This is the P2PU Archive. If you want the current site, go to!

Kitchen Science - Mar 2010

This course is complete. Subscribe to the announcement list for updates.

Kitchen Science - Mar 2010

Niels Sprong's picture
Course organiser: Niels Sprong
About the Course Organiser: 

No of Seats: 
Course Status: 


Niels Sprong's picture
Alison Jean Cole's picture
Anna Wood's picture
Christopher Shamburg's picture
Zack Denfeld's picture
Philipp Schmidt's picture
Rebecca Kahn's picture
Science is awesome, cooking is awesome. Let's practice both.


The starting point for this course was the MIT OCW course “Kitchen Chemistry”, which was
“ designed to be an experimental and hands-on approach to applied chemistry (as seen in cooking). Cooking is in this MIT course used to illustrate chemical principles, teaching you what nature has to offer in terms of chemical reactions. It is undoubtedly interesting to know that “methylmercaptan is the stuff that makes your urine smell after eating asparagus”., but next to these experiments and readings that teach you things to impress people at dinner,  I was thinking to make the eventual aims of the course somewhat more elaborate.

The aims of this course are twofold. Firstly, and in this we are following Hervé This, if one knows the explanations science offers for the techniques and recipes handed down from chef to chef and mother to child, one can learn to adapt recipes and modify techniques proposed in recipes according to the utensils available. This is likely to be useful for any cook and allows the discussions in the course to become very practical. The first aim is thus to learn more about this scientific background of cooking, and while the MIT ‘Kitchen Chemistry”  experiments contribute to achieving this aim, expect to read other authors and do different experiments.

Secondly, our aim is to extend what we understand when we say the ‘science of cooking’ to more than just chemistry and physics. This aim is more academic, or journalistic if you are more comfortable with that, than practical. The idea is to do a research project where participants in the course attempt to write something meaningful about cooking, from their own – or a perspective they choose- scientific disciplinary perspective. Think about the sociological approaches to cooking, how recipies (might have? ) evolved under influence of  classical economics, taste and evolution – the possibilities are endless. The best projects are sent for review to journals, magazines, or cooking blogs, to see if we can get some p2pu work published.