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The Science Of Transformative Travel

The Science Of Transformative Travel

Photo courtesy of HartwigHKD.

Transformative travel. This was a major theme of last weekend’s New York Travel Festival. While there were a number of excellent panels and workshops, an overarching theme of the conference seemed to be changing yourself through travel and having a two-way street of positive influence with the communities you visit. One panel of note was The Science Behind Transformative Travel, which poised important questions and got me thinking about a number of issues relating to travel and how people can turn their yearly “vacation” into an annual “transformation.”

Transformative Travel

The panel was presented by Joe Diaz of AFAR, Ian O’Sullivan of Alternative Escapes, Mark Lakin of Epic Road, Dr. Lynn Minnaert, a tourism scholar at NYU’s Tisch Center, and Gabi Logan of Reward Expert and moderator of the seminar. During the hour, we looked at what makes a travel experience transformative and how people can experience this style of travel for themselves. Panelists also shared some enviable tales from the road that made me personally want to hop on a plane tomorrow for an Eat Pray Love-style adventure.

You may be thinking, “What exactly is transformative travel?” According to Dr. Minnaert, it’s when a traveler has a boundary that they push themselves across. This doesn’t have to entail skydiving or going on a solo pilgrimage around the world. It can be whatever makes you feel like you’re pushing yourself to do something you normally wouldn’t. If you never travel, this could be as simple as purchasing a passport and booking a plane ticket. Diaz also added that it’s a perspective shift and a mindset that starts with a spirit to embark on such a self-changing endeavor and immerse yourself in local culture.

Cultural Immersion

According to O’Sullivan, there are two ingredients that make up cultural immersion: curiosity and appreciation. Curiosity could be something like giving an authentic compliment to a local, which opens the possibility for further interaction. Appreciation and respecting local traditions — maybe trying to speak in the local language and dressing in the local fashion — can get you through the door to possibly having dinner in a local home or spending the day with them frequenting their favorite spots.

The human connection. Photo courtesy of pixelstar.

The Human Connection

One point I found really interesting was when Diaz discussed the human connection. When talking about a trip he took to Delhi, India, he noted this was the first time in his life he felt like nobody looked like him; however, this didn’t stop him from connecting. A local guide Diaz was with, *Raj mentioned he was an artist. When Diaz mentioned he would be interested in seeing the artwork, Raj was touched, saying, “Nobody has ever asked me that before.” The story ends with Diaz in Raj’s home looking at his works and drinking fresh squeezed juice from local fruits.

“Get your ass off the bus [tour] and see how many kitchen tables you can get into,” Diaz concluded.

The Epitome Of Transformative Travel

One of the audience’s favorite stories was one given by Lakin about visiting a livestock auction in Tanzania, Africa. He and friend decided to purchase an animal, solely to have a local experience. While the bulls were expensive and scary, the goats seemed doable and cost only $30 to $50. Once they purchased the goat, however, they realized they had no way to transport the animal, especially as it would inevitably have to go to bathroom. They decided to take the opportunity to change the life of a person who really needed it. In the end they ended up giving it to two children, a brother and sister. While Lakin and his friend were hesitant to gift the kids with the goat as he wasn’t sure they could take care of it, it was a single moment that changed Lakin’s mind. As he walked away from the siblings, the little boy ran after him, tugging on his arm. “I know I’ve never had a goat, but I always wanted one.”

This story is the epitome of transformative travel.

Theyyam ritual dance in India. Photo courtesy of freebird (bobinson).

Setting Yourself Up For A Transformative Travel Experience

There are a few steps a person can take to set themselves up to have a transformative travel experience.

Lakin recommends that travelers “Always save an errand to do, like getting a coat or flip flops. It will give you a point of interaction.” I loved this tip, so simple yet effective, as once you have a necessary topic of conversation anything could happen.

Moreover, learning 20 words in the local language shows locals you have respect for their culture, and can also give you more confidence to interact. Being present — as in, not having your head buried in a phone or map — also opens you up to the possibility of meeting a local, or at least further feeling the beat of the destination you’re in and witnessing the small nuances of daily life that might otherwise go unnoticed.

O’Sullivan recommended doing a homestay to have an economic impact on a local family, which also allows you to delve deeper into local culture. This also goes along with the theme of responsible travel, as getting rid of the middleman and using small, local companies allows all of your money spent — instead of a just a portion — to go directly into the communities that need it.

Teff Harvest in Ethiopia. Photo courtesy of A.Davey.

Lastly, Diaz advised believing in the kindness of strangers, as this allows for good things to happen. If you don’t have faith in humanity your feeling of connection will be lost, and you’ll close yourself off from ever possibly experiencing those small moments that really make the trip worth it. Because in the end it isn’t the helicopter tour or five-star hotel that moves you on the road, but knowing you’ve had a positive impact on the community you’ve visited, and that the community positively impacted you, too.

Transformative Travel At Home

Keep in mind, you don’t have to fly to Africa to have a transformative travel experience. The next time you’re in a taxi cab at home, Diaz recommended trying to figure out where your driver is from and Googling a few words in their local language. From there, start up a conversation. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the interaction.

What does transformative travel mean to you? Have you had a transformative travel experience on the road or at home? Please share in the comments below.

The post The Science Of Transformative Travel appeared first on Epicure & Culture.


The Science of the Perfect Souffle

Watch as chef Jeffrey Buben shows you how to make a perfect souffle.

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia.

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen. Coburn Dukehart, NPR hide caption

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen.

Science in the kitchen is largely the chemistry kind — the properties of two liquids mixing, the transformation of bread into toast, the breakdown of starches into sugars. But do you ever think about velocity or gravity in your cooking? It turns out, beating eggs is all about science — and it's physics and chemistry that make a souffle rise or fall.

Though I've beaten plenty of eggs in my day, for an expert opinion on the subject I turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The first step in making an egg dish like meringue or a souffle, Buben says, is to separate the yolks from the whites, the fat from the protein.

Fat and protein — remember that. The yolk has fat and some protein, but the white is all protein, no fat.

"When I was growing up in the kitchen," Buben says, "the chefs would say 'no goldfish.' And what they meant was. sometimes when you separate eggs you get a little nip of the egg yolk in the whites and that would fall into the bowl. And if you brought the chef a bowl of egg whites that had goldfish in it. he would pretty much throw you out of the kitchen and tell you to start all over again."

