What’s Cooking at the Museum of Science?

It was a beautiful fall day in Boston today, the perfect day for an outdoor cooking demonstration on the banks of the Charles River at…the Museum of Science?

The last place I expected to see a cooking demonstration was a science museum, but when I think about it, it makes sense.  Growing and preparing food involves many sciences, including agronomy, nutritional and environmental sciences, not to mention molecular gastronomy.

But, as Chef Chris Douglass said, cooking requires both art and science. Understanding that something you are roasting will “carry over” cooking when you take it out of the oven is the science, he said, but “getting it right is the art.”

Today’s event, “Citizen’s Chefs Meet Boston’s Best,” was part of a weekend kick-off for the Boston’s Museum of Science’s two-year “Let’s Talk About Food”  initiative. Six of Boston’s top chefs—Jody Adams, Chris Douglass, Tiffani Faison, Rahul Moolgaonkar, Jason Santos, and Ana Sortun—were paired with six non-professionals—“citizen’s chefs”–to demonstrate how to cook a delicious, healthy, sustainable meal that can be prepared at home.

Writer and journalist Louisa Kasdon, a project consultant for “Let’s Talk About Food,” told the crowd that she hopes that the Museum of Science will serve as a “Big Tent” to bring people together to discuss all aspects of food and food policy.

As a long-time PescoVegetarian, I was already familiar with the cooking techniques and nutritional value of many of the foods being used, but I was delighted to collect some new recipes and expand my knowledge.  Here are a few tasty tidbits I picked up, accompanied by a slide show of photos by Michelle Johnson:

Commentator Edith Murnane, Food Policy Director for the City of Boston, said that Brussels sprouts were one of her favorite vegetables, because of their sweetness.  “As we go into later fall and winter months, Brussels sprouts become even sweeter,” she noted.

“This is the only time of the year when you have two seasons of vegetables at once” [both summer and fall], chef Ana Sortun pointed out.  “Right now, leeks are magical,” she said.

Chef Tiffani Faison, runner-up on Season One of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” cooking competition show, stated that it can be hard to get kids to eat fish. Faison showed us how to make “meatballs” from scallops and monkfish, two fish that “tend to be a bit sweeter” and appeal to kids.

“Bluefish are local and they are good for you,” said Chef Jody Adams, who demonstrated her “Grilled Bluefish with Pomegranate Glaze, Garlic Yogurt and Fiery Greens” recipe. “Lots of people think bluefish are too oily, but fresh bluefish is delicious and doesn’t taste too oily,” Adams said. She also prepared farro, which she said has a lower gluten level than wheat and is her “favorite grain in the world.”

Ana Sortun combined escarole, cucumber, dill, parsley, spearmint, garlic, lemon, and  olive oil with Greek-style yogurt to create a “Cacik,” described in the program as “anything or everything green with thick garlicky yogurt.”

Commentator Kathy McManus, Department of Nutrition Director at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, sang the praises of Greek yogurt.  In addition to being wonderfully thick and rich, McManus said, “Greek-style yogurt has twice the protein and is lower in carbohydrates and sodium than regular yogurt.”

Since I love Greek yogurt, I was glad to hear that.  But I went home reflecting on something else McManus said: “Being mindful and thoughtful and savoring our meals is as important as the foods we eat.”

And that, dear reader, is where the art of food trumps the science.

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