Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I got accepted to Harvard

Well, kind of…it’s an online class and everyone that wants to take it gets accepted.

The course is being run through edX and is titled: Science and Cooking From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science. Each week there are about 90 minutes of lectures to watch, recommended reading out of Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, a homework assignment, and a lab to do.

I did the first homework assignment. It was real homework. Nothing too difficult, but time consuming. A lot of it was centered around a Toll House cookie recipe. Based on the questions that come up in between video lectures, I thought the homework was going to be a breeze. But instead of questions like “Do you like to drink milk while you eat chocolate chip cookies?” it was more like: Glutenin (molecular weight 75,000 amu) makes up about 60% of the protein in all-purpose flour. Assuming all purpose flour is 10% protein by weight, about how many molecules of glutenin are in this recipe? 

Certainly doable for a nerd like myself. I’ve never thought of ingredients as molecules so that aspect is interesting, but I haven’t done this kind of chemistry homework since the early 90’s. It was a little bit of a shock to the system. In case you were wondering, I came up with 130,600,000,000,000,000,000 molecules also known as a shit-ton. I hope to get to do the lab tomorrow. In the lab, you calibrate your oven using the phase change of sugar. Since the melting point of sugar is 366 deg F, when set to 350 the sugar shouldn’t melt. I’m interested to see how the new kitchen oven does.

If you are interested, you can sign up and join the course. The tuition is free and to allow people more time to join, the first assignments aren't due until mid-November.


  1. If I didn't have such a myriad of ongoing pursuits and projects... Crap, I actually would kind of enjoy something like this... I'm gonna sleep on it.

    I remember my dad and his buddy driving down to the CIA to take a class or two a year when I was a kid. Maybe I should follow in his footsteps and get some real culinary book larnin'.

  2. There's no pressure when you sign up. They even say if you want to just audit the class, skip the homeworker and labs. As of today, I'm going for the certificate. Not sure if I'll feel the same way tomorrow.

    Some of the weekend/one day classes at the CIA look interesting, but the prices have gotten out of control. Last time I looked it was about $800 a day. Don't know if that has changed. There are a few places in NYC offering some interesting classes too.

  3. I stand corrected...looks like a one day class (5 hours) is $250 and the 4 day boot camps are $1750 at the CIA.

  4. King Arthur Flour has a week long baking program... I think it's 1100. While it would be nice, work gets in the way.

    But I did sign up for this class. Upload a video? Yikes.

  5. Yeah, I'm not sure about uploading stuff. I tried to upload a photo earlier tonight and had some issues. See you in the cyber halls, M.