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美食的艺术与科学

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小编摘要:不管是寻找治愈疟疾的良方、用于隐身的设备,抑或是烹饪完美的炸薯条,内森·米尔沃德都是以一种深沉的迷恋之情来追寻着自己的目标。

内森·米尔沃德

Whether he's searching for a malaria cure, a cloaking device, or the perfect french fry, Nathan Myhrvold pursues his goals with magnificent obsession.


不管是寻找治愈疟疾的良方、用于隐身的设备,抑或是烹饪完美的炸薯条,内森·米尔沃德都是以一种深沉的迷恋之情来追寻着自己的目标。


The perfect french fry—golden brown, surpassingly crispy on the outside, with a light and fluffy interior that tastes intensely of potato—is not easy to cook.


颜色金黄,外表松脆,里面稍显蓬松,散发着浓郁的土豆香味,要烹饪出如此完美的炸薯条并不是什么容易的事情。


Here’s how most people do it at home: Cut some potatoes into fry shapes—classic 3/8-inch batons—and toss them into 375-degree oil until they’re golden brown. This is a mediocre fry. The center will be raw.


大多数人是这样在家自制炸薯条的:把土豆切成适合油炸的形状——通常是宽9.5毫米的棒状,然后扔到摄氏190度的热油中炸至金黄色。这是最普通的薯条炸法,这样炸出来的薯条中间还是生的。


Here’s how most restaurants do it: Dunk the potatoes in oil twice, once at 325 degrees for about four minutes until they’re cooked through and then again at 375 degrees to brown them. This is a pretty great fry.


而大多数餐馆则是这样炸薯条的:将土豆条放在油中炸两次,一次160度炸四分钟,直至熟透,然后再放到190度的油中炸至金黄,这样做出来的薯条才堪称一流。


But let’s get serious. The chef Heston Blumenthal—owner of the Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, England, holder of three Michelin stars—created what he calls triple-cooked chips. (He’s English.) The raw batons are simmered in water until they almost fall apart and then placed on a wire rack inside a vacuum machine that pulls out the moisture. The batons then get the traditional double fry. You need an hour and a $2,000 vacuum chamber, but these are the best fries in the world. Or rather, they used to be.


现在让我们言归正传。位于英格兰布雷的肥鸭餐厅(Fat Duck restaurant)是一家米其林三星级餐厅,餐馆老板赫斯顿·布鲁曼索(Heston Blumenthal)发明了一种三重烹饪薯条。将切好的土豆条放在水中用文火慢炖至将要松散的状态,然后再放在一台真空设备的网架上通过真空来控干水分,最后将土豆条用传统的方式油炸两遍。虽然整个过程需耗费一个小时,而且真空设备的售价更是高达2000美元,但如此烹饪出来的薯条才是世界上最完美的炸薯条。若要更精确点说,它们过去曾是世界上最完美的炸薯条。


The new contender was created by Nathan Myhrvold, the former CTO of Microsoft. Myhrvold cuts his potatoes into batons and rinses them to get rid of surface starch. Then he vacuum-seals them in a plastic bag, in one even layer, with water. He heats the bag to 212 degrees for 15 minutes, steaming the batons. Then he hits the bag with ultrasound to cavitate the water—45 minutes on each side. He reheats the bag in an oven to 212 degrees for five minutes, puts the hot fries on a rack in a vacuum chamber, and then blanches them in 338-degree oil for three minutes. When they’re cool, Myhrvold deep-fries the potatoes in oil at 375 degrees until they’re crisp, about three more minutes, and then drains them on paper towels. Total preparation time: two hours.


新时代的炸薯条王者是由前微软首席技术官内森·米尔沃德(Nathan Myhrvold)扶上王座的。米尔沃德将土豆切成条状之后,先用清水漂洗掉表面的淀粉,然后把土豆条放在塑料包中均匀铺成一层,加水并真空密封;用100度的蒸汽将塑料包加热十五分钟,然后利用超声波在水中形成空穴以冲击塑料包——每一面各四十五分钟。米尔沃德再把塑料包放进烤箱,100度烘烤五分钟,再将热乎乎的薯条放在真空室的网格上控干水分,然后170度油炸三分钟。捞出冷却,再190度油炸至松脆,差不多三分多钟左右,最后在纸巾上沥干油,大功告成。总耗费时间:三个小时。


The result is amazing. The outside nearly shatters when you bite into it, yielding to a creamy center that’s perfectly smooth. The key is the cavitation caused by the ultrasonic bath—it creates thousands of tiny fissures on the potato’s surface, all of which become crunchy when it’s fried. When Plato saw the shadow of a french fry on the wall of his cave, the guy standing behind him was snacking on these.


如此精雕细琢出来的炸薯条其口感简直妙不可言。一口咬下去,松散的外表之下是完全爽滑的奶油色核心。超声浴所引发的气穴作用尤为关键——它在薯条的表面产生了无数细小的裂纹,使薯条炸完之后变得无比松脆。过多描绘无异于画蛇添足,大快朵颐才是王道。


The recipe is one of 1,600 in Myhrvold’s new cookbook, Modernist Cuisine. It’s a big book—2,400 pages big. Six volumes big. Big like the original slipcase failed Amazon .com’s shipping tests and had to be replaced with acrylic. Big like it weighs nearly 50 pounds and costs $625.


这份炸薯条秘诀只是米尔沃德的新书《现代主义烹调法》(Modernist Cuisine)中1600份食谱中的一项而已。这套丛书堪称大部头,2400页,一共6卷,大到必须得以亚克力材料来替代普通的纸质普通书套,否则这套丛书过不了亚马逊网站的运输检测,其重量将近23公斤,售价625美元。


This is the way Myhrvold operates. After leaving Microsoft with all the money in the world, he started a company called, immodestly, Intellectual Ventures and turned his attention to busting some of the biggest problems in science and technology. And he dove into a few hobbies. Now most of us, if we were to get interested in cooking, might start to putter around the kitchen at home or do a little reading. Maybe we’d take a class. Because cooking is primarily a craft, dominated by artisans—or artists, if that’s how you view what a chef does. Every once in a while, a chemist drops in to take a look or heads for the world of industrial-scale food.


