The Science of Gastronomy

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About this course: This course introduces a number of basic scientific principles underpinning the methodology of cooking, food preparation and the enjoyment of food. All topics covered have a strong basis in biology, chemistry, and physics application. Among others, they include the consumption of cooked food, the physiological and evolutionary implication of the senses, geographic and cultural influences on food, and the rationale behind food preparation. We will also discuss issues such as coupling of senses to improve sense stimulation; altering flavor by chemical means; and modification of the coloration to improve the appearance of dishes. Following the video demonstrations of the…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: This course introduces a number of basic scientific principles underpinning the methodology of cooking, food preparation and the enjoyment of food. All topics covered have a strong basis in biology, chemistry, and physics application. Among others, they include the consumption of cooked food, the physiological and evolutionary implication of the senses, geographic and cultural influences on food, and the rationale behind food preparation. We will also discuss issues such as coupling of senses to improve sense stimulation; altering flavor by chemical means; and modification of the coloration to improve the appearance of dishes. Following the video demonstrations of the scientific principles of cooking, you will learn to recognize the key ingredients and their combinations for preparing good healthy food. At the end of this course, you will be able to: - appreciate the scientific basis of various recipes; - develop your own recipes by integrating some of the scientific principles into new dishes; - recognize the influence of the material world on human perception from the different senses; - appreciate the art of integrating science into cooking and dining. Important Note: This course is not designed for people with special dietary needs such as vegetarian, diabetic, and gluten-free diets. If you feel uncomfortable with any part of the assignments or activities of this course, you can substitute some of the ingredients or ask friends and family members to help with the tasting of your assignments. Alternatively, you may skip that specific assignment provided that you have fulfilled all other qualifying requirement to pass the course. Course Overview video: https://youtu.be/H5vlaR0_X2I

Created by:  The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • Taught by:  King L. Chow, Professor

    Division of Life Science
  • Taught by:  Lam Lung Yeung, Associate Professor

    Department of Chemistry
Commitment 3-4 hours/week Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.6 stars Average User Rating 4.6See what learners said Coursework

Each course is like an interactive textbook, featuring pre-recorded videos, quizzes and projects.

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Syllabus


WEEK 1


Orientation, Module 1 and Module 2
This week, we will focus on “Energy Transfer” and “Hunger and Satiety”. Before you start with the content for these modules, please watch the Course Overview, review the Grading Scheme, and read the Important Note on special dietary needs.


26 videos, 5 readings, 1 practice quiz expand


  1. Video: Course Overview
  2. Reading: Grading Scheme
  3. Reading: Important Note on Special Dietary Needs
  4. Practice Quiz: Pre-course survey
  5. Video: 1.0: Introduction
  6. Video: 1.1: Energy Transfer - Topic Outline
  7. Video: 1.2: What is energy?
  8. Video: 1.3: How energy can be transferred through conduction?
  9. Video: 1.4: Demonstration - Comparing heat capacity
  10. Video: 1.5: Demonstration - Comparing heat conductance
  11. Video: 1.6: How do we cook by convection?
  12. Video: 1.7: Demonstration - Increasing boiling point with salt
  13. Video: 1.8: Demonstration - Cooking medium and convection
  14. Video: 1.9: Can radiation and phase transition be used in cooking?
  15. Video: 1.10: Energy Transfer - Topic Summary
  16. Video: 2.0: Hunger and Satiety - Topic Outline
  17. Video: 2.1: Why do we need food?
  18. Video: 2.2: How do I know that I am full or not?
  19. Video: 2.3: How do I know that the food is good?
  20. Video: 2.4: Demonstration – Can you see the differences?
  21. Video: 2.5: Demonstration - Sound and texture - How does the experiment work?
  22. Reading: 2.5: Demonstration - Sound and texture - Now is your turn
  23. Video: 2.5: Demonstration - Sound and texture - Let's hear other people's views
  24. Discussion Prompt: 2.5: Discussion
  25. Video: 2.6: I love chocolate but I don’t want to keep eating it, why?
  26. Reading: Assignment 1 - Instruction
  27. Video: Assignment 1 - Instruction Video
  28. Video: Assignment 1 - Result Sharing
  29. Video: 2.7: What factors can affect my choice of food?
  30. Reading: Assignment 2 - Instruction
  31. Video: Assignment 2 - Instruction Video
  32. Video: Assignment 2 - Result Sharing
  33. Video: 2.8: Hunger and Satiety - Topic Summary

Graded: Assignment 1 – Submission
Graded: Assignment 2 – Submission

WEEK 2


Module 3 and Module 4
This week, we will talk about how flavor and aroma of food affects our perception of taste of food.


