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Monday, December 29, 2008

Molecular Blogology*

I am knee-deep in writing the blurbs for the Creme de la Creme. In fact, I am at that point that happens every year where my fancy rationing system has failed and I am woefully behind and slightly panicked that I will not have it ready for January 1st and wondering why I didn't ask for help and absolutely positive that I will have the whole list complete by Wednesday morning regardless because Josh is not going to stand for me working on the list on New Years Eve.

You may be wondering then why I am using precious minutes to write a blog post rather than work on a blurb and the reason is density. The Creme de la Creme list is quite literally everyone's best work, so there aren't the piddly posts you can skim updating the reader with information about every meal they've eaten since last Thursday or giving a few sentences about their latest transfer. This is bones and blood instead of clouds and air.

Which means that I need to take a break from time to time in order to clear my brain of all the images that pile up one on top of the other--the prometrium capsule on the floor or the delivery room guest or Uncle Bobby (these images will make sense and stick in your mind too after I post the list). Reboot.

My fancy rationing system is ruined year after year because I only use hours that wouldn't have been allotted to something else to compose the list. Meaning, I take the time I would have written posts or read blogs or googled elementary school classmates instead of using time which is allotted to the twins or cooking or pulling together yet another Wonder Pets Chanukkah decoration (and yes, for the record, Chanukkah is over. But Chanukkah decorations know no calendar).

To be honest, most of my googling as of late has been about molecular gastronomy. What is molecular gastronomy (or "mg" as we like to call it over here)? I'm so glad you asked because I loooooooooooove to talk about it. In fact, I love it so much that I was slightly panting this evening as I asked my brother if he wanted to swing by my house at 10 a.m. tomorrow because I was picking up Thomas Keller's cookbook, pant, pant, pant. It is somewhat the science of cooking, but probably more accurately described as the encroachment of science on food. It's using technology to create new textures or temperatures, turning everything familiar on its head and making the most bizarre constructions accessible.

I haven't actually gotten into trying out the recipes I'm finding as I read (though I did ask Josh if he thought a drop of onion soup suspended in a fragile shell casing titled "cube of comfort" would be as satisfying as the Gruyere draped mess I was planning on serving to Lindsay Tuesday night. Oui? Non?) so right now it's still at that love stage where I think it is the most interesting thing in the world instead of the most frustrating. It's sort of the same thing as the first few dates vs. the middle of the relationship. In other words, of course it seems worth my time right now because it is exciting and new and interesting and I'm just giddy every time my fingers type French Laundry.

Perhaps I simply love molecular cuisine because of its excessive use of quotation marks on the "menu."

To make the list, I've had to cut back on my excessive googling of Heston Blumenthal and Herve This. And it made me think: when I get to the end of my life, will I think this was time well spent. Will I be happy that I used my downtime to learn about molecular gastronomy (or, before that, sugar art and before that, Bob Fosse dance moves) and on that end, will I be happy that I used so many hours to make the Creme de la Creme list?

And the answer to both questions, I think, will be yes. Because both are about learning. About putting yourself squarely in a situation outside your ken and attempting to understand. Being open to the possibility that everything--from food to emotions--can be very different from what you currently hold as truth. That every moment has unique qualities that cannot be replicated, but can only be appreciated.

Making the list is satisfying--I literally feel full when I lay out each ten blurb set. And learning something new is satisfying even if the feeling is ephemeral. Even if the knowledge also makes me realize how much there still is to read, discover, know. And I'll never get to all of it. You only get to live one life and I think the amazing thing about the Creme de la Creme list is that you get to try on so many other ways life could have gone. You get to read about how something felt that you either experienced yourself or is outside your realm of experience. But it is all accessible because you are empathetic, open-hearted, and we all have a base desire or drive that is similar from person to person. The list is about the multitude of ways you can try to reach parenthood and all the things that could happen along the way.

So this is all time well spent--from googling molecular gastronomy to reading about how someone's belief in G-d has changed after a loss--it is all part of the whole and I'm just grateful that the community comes together to do this every year.