这也正是米尔沃德的行事方式。带着足够后半生衣食无忧的财富离开微软之后,他开了一家名为“智力冒险(Intellectual Ventures)”的公司,将注意力转向解决一些科学与技术领域的重大难题。此外,米尔沃德还培养了点业余爱好。对于大多数人来说,如果我们对烹饪产生了兴趣,一开始肯定会在自家厨房摆弄摆弄,或者去看看食谱,再大不了去听听课。烹饪主要是一门手艺活,为匠人所把持——也可以将他们称作艺术家,这取决于你对大厨们厨艺的看法。甚至化学家偶尔也会涉足于工业规模的食品领域中。


But Myhrvold—a theoretical physicist and computer scientist—has the lifestyle flexibility of a multimillionaire and the mental discipline of a world-class researcher. To him, cooking is about fundamental interactions in the material world: How heat enters food. How you mix two separate materials most effectively. How water molecules interact in a solution. You see a pork chop and some mashed potatoes; he sees a mesh of proteins that coagulate at a specific temperature next to an emulsion of starch and fat. “Chefs think about what it’s like to make food,” Myhrvold says. “Being a scientist in the kitchen is about asking why something works, and how it works.” To him, a kitchen is really just a laboratory that everyone has in their house. And when you have that attitude with that brain and those resources, well, you might not be the best cook in the world, but you just might put together the best cookbook.


但身为理论物理学家兼计算机科学家的米尔沃德不仅拥有千万富翁灵动的生活态度,而且还保持着顶级研究员的思维方式。对他来说,烹饪关乎物质世界的基本作用:热量如何进入食物;两种独立的原料如何进行最有效的混合;溶液中的水分子如何起作用。你眼中的一块猪排加少许土豆泥到他眼中则变成了在特定温度凝固住的蛋白质网状结构,旁边是淀粉和脂肪组成的乳状液。“厨师考虑的是什么材料可以做成食物,”米尔沃德说。“身为厨房中的科学家,我们思考的是这种方式为什么会有用,它是如何起作用的。”在他看来,厨房就如同家中的实验室。当态度、智力和资源全都齐备时,也许,你并不能成为世界上最棒的厨子,但你总可以捣鼓出一本一流的食谱来。


If Modernist Cuisine lives up to Myhrvold’s hopes when it’s published this March, it’ll be the definitive book about the science of cooking—the Principia of the kitchen. It’s dense and beautiful and inspired, and even though Myhrvold assembled a team of 50 chefs, writers, photographers, designers, scientists, and editors to create it, the final product is in fact an eerily accurate recapitulation of how Nathan Myhrvold thinks.


如果今年三月份出版的《现代主义烹调法》没有辜负米尔沃德的期望,它将成为烹饪科学领域的权威著作——厨房里的科学经典。这本大部头包装精美,富于启示性。为了完成这本书的创作,米尔沃德组建了一个由50名大厨、作家、摄影师、设计师、科学家以及编辑所组成的工作团队,尽管参与写作的人数众多,但最终的作品却极其准确的再现了米尔沃德的科学烹饪理念。


Which is to say, the man thinks big about nearly everything. And he wants his french fries to be perfect.


也就是说,这个凡事都要思索至极致的男人现在只是希望能做出完美的炸薯条来。


The man behind the making of the perfect fry is primarily a scientist, but he’s also a photographer, a patron of paleontology research, and a world-champion barbecue chef.


发明这种完美炸薯条法的男人首先是位科学家,但他同时也是摄影师、古生物研究赞助者以及世界顶尖的烤肉厨师。


Modernist Cuisine started with a problem.


现代主义烹调法的灵感源于一道烹饪难题。


In 2003, Myhrvold was building his dream house on the shore of Lake Washington outside Seattle, stocking it with esoteric kitchen equipment. One of the toys was a temperature-controlled water bath used for a technique known as sous vide, vacuum-sealing food in plastic bags and cooking it for a long time at relatively low temperatures. Done correctly, it lets a chef precisely control the temperature of the food, so the final product comes out perfect every time.


2003年,米尔沃德正在西雅图城外的华盛顿湖边打造自己的梦想之家,他购置了一套不太常见的厨房设备。其中就包括一台用于低温慢煮烹饪(sous vide)温控水浴槽,低温慢煮烹饪是指将食物真空密封在塑料袋中,利用相对较低的温度长时间的烹调。如果使用正确的话,大厨们会利用这台温控水槽对食物温度进行精确控制,以至于每次做好的成品都堪称完美。


Myhrvold had come across the technique while studying cooking in France, but he needed information on how long to cook various foods and at what temperature.


米尔沃德是在法国研究烹饪时无意中发现这种技艺的,但他还需要掌握不同食物的烹调时间和火候。


And that was the problem. There wasn’t any information.


于是问题出现了,他根本找不到类似这样的信息。


For Myhrvold, that’s not acceptable. He’s a creature of knowledge; talking to him is like taking a graduate seminar. Actually, it’s like taking every graduate seminar at once. He bounces from topic to topic as if someone were clicking the remote control through 500 channels of really high-end BBC documentaries. Here’s a lunchtime conversation, only slightly edited:


对于米尔沃德来说,这是无法接受的现实。他是一位学术中人;和他交流就如同参与研讨会一般,而且还不止一个研讨会。米尔沃德会从一个主题跳跃到另一个主题,仿佛在拿着遥控器随意浏览500个BBC的纪录片频道。这里有一段午餐时间的聊天记录,稍作了整理:


“Alaska has had more than 10 times the number of botulism cases of New York state. But its population is a few percent of New York state. It’s because they eat a lot of crap up there… The most thermally diffusive thing that heat travels fastest in is diamond, by a big margin… Suppose you have a broiler with a bunch of separate rods. Turns out there’s an optimal distance away from them to have the most even heat. And it’s 44 percent of the distance between them, plus 5 millimeters… The big innovation in the 20th century wasn’t in high-end food, it was in industrial food… Our Carolina barbecue sauces are very thin. We made them authentic thickness. But then we have a note that says 0.2 percent xanthan gum will give you something that clings to your meat and makes your shirt less dirty. Ba dum ba dum ba dum.”


“阿拉斯加的肉毒中毒发病率是纽约州的十多倍,但人口却比纽约州要少许多。原因在于那里的人吃得太垃圾了......热量在钻石中的扩散速度最快,找不到其他堪舆其比肩的材料......假如你有一台带有横条的烤炉,横条彼此分开,那么必定存在某个获取最均匀热量的最佳距离,即横条间隔的44%加5毫米处......二十世纪最大的创新并不在于高端食品,而是体现于工业化食品当中......北卡罗来纳烤肉酱非常稀,我们让它变得真正粘稠起来。但后来我们发现0.2%的黄原胶就能让酱汁黏在肉上,而且还不太会弄脏衣物。吧达姆吧达姆吧达姆。”


That’s how Myhrvold cuts off a lot of his own sentences, with what sounds like a kettledrum sound effect for a cartoon somersault. It’s not an ellipsis; it’s more like his brain has accelerated past the rest of the information. The proof is left as an exercise for the student.