So why is it so important to make sure there aren't any goldfish in the egg whites? Because remember, yolks have fat in them.

When you beat egg whites, you're basically mixing air into them. The protein in the egg whites forms a kind of skin around the bubbles of air. But if there's any fat present, the skin can't form and the air leaks away. Even a trace of fat is ruinous. So, no goldfish if you want a souffle.

Just the Right Amount of Air

There are some tricks to getting just the right amount of air into your egg whites.

Use a very clean bowl, Buben says, and keep a "nice, even flow of beating to incorporate the air. And you don't want to over-beat them and have too thick a mixture that it won't fold into your souffle or your batter or your sponge."

With that, Buben's ready to start cooking. He's wearing a spotless white chef's jacket, checked pants, and those clogs that all chefs seem to favor. He has a large, clean, stainless-steel bowl — some say copper bowls work better, but he's not convinced. He also has a large whisk and a carton of fresh eggs.

He picks one up, holds it over his work table, and tells me something surprising.

"You always want to crack an egg on a flat surface," Buben says. "What that does is it gives you less shell shatter, so that when you go to add it to a recipe, you won't get little shards of shell in your recipe. So it comes with a much cleaner crack, one crack on a flat surface."

"Not on an edge," Buben says.

Buben cracks open an egg and lets the white spill into one bowl. Then he plops the yolk into a different bowl. He repeats this with two more eggs.

You can tell he's practiced at this. For those not as expert as Buben in separating eggs, you might want to put each egg's white into a small bowl, inspect it for goldfish, and only then add it to your mixing bowl.

Buben picks up his whisk and starts to work on the egg whites.

"Now what I like to do," he says, "is start in circle eights, just to break up the egg whites. Then you want to go in a circular motion. Turn your bowl at about a 15 degree angle, and just keep whipping it, and try to get as much air in as quickly as possible.

"We were doing a party last month, and we were whipping egg whites by hand, and they said, 'I can't believe people still whip egg whites by hand.' And I said, 'I didn't know there was any other way,'" Buben laughs.

The Architecture of a Souffle

About four minutes later at a steady 180 beats per minute, our egg whites have transformed.

"What we're looking for now is nice beautiful peaks," Buben explains. "Some chefs that I learned from say the point where you have the meringue perfect is when you just lose the shine from the egg whites. And we're getting very, very close to that point."

He finishes beating, and the whites are as light as air. But their architecture is fragile, Buben says, "so you have to move very quickly with it, and be very gentle."

Move quickly because the air can still leak out of the tiny protein pockets, and move gently because the protein skins are thin and will collapse easily.

He uses his whisk to mix the egg yolks and then uses a rubber spatula to gently add the stiff egg-white mixture to the yolks. He folds the two just until the whites are incorporated, then places the whole thing into a baking dish.

When the egg mixture is baked in a 350-degree oven, those air bubbles trapped in the egg whites expand, making the souffle rise. The heat also causes the protein to stiffen a bit, and along with the fat from the yolk, it forms a kind of scaffold that keeps the souffle from collapsing.

After six minutes, Buben checks on his omelet souffle. "Oh, isn't that beautiful," he says, pulling it from the oven.

The egg mixture has nearly doubled in volume.

Now I'd probably eat it as is, but Buben has bigger ideas. While the souffle was in the oven, he made a reduction of wine and shallots and stirred in some butter. Now he spoons that mixture over the souffle, topping it off with a few shavings of black truffle.


The Science of the Perfect Souffle

Watch as chef Jeffrey Buben shows you how to make a perfect souffle.

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia.

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen. Coburn Dukehart, NPR hide caption

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen.

Science in the kitchen is largely the chemistry kind — the properties of two liquids mixing, the transformation of bread into toast, the breakdown of starches into sugars. But do you ever think about velocity or gravity in your cooking? It turns out, beating eggs is all about science — and it's physics and chemistry that make a souffle rise or fall.

Though I've beaten plenty of eggs in my day, for an expert opinion on the subject I turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The first step in making an egg dish like meringue or a souffle, Buben says, is to separate the yolks from the whites, the fat from the protein.

Fat and protein — remember that. The yolk has fat and some protein, but the white is all protein, no fat.

"When I was growing up in the kitchen," Buben says, "the chefs would say 'no goldfish.' And what they meant was. sometimes when you separate eggs you get a little nip of the egg yolk in the whites and that would fall into the bowl. And if you brought the chef a bowl of egg whites that had goldfish in it. he would pretty much throw you out of the kitchen and tell you to start all over again."

So why is it so important to make sure there aren't any goldfish in the egg whites? Because remember, yolks have fat in them.

When you beat egg whites, you're basically mixing air into them. The protein in the egg whites forms a kind of skin around the bubbles of air. But if there's any fat present, the skin can't form and the air leaks away. Even a trace of fat is ruinous. So, no goldfish if you want a souffle.

Just the Right Amount of Air

There are some tricks to getting just the right amount of air into your egg whites.

Use a very clean bowl, Buben says, and keep a "nice, even flow of beating to incorporate the air. And you don't want to over-beat them and have too thick a mixture that it won't fold into your souffle or your batter or your sponge."

With that, Buben's ready to start cooking. He's wearing a spotless white chef's jacket, checked pants, and those clogs that all chefs seem to favor. He has a large, clean, stainless-steel bowl — some say copper bowls work better, but he's not convinced. He also has a large whisk and a carton of fresh eggs.

He picks one up, holds it over his work table, and tells me something surprising.

"You always want to crack an egg on a flat surface," Buben says. "What that does is it gives you less shell shatter, so that when you go to add it to a recipe, you won't get little shards of shell in your recipe. So it comes with a much cleaner crack, one crack on a flat surface."

"Not on an edge," Buben says.

Buben cracks open an egg and lets the white spill into one bowl. Then he plops the yolk into a different bowl. He repeats this with two more eggs.

You can tell he's practiced at this. For those not as expert as Buben in separating eggs, you might want to put each egg's white into a small bowl, inspect it for goldfish, and only then add it to your mixing bowl.

Buben picks up his whisk and starts to work on the egg whites.

"Now what I like to do," he says, "is start in circle eights, just to break up the egg whites. Then you want to go in a circular motion. Turn your bowl at about a 15 degree angle, and just keep whipping it, and try to get as much air in as quickly as possible.

