Foams? What do foams have to do with food? Yeah, it’s a good question. There may be nothing new under the sun, but there are new ways to go about doing things. Ask Edison, or Gates.

It was just about three years ago when I began to hear talk about a particular chef in Spain. This Spanish chef was freaking out a lot of his neighboring French chefs with his invention of using nitrous oxide-fueled whipped cream canisters to dispense more savory foods. Like beets and stuff. The technique seemed quirky to me at first. But, it was intriguing too.

As my curiosity revved up I talked to some of my chefs about it. They got excited and found a source for the little thermos-like tools that the chef in Spain was using. We went to work in the "R & D" area of the kitchen between shifts…

Last year I went to this Spanish chef’s restaurant, El Bulli, (The Bulldog). His, now world famous, name is Ferran Adriá. He is quite a man and perhaps I will do a column one day about our dining experience there.

Over time we developed a few very tasty foams for our guests at Norman’s.

But why a foam? You may still ask.

Well, so much of our enjoyment of food is the tactile and textural aspects it can convey. We love the crispy edges of a good French fry, the soft luxury of just melting ice cream, the crunch of apples, or the pliant chewiness of greens.

The various foods we put them on can create unique opportunities for food flavor pairings that might be familiar, like sushi tuna with wasabi, but with the wasabi in the unique form of foam.

A foam fills one’s mouth with a voluptuous mousse-like fullness that sits on our tongues like a weighty bubble, (albeit briefly), and then implodes and dissolves like an edible fireworks display we cannot see but most definitely can feel as it slips languidly passed our surprised taste buds and down our throats.

Ready to try some?

Copyright © by Norman Van Aken, 2000