这就是米尔沃德划分语句的方式,他依靠一种定音鼓般的声音效果,如同在为动画片中的翻筋斗镜头配音。这不是一种省略方式;它更像是他的大脑加速穿越信息的剩余部分。证明过程此处略去,留给同学们作为课后练习。


After finding only a couple of articles and one book (in Spanish) about sous vide, Myhrvold posted a message on the high-end culinary discussion forum eGullet asking for sources, recipes, anything. “I sort of naively thought that sous vide was well understood,” Myhrvold says. “You heard about people using it, so I figured they clearly must understand it. Well, I discovered that they didn’t.”


在读到介绍低温慢煮烹饪法的几篇文章和一本书(西班牙语)之后,米尔沃德在高端烹饪论坛eGullet上发了一个帖子,来寻找这种烹饪法的起源和食谱等等。“我当时还天真的认为低温慢煮烹饪法好懂得很,”米尔沃德说。“听说有人尝试过,我本以为他们肯定已经完全搞清楚了。但没想到,他们根本就不懂。”


He was no stranger to kitchens. Growing up in Santa Monica, California, with his mother, a model and schoolteacher, Myhrvold started cooking at an early age, checking out cookbooks from the library and preparing elaborate Thanksgiving meals when he was 9. While at Microsoft, he moonlighted in the kitchen of a leading French restaurant in Seattle for nearly two years.


事实上,他对厨房并不陌生。米尔沃德在加州的圣塔莫尼卡(Santa Monica)长大,母亲是一位模特兼教师。米尔沃德从小就开始学习烹饪,并在图书馆里查阅菜谱,九岁的时候他就会为家人准备精心制作的感恩节大餐。在微软工作期间,他在西雅图一家高级法式餐厅的厨房里做了将近两年的兼职。


But he’s primarily a scientist. Myhrvold has a master’s degree in geophysics and space physics and another one in mathematical economics. He got his PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics from Princeton at 23 and did a postdoctoral fellowship with Stephen Hawking at Cambridge. He started a software company that Microsoft bought in 1986, founded Microsoft Research in 1991, and left the company as its CTO and chief strategist in 1999. He has hundreds of patents issued or pending. Oh, and he’s also a photographer, a patron of paleontology research, and a world-champion barbecue chef. Seriously.


但米尔沃德首先是位科学家。他拥有地球物理、空间物理和数理经济学三门专业的硕士学位,二十三岁时就拿到了理论和数学物理学的博士学位,并在剑桥担任斯蒂芬·霍金的博士后研究员。他创办了一家软件公司,1986年卖给了微软,1991年他筹建了微软研究院。1999年,身为公司首席技术官和首席战略家的米尔沃德离开了微软。他拥有数百项专利。此外,他还是一位摄影师、古生物研究赞助者以及世界顶尖的烤肉厨师。这些头衔都是正儿八经的。


So Myhrvold the cook and Myhrvold the scientist went to work. Chicken and salmon and beef all got sous vided, with temperature probes inserted so Myhrvold could track how the heat moved through the food. He wrote a program using Mathematica to model the heat transfer through various shapes and sizes of food without actually having to cook. “I got kind of carried away,” he says.


于是厨子米尔沃德和科学家米尔沃德交织在一起,发生了某种协同作用。当鸡肉、三文鱼和牛肉低温慢煮时,米尔沃德将温度传感器塞入其中,以追踪热量在食物中的运动方式。他利用数学软件Mathematica开发了一个程序,在不需要实际烹调的情况下,对不同大小和形状食物中的热传递进行模型化。“我有点走火入魔了,”他说。


Almost a year and a half after asking his question on eGullet, Myhrvold answered it himself, posting the results of his experiments—charts that showed how long and at what temperature to cook a certain piece of food to get to a desired final temperature. Instantly, the thread became the definitive reference to sous vide.


在eGullet论坛上提出问题的一年半之后,米尔沃德自己找到了答案,并将实验结果公布出来——他制作了一系列图表,展示了如何控制烹饪时间和温度,使某种食材达到要求的最终温度。随即,这一研究路线成为了低温慢煮烹饪法的权威参考。


By the time someone online suggested that he write a book based on the information, Myhrvold had already moved on to looking at food safety concerns raised by the low temperatures used in sous vide. He was even helping chefs convince food inspectors that the technique was safe. “From there I sort of decided, hey, why not do the whole thing?” Myhrvold says. “It made sense at the time.”


当时就有网友建议米尔沃德循着这些信息写本书,但他的心思已经转向了低温慢煮烹饪法所带来的食品安全性问题上了。他甚至帮助主厨说服了食品巡视员,担保这种烹饪技术是安全的。“从那时开始我就暗暗下定决心,干吗不做得有始有终点呢?”米尔沃德说。“这就是我当时的想法。”


The Intellectual Ventures lab, hard by a tennis practice facility and an auto-repair shop on the outskirts of Bellevue, Washington, isn’t just easy to miss—it’s almost as though it was scientifically designed to look as nondescript as possible. Inside the former Harley-Davidson garage, though, is 27,500 square feet of thinking space—as much a physical manifestation of Myhrvold’s polymath mind as the cookbook is a literary and photographic one. Just inside the front door are the wet chemistry lab, the physics lab, the repair shop, and the laser testing rooms. A space farther back and to the right is crammed with computer-controlled milling machines that carve objects from metal or plastic with millimeter precision and a giant water-jet cutting table. It’s hundreds of thousands of bucks worth of gear—a factory for fabricating anything a scientist might need.


智力冒险公司的实验室位于华盛顿贝尔维尤的市郊,紧挨着一座网球训练场和一家汽车修配车间,很是令人过目难忘——它的设计初衷似乎就是尽可能的让人难以名状。实验室之前是哈利-戴维森公司(Harley-Davidson)的车库,其内部占据2500多平方米的空间——如同是米尔沃德博大思想及其著作文学性和生动性兼备的物理展示。进门之后,湿式化学实验室、物理实验室、修复实验室和激光测试实验室依次排开。向内深入,右边塞满了电脑控制的铣床,能以毫米精度用金属或塑料加工物体,还有一台巨大的水力喷射剪裁桌。这是一个价值数百万美元的加工车间——一间用于制造科学家们科研所需设备的工厂。


Inside, dozens of PhDs work on a bevy of projects. One group is trying to perfect an idea that scientists have been hammering on since the 1950s—a traveling-wave nuclear reactor. It could, in theory, run for 50 to 100 years without needing to be refueled, primarily on uranium 238, which is a cheap, non-weaponizable byproduct of the uranium-enrichment process. The TerraPower project, as it’s called, should yield a prototype reactor by 2020.