"We were doing a party last month, and we were whipping egg whites by hand, and they said, 'I can't believe people still whip egg whites by hand.' And I said, 'I didn't know there was any other way,'" Buben laughs.

The Architecture of a Souffle

About four minutes later at a steady 180 beats per minute, our egg whites have transformed.

"What we're looking for now is nice beautiful peaks," Buben explains. "Some chefs that I learned from say the point where you have the meringue perfect is when you just lose the shine from the egg whites. And we're getting very, very close to that point."

He finishes beating, and the whites are as light as air. But their architecture is fragile, Buben says, "so you have to move very quickly with it, and be very gentle."

Move quickly because the air can still leak out of the tiny protein pockets, and move gently because the protein skins are thin and will collapse easily.

He uses his whisk to mix the egg yolks and then uses a rubber spatula to gently add the stiff egg-white mixture to the yolks. He folds the two just until the whites are incorporated, then places the whole thing into a baking dish.

When the egg mixture is baked in a 350-degree oven, those air bubbles trapped in the egg whites expand, making the souffle rise. The heat also causes the protein to stiffen a bit, and along with the fat from the yolk, it forms a kind of scaffold that keeps the souffle from collapsing.

After six minutes, Buben checks on his omelet souffle. "Oh, isn't that beautiful," he says, pulling it from the oven.

The egg mixture has nearly doubled in volume.

Now I'd probably eat it as is, but Buben has bigger ideas. While the souffle was in the oven, he made a reduction of wine and shallots and stirred in some butter. Now he spoons that mixture over the souffle, topping it off with a few shavings of black truffle.


The Science of the Perfect Souffle

Watch as chef Jeffrey Buben shows you how to make a perfect souffle.

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia.

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen. Coburn Dukehart, NPR hide caption

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen.

Science in the kitchen is largely the chemistry kind — the properties of two liquids mixing, the transformation of bread into toast, the breakdown of starches into sugars. But do you ever think about velocity or gravity in your cooking? It turns out, beating eggs is all about science — and it's physics and chemistry that make a souffle rise or fall.

Though I've beaten plenty of eggs in my day, for an expert opinion on the subject I turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The first step in making an egg dish like meringue or a souffle, Buben says, is to separate the yolks from the whites, the fat from the protein.

Fat and protein — remember that. The yolk has fat and some protein, but the white is all protein, no fat.

"When I was growing up in the kitchen," Buben says, "the chefs would say 'no goldfish.' And what they meant was. sometimes when you separate eggs you get a little nip of the egg yolk in the whites and that would fall into the bowl. And if you brought the chef a bowl of egg whites that had goldfish in it. he would pretty much throw you out of the kitchen and tell you to start all over again."

So why is it so important to make sure there aren't any goldfish in the egg whites? Because remember, yolks have fat in them.

When you beat egg whites, you're basically mixing air into them. The protein in the egg whites forms a kind of skin around the bubbles of air. But if there's any fat present, the skin can't form and the air leaks away. Even a trace of fat is ruinous. So, no goldfish if you want a souffle.

Just the Right Amount of Air

There are some tricks to getting just the right amount of air into your egg whites.

Use a very clean bowl, Buben says, and keep a "nice, even flow of beating to incorporate the air. And you don't want to over-beat them and have too thick a mixture that it won't fold into your souffle or your batter or your sponge."

With that, Buben's ready to start cooking. He's wearing a spotless white chef's jacket, checked pants, and those clogs that all chefs seem to favor. He has a large, clean, stainless-steel bowl — some say copper bowls work better, but he's not convinced. He also has a large whisk and a carton of fresh eggs.

He picks one up, holds it over his work table, and tells me something surprising.

"You always want to crack an egg on a flat surface," Buben says. "What that does is it gives you less shell shatter, so that when you go to add it to a recipe, you won't get little shards of shell in your recipe. So it comes with a much cleaner crack, one crack on a flat surface."

"Not on an edge," Buben says.

Buben cracks open an egg and lets the white spill into one bowl. Then he plops the yolk into a different bowl. He repeats this with two more eggs.

You can tell he's practiced at this. For those not as expert as Buben in separating eggs, you might want to put each egg's white into a small bowl, inspect it for goldfish, and only then add it to your mixing bowl.

Buben picks up his whisk and starts to work on the egg whites.

"Now what I like to do," he says, "is start in circle eights, just to break up the egg whites. Then you want to go in a circular motion. Turn your bowl at about a 15 degree angle, and just keep whipping it, and try to get as much air in as quickly as possible.

"We were doing a party last month, and we were whipping egg whites by hand, and they said, 'I can't believe people still whip egg whites by hand.' And I said, 'I didn't know there was any other way,'" Buben laughs.

The Architecture of a Souffle

About four minutes later at a steady 180 beats per minute, our egg whites have transformed.

"What we're looking for now is nice beautiful peaks," Buben explains. "Some chefs that I learned from say the point where you have the meringue perfect is when you just lose the shine from the egg whites. And we're getting very, very close to that point."

He finishes beating, and the whites are as light as air. But their architecture is fragile, Buben says, "so you have to move very quickly with it, and be very gentle."

Move quickly because the air can still leak out of the tiny protein pockets, and move gently because the protein skins are thin and will collapse easily.

He uses his whisk to mix the egg yolks and then uses a rubber spatula to gently add the stiff egg-white mixture to the yolks. He folds the two just until the whites are incorporated, then places the whole thing into a baking dish.

When the egg mixture is baked in a 350-degree oven, those air bubbles trapped in the egg whites expand, making the souffle rise. The heat also causes the protein to stiffen a bit, and along with the fat from the yolk, it forms a kind of scaffold that keeps the souffle from collapsing.

After six minutes, Buben checks on his omelet souffle. "Oh, isn't that beautiful," he says, pulling it from the oven.

The egg mixture has nearly doubled in volume.

Now I'd probably eat it as is, but Buben has bigger ideas. While the souffle was in the oven, he made a reduction of wine and shallots and stirred in some butter. Now he spoons that mixture over the souffle, topping it off with a few shavings of black truffle.


The Science of the Perfect Souffle

Watch as chef Jeffrey Buben shows you how to make a perfect souffle.

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia.

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen. Coburn Dukehart, NPR hide caption

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen.

