When Art Meets Science


It’s February!! Which means the “I don’t feel like cooking” attitudes following a miserable commute of bitter wind and slushy sidewalks are here for 6 more weeks (thanks for that, Punxsutawney Phil!) So I’ve turned to a cooking method that – albeit fancy – is quite fun: sous vide. I’ve prepared salmon a number of ways: baked, grilled, slow-cooked, raw for sushi – but cooking it inside of a Ziploc bag was a new one for me. As strange as it sounds, trust me when I say this was one of the most delicious salmon dishes I’ve ever had. Packed with flavor and extremely tender, this Salmon Sous Side has become a quick favorite in my weekly repertoire.

SalmonVideSous vide is French for “under vacuum” – and it’s a technique where art meets science. In a nutshell, sous vide involves cooking foods in a water bath, ranging from 120°-160°F, where the food is sealed inside of a vacuum pack…or Ziploc bag for “sous vide sur un budget” (how I roll). The process was developed separately by a gourmet chef, Georges Pralus, and a scientist, Bruno Goussault. Each claims to be the original “architect” behind the method: although they ultimately worked together to popularize and ensure safety standards for the technique. Fun fact! The term “cryovacking” is also used to describe sous vide – which I personally think is super cool / fun to say five times fast.

Joule1    Joule2
The sous vide equipment I own is called Joule: you can control the timing and the temperature all from your PHONE. Just download the app, select a recipe, grab the ingredients and hit “go”. I plan on using this thing a lot, and imagine my next venture will be steak (stay tuned!) In the meantime, here are my thoughts on the process as a whole: it’s fun, yields an extremely tender meal that can be seasoned and seared to your heart’s delight, and is absolutely worth it if you are looking for a method to spice up your daily routine. Click HERE to see the recipe for this delicious dish. 

SalmonVide_2One of the first things that came to mind when considering a musical pairing for this dish was the “golden ratio”: 1.618. The concept is embraced across multiple genres, and is believed to be the calculation that captures the aesthetically beautiful. The graphic on 270px-Golden_ratio_line.svg.pngthe left best illustrates how this ratio works. Both the Parthenon in Greece and Leonardo da Vinci’s De divina proportione (“On the Divine Proportion”) are living examples of the proportion. In classical music, the composer Béla Bartók had an appreciation for such proportionality: so much so that he aspired to recreate it in his own compositions.

A great example is Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. In its entirety, (movements I through IV) the work is roughly 30 minutes in length. While the second and fourth movements are fast-paced and lively, it is the first and third movements that embrace the golden ratio. The first movement centralizes on the note “A”, where the strings build from a muted introduction into a climactic center, and slowly diminish back into a hushed, arpeggiated texture. This climax occurs at measure 55, out of the 89-measure movement, effectively making it the “golden mean” of the movement. (89 ÷ 55 = 1.618). The third movement opens with a xylophone solo built on a Fibonacci sequence: 1:1:2:3:5:8:5:3:2:1:1 – a sequence that is intimately connected to the golden ratio. The piece is both haunting and lively, which makes for a great listen. The following recording is with the London Symphony Orchestra and Georg Solti – enjoy!

Sources Cited:
Hesser, Amanda. “Under Pressure,” New York Times
“Golden ratio”, Wikipedia
Frey, Angelica. “Five Classical Pieces with the Golden Ratio”, CMUSE

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