实验室内部,几十位博士正在对一系列的项目展开攻关。一队人马正试图完善科学家们上世纪五十年代便萌发的构想——行波核反应堆。理论上,这种反应堆可以持续运行50至100年而不需要添加燃料,其主要燃料为廉价安全的铀238,它是铀浓缩过程中的副产物。这个名为TerraPower的项目预计将于2020年之前开发出一台核反应堆原型。


Then there’s the Salter Sink, which is supposed to lessen the impact of hurricanes by funneling warm water from the ocean’s surface into the colder water below. And there’s the solution that the company has proposed to slow global warming: Pump sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to mirror the cooling effect caused by large volcanic eruptions. Al Gore told the authors of SuperFreakonomics that the plan was “nuts,” but that’s of little consequence to Myhrvold; several Nobel laureates agree with him that the sulfur scheme might work.


此外,同在这里运作的还有Salter Sink项目,该项目期望通过将海洋表面温暖的海水注入海底较冷的海水中,来减轻飓风的影响。智力冒险公司还开发出全球变暖问题的解决方案:将二氧化硫泵入平流层,模拟大型火山喷发所造成的冷却效果。阿尔·戈尔(Al Gore)向《超级魔鬼经济学》(SuperFreakonomics)一书的作者抱怨说,这种想法简直“愚不可及”,但米尔沃德并不为所动,而几位诺贝尔奖获得者也认为二氧化硫方案可能行得通。


A cutaway of an actual barbecue grilling meat from Modernist Cuisine. It shows the hot spots and radiant heat that lead to the perfect burger.

 

烤肉

 


真实烤肉场景的剖面图,来自于《现代主义烹调法》。它展示了可以产生完美烤肉的热点和辐射热。

 

Scientists at Intellectual Ventures have invented a new x-ray scanner that produces clearer images, surfaces that sterilize themselves, a portable freezer that keeps vaccines active without electricity, and even metamaterials that could reverse light, creating a cloaking device. But perhaps the flashiest creation from the lab is a bug zapper called the photonic fence, which Myhrvold unveiled at the TED Conference in 2010. It’s a result of the company’s ongoing work to eliminate malaria in response to a challenge from Myhrvold’s old boss, Bill Gates. At a brainstorming session in 2008, someone suggested that lasers could kill mosquitoes before they could spread the disease—a kind of insect-world Star Wars laser-defense system.


智力冒险公司的科学家们发明了多种新奇设备,如一种新型X光扫描仪,它能生成可以进行表面自清洁的干净照片,一种不需要电力就能保持疫苗活性的便携式冰箱,以及折射光线产生隐身效果的特异材料。但该实验室最华丽的发明可能要属一款名为光子栅栏的灭虫器,米尔沃德曾在2010年的TED大会上作过展示。为了响应米尔沃德前任上司比尔·盖茨消灭疟疾的号召,公司经过不断努力才开发出了这套设备。早在2008年的一场集体讨论会上,就有人提出,激光能在蚊子传播疾病之前就消灭它们——相当于构筑一套昆虫世界的星球大战激光防御系统。


The team pulled together parts from consumer electronics and eBay to develop a prototype—one that could even determine if a mosquito was male or female (only the females bite humans). The females would be blasted out of the sky; the males would be left alone. It’s a massively clever bit of engineering and coding—and the parts are cheap and getting cheaper. Like the other gadgets, it’s so crazy that it just might work.


拥有消费电子和网络购物专业背景的团队成员通力合作,开发出了一套灭蚊机器原型,它甚至能判断出蚊子的性别(母蚊子才会咬人)。雌蚊会被轰至渣;雄蚊则任由它去。这种灭蚊机器堪称是工程学和编码学的智慧结晶——它的所有零部件都很廉价,而且还越来越廉价。和其他同类型的小玩意儿一样,它非常不可思议,但就是实用。


Malaria is the focus of a lot of effort at the lab. Across the street in the annex (a former interior-design showroom that still has some cabinet display models on the walls) is the company’s supercomputer, built from 1,000 Xeon core processors, which mathematician Philip Eckhoff is using to model the spread and potential eradication of the disease.


为了攻克疟疾,实验室投入了大量的人力物力。街对面的配楼(之前是公司内部设计的陈列室,墙上还挂着一些用于展示模型的橱窗)现在是公司的超级计算机中心,里面搭建了一台由1000块至强处理器组成的超级计算机,数学家菲利普·埃克霍夫(Philip Eckhoff)利用它对疟疾的传播和潜在消灭途径进行模型化。


Almost all of these inventions have one thing in common: Intellectual Ventures doesn’t want to manufacture them. The company’s business is making money from ideas, not from the products that the ideas could generate.


几乎所有这些发明都存在一个共同点,即智力冒险公司并不会对它们进行大规模生产。公司的商业模式是利用创意生财,而不是创意所带来的产品。


Myhrvold says that the company is trying to create a capital market for inventions, a market for intangible intellectual property like the one that grew around software in the 1980s. But Intellectual Ventures isn’t just doing its own research and brainstorming leading to patents, it is also (much more controversially) buying up thousands of patents from outside inventors, which it then licenses to technology companies like Apple, Google, and Sony.


米尔沃德认为智力冒险公司正在尝试创造一种发明资本市场,这是一种无形的智慧财产,就如同上世纪八十年代软件业所掀起的商业潮流一般。智力冒险公司并不仅仅通过研究和群策群力来制造专利,他们也会从公司之外的发明者那里购买大量的专利(此举争议颇多),然后授权给苹果、谷歌和索尼这样的大公司使用。


To Myhrvold, this is an elegant, scientifically minded hack of the patent system—where people can patent not only products but ideas. To intellectual property purists, though, that sort of behavior is called patent trolling—gathering the rights to ideas and then forcing companies to pay up when those ideas actually appear in the world and are about to be turned into usable technology. And indeed, in December, Intellectual Ventures filed three lawsuits claiming that nine companies were infringing some of its patents.


对米尔沃德来说,这是专利系统符合科学思维的最佳出租方式——不仅是产品,包括创意在内都能获得专利授权。而在知识产权纯化论者看来,这种行为其实就是专利钓饵(patent trolling)——先获取创意的所有权,尔后当这种创意真正成型,将要被转化成实用技术时,再强迫使用该创意的公司掏上一大笔钱。事实上,在去年十二月,智力冒险公司已经三次提出诉讼,将九家公司告上法庭,声称他们侵犯了本公司的专利所有权。


But the accusation of trolling has become increasingly frustrating to Myhrvold. “If you look at the list of people who have been called patent trolls,” he says, “it’s everyone who’s ever filed a patent suit.” He points out that his company applies for patents on 500 of its own inventions every year. And anyway, he says, the system is designed for this kind of transaction. “Some people think it’s scandalous. ‘Oh my gosh, they buy patents!’ Well, yeah. And publishers buy books from writers,” Myhrvold says. “I’ve never gotten it, except that there are people who have ideological—bordering on religious—ideas about intellectual property, most of which are in my view not very deeply thought through.”