Science in the kitchen is largely the chemistry kind — the properties of two liquids mixing, the transformation of bread into toast, the breakdown of starches into sugars. But do you ever think about velocity or gravity in your cooking? It turns out, beating eggs is all about science — and it's physics and chemistry that make a souffle rise or fall.

Though I've beaten plenty of eggs in my day, for an expert opinion on the subject I turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The first step in making an egg dish like meringue or a souffle, Buben says, is to separate the yolks from the whites, the fat from the protein.

Fat and protein — remember that. The yolk has fat and some protein, but the white is all protein, no fat.

"When I was growing up in the kitchen," Buben says, "the chefs would say 'no goldfish.' And what they meant was. sometimes when you separate eggs you get a little nip of the egg yolk in the whites and that would fall into the bowl. And if you brought the chef a bowl of egg whites that had goldfish in it. he would pretty much throw you out of the kitchen and tell you to start all over again."

So why is it so important to make sure there aren't any goldfish in the egg whites? Because remember, yolks have fat in them.

When you beat egg whites, you're basically mixing air into them. The protein in the egg whites forms a kind of skin around the bubbles of air. But if there's any fat present, the skin can't form and the air leaks away. Even a trace of fat is ruinous. So, no goldfish if you want a souffle.

Just the Right Amount of Air

There are some tricks to getting just the right amount of air into your egg whites.

Use a very clean bowl, Buben says, and keep a "nice, even flow of beating to incorporate the air. And you don't want to over-beat them and have too thick a mixture that it won't fold into your souffle or your batter or your sponge."

With that, Buben's ready to start cooking. He's wearing a spotless white chef's jacket, checked pants, and those clogs that all chefs seem to favor. He has a large, clean, stainless-steel bowl — some say copper bowls work better, but he's not convinced. He also has a large whisk and a carton of fresh eggs.

He picks one up, holds it over his work table, and tells me something surprising.

"You always want to crack an egg on a flat surface," Buben says. "What that does is it gives you less shell shatter, so that when you go to add it to a recipe, you won't get little shards of shell in your recipe. So it comes with a much cleaner crack, one crack on a flat surface."

"Not on an edge," Buben says.

Buben cracks open an egg and lets the white spill into one bowl. Then he plops the yolk into a different bowl. He repeats this with two more eggs.

You can tell he's practiced at this. For those not as expert as Buben in separating eggs, you might want to put each egg's white into a small bowl, inspect it for goldfish, and only then add it to your mixing bowl.

Buben picks up his whisk and starts to work on the egg whites.

"Now what I like to do," he says, "is start in circle eights, just to break up the egg whites. Then you want to go in a circular motion. Turn your bowl at about a 15 degree angle, and just keep whipping it, and try to get as much air in as quickly as possible.

"We were doing a party last month, and we were whipping egg whites by hand, and they said, 'I can't believe people still whip egg whites by hand.' And I said, 'I didn't know there was any other way,'" Buben laughs.

The Architecture of a Souffle

About four minutes later at a steady 180 beats per minute, our egg whites have transformed.

"What we're looking for now is nice beautiful peaks," Buben explains. "Some chefs that I learned from say the point where you have the meringue perfect is when you just lose the shine from the egg whites. And we're getting very, very close to that point."

He finishes beating, and the whites are as light as air. But their architecture is fragile, Buben says, "so you have to move very quickly with it, and be very gentle."

Move quickly because the air can still leak out of the tiny protein pockets, and move gently because the protein skins are thin and will collapse easily.

He uses his whisk to mix the egg yolks and then uses a rubber spatula to gently add the stiff egg-white mixture to the yolks. He folds the two just until the whites are incorporated, then places the whole thing into a baking dish.

When the egg mixture is baked in a 350-degree oven, those air bubbles trapped in the egg whites expand, making the souffle rise. The heat also causes the protein to stiffen a bit, and along with the fat from the yolk, it forms a kind of scaffold that keeps the souffle from collapsing.

After six minutes, Buben checks on his omelet souffle. "Oh, isn't that beautiful," he says, pulling it from the oven.

The egg mixture has nearly doubled in volume.

Now I'd probably eat it as is, but Buben has bigger ideas. While the souffle was in the oven, he made a reduction of wine and shallots and stirred in some butter. Now he spoons that mixture over the souffle, topping it off with a few shavings of black truffle.


The Science of the Perfect Souffle

Watch as chef Jeffrey Buben shows you how to make a perfect souffle.

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia.

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen. Coburn Dukehart, NPR hide caption

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen.

Science in the kitchen is largely the chemistry kind — the properties of two liquids mixing, the transformation of bread into toast, the breakdown of starches into sugars. But do you ever think about velocity or gravity in your cooking? It turns out, beating eggs is all about science — and it's physics and chemistry that make a souffle rise or fall.

Though I've beaten plenty of eggs in my day, for an expert opinion on the subject I turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The first step in making an egg dish like meringue or a souffle, Buben says, is to separate the yolks from the whites, the fat from the protein.

Fat and protein — remember that. The yolk has fat and some protein, but the white is all protein, no fat.

"When I was growing up in the kitchen," Buben says, "the chefs would say 'no goldfish.' And what they meant was. sometimes when you separate eggs you get a little nip of the egg yolk in the whites and that would fall into the bowl. And if you brought the chef a bowl of egg whites that had goldfish in it. he would pretty much throw you out of the kitchen and tell you to start all over again."

So why is it so important to make sure there aren't any goldfish in the egg whites? Because remember, yolks have fat in them.

When you beat egg whites, you're basically mixing air into them. The protein in the egg whites forms a kind of skin around the bubbles of air. But if there's any fat present, the skin can't form and the air leaks away. Even a trace of fat is ruinous. So, no goldfish if you want a souffle.

Just the Right Amount of Air

There are some tricks to getting just the right amount of air into your egg whites.

Use a very clean bowl, Buben says, and keep a "nice, even flow of beating to incorporate the air. And you don't want to over-beat them and have too thick a mixture that it won't fold into your souffle or your batter or your sponge."

With that, Buben's ready to start cooking. He's wearing a spotless white chef's jacket, checked pants, and those clogs that all chefs seem to favor. He has a large, clean, stainless-steel bowl — some say copper bowls work better, but he's not convinced. He also has a large whisk and a carton of fresh eggs.