25 videos, 3 readings expand


  1. Video: 3.0: The Sense of Taste - Topic Outline
  2. Video: 3.1: It tastes good!
  3. Video: 3.2: There are more than four basic tastes
  4. Video: 3.3: Can we taste the “temperature”?
  5. Reading: Assignment 3 – Instruction
  6. Video: Assignment 3 – Instruction Video
  7. Video: Assignment 3 – Result Sharing
  8. Video: 3.4: There are infinite possibilities with tastes
  9. Video: 3.5: Demonstration – Sweetness suppresses bitterness
  10. Reading: Assignment 4 – Instruction
  11. Video: Assignment 4 – Instruction Video
  12. Video: Assignment 4 – Result Sharing
  13. Video: 3.6: Why the ice-cream doesn’t taste as sweet when it is served after chocolate?
  14. Video: 3.7: Demonstration – The cocoa tastes less bitter!
  15. Discussion Prompt: Module 3: Discussion
  16. Video: 3.8: The Sense of Taste - Topic Summary
  17. Video: 4.0: The Sense of Smell - Topic Outline
  18. Video: 4.1: What are we smelling?
  19. Video: 4.2: Demonstration – Factors affecting diffusion rate
  20. Video: 4.3: How do I smell coffee?
  21. Video: 4.4: Why do orange and lemon smell different?
  22. Video: 4.5: Why can’t I taste the “strawberry”?
  23. Video: 4.6: Demonstration – How does aroma affect our taste?
  24. Reading: Assignment 5 – Instruction
  25. Video: Assignment 5 – Instruction Video
  26. Video: Assignment 5 – Result Sharing
  27. Video: 4.7: Smelling good makes it tastes better!
  28. Video: 4.8: Demonstration – It is all about congruency!
  29. Discussion Prompt: Module 4: Discussion
  30. Video: 4.9: The Sense of Smell - Topic Summary

Graded: Assignment 3 – Submission
Graded: Assignment 4 – Submission
Graded: Assignment 5 – Submission

WEEK 3


Module 5 and Module 6
This week, we will talk about how color and texture of food affects our perception of taste of food.


21 videos, 3 readings expand


  1. Video: 5.0: The Sense of Sight - Topic Outline
  2. Video: 5.1: Coloring food with a different taste
  3. Video: 5.2: It is good to see red!
  4. Video: 5.3: Why the pepper doesn’t look good?
  5. Video: 5.4: Making it looks good, and it tastes good!
  6. Video: 5.5: Demonstration - Can color affect our taste perception? - How does the experiment work?
  7. Reading: 5.5: Demonstration - Can color affect our taste perception? - Now is your turn
  8. Video: 5.5 Demonstration - Can color affect our taste perception? - Let's hear other people's views
  9. Discussion Prompt: 5.5: Discussion
  10. Video: 5.6: Demonstration – The darker the color, the better it tastes?
  11. Video: 5.7: The Sense of Sight - Topic Summary
  12. Video: 6.0: The Sense of Touch - Topic Outline
  13. Video: 6.1: How do we feel the texture in our mouth?
  14. Video: 6.2: We can also feel pain and have self-awareness in our mouth!
  15. Video: 6.3: Demonstration – Seeing with our mouth! Measurement
  16. Video: 6.4: Demonstration – Seeing with our mouth! Feeling the shape
  17. Video: 6.5: The more complicated the texture, the more we enjoy the food, why?
  18. Reading: Assignment 6 – Instruction
  19. Video: Assignment 6 – Instruction Video
  20. Video: Assignment 6 – Result Sharing
  21. Video: 6.6: How can we control the texture of food?
  22. Reading: Assignment 7 – Instruction
  23. Video: Assignment 7 – Instruction Video
  24. Video: Assignment 7 – Result Sharing
  25. Discussion Prompt: Module 6: Discussion
  26. Video: 6.7: The Sense of Touch - Topic Summary

Graded: Assignment 6 – Submission
Graded: Assignment 7 – Submission

WEEK 4


Module 7 and Module 8
This week, we will look at how fruits and vegetables can enhance the quality in cooking and to learn about the properties of meat.


