So, what is so special about the human brain, and why should you care (especially here where I share my husband’s tasty meals)?? Well, the neuroscientist in me just couldn’t resist. 🙂
Ever since meeting my husband I thought that we made a great pair, personally as well as professionally. He is a chef; I’m a scientist. These two professions might have more in common than you think. They both involve ingenuity, curiosity, and creativity. Some high class kitchens have even turned into straight up laboratories, like the test kichen. The owner, Ferran Adrià, has been responsible for some major transformations in the field many call ‘molecular gastronomy.’
Many universities and scientific researchers are interested in the topic of science and food as well. A couple years ago I read an interesting book, Neurogastronomy, by Dr. Gordon Shephard at , explaining tastes and smells, how flavors are created, and how the brain can use that information. But there are TONS of books now about kitchen chemistry and molecular gastronomy. has even started a ‘Science and Cooking’ lecture series, which includes several famous Spanish chefs, like Ferran Adrià and José Andrés.
Have you guessed it yet; what is so special about the human brain?? That’s right, we COOK! Cooking allows us to take in all the required energy needed for maintaining our large dense brains. Check out this great TED talk by Suzana Hercularo-Houzel where she explains her research on the brain and her conclusions regarding brain evolution and the role cooking and food have played.
With our dietary needs easily met we were allowed time to learn to develop new skills. Could it be then that cooks are the oldest profession around, making easily digestible foods that our bodies can convert into quick energy. Or would that then be the scientist for learning how to use fire to manipulate ingredients for the maximum benefit. Either way, the science of food is something fascinating with endless opportunities, and I love that Manolo and I are both making our little contributions to the fields, however small they may be.
video – Anthony Bourdain No Reservations
Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavors and Why It Matters, Shephard, G., Columbia University Press 2011
Harvard University – Science and Cooking Lecture Series
TED talk – Suzana Hercularo-Houzel: What Is So Special About the Human Brain
brain picture – Clipartsfree.net