He picks one up, holds it over his work table, and tells me something surprising.

"You always want to crack an egg on a flat surface," Buben says. "What that does is it gives you less shell shatter, so that when you go to add it to a recipe, you won't get little shards of shell in your recipe. So it comes with a much cleaner crack, one crack on a flat surface."

"Not on an edge," Buben says.

Buben cracks open an egg and lets the white spill into one bowl. Then he plops the yolk into a different bowl. He repeats this with two more eggs.

You can tell he's practiced at this. For those not as expert as Buben in separating eggs, you might want to put each egg's white into a small bowl, inspect it for goldfish, and only then add it to your mixing bowl.

Buben picks up his whisk and starts to work on the egg whites.

"Now what I like to do," he says, "is start in circle eights, just to break up the egg whites. Then you want to go in a circular motion. Turn your bowl at about a 15 degree angle, and just keep whipping it, and try to get as much air in as quickly as possible.

"We were doing a party last month, and we were whipping egg whites by hand, and they said, 'I can't believe people still whip egg whites by hand.' And I said, 'I didn't know there was any other way,'" Buben laughs.

The Architecture of a Souffle

About four minutes later at a steady 180 beats per minute, our egg whites have transformed.

"What we're looking for now is nice beautiful peaks," Buben explains. "Some chefs that I learned from say the point where you have the meringue perfect is when you just lose the shine from the egg whites. And we're getting very, very close to that point."

He finishes beating, and the whites are as light as air. But their architecture is fragile, Buben says, "so you have to move very quickly with it, and be very gentle."

Move quickly because the air can still leak out of the tiny protein pockets, and move gently because the protein skins are thin and will collapse easily.

He uses his whisk to mix the egg yolks and then uses a rubber spatula to gently add the stiff egg-white mixture to the yolks. He folds the two just until the whites are incorporated, then places the whole thing into a baking dish.

When the egg mixture is baked in a 350-degree oven, those air bubbles trapped in the egg whites expand, making the souffle rise. The heat also causes the protein to stiffen a bit, and along with the fat from the yolk, it forms a kind of scaffold that keeps the souffle from collapsing.

After six minutes, Buben checks on his omelet souffle. "Oh, isn't that beautiful," he says, pulling it from the oven.

The egg mixture has nearly doubled in volume.

Now I'd probably eat it as is, but Buben has bigger ideas. While the souffle was in the oven, he made a reduction of wine and shallots and stirred in some butter. Now he spoons that mixture over the souffle, topping it off with a few shavings of black truffle.


The Science of the Perfect Souffle

Watch as chef Jeffrey Buben shows you how to make a perfect souffle.

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia.

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen. Coburn Dukehart, NPR hide caption

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen.

Science in the kitchen is largely the chemistry kind — the properties of two liquids mixing, the transformation of bread into toast, the breakdown of starches into sugars. But do you ever think about velocity or gravity in your cooking? It turns out, beating eggs is all about science — and it's physics and chemistry that make a souffle rise or fall.

Though I've beaten plenty of eggs in my day, for an expert opinion on the subject I turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The first step in making an egg dish like meringue or a souffle, Buben says, is to separate the yolks from the whites, the fat from the protein.

Fat and protein — remember that. The yolk has fat and some protein, but the white is all protein, no fat.

"When I was growing up in the kitchen," Buben says, "the chefs would say 'no goldfish.' And what they meant was. sometimes when you separate eggs you get a little nip of the egg yolk in the whites and that would fall into the bowl. And if you brought the chef a bowl of egg whites that had goldfish in it. he would pretty much throw you out of the kitchen and tell you to start all over again."

So why is it so important to make sure there aren't any goldfish in the egg whites? Because remember, yolks have fat in them.

When you beat egg whites, you're basically mixing air into them. The protein in the egg whites forms a kind of skin around the bubbles of air. But if there's any fat present, the skin can't form and the air leaks away. Even a trace of fat is ruinous. So, no goldfish if you want a souffle.

Just the Right Amount of Air

There are some tricks to getting just the right amount of air into your egg whites.

Use a very clean bowl, Buben says, and keep a "nice, even flow of beating to incorporate the air. And you don't want to over-beat them and have too thick a mixture that it won't fold into your souffle or your batter or your sponge."

With that, Buben's ready to start cooking. He's wearing a spotless white chef's jacket, checked pants, and those clogs that all chefs seem to favor. He has a large, clean, stainless-steel bowl — some say copper bowls work better, but he's not convinced. He also has a large whisk and a carton of fresh eggs.

He picks one up, holds it over his work table, and tells me something surprising.

"You always want to crack an egg on a flat surface," Buben says. "What that does is it gives you less shell shatter, so that when you go to add it to a recipe, you won't get little shards of shell in your recipe. So it comes with a much cleaner crack, one crack on a flat surface."

"Not on an edge," Buben says.

Buben cracks open an egg and lets the white spill into one bowl. Then he plops the yolk into a different bowl. He repeats this with two more eggs.

You can tell he's practiced at this. For those not as expert as Buben in separating eggs, you might want to put each egg's white into a small bowl, inspect it for goldfish, and only then add it to your mixing bowl.

Buben picks up his whisk and starts to work on the egg whites.

"Now what I like to do," he says, "is start in circle eights, just to break up the egg whites. Then you want to go in a circular motion. Turn your bowl at about a 15 degree angle, and just keep whipping it, and try to get as much air in as quickly as possible.

"We were doing a party last month, and we were whipping egg whites by hand, and they said, 'I can't believe people still whip egg whites by hand.' And I said, 'I didn't know there was any other way,'" Buben laughs.

The Architecture of a Souffle

About four minutes later at a steady 180 beats per minute, our egg whites have transformed.

"What we're looking for now is nice beautiful peaks," Buben explains. "Some chefs that I learned from say the point where you have the meringue perfect is when you just lose the shine from the egg whites. And we're getting very, very close to that point."

He finishes beating, and the whites are as light as air. But their architecture is fragile, Buben says, "so you have to move very quickly with it, and be very gentle."

Move quickly because the air can still leak out of the tiny protein pockets, and move gently because the protein skins are thin and will collapse easily.

He uses his whisk to mix the egg yolks and then uses a rubber spatula to gently add the stiff egg-white mixture to the yolks. He folds the two just until the whites are incorporated, then places the whole thing into a baking dish.