专利钓饵的指控让米尔沃德越来越觉得沮丧。“看看那些所谓的专利钓饵者,”他说,“他们是个人行为,他们只会申请一次专利诉讼。”而智力冒险公司每年都会为自己的数百项发明申请专利。米尔沃德表示,不管怎么说,专利系统就是设计用来干这些事情的。“有些人认为这种做法可耻。‘哦,天呐,他们竟然采购专利!’没错,就是这样,出版商也会从作家那里买书,”他说。“我觉得这没什么,除非是基于意识形态理念——比如从近似宗教角度来对待知识产权问题,我自己还没深入思考这些问题。”


That’s Myhrvold. On one hand, there’s the fevered imagination and brainstorming, invention and science, the quest to change the world. But on the other hand, there’s the aggressive businessman who isn’t just around to create cool stuff—he’s looking to make a ton of money, too.


这就是米尔沃德。一方面,狂热迷恋想象力、集体讨论、发明创造以及科学技术,执着的探索着足以改变世界的方法;而另一方面,米尔沃德也是一位思想激进的商人,他不仅创造了一些酷到极点的玩意,同时又希望能挣得大把的钞票。


Writing about sous vide led Myhrvold to think more deeply about how heat moves through different media (which is why Modernist Cuisine may well be the only cookbook ever published with a long disquisition on Fourier’s law, the equation for calculating heat transfer). That led to food safety, and that led to a more general exploration of the microbiology of food. Myhrvold soon realized that his ambition for Modernist Cuisine had outstripped his ability to write it alone. “It’s like writing software,” he says. “If you want to do interesting software, you have to have a bunch of people do it, because the amount of software that one person can do isn’t that interesting.”


低温慢煮烹饪法的写作过程使米尔沃德开始更深入的思考热是如何从不同介质中传播的(这也是为什么《现代主义烹调法》是唯一一本花费大量篇幅讨论傅里叶定律的食谱,傅里叶定律指的是用于计算热传导的方程)。热传导关系到食品安全,关系到食品微生物学的更普遍性研究。米尔沃德很快意识到,要想完成《现代主义烹调法》的写作,仅凭一人之力是不够的。“这和编写软件类似,”他说。“如果希望写出有意思的软件来,你必须集合众人之力,因为一个人就能完成的软件显然不会太有趣。”


A chef would have built a kitchen; Myhrvold built the Cooking Lab. He carved out a corner of the Intellectual Ventures lab and filled it with gear—not just stoves and ovens but industrial-grade homogenizers, freeze-driers, steam-heated ovens, and vacuum distillation machines. If Thomas Edison and Martha Stewart built a house, this is what the kitchen would look like.


大厨会建造厨房;而米尔沃德构建的是烹饪实验室。他在智力冒险公司实验室里开辟了一个角落,并在其中摆满了设备——不止是锅碗瓢盆,还包括工业化的匀浆机、冷冻干燥机、蒸汽加热炉以及真空蒸馏机。如果托马斯·爱迪生和玛莎·斯图尔特(Martha Stewart)意欲联手建造一所宅邸,其中的厨房差不多就是这个样子。


And then, like the primary investigator in an academic laboratory, Myhrvold started hiring researchers. He began with Chris Young, a 34-year-old with degrees in math and biochemistry from the University of Washington and one of the plummest jobs in cooking, running the development kitchen at Blumenthal’s Fat Duck. But in 2007, he was ready to come home. Five years in the town of Bray, 30 miles west of London, was enough for Young; he was set to move to a job at a San Francisco Bay Area restaurant when he emailed Myhrvold, with whom he had corresponded about food science, to give him his new coordinates.


和一般学术实验室的主要投资者一样,米尔沃德开始雇佣研究人员。起初加盟的是三十四岁的克里斯·杨。克里斯·杨毕业于华盛顿大学,拥有数学和生物化学的双学位,他也在布鲁曼索肥鸭餐厅的现代化厨房中作过兼职。2007年,杨准备回到美国老家,他在距离伦敦五十公里的小城布雷已经待了五年,着实有些待够了;杨当时正准备去旧金山港湾区的一家餐馆里工作。在和米尔沃德的电子邮件里,俩人聊起了食品科学的事,米尔沃德突然有了出书的新想法。


Three minutes later, a message from Myhrvold appeared on Young’s screen. It had the subject line “Crazy Idea.” The note was one line long: “Why don’t you come work for me?”


三分钟之后,一条来自于米尔沃德的手机短信出现在杨的手机屏幕上,标题是“疯狂创意”,后面还跟着一条副标题:“为什么不过来帮我工作呢?”


Among the non-culinary tools at Intellectual Ventures—a mosquito breeding pen to raise bugs for malaria research.


智力冒险实验室中的非厨房工具——用于饲养蚊子进行疟疾研究的蚊子养育室。


Young signed up and brought in Maxime Bilet, a young chef he had worked with at the Fat Duck, to run the kitchen day to day. Wayt Gibbs, a former editor at Scientific American who works at Intellectual Ventures, was drafted to handle the editing, while photographer Ryan Matthew Smith joined the team after responding to a craigslist job posting.


于是,杨加入了进来,还带来了在肥鸭餐厅共过事的年轻厨师麦克斯密·比莱特(Maxime Bilet)。而在智力冒险公司上班的《科学美国人》杂志的前任编辑维特·吉布斯(Wayt Gibbs)被召集进来负责编辑工作,同时摄影师赖安·马修·史密斯(Ryan Matthew Smith)通过网络求职也加入该团队。


Myhrvold then let them explore largely on their own. “Nathan creates a dynamic, free-thinking environment here,” Young says. “This is a unique place to work. You’ll be in the kitchen, and then someone like Neal Stephenson will wander by.” So, for example, when the chefs were working on the part of the book focused on gels and thickeners, Myhrvold was having them concentrate on exotic hydrocolloids like agar or gellan. But then Bilet and the culinary team came to him with a suggestion. They wanted to add egg gels—custards, basically. “They’re just as valid,” Bilet told Myhrvold. “They’re just as cool.” Myhrvold gave them the green light, and the team hit their library of hundreds of food science books to see what people already knew about eggs and how they cook.


米尔沃德先让他们自由发挥。“内森创造了一种动态自由的思考环境,”杨硕。“这里是一个很独特的工作场合。你在厨房里工作,身边都是些尼尔·斯蒂芬森(Neal Stephenson:科幻小说家)似的人物。”例如,当厨师们正在解决书中关于凝胶和增稠剂方面的难题时,米尔沃德却让他们专注于诸如琼脂或兰胶这些奇异胶体的研究。于是,比莱特和厨师小组提出建议,表示希望能将蛋凝胶即蛋挞加入进来。“蛋挞很有用处,”比莱特告诉米尔沃德说。“而且很特别。”米尔沃德同意了他们的看法,随后厨师小组查阅了上百本食品科学方面的书籍,试图厘清人们已经了解到的蛋类常识以及他们如何烹饪蛋类。


Then they started collecting data, cooking hundreds of batches of egg custard. Each time, they tweaked a variable—temperature, yolk-to-egg-white ratio, amount of liquids.


