Big news! There have been hints on my twitter feed for months now, but all of the pieces have been made public, so I can make at least the first of my big announcements: The Food Geek is now a regularly appearing column in Fine Cooking Magazine. The first column, which is about the Maillard reactions as they apply to chicken piccata, appears in the February/March issue, which should be on the stands, well, any time now, and is currently available to subscribers of their web site. Fine Cooking announced in their December/January issue that they are undergoing a big redesign and lots of changes. I am pleased to be part of those changes. There'll be more, and I'll let you know as soon as I can about the next one.
This entry is extra-geeky, so be warned. I was playing with Google Books' full-text search feature to find information on the Maillard Reaction, and I discovered that someone made a song about the Maillard Reaction. It's sung to the tune of "On Top of Old Smokey." It starts: "The sugar and protein / all reacted till brown / I now had a mixture / in which protein was bound" and continues for about 18 more stanzas. It was published in 1990, and I'd be interested in discovering how Ted Labuza, the songwright, feels about having his song easily discoverable by the masses, or at least the masses who are interested in the Maillard Reaction. This book (which is available through amazon for $189, and so is a little out of my price range), appears to have been published for or in conjunction with the 4th International Symposium on the Maillard Reaction. The 9th International Symposium on the Maillard Reaction is in Munich in September of 2007, and I may just have to see if I can find some way to make it to that. My concern is that it would be very expensive and way over my head, but come on, how often do you get to go to a symposium, in Munich, about the Maillard Reaction? Not very often, I'd be willing to wager. You can also go to the International Maillard Reaction Society home page. The IMARS "was established in 2005 in response to a growing recognition of the role reactive carbonyl compounds play in food technology, nutrition and tissue aging in biology and medicine." That's seven kinds of cool (for the appropriate definition of cool, of course). So, you may wonder, what's the deal with the Maillard Reaction? Why are there societies, symposia, and songs about this chemical reaction? Well, it's very complex, first. Second, it affects not only food, but medicine. There aren't many chemical reactions that are so important to both fields that we have so much to learn about. It controls some reactions specific to Diabetes, and causes Diabetics to age faster. It makes toast tastier than bread. It's just very interesting. What's also interesting is Google and Amazon's various full-text search of books. I was able to do a search on this subject and discover something entirely unexpected out of it. Sure, I knew scientists were a little odd, but I didn't know that it would lead to a song about the Maillard Reaction. There's a great deal of information we have access to, and we're only just starting to figure out what we can do with it. It's the sort of thing that makes me excited for the future.