When the egg mixture is baked in a 350-degree oven, those air bubbles trapped in the egg whites expand, making the souffle rise. The heat also causes the protein to stiffen a bit, and along with the fat from the yolk, it forms a kind of scaffold that keeps the souffle from collapsing.

After six minutes, Buben checks on his omelet souffle. "Oh, isn't that beautiful," he says, pulling it from the oven.

The egg mixture has nearly doubled in volume.

Now I'd probably eat it as is, but Buben has bigger ideas. While the souffle was in the oven, he made a reduction of wine and shallots and stirred in some butter. Now he spoons that mixture over the souffle, topping it off with a few shavings of black truffle.


The Science of the Perfect Souffle

Watch as chef Jeffrey Buben shows you how to make a perfect souffle.

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia.

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen. Coburn Dukehart, NPR hide caption

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen.

Science in the kitchen is largely the chemistry kind — the properties of two liquids mixing, the transformation of bread into toast, the breakdown of starches into sugars. But do you ever think about velocity or gravity in your cooking? It turns out, beating eggs is all about science — and it's physics and chemistry that make a souffle rise or fall.

Though I've beaten plenty of eggs in my day, for an expert opinion on the subject I turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The first step in making an egg dish like meringue or a souffle, Buben says, is to separate the yolks from the whites, the fat from the protein.

Fat and protein — remember that. The yolk has fat and some protein, but the white is all protein, no fat.

"When I was growing up in the kitchen," Buben says, "the chefs would say 'no goldfish.' And what they meant was. sometimes when you separate eggs you get a little nip of the egg yolk in the whites and that would fall into the bowl. And if you brought the chef a bowl of egg whites that had goldfish in it. he would pretty much throw you out of the kitchen and tell you to start all over again."

So why is it so important to make sure there aren't any goldfish in the egg whites? Because remember, yolks have fat in them.

When you beat egg whites, you're basically mixing air into them. The protein in the egg whites forms a kind of skin around the bubbles of air. But if there's any fat present, the skin can't form and the air leaks away. Even a trace of fat is ruinous. So, no goldfish if you want a souffle.

Just the Right Amount of Air

There are some tricks to getting just the right amount of air into your egg whites.

Use a very clean bowl, Buben says, and keep a "nice, even flow of beating to incorporate the air. And you don't want to over-beat them and have too thick a mixture that it won't fold into your souffle or your batter or your sponge."

With that, Buben's ready to start cooking. He's wearing a spotless white chef's jacket, checked pants, and those clogs that all chefs seem to favor. He has a large, clean, stainless-steel bowl — some say copper bowls work better, but he's not convinced. He also has a large whisk and a carton of fresh eggs.

He picks one up, holds it over his work table, and tells me something surprising.

"You always want to crack an egg on a flat surface," Buben says. "What that does is it gives you less shell shatter, so that when you go to add it to a recipe, you won't get little shards of shell in your recipe. So it comes with a much cleaner crack, one crack on a flat surface."

"Not on an edge," Buben says.

Buben cracks open an egg and lets the white spill into one bowl. Then he plops the yolk into a different bowl. He repeats this with two more eggs.

You can tell he's practiced at this. For those not as expert as Buben in separating eggs, you might want to put each egg's white into a small bowl, inspect it for goldfish, and only then add it to your mixing bowl.

Buben picks up his whisk and starts to work on the egg whites.

"Now what I like to do," he says, "is start in circle eights, just to break up the egg whites. Then you want to go in a circular motion. Turn your bowl at about a 15 degree angle, and just keep whipping it, and try to get as much air in as quickly as possible.

"We were doing a party last month, and we were whipping egg whites by hand, and they said, 'I can't believe people still whip egg whites by hand.' And I said, 'I didn't know there was any other way,'" Buben laughs.

The Architecture of a Souffle

About four minutes later at a steady 180 beats per minute, our egg whites have transformed.

"What we're looking for now is nice beautiful peaks," Buben explains. "Some chefs that I learned from say the point where you have the meringue perfect is when you just lose the shine from the egg whites. And we're getting very, very close to that point."

He finishes beating, and the whites are as light as air. But their architecture is fragile, Buben says, "so you have to move very quickly with it, and be very gentle."

Move quickly because the air can still leak out of the tiny protein pockets, and move gently because the protein skins are thin and will collapse easily.

He uses his whisk to mix the egg yolks and then uses a rubber spatula to gently add the stiff egg-white mixture to the yolks. He folds the two just until the whites are incorporated, then places the whole thing into a baking dish.

When the egg mixture is baked in a 350-degree oven, those air bubbles trapped in the egg whites expand, making the souffle rise. The heat also causes the protein to stiffen a bit, and along with the fat from the yolk, it forms a kind of scaffold that keeps the souffle from collapsing.

After six minutes, Buben checks on his omelet souffle. "Oh, isn't that beautiful," he says, pulling it from the oven.

The egg mixture has nearly doubled in volume.

Now I'd probably eat it as is, but Buben has bigger ideas. While the souffle was in the oven, he made a reduction of wine and shallots and stirred in some butter. Now he spoons that mixture over the souffle, topping it off with a few shavings of black truffle.


The Science of the Perfect Souffle

Watch as chef Jeffrey Buben shows you how to make a perfect souffle.

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia.

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen. Coburn Dukehart, NPR hide caption

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen.

Science in the kitchen is largely the chemistry kind — the properties of two liquids mixing, the transformation of bread into toast, the breakdown of starches into sugars. But do you ever think about velocity or gravity in your cooking? It turns out, beating eggs is all about science — and it's physics and chemistry that make a souffle rise or fall.

Though I've beaten plenty of eggs in my day, for an expert opinion on the subject I turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The first step in making an egg dish like meringue or a souffle, Buben says, is to separate the yolks from the whites, the fat from the protein.

Fat and protein — remember that. The yolk has fat and some protein, but the white is all protein, no fat.

"When I was growing up in the kitchen," Buben says, "the chefs would say 'no goldfish.' And what they meant was. sometimes when you separate eggs you get a little nip of the egg yolk in the whites and that would fall into the bowl. And if you brought the chef a bowl of egg whites that had goldfish in it. he would pretty much throw you out of the kitchen and tell you to start all over again."