之后他们开始收集数据,并烹饪出了无数份的牛奶蛋羹。每次试验他们都会将温度、蛋黄蛋白比例以及液体量等等参数进行微调。


It took them two weeks, all for a deceptively simple chart. Temperatures are on one axis and the ratio of egg to liquid is on the other; cross-reference the two and you can choose a texture, from a runny crè8me anglaise to a firm flan. “All that work and it condenses down into this one little teeny table,” Myhrvold says. Of course, that table is an unprecedented master course in egg cookery. “It’s really cool to be in an experimental kitchen like this,” Young says. “If you need to, you can talk to an engineer or a physicist. We have access to all of their analytical tools, and if our equipment breaks, we have these PhDs here to help us fix it. It’s just really eclectic.”


试验进行了两个星期,最终得出的结果只是一张让人困惑的简单图表。以温度和蛋黄蛋白比例为两条轴线;通过相互参照,你可以选择烹饪材质,例如流动性强的法式英国奶油,或结实的果馅饼。“所有这些材料都可以使用,它们都被归纳在这张小小的表格中,”米尔沃德说。当然,这份表格也堪称是蛋类烹饪学中前所未有的硕士必修课。“在一个实验性的厨房里捣鼓出这样的东西来,真得是很酷,”杨说。“如果有必要的话,你可以请教工程师或物理学家,他们的分析工具我们都需要使用,如果设备出现了破损,我们会让这些博士们帮忙修理。总之,可供选择的资源非常多。”


Among the tools Intellectual Ventures uses in their malaria research is this refrigerated dewar that can store vaccines for long durations with no power.


这种冷藏杜瓦瓶也是智力冒险实验室用来进行疟疾研究的工具,它不需要电能就能长时间保存疫苗。

 

Working next to all those other projects has required a few adjustments, however. One night, the cookbook team was in the kitchen late, testing new recipes. The photonic fence team was also working late, seeing if their tracking software could follow mosquitoes at long distances. They had put a box filled with bugs at the top of a set of stairs at one end of the 100-foot-long Cooking Lab and set up their laser at the other end. As the chefs stood at their stoves, the beams started flashing above them. “I guarantee that we are the only kitchen in the world that had lasers overhead,” Young says. “They told me they were firing at a nonkilling intensity.”


奇奇怪怪的研究小组共聚在一个屋檐下,这让彼此的工作都必须稍作调整。某天晚上,为了测试一些新食谱,烹饪小组在厨房里忙活到很晚。光子栅栏小组也在加夜班,他们正在试验追踪软件能否长距离的跟踪蚊子。他们把一个装满了蚊子的盒子放在楼梯的最顶端,而楼梯就位于三十米长的烹饪实验室的末端,然后开始从另一端发射激光。厨师们站在他们的炉灶旁,光束开始在他们头顶上闪烁。“我们头顶上有激光在飞舞,我敢说这样的厨房,世界上仅此一家,”杨说。“他们告诉我们,这种火力强度不具有杀伤力。”


Lunch at the cooking lab: First comes raspberry gazpacho with piquillo peppers and macadamia nuts. Foie gras and horse mackerel are served with sous vide ponzu. Mushroom omelets are cooked in a steam oven, keeping them moist and tender. Comte cheese is turned into an aerated sponge with a vacuum machine and is served with hazelnut cakes. It’s 12 courses overall, each one highlighting a different cutting-edge tool or technique.


烹饪实验室中的午餐:首先上的是搭配烟熏胡椒和夏威夷豆的覆盆子西班牙冷汤;然后鹅肝酱和鲹鱼,配上低温慢煮的调味醋;蘑菇煎蛋卷放在蒸汽锅里,以保持湿度和软度。真空机器加工好的碎硬质奶酪呈现出多孔海绵状,再加上榛子蛋糕。总共十二道菜,每道菜都使用了不同的尖端工具或烹饪技术。


When spot prawns and carotene butter show up—cook carrots in butter and then separate out the solids with a centrifuge—Myhrvold takes a bite, thinks for a moment, and then asks Bilet to hang on a second. “This is great, Max,” Myhrvold says. “You know what I think it needs? It needs something crunchy.”


当牡丹虾和胡萝卜黄油(将胡萝卜放在黄油中烹饪,再利用离心机分离出其中的固体)被端上桌以后,米沃尔德尝了一口,思考了片刻,然后接连问了比莱特好几个问题。“很不错,麦克斯,”米沃尔德说。“但我觉得还缺了点什么,你知道是什么吗?它还得再脆点。”


“A little texture?” Bilet asks.


“再加点东西进去?”比莱特问。


“Yeah. How about some freeze-dried carrot? Little chunks.”


“没错。比如经过冷冻干燥过的胡萝卜?小块一点的。”


Bilet hesitates, looking at the dish. He seems dubious.


比莱特犹豫起来,他看着面前的这道菜,显得有些迟疑。


“Either that or something else crunchy,” Myhrvold says. “Because it’s fantastic but could use a texture element.”


“或者是其他脆点材料,”米沃尔德说。“虽然这道菜已经很棒了,但再加上些实质性的材料会更好。”


“We could do something with coconut,” Bilet suggests. “To balance the carrot. Maybe a savory coconut tuile with freeze-dried prawn powder.”


“用椰子肉怎么样?”比莱特提议到。“和胡萝卜比较相衬。也许美味的椰子饼和冻干过的虾粉搭配起来很棒。”


“That would do it,” Myhrvold says. He goes back to eating.


“试试看,”米沃尔德说,接着开始大快朵颐。


Myhrvold is not a professional chef, but he’s turned himself into a professional eater—thousands of hours of culinary training and meals at hundreds of the world’s best restaurants. He’s a scientific Falstaff, a rare combination of rationalist and sensualist. In fact, lunch at the lab would stand up to the food at some of the most avant-garde restaurants in the world. That’s an abiding passion of Myhrvold’s, right there in the title of the book. For him, there’s nothing in the food world more exciting than the science-driven cooking he calls modernist.


