Issue Date: January 21, 2013
In “Note-By-Note Cuisine,” Sarah Everts comments about the taste of note-by-note food creations as akin to “sampling a food’s shadow or ghost” (C&EN, Nov. 12, 2012, page 33). This reminded me of a 1976 science-fiction short story called “Good Taste” by the late noted author and chemist Isaac Asimov.
In this story, an introverted futuristic society specializes in computer-designed food flavorings using blends of pure ingredients. The protagonist enters an annual contest and wins with a flavoring that the Grand Master, capable of tasting and analyzing flavors in even trace quantities, cannot identify. The protagonist reveals he did not use the pure components but the grown ingredient, garlic, maintaining that “no mixture can duplicate the complexity of a growing product.”
But unlike Everts’ mention of society’s aversion to a suggestion of food being chemicals, in Asimov’s story the Grand Master, when it is revealed that part of the flavoring was grown and not manufactured, becomes violently ill, sickened by the fact that he has eaten “a growth—from the dirt.”
Steve L. Aprahamian
- Chemical & Engineering News
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