Mango Bubbles are Elemental

I’m still getting used to the natural lighting in my new place. I have to rely on the sun over the bulbs because I don’t really understand the details…the science behind photography. Perhaps if someone could recommend a witty and entertaining read on the subject I might understand a smidgeon more. This is my rather wordy apology for a poor photograph.

As follows…

Please though, rest your eyes for a moment, then look at the bubbles in the dish. That’s what you get with N2O.

It is also harder to photograph a very foreign dish — as this was to me. Not the ingredients or really even the device, but definitely the process and the dish itself.

You shouldn’t be afraid to experiment. Without experimentation elements 114 and 116 would not have been added to the periodic table. The periodic table in its entirety wouldn’t exist without experimentation…and very possibly some of our foods. Such as whipped cream or its fruity relative Mango Espuma.

After reading Peter Sagal’s The Book of Vice and Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon I felt the need to try a new technique — molecular gastronomy. The process of using fancy tools to turn familiar objects into a new form. I was sure that my surface web surfing was not going to reveal more facts than these books had already presented, but there was one. Molecular gastronomy is described as being modern and retro. Innovative and tired.

Anything that can be everything must have some sort of staying power. Though, I do hope that this style of cooking never becomes the standard. Future generations should know the tongue-licking savor of simple. I happily console myself with the idea that this is certainly less timeless than the elements that create the dishes.

Some notes about the steps to make Mango Espuma. First step was to puree the mangoes then strain through a fine mesh strainer. You will need one cup of purees fruit. This took me three good-sized ataulfo mangoes.

Dissolving the gelatin in cold water: This step was frustratingly difficult to figure out. Recipes called for leaves and sheets of gelatin, but only packets are sold in the grocery store. One site said that a sheet was equal to one teaspoon and with that I decided that a sheet was the same as a leaf, but wondered if a leaf was the same as an envelope which, of course, would be a packet. Then no recipe said how much water should be used except for when it was a sheet being softened, but not dissolved in water. Recipes were adamant about having a thick puree. So, I figured only a little water should be used. From there I made a guess, didn’t measure and started to regret that I’d invited my parents over to partake in this foam.

Put the strained mango puree into a small saucepan. Add in the gelatin. Cook over low heat until incorporated, but don’t boil. How exactly you determine that nearly transparent gelatin is incorporated is also a bit of a mystery, but whatever. I heated a bit then poured the whole thing into the (the iSi) whipped cream maker and put it into the fridge to cool.

Charge with two N2O chargers (I only had one and according to my parents they are extremely difficult to find). Let rest in the fridge for one hour.

You might be wondering on the final verdict.

Well…what was essentially pureed fruit was delicious with a mouse-like texture. On the other hand a very simple dish took a lot of time, required specialized equipment and resulted in a bit of waste (both from turning 3 mangoes into one cup of puree and one spent charger requiring a special trip to a steel recycling facility). A repeat dish? No.

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