米沃尔德并不是专业厨师,但他却是个专业的食客——这无疑要归功于他长时间的烹饪训练和许多世界一流餐馆的用餐经历。他是科学界的法斯塔夫(Falstaff:莎士比亚戏剧中的人物,肥胖,机智,爱吹牛),理性主义和感性主义的稀有综合体。事实上,实验室里端出的这些午餐佳肴足以媲美世界上最前卫餐厅做出的菜式。现代主义烹调,它正是米沃尔德持久的激情所在。对他来说,食品世界中最激动人心的东西莫过于科学驱动的烹饪法,即他所谓的现代主义烹调。


Over the past two decades, a wave of chefs—Blumenthal, Grant Achatz of Chicago’s Alinea, and Ferran Adriè0, whose restaurant El Bulli in Spain is considered one of the world’s best—have looked beyond tradition for ways to manipulate their food. Adriè0 uses everything from industrial food additives to freeze-drying in the pursuit of otherworldly effects, like a soup that changes temperature in your mouth as you eat it. It’s what some writers (though not the chefs themselves) called “molecular gastronomy,” and a major thrust of Modernist Cuisine is to explain just what the hell is going on in these high-end kitchens. “There’s a set of cooking techniques that go back 20-some years that are hugely interesting to people, very useful, poorly understood, and almost impossible to learn,” Myhrvold says. “The best you can do is to go cook at a few restaurants that do this, and you come away with like 1 percent of it.”


在过去的二十年间,料理界涌现了很多另类大厨,如布鲁曼索、芝加哥阿丽尼餐厅(Alinea)的格兰特·阿卡兹(Grant Achatz)和费兰·阿德里亚(Ferran Adrìa),阿德里亚的西班牙斗牛犬餐厅被誉为世界上最好的餐馆之一,这些名厨都在以一种超越传统的方式打理食材。为了产生超凡脱俗的效果,阿德里亚用尽了从工业食品添加剂到冷冻干燥法等各种材料和办法,他做出来的汤吃在嘴里会发生温度变化。一些作家(不是这些厨师自己)将这类烹饪方式称之为“分子烹饪法(molecular gastronomy)”,解释这些高端厨房中到底发生了什么事是《现代主义烹调法》的一大重点。“这些烹调技术要是放到二十多年前,人们肯定会非常感兴趣,但他们很难理解,而且几乎无法效仿,”米尔沃德说。“你最多只能在某些餐馆里尝试尝试,但做出来的东西可能还是四不像。”


Until now, there’s been no comprehensive reference. And the ingredients require a precision unfamiliar to many cooks. As Myhrvold observes, “It’s a superbad idea to put a ‘pinch’ of xanthan gum in something.” Modernist Cuisine sets out to explain and expand the chef’s toolkit. “One of the wonderful things about the book is that it makes it clear what these things are good for, what they’re not good for, what their strengths and weaknesses are,” says Harold McGee, author of the seminal food science book On Food and Cooking. “I think it will go a long way toward demystifying and also expanding the number of people who can play with them and come up with new things.”


直到今天,这套烹饪方法依然缺少全面参考,很多厨师对需要精确掌握的原料依然感到陌生。正如米尔沃德所观察到的,“放入‘少许’黄原胶,这种表述方式真是糟糕透顶。”《现代主义烹调法》一书试图解释并扩充厨师们的工具包。“这本书的一大奇妙之处在于,它清晰的解释了某些材料到底好在什么地方,或不用它们的原因何在,它们的优点和劣势各是什么,”创意食品科学书籍《关于食物和烹饪》(On Food and Cooking)一书的作者哈罗德·麦克吉(Harold McGee)说。“向那些能运用这些烹饪方法和接受类似新事物的人进行阐明,并对其人数予以扩充,我觉得这本书在这两方面迈出了一大步。”


That’s a big change from cooking’s artisanal roots. “You were taught how to make a hollandaise sauce, and you were never really taught why it works,” says Thomas Keller, who runs Per Se in New York City and the French Laundry in Northern California and is generally considered the best chef in the US. “You were just taught how to make it, and you were taught how to fix it if it broke, and that was it.” Myhrvold and his team want cooks to understand the science behind the technique. So Modernist Cuisine explains the avant-garde by emphasizing the most basic elements of cooking: heat and water.


相对于烹饪学的手工艺性根源来说,现代主义烹调法堪称巨变。“也许你知道如何制作荷兰辣酱油,但你永远也搞不清楚它为什么要这样做,”托马斯·凯勒( Thomas Keller)说,他在纽约市经营着一家名为珀思(Per Se)餐馆,在北加州还有一家法式洗衣店,在很多人眼中,凯勒是美国最好的厨师。“你只是知道如何制作,以及结果不满意时该如何调整,仅此而已。”而米尔沃德和他的团队希望厨师们能理解技术背后的科学涵义。因此,《现代主义烹调法》一书通过强调烹饪中最基本的元素——热和水——来解释前卫烹调法。

 

Myhrvold has a favorite riddle: “If you have two steaks, one that’s an inch thick, one that’s 2 inches thick, how much longer does the thicker one need to cook?”


米尔沃德特别喜欢这样的谜语:“如果你有两块牛排,一块一英寸厚,另一块两英寸厚,那么烹饪较厚的牛排所花费的时间是较薄牛排的几倍?”


If you said the thicker steak takes twice as long, you’re making the same mistake most cooks do. “It’s four times as long. It goes roughly like the square,” Myhrvold says. “How come cookbooks don’t tell you that?” he asks, nearly bursting with indignation. The fundamental laws of heat, he figures, are the fundamental laws of cooking. “The physics of heat is diffusion,” Myhrvold says. “So that’s also the physics of drying things or of marination. They’re all about diffusing things. The physics of heating things is also the physics of cooling things. It’s the same basics over and over.”


如果你给出的答案是两倍,那说明你也犯了大多数厨师都会犯的错误。“其实应该是四倍时间,差不多是二次方的关系,”米尔沃德说。“食谱会告诉这些吗?”他反问道,几近带着愤慨。他强调说,热力学基本定律同时也是烹饪学中的基本定律。“热的物理性质是扩散的,”米尔沃德说。“干燥和浸泡过程也是一样。它们都是扩散过程。加热物体的物理过程同时也是冷却物体的物理过程,它只是相同原理的重复。”


Then there’s water. “Three things about water affect almost all of cooking,” Myhrvold says. “First are the hydrogen bonds, which is why it has an incredibly high boiling point. Another is that it’s a polar molecule, so that it dissolves a lot of things, and there are things that won’t mix with it. And then there’s how much energy it takes to heat water. That’s why steaming food works; that’s why pressure cookers work.”


然后就是水。“烹饪中水的影响体现在三个方面,”米尔沃德说。“首先是氢键,它是水沸点很高的原因;其次在于水是极性分子,因此水会溶解很多物质,也有很多物质不溶解于它;再者便是加热水需要消耗多少能量,这就是可以用蒸汽来烹饪以及高压锅存在的原因。”


This isn’t like most writing about food science. McGee’s science-minded On Food and Cooking is a de facto reference in every professional kitchen—and many amateur ones. McGee says he’s a fan of Myhrvold’s work; the two men are friends, in fact. “I’m much more interested in the chemistry of flavor than Nathan is,” McGee says. “That has to do with the diversity of compounds that you find in nature, how they get there, and how we detect them.”


