Saturday, June 30, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Food Science

My Weekend Cooking post this week is a quote from A Red Herring Without Mustard, which is the third book in the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. The quote comes from pages 153-154:

Ten minutes later I was back with a bowl of food nicked from the pantry.

" Follow me," I said. "Next door."

Porcelain looked round wide-eyed as we enter my chemical laboratory. "What is this place? Are we supposed to be in here?"

"Of course we are," I told her. "It's where I do my experiments."

"Like magic?" she asked, glancing around at the glassware.

"Yes," I said. "Like magic. Now then, you take these...."

She jumped at the pop of the Bunsen burner as I put a match to it.

"Hold them over the flame," I said, handing her a couple of bangers and a pair of nickel-plated tube clamps. "Not too close - it's exceedingly hot."

I broke six eggs into a borosilicate evaporating dish and stirred them with a glass rod over a second burner. Almost immediately the laboratory was filled with mouthwatering aromas.

"Now for toast," I said. "You can do two slices at a time," I said. "Use the tongs again. Do both sides, then turn them inside out."

By necessity, I had become quite an accomplished laboratory chef. Once, just recently, when Father had banished me to my room, I had even made myself a spotted dick by steaming suet from the larder in a wide-neck Erlenmeyer flask. And because water boils at only 212 degrees Fahrenheit, while nylon doesn't melt until it is heated to 417 degrees, I had verified my theory that one of Feely's precious stockings would make a perfect pudding bag.

If there's anything more delicious than a sausage roasted over an open Bunsen burner, I can't imagine what it might be - unless it's the feeling of freedom that comes of eating it with the bare fingers and letting the fat fall where it may. Porcelain and I tore into our food like cannibals after a missionary famine, and before long there was nothing left but crumbs.

As two cups of water came to the boil in a glass beaker, I took down from the shelf where it was kept, alphabetically, between the arsenic and the cyanide, an apothecary jar marked Camellia sinensis.

"Don't worry," I said. "It's only tea."



Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.  

18 comments:

  1. Don't worry, it's only tea! LOL. Don't you just love Flavia?? I haven't read this one yet.

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    1. Yes, she is a real character!

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  2. I love this series! And I love the image of fat dripping onto her work table as she noisily sucks a Bunsen-burner charred sausage.

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    1. It is great imagery isn't it!

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  3. Laboratory Chef, I love it! This sounds like a fun read judging from the quote.

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  4. Great quote! Love the alphabetically arranged jars. Must check out the series :).

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    1. I used to organise my books alphabetically but never anything in the kitchen.

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  5. I haven't read this series yet but it sounds like something I would like. I will have to try it.

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  6. Sounds interesting. Have a super week

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  7. This is my next in this series. Such a wonderful passage, i can imagine her doing this and even smell it. yummy.

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    1. It certainly fits the character of Flavia perfectly!

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  8. What fun! And I knew Camellia sinensis -- I'm a big fan of camellias, both ornamental and for tea.

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    1. I can't say that I have ever drunk camellia tea!

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  9. I've read two of the Flavia books, but not this one yet. I enjoy how you tied it into Weekend Cooking- very clever!

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    1. I often do quotes from books! I don't cook enough to do recipes all the time!

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