My Mom is a Food Scientist

By Kristy Vest

Have you ever sat across from your mother as she mixes and kneads the dough for cinnamon buns? Driving her crazy while describing how the starch molecules are reacting with the water, enzymes and yeasts? Have you ever sat in a food lab where all of the same things you’ve seen your mom do time and again are explained in detail and you wonder “How did she just know!?”. Hats off to the chefs of this world who are so under appreciated and whose knowledge is misunderstood, and cheers to the mother’s and grandmother’s, father’s and grandpa’s and everyone else involved in the sharing of timeless cooking skills. Who knew you were learning food science as you licked the spatula?

I guess I’ve been a food scientist all of my life. My mom cooked three square meals a day. Supper was intricately balanced and I begged her to cook more than “just one starch” at supper despite this basically being her cardinal rule. She had other rules. Always put potatoes in cold water and then bring them to a boil. Cool off hard boiled eggs immediately and as quickly as possible. Don’t over-knead the dough. Cream butter and sugar before you add eggs. There was more. I loved to watch her in the kitchen and in the garden. She had a way of “just knowing” things that I suppose all mothers do. But I wonder how these skills have gotten passed on over the years. I am more concerned that these skills are less and less common.

This is an ode to my mother who let me get my hands dirty in flour and water. Who taught me how to flour the counter so the dough wouldn’t stick and had me learning all about starches before I learned all about starches. Who knew she was making science so easy?

Photo Credit:

Science Meets Food

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1 Comment

  1. Hi, Very nice post. When I was child I saw my grandmother how her added warm water to make tortilla flour. At that time I had the idea that was a waste to time. Why your need add warm water and resting the flour to make toritillas, if at the end you will cook with a hot pan? Now, I understand the gelatinization and how the starch granules absorb water.

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