这与大部分著作中提到的食品科学不尽相同。麦克吉秉持科学理念的《关于食物和烹饪》一书其实是一本所有专业化厨房以及很多业余烹饪爱好者的参考用书。麦克吉表示,自己是米尔沃德著作的粉丝之一;事实上,他们的关系铁得很。“相比内森,我对风味化学的兴趣要更浓,”麦克吉说。“自然界中有很多的化合物都能产生风味,它们究竟是如何做到的,我们应该如何检测它们,这些都是我所关注的。”


It’s a polite sort of turf-carving, and Myhrvold is in just as much of a rush to establish his own. “In terms of broadly looking at food science and chemistry, and trying to explain it to a lay audience, Harold led the way,” Myhrvold says. “But we have a physics-oriented book.” Most cooks focus on the difference between filet mignon and rib eye. Myhrvold and his team want you to comprehend the whole cow. “If all you want to do is follow recipes, you don’t need insights,” he says. “If you want to do new things, you have to understand what the hell you’re doing.”


它有点类似于文雅版的地盘划分,米尔沃德正在急于建立属于自己的专有领域。“宽泛的看待食品科学和化学,并试图向大众进行诠释,在这方面,哈罗德是先行者,”米尔沃德说。“而我们的新书则是以物理学为主导。”大多数厨师会关注菲力牛排和肋眼牛排之间的差别,但米尔沃德和他的团队则希望读者能把目光聚焦于整头牛。“如果你所关注的只是食谱本身,那你就根本不需要什么洞察力,”他说。“如果你想要做点与众不同的事来,那你就必须理解自己的所作所为。”


The ambition, the sheer bigness of Modernist Cuisine, does trigger the oh-come-on meter just a bit. Saying cooks need to understand the physics of diffusion is a little bit like saying a home woodworker needs to understand quantum mechanics. Sure, Planck’s constant helps explain how nails go through maple, but calculating the one doesn’t help you hammer the other.


触发读者进一步探索食品科学的兴趣才是《现代主义烹调法》的野心所在。让厨师们去理解分散的物理过程近似于让木匠去掌握量子力学。当然,普朗克常数会有助于解释钉子是如何穿透木材的,但这种计算方式却无法帮助你将钉子敲进去。


Ironically, Modernist Cuisine will start tormenting UPS drivers with its bulk at the same time that the movement it celebrates—avant-garde, science-driven cooking—is waning. Ferran Adriè0 is closing El Bulli this year. Achatz is opening a new restaurant this spring that won’t emphasize the techniques he helped popularize. “I think the book will have long-lasting importance in gastronomy,” Achatz says. “But the particular style of cooking that it highlights might not. It’s clear that the tide is turning. I don’t think many chefs will continue to take the wholehearted scientific approach.”


令人感到讽刺的是,就在大部头的《现代主义烹调法》成书的同时,它所热情歌颂的科学驱动式先锋烹饪法却日渐式微。费兰·阿德里亚在今年关闭了斗牛犬餐厅;而阿卡兹于今春开张的新餐厅则不会过于关注那些他所大力普及的烹饪技术。“我觉得,在烹饪领域,这本书的重要性会慢慢体现出来,”阿卡兹说。“但它所着重体现的特殊烹调形式可能只是昙花一现。很显然,潮流正在改变。我认为很多厨师不会一直将心思放在科学方法上。”


The tools and techniques that chefs like Adrià and Achatz popularized are trickling down. Flip on Top Chef and you’re likely to see someone mucking about with liquid nitrogen and vacuum sealers. But the artistic part, the creativity of avant-garde chefs that Myhrvold finds so inspiring, seems to be shrinking. If that’s so, Modernist Cuisine isn’t the Principia of the kitchen but its Consolation of Philosophy, the book that collects and summarizes all the knowledge in a field at the moment the field implodes. It’s a eulogy.


阿德里亚和阿卡兹曾大力普及的烹饪工具和技术正在慢慢扩散开来,有些顶级厨师正在尝试捣鼓捣鼓液氮和真空密封机。但是先锋派厨师充满艺术性的创造力似乎正在萎缩,而正是这份创造力让米尔沃德觉得充满灵气。如果真是这样的话,《现代主义烹调法》可能无法成为烹饪领域的科学经典,充其量只能算是一本哲学巨著,而且是生不逢时的巨著。它是一出挽歌。


Myhrvold has certainly considered that possibility. To get this book out, he spent hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, hiring staff, building a lab, setting up a separate company to self-publish it. And while he might be relatively immune to financial pressures, there’s another judgment that the market will make. “One of the names for small-volume personal publishing is vanity publishing,” Myhrvold says. “So, is this useful to people, or is it entirely vanity? That’s a fascinating question. If no one wants it, you have to ask yourself, what am I doing it for?”


米沃尔德肯定也考虑过这种可能性。为了让这本书得以付梓,他花费了巨额财力,雇佣研究人员,搭建实验室,还设立独立公司自费出版。新书是否行销米沃尔德并不太在意,因为市场会自行判断。“个人出本小册子基本上是虚荣心在作怪,”米沃尔德说。“所以,这本书是否有实用价值,或者说它的出版只是为了满足虚荣心?这些问题很具吸引力。因为如果没人想买这本书,那你肯定会扪心自问:我是不是吃饱撑了?”


It’s almost impossible to comprehend all of Modernist Cuisine. It seeks to be the first and last word in its field, to settle every argument, to capture all of human knowledge about cooking. And, ultimately, it’s a book that utterly reflects Myhrvold. “We had a focus on physics. We had a focus on computer modeling. We had a focus on photography,” Myhrvold says. “Those are all things that I’m completely into. We had a focus on the history and the philosophy of this kind of cuisine. Again, that’s totally what I’m into.” That’s why the criticisms won’t matter too much to Myhrvold. In the end, Modernist Cuisine is more than a cookbook. It’s an autobiography—the world’s most oblique memoir, so accurate a reflection of its creator that he might be the only person in the world who fully understands it.


要完全读懂《现代主义烹调法》几乎是不可能完成的任务。它力争罗列本领域内的所有成果,解决所有争端,穷尽人类关于烹饪的所有知识。它完全是米沃尔德个人意志的体现。“我们关注物理学,关注计算机建模,关注摄影,”米沃尔德说。“这些领域都是我曾经全身心投入的。我们关注烹饪的历史和哲学意义,这也是我为之倾心的对象。”这也是为什么外界评论无法撼动米沃尔德的原因所在。《现代主义烹调法》终究不止是一本食谱,它是一本自传,一本闪烁其词的回忆录,它如此精确反映了自己的造物主,以至于他成了世界上唯一一个能完全理解它的人。

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2011-03-29 15:04 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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