Johns Hopkins Magazine - September 1996 Issue

Pleasures of the Palate

By Sue De Pasquale
Think, for just a moment, of the most delectable meal that you have ever eaten, of the most delightful glass of wine you have ever drunk. If you're like most people, chances are good that you spent little time analyzing just why the flavors of that salmon en croute melded so beautifully, or why the Chardonnay that accompanied it seemed so right. But you can bet that the chef and wine steward gave these matters some thought--a lot of thought, in fact.

On the premise that being privy to such sensory considerations should enable us to eat with greater attention--and hence greater appreciation--we sought out a variety of Hopkins chefs and wine experts, who agreed to offer us a window into their culinary thought process. On the pages that follow, you'll discover the merits of setting radicchio cups atop asparagus stalks ("Anytime you elevate food on a plate you do a lot for presentation," notes former sous-chef Paul Dickey '89), and the textural hazard inherent in dredging scallops with too much corn meal ("Because cornmeal is gritty, it gives the mouth the sensation that you're eating sand," points out Washington D.C. chef David Hagedorn). You'll also learn the ideal wine to serve with Shrimp in Mustard Oil (surprise, it's not a white, says physicist Kishin Moorjani), and the reason why, when you're looking for an accompaniment for a citrus salsa, an East Coast white wine is preferable to one produced in the West. (Hint: think acidity, says APL researcher and vineyard owner Eric Fiore.)

Whether or not you find the time to whip up any of the recipes shared here, we hope you'll come away with a heightened gustatory and olfactory awareness the next time you sit down to a well-cooked meal and a good bottle of wine.


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