So why is it so important to make sure there aren't any goldfish in the egg whites? Because remember, yolks have fat in them.

When you beat egg whites, you're basically mixing air into them. The protein in the egg whites forms a kind of skin around the bubbles of air. But if there's any fat present, the skin can't form and the air leaks away. Even a trace of fat is ruinous. So, no goldfish if you want a souffle.

Just the Right Amount of Air

There are some tricks to getting just the right amount of air into your egg whites.

Use a very clean bowl, Buben says, and keep a "nice, even flow of beating to incorporate the air. And you don't want to over-beat them and have too thick a mixture that it won't fold into your souffle or your batter or your sponge."

With that, Buben's ready to start cooking. He's wearing a spotless white chef's jacket, checked pants, and those clogs that all chefs seem to favor. He has a large, clean, stainless-steel bowl — some say copper bowls work better, but he's not convinced. He also has a large whisk and a carton of fresh eggs.

He picks one up, holds it over his work table, and tells me something surprising.

"You always want to crack an egg on a flat surface," Buben says. "What that does is it gives you less shell shatter, so that when you go to add it to a recipe, you won't get little shards of shell in your recipe. So it comes with a much cleaner crack, one crack on a flat surface."

"Not on an edge," Buben says.

Buben cracks open an egg and lets the white spill into one bowl. Then he plops the yolk into a different bowl. He repeats this with two more eggs.

You can tell he's practiced at this. For those not as expert as Buben in separating eggs, you might want to put each egg's white into a small bowl, inspect it for goldfish, and only then add it to your mixing bowl.

Buben picks up his whisk and starts to work on the egg whites.

"Now what I like to do," he says, "is start in circle eights, just to break up the egg whites. Then you want to go in a circular motion. Turn your bowl at about a 15 degree angle, and just keep whipping it, and try to get as much air in as quickly as possible.

"We were doing a party last month, and we were whipping egg whites by hand, and they said, 'I can't believe people still whip egg whites by hand.' And I said, 'I didn't know there was any other way,'" Buben laughs.

The Architecture of a Souffle

About four minutes later at a steady 180 beats per minute, our egg whites have transformed.

"What we're looking for now is nice beautiful peaks," Buben explains. "Some chefs that I learned from say the point where you have the meringue perfect is when you just lose the shine from the egg whites. And we're getting very, very close to that point."

He finishes beating, and the whites are as light as air. But their architecture is fragile, Buben says, "so you have to move very quickly with it, and be very gentle."

Move quickly because the air can still leak out of the tiny protein pockets, and move gently because the protein skins are thin and will collapse easily.

He uses his whisk to mix the egg yolks and then uses a rubber spatula to gently add the stiff egg-white mixture to the yolks. He folds the two just until the whites are incorporated, then places the whole thing into a baking dish.

When the egg mixture is baked in a 350-degree oven, those air bubbles trapped in the egg whites expand, making the souffle rise. The heat also causes the protein to stiffen a bit, and along with the fat from the yolk, it forms a kind of scaffold that keeps the souffle from collapsing.

After six minutes, Buben checks on his omelet souffle. "Oh, isn't that beautiful," he says, pulling it from the oven.

The egg mixture has nearly doubled in volume.

Now I'd probably eat it as is, but Buben has bigger ideas. While the souffle was in the oven, he made a reduction of wine and shallots and stirred in some butter. Now he spoons that mixture over the souffle, topping it off with a few shavings of black truffle.


The Science of the Perfect Souffle

Watch as chef Jeffrey Buben shows you how to make a perfect souffle.

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia.

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen. Coburn Dukehart, NPR hide caption

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen.

Science in the kitchen is largely the chemistry kind — the properties of two liquids mixing, the transformation of bread into toast, the breakdown of starches into sugars. But do you ever think about velocity or gravity in your cooking? It turns out, beating eggs is all about science — and it's physics and chemistry that make a souffle rise or fall.

Though I've beaten plenty of eggs in my day, for an expert opinion on the subject I turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The first step in making an egg dish like meringue or a souffle, Buben says, is to separate the yolks from the whites, the fat from the protein.

Fat and protein — remember that. The yolk has fat and some protein, but the white is all protein, no fat.

"When I was growing up in the kitchen," Buben says, "the chefs would say 'no goldfish.' And what they meant was. sometimes when you separate eggs you get a little nip of the egg yolk in the whites and that would fall into the bowl. And if you brought the chef a bowl of egg whites that had goldfish in it. he would pretty much throw you out of the kitchen and tell you to start all over again."

So why is it so important to make sure there aren't any goldfish in the egg whites? Because remember, yolks have fat in them.

When you beat egg whites, you're basically mixing air into them. The protein in the egg whites forms a kind of skin around the bubbles of air. But if there's any fat present, the skin can't form and the air leaks away. Even a trace of fat is ruinous. So, no goldfish if you want a souffle.

Just the Right Amount of Air

There are some tricks to getting just the right amount of air into your egg whites.

Use a very clean bowl, Buben says, and keep a "nice, even flow of beating to incorporate the air. And you don't want to over-beat them and have too thick a mixture that it won't fold into your souffle or your batter or your sponge."

With that, Buben's ready to start cooking. He's wearing a spotless white chef's jacket, checked pants, and those clogs that all chefs seem to favor. He has a large, clean, stainless-steel bowl — some say copper bowls work better, but he's not convinced. He also has a large whisk and a carton of fresh eggs.

He picks one up, holds it over his work table, and tells me something surprising.

"You always want to crack an egg on a flat surface," Buben says. "What that does is it gives you less shell shatter, so that when you go to add it to a recipe, you won't get little shards of shell in your recipe. So it comes with a much cleaner crack, one crack on a flat surface."

"Not on an edge," Buben says.

Buben cracks open an egg and lets the white spill into one bowl. Then he plops the yolk into a different bowl. He repeats this with two more eggs.

You can tell he's practiced at this. For those not as expert as Buben in separating eggs, you might want to put each egg's white into a small bowl, inspect it for goldfish, and only then add it to your mixing bowl.

Buben picks up his whisk and starts to work on the egg whites.

"Now what I like to do," he says, "is start in circle eights, just to break up the egg whites. Then you want to go in a circular motion. Turn your bowl at about a 15 degree angle, and just keep whipping it, and try to get as much air in as quickly as possible.