I take a lot of care with the blurbs--I try to sit with each post and truly listen; sum it up with a sentence or two for others to serve as a doorway to the post. I worry a lot that I've missed something, misunderstood, worked too quickly. I worry at a level that I don't reach with the weekly Roundup, which is so similar to the list. So forgive me, in advance, if my blurb for your post wasn't perfect. They are all malleable and can be changed if I misunderstood.

Back to the list.

*And by molecular blogology, I mean the writing equivalent to cooking's creative cuisine--the way technology encroaches on community, changing the shape and structure of friendships. By fuck, I think I just invented a new area of study.


Cassandra said...

Molecular blogology will also need to account for the creation of new communities and friendships via technology, not just modification of existing ones.

Good luck with your Creme deadline! I know that all of your blurbs will be deliberate and insightful.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, molecular gastronomy. I've had the opportunity to dine at FL and to meet and see "TK" at work in the kitchen at several events. Very cool stuff, and you will LOVE the cookbook. Just don't try to make the salmon tartare coronets yourself :)

Can't wait for Creme de la Creme!

luna said...

love the new term. love the food talk. but I need to know -- is there really stuff in that cookbook for a veggie?

looking fwd to la creme! many thanks for all your care in handling and sharing our many stories. you effing rock hard.

'Murgdan' said...

Thanks, Mel, for all the care and hard work you put into not only Creme de la Creme...but blogging in general. :-)

nh said...

Good luck reaching your Creme deadline - I'm sure all the blurbs will be good because you care as much as we care!

I got nearly half way down your writing about molecular gastronomy and was thinking has she heard about 'Heston Blumenthal' I recommend seeing if you can find any of his TV programmes to watch - amazing stuff!

MrsSpock said...

This makes me full of excitement to read the Creme....

calliope said...

wish I could spoon feed you good stuff as you work away. Take it easy sweetie. XO

Kara said...

You had me at Thomas Keller.

On our last trip to Napa in August, we stopped by to oggle his restaurant and fondle is garden. OHHHHHHHH, the cutest garden - EVER. If you want to see pics, check out my Sept 12th post.

Then there is Bouchon, don't get me started. I'll need to take a cold shower now.

N said...

I love the idea of molecular blogology.

Also, you and my wife should sit down and talk about food some time. One way I know we're getting better after the miscarriage: she's willing to talk about and eat good food again.

(we went to dean & deluca with Other People's Money on Friday and -- I know you keep Kosher, but, we got some of the Iberico ham. I think that was a real turning point for her, and she hasn't been able to stop talking about it.)

Delenn said...

One of the things I look forward to at the end of the year is the Creme. I am so grateful that you take the time to do this. You obviously take great care in it.

Thank you!

Liddy said...

Love the term Molecular Blogology. Ahh reminds me of the days before finals.

Thank you for caring Mel and putting this together. You simply are AMAZING!

Looking forward to the Creme de la Creme!

Kristin said...

Molecular gastronomy sounds fascinating. And, I love that MG combined with the Creme de la Creme gave rise to Molecular blogology.

Good luck getting everything done and thanks for everything you do.

Cara said...

You really never cease to amaze me or top yourself.

Can't wait - but, don't stress - we will if we have to!

barrenisthenewblack said...

I'm so excited for the Creme that I put extra cream in my coffee in your honor this morning! if I can help, let me know.

Kahla said...

I have no doubt it will be perfect! I can't wait! Thanks for all you do!!!

B said...

You are truly amazing and I am so grateful for your dedication to this community.

Thanks and big cheers for being so fabulous.


areyoukiddingme said...

I have no idea where you find the time to do all the things you do. Good luck.

eden said...

I KNOW it will be the Cremiest Creme in all of the Land.

You are extraordinary.


A.M.S. said...

Since you are busy I definitely shouldn't distract you with

bleu said...

I will never cease to be astounded at all you do.

Billy said...

Just wanted to say how amazing I think you are, and thank-you for all you that you do!

The Steadfast Warrior said...

I too am fascinated by how technology has shifted our definition of Community and how relationships can be as deep and real here as anything you could have IRL.

Looking forward to Creme. I've been finding myself excited to see this year over and start fresh. What a better way than delving into the realities of others and re-evaluating your own.

Fertilized said...

You continue to inspire me daily.