Words by: Tina Wu, Photos by: Fred Chang
A SENSORIAL EXPERIENCE AT LE LABORATOIRE CAMBRIDGE
It's amazing to see, when it comes to the culinary world, the sky is the limit. For people with an innovative mind, there is no distinct line between the culinary world from the rest of the it.
Last Saturday, joined by Fred, I stopped by Le Laboratoire in Cambridge and had a “sense-opening” experience. Founded by Harvard Professor David Edwards, Le Laboratoire Cambridge is a culture lab where visitors can play around the innovation and creation of artist, designers, chefs, and scientist.
The program Fred and I participated in a Sensorial Experience, which is a showcase of David Edwards’s sensorial-based culinary experiments. Greeted by a Gimlet from Café ArtScience next door, we listened to the friendly staff, who introduced us to the program. Our sensorial experience began with a “Whaf” drink, which was poured from a unique glass device that turns regular liquor into inhalable clouds with ultrasonic vibrations. We got to try the two different flavors of the “Whaf" drink: tequila and chocolate. As the staff poured me a full glass of tequila crowd, I took a mouthful of “Tequila” with the special-made straw. The aroma of tequila immediately filled my mouth. I could taste everything about the tequila without actually getting the burn from the alcohol, or even better, without actually consuming the calories. For me, the “Whaf” drink allows people to “taste” the ingredients without actually eating them, which helps people focus more on the characteristic flavor and smell of the food being vaporized. According to the staff, the special glass device that is used to make the “Whaf” drink has already been commercialized. And some chefs have already are started to use these inhale-able clouds in their dishes, such as orange vapor to coat a modern take on the classic duck l'orange.
Next, we switched to Le Laboratoire’s latest olfactory experiment, the “Cyrano” scent experience. So imagine you are holding a tablet or smartphone, as you open an app, you can choose different scents you would like to experience (and you can even blend different scents together!), and those scents would come out of a little device the size of a portable speaker. And this is the way the “Cyrano” scent experience worked. For me, this is a great idea because I love candles. The device contained 15 different scent pods that can be mixed together to form countless others, ranging from vanilla to coconut to even Red Bull! Now with the “Cyrano” device, I can make my room smells nice with any scent I like without having to buy tons of candles. But unfortunately, the “Cyrano” device is not on the market yet, so that dream will have to wait.
After the “Cyrano” scent experience, we were offered one of Edwards’ most famous inventions: the breathable AeroShot. The product gives people an instant burst of energy, nutrition, or chocolate as people breathe in powder from a lipstick-sized canister. The AeroShot is designed for people who are on the go but need a quick energy burst. I tried the mocha flavor AeroShot, which doesn’t contain any supplement or caffeine. Even though I was breathing in the powder, the experience for me was more similar to eating hot chocolate powder. While it was on the market, the product got warnings from FDA, which pointed out that it is fundamentally a supplement and it should be ingested. Currently, the AeroShot is off the market while it works out a better product design and figures out ways around the FDA. Nevertheless, I think AeroShot still has enormous potential to be a rousing success if it can return to the market.
Our journey ended with, of course, the dessert. The staff brought us six of Edwards’s signature “WikiPearls,” an ice cream that is covered by edible packaging, which is made out of the electrostatic gel; the staff described it to be similar to mochi ice cream. This use of the technology makes the skin more impermeable to water and oxygen than regular packing or other edible packaging on the market. It also helps the ice cream stay longer. The ice cream we tasted was made out of coconut milk, and the edible skin had the flavors of chocolate, caramel, cherry, strawberry, and blueberry. The ice cream wasn’t to my personal taste since it is made with coconut milk, which made for a slicker texture. However, I thought the skin, which had a similar texture to jam, was fascinating. And I can see the possibility of people using this edible skin more in the culinary world since it helps better retain the food’s original state.
Check out the experience for yourself while tickets are still available!