"We were doing a party last month, and we were whipping egg whites by hand, and they said, 'I can't believe people still whip egg whites by hand.' And I said, 'I didn't know there was any other way,'" Buben laughs.

The Architecture of a Souffle

About four minutes later at a steady 180 beats per minute, our egg whites have transformed.

"What we're looking for now is nice beautiful peaks," Buben explains. "Some chefs that I learned from say the point where you have the meringue perfect is when you just lose the shine from the egg whites. And we're getting very, very close to that point."

He finishes beating, and the whites are as light as air. But their architecture is fragile, Buben says, "so you have to move very quickly with it, and be very gentle."

Move quickly because the air can still leak out of the tiny protein pockets, and move gently because the protein skins are thin and will collapse easily.

He uses his whisk to mix the egg yolks and then uses a rubber spatula to gently add the stiff egg-white mixture to the yolks. He folds the two just until the whites are incorporated, then places the whole thing into a baking dish.

When the egg mixture is baked in a 350-degree oven, those air bubbles trapped in the egg whites expand, making the souffle rise. The heat also causes the protein to stiffen a bit, and along with the fat from the yolk, it forms a kind of scaffold that keeps the souffle from collapsing.

After six minutes, Buben checks on his omelet souffle. "Oh, isn't that beautiful," he says, pulling it from the oven.

The egg mixture has nearly doubled in volume.

Now I'd probably eat it as is, but Buben has bigger ideas. While the souffle was in the oven, he made a reduction of wine and shallots and stirred in some butter. Now he spoons that mixture over the souffle, topping it off with a few shavings of black truffle.


The Science of the Perfect Souffle

Watch as chef Jeffrey Buben shows you how to make a perfect souffle.

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia. David Gilkey, NPR hide caption

Owner and chef Jeffrey Buben gives a cooking lesson in making a perfect souffle at his Washington, D.C. restaurant Vidalia.

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen. Coburn Dukehart, NPR hide caption

Egg whites reach perfection just as they lose their sheen.

Science in the kitchen is largely the chemistry kind — the properties of two liquids mixing, the transformation of bread into toast, the breakdown of starches into sugars. But do you ever think about velocity or gravity in your cooking? It turns out, beating eggs is all about science — and it's physics and chemistry that make a souffle rise or fall.

Though I've beaten plenty of eggs in my day, for an expert opinion on the subject I turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The first step in making an egg dish like meringue or a souffle, Buben says, is to separate the yolks from the whites, the fat from the protein.

Fat and protein — remember that. The yolk has fat and some protein, but the white is all protein, no fat.

"When I was growing up in the kitchen," Buben says, "the chefs would say 'no goldfish.' And what they meant was. sometimes when you separate eggs you get a little nip of the egg yolk in the whites and that would fall into the bowl. And if you brought the chef a bowl of egg whites that had goldfish in it. he would pretty much throw you out of the kitchen and tell you to start all over again."

So why is it so important to make sure there aren't any goldfish in the egg whites? Because remember, yolks have fat in them.

When you beat egg whites, you're basically mixing air into them. The protein in the egg whites forms a kind of skin around the bubbles of air. But if there's any fat present, the skin can't form and the air leaks away. Even a trace of fat is ruinous. So, no goldfish if you want a souffle.

Just the Right Amount of Air

There are some tricks to getting just the right amount of air into your egg whites.

Use a very clean bowl, Buben says, and keep a "nice, even flow of beating to incorporate the air. And you don't want to over-beat them and have too thick a mixture that it won't fold into your souffle or your batter or your sponge."

With that, Buben's ready to start cooking. He's wearing a spotless white chef's jacket, checked pants, and those clogs that all chefs seem to favor. He has a large, clean, stainless-steel bowl — some say copper bowls work better, but he's not convinced. He also has a large whisk and a carton of fresh eggs.

He picks one up, holds it over his work table, and tells me something surprising.

"You always want to crack an egg on a flat surface," Buben says. "What that does is it gives you less shell shatter, so that when you go to add it to a recipe, you won't get little shards of shell in your recipe. So it comes with a much cleaner crack, one crack on a flat surface."

"Not on an edge," Buben says.

Buben cracks open an egg and lets the white spill into one bowl. Then he plops the yolk into a different bowl. He repeats this with two more eggs.

You can tell he's practiced at this. For those not as expert as Buben in separating eggs, you might want to put each egg's white into a small bowl, inspect it for goldfish, and only then add it to your mixing bowl.

Buben picks up his whisk and starts to work on the egg whites.

"Now what I like to do," he says, "is start in circle eights, just to break up the egg whites. Then you want to go in a circular motion. Turn your bowl at about a 15 degree angle, and just keep whipping it, and try to get as much air in as quickly as possible.

"We were doing a party last month, and we were whipping egg whites by hand, and they said, 'I can't believe people still whip egg whites by hand.' And I said, 'I didn't know there was any other way,'" Buben laughs.

The Architecture of a Souffle

About four minutes later at a steady 180 beats per minute, our egg whites have transformed.

"What we're looking for now is nice beautiful peaks," Buben explains. "Some chefs that I learned from say the point where you have the meringue perfect is when you just lose the shine from the egg whites. And we're getting very, very close to that point."

He finishes beating, and the whites are as light as air. But their architecture is fragile, Buben says, "so you have to move very quickly with it, and be very gentle."

Move quickly because the air can still leak out of the tiny protein pockets, and move gently because the protein skins are thin and will collapse easily.

He uses his whisk to mix the egg yolks and then uses a rubber spatula to gently add the stiff egg-white mixture to the yolks. He folds the two just until the whites are incorporated, then places the whole thing into a baking dish.

When the egg mixture is baked in a 350-degree oven, those air bubbles trapped in the egg whites expand, making the souffle rise. The heat also causes the protein to stiffen a bit, and along with the fat from the yolk, it forms a kind of scaffold that keeps the souffle from collapsing.

After six minutes, Buben checks on his omelet souffle. "Oh, isn't that beautiful," he says, pulling it from the oven.

The egg mixture has nearly doubled in volume.

Now I'd probably eat it as is, but Buben has bigger ideas. While the souffle was in the oven, he made a reduction of wine and shallots and stirred in some butter. Now he spoons that mixture over the souffle, topping it off with a few shavings of black truffle.


Watch the video: What Is Transformative Travel? (November 2021).