17 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: 7.0: Fruits and Vegetables - Topic Outline
  2. Video: 7.1: What gives the rigid texture to plants?
  3. Video: 7.2: How can we manipulate the texture of plants?
  4. Video: 7.3: What gives green color to plants?
  5. Video: 7.4: Why some plants are not green in color?
  6. Video: 7.5: Demonstration – Manipulating the color of red cabbage
  7. Video: 7.6: Why does the apple turn brown?
  8. Video: 7.7: Demonstration – What is the best way to prevent browning?
  9. Video: 7.8: What are the prominent tastes in fruits and vegetables?
  10. Reading: Assignment 8 – Instruction
  11. Video: Assignment 8 – Instruction Video
  12. Video: Assignment 8 – Result Sharing
  13. Discussion Prompt: Module 7: Discussion
  14. Video: 7.9: Fruits and Vegetables - Topic Summary
  15. Video: 8.0: A Perfect Steak - Topic Outline
  16. Video: 8.1: How to cook a perfect steak?
  17. Video: 8.2: What are the components of meat?
  18. Video: 8.3: Why fish muscles are different from that of mammals?
  19. Video: 8.4: What else does a piece of meat contain?

Graded: Assignment 8 – Submission

WEEK 5


Module 8 (continued) and Module 9
This week, we will continue our focus on the preparation and cooking of meat and learn about the elements that affect the preparation of sauces.


18 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: 8.5: How to choose a piece of meat – marbling?
  2. Video: 8.6: How to choose a piece of meat – body parts?
  3. Video: 8.7: It’s tough, what should I do?
  4. Reading: Assignment 9 – Instruction
  5. Video: Assignment 9 – Instruction Video
  6. Video: Assignment 9 – Result Sharing
  7. Video: 8.8: How does heating change a steak?
  8. Video: 8.9: Does it matter to have more connective tissue or more muscle?
  9. Video: 8.10: Choose the right temperature for meat cooking
  10. Video: 8.11: Create your own meat flavor and color in steak cooking
  11. Video: 8.12: The final touch on a steak – its juice and its flavor
  12. Discussion Prompt: Module 8: Discussion
  13. Video: 8.13: A Perfect Steak - Topic Summary
  14. Video: 9.0: Sauces - Topic Outline
  15. Video: 9.1: The Importance of sauce in a dish
  16. Video: 9.2: Sauce and viscosity
  17. Video: 9.3: Things to know when changing the viscosity of a sauce
  18. Video: 9.4: Changing the viscosity of a sauce I: Larger or smaller molecules?
  19. Video: 9.5: Changing the viscosity of a sauce II: Particles and bubbles
  20. Video: 9.6: What makes an ideal sauce?

Graded: Assignment 9 – Submission

WEEK 6


Module 9 (continued) and Module 10



This week, we will continue our focus on the preparation of sauces and finish up the course with the last topic on dessert. After completing all the content, it's time to test your understanding on the entire course. Take the final exam and complete the post-course survey. Your valuable feedback will certainly help us improve future iterations of the course.


19 videos, 2 readings, 1 practice quiz expand


  1. Video: 9.7: Using salt in sauce
  2. Reading: Assignment 10 – Instruction
  3. Video: Assignment 10 – Instruction Video
  4. Video: Assignment 10 – Result Sharing
  5. Video: 9.8: Using alcohol in sauce
  6. Video: 9.9: Using protein in sauce
  7. Video: 9.10: Using fat in sauce
  8. Video: 9.11: Using starch in sauce
  9. Video: 9.12: Sauces - Topic Summary
  10. Video: 10.0: Dessert - Topic Outline
  11. Video: 10.1: Textures in desserts
  12. Video: 10.2: How is gluten formed?
  13. Reading: Assignment 11 – Instruction
  14. Video: Assignment 11 – Instruction Video
  15. Video: Assignment 11 – Result Sharing
  16. Video: 10.3: Factors affecting the formation of gluten
  17. Video: 10.4: Chemical or Biological Leavening Agent?
  18. Video: 10.5: What do we need to make a cake rise?
  19. Video: 10.6: The stable egg white foam
  20. Video: 10.7: Ginger milk curd
  21. Discussion Prompt: Module 10: Discussion
  22. Video: 10.8: Dessert - Topic Summary
  23. Practice Quiz: Post-course Survey

Graded: Assignment 10 – Submission
Graded: Assignment 11 – Submission
Graded: Exam
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