe exactly is not science. Science is mostly a way of thinking, a system for asking ever more refined questions. Don't let the white coats and pocket protectors fool you, a scientist is more than a technician. Moreover, following a recipe exactly is not even good technique because good technique aims for best results. A shellfish can follow a recipe. A baker is more than a bread machine.

All this without reference to writing recipes. That's not all inspiration, you know. There's a significant amount of pure grunt work to converting pinches and "feels like" and "smells like" into a formula that can be followed successfully by someone not familiar with the dish or all of the techniques involved. It's too late to be the first person on earth to try an artichoke, so even "inventing" new dishes is as much a matter of mental deconstruction and reconstruction combined with the scientific method of going from hypothesis to tested theory as "inspiration." Just because I make it look easy... :rolleyes:

The artist must have good technique to create. Van Gogh did not throw paint at the canvas, he knew what he was doing. Picasso could do more with a simple line than any human being who came before or since. The scientist must have imagination to press forward. Newton didn't invent calculus because he lacked for creativity. The speed of light wasn't measured without inspiration.

Are we not men?
post #8 of 11
I think cooking relies solely on technique and intuition.

I know many friends who cook using their own standard recipes and do not account for the variables (produce, temperature/humidity, equipment) that change. They mostly consider recipes to be a formula and put no thought to each step. My own feeling is that there is no such thing as a standard no fail recipe. Just because you've cooked something 100 times the exact same way doesn't mean it's going to be good every time.

Let's say the steps they give you in the recipes are science. The knowledge, skill and intuition to make that happen are the art. A recipe for meatballs may say "mix all the ingredients with the ground beef together" but might neglect to tell you that over mixing will make your meatballs tough.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #9 of 11
I'm sure you artists will disagree but I look at cooking as more of a craft. A joining of art and science. Like a blacksmith, a saddle maker, or even a tattooer. You must master the science before you can truly be creative.
post #10 of 11
Really have to agree with that one. There is science in just about everything we consume, be it with various forms of alcohols, cheeses, breads, preserves, pickling, smoking, brining, etc. These forms of preservation have been around for hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years. Those who understood the science used it to their advantage.

And then there is the science behind actual cooking. Protiens coagulate at specific temperatures. Understand and respect the temperture and you can use it to your advantage, ignore it and dis-respect it and you have hi-grade shoe leather. Same thing with baking--like the lady who wanted to bake sugar-free bread and subsituted a sugar replacement--didn't know why her bread wouldn't rise....

All the fruit caviars and working with hydrocolloids and liquid nitrogen and stuff. What is the thinking behind this? To suprise and titilate the customer? To push the envelope further? Look at some of the menus from the 16 and 17th centuries, the Chefs back then strived to make one food look like another--to suprise and titilate the the guest.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #11 of 11
I think it's both science and art, and I can't choose one.

Creating a new dish or making one's own version depends a lot on a person's skill in combining flavors, textures, and appearance, and predicting (or intuiting?) outcomes, which I consider art more than science. I think this is especially true when herbs and spices play a big part.
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