Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Audible gasps caused by morphogenetic fields

November 15, 2005

I was perusing my daily share of food writing, food photography and food porn, when what should I spy with my little eye? An aged eGullet entry about Grant Achatz’ tasting menu at his much praised restaurant, Alinea. I know, I know, everyone’s been eating honeycomb since time immemorial, but honey is apparently extra hot right now and Grant Achatz uses Ohio honeycomb at his restaurant, whereas I use Turkish and Dutch honeycomb… at home.

Images from top to bottom: honeycomb dessert image attributed to eGullet contributor ‘yellow truffle’ in his October 14, 2005 entry on Grant Achatz’ buzzy restaurant, Alinea (hopefully used with permission), a prototype of my honeycomb cocoa nib bonbon photographed by the author herself

debra at 12:50 | | post to


  1. What is a morphogenetic field?

    Comment by Ancestor — November 15, 2005 @ 13:25

  2. Wikipedia defines a morphogenetic field thusly:

    A morphogenetic field (a subset of morphic field) is a hypothetical biological (and potentially social) field that contains the information necessary to shape the exact form of a living thing, as part of its epigenetics, and may also shape its behaviour and coordination with other beings (see also morphogenesis).

    I define a morphogenetic field as:

    A rich set of information to which members in a particular culture are exposed to such a degree that it is possible for them to think or invent them same things at the same moment.

    Comment by debra — November 15, 2005 @ 13:29

  3. Hi Debra,

    For more photos of incredible food, check out this collection of pictures from someone who’s been to Alinea four times in the scant months it’s been open:

    My wife and I had an excellent meal at Alinea in July, and I must say one of the highlights featured honey, albeit in a different form than that which you show above. It was a corn custard filled with a center of that pure Ohio honey, garnished with freeze-dried corn kernels, toasted corn bread crumbs, tonka bean, and vanilla foam. Absolutely delicious — a dish that my thoughts have drifted to often since our visit. Here’s a picture from the same site:

    Fascinating food explorations on your site, keep up the great work!

    Comment by Jeff Heuer — November 15, 2005 @ 16:08

  4. Dear Jeff,

    DANG! That’s one heq of a lotta good food imagery. Thanks for bringing me to the motherlode. Four times in how many months? Actually, the prices at Alinea seem rather reasonable, all things considered. 175 USD for a tour de force? It’s spectacle, it’s food, it’s a lovely evening out, it’s a motor for further thought and it’s enough for two.

    I really appreciate your comment, and have started diving into your blog. Your ‘collection of disasters’ entry has me all a’chortle.

    Warm regards,


    Comment by debra — November 15, 2005 @ 17:13

  5. I’ve been looking at the eG pictures from Alinea as they were posted for awhile now and I have to say your honeycomb is prettier and tasiter looking. Not to mention the lighting. It’s a startlingly good picture.

    Comment by kitchenmage — November 15, 2005 @ 23:05

  6. Kitchenmage, flattery will get you everywhere! My honeycomb is indeed not as homogenous as Alinea’s which might be the reason that it seems more attractive to you. I’m a firm believer in heterogeneïty in foods and design, but it isn’t completely fair to compare a coherently designed menu (I’m just assuming) with one recipe. The Alinea pictures are unquestionably impressive, but I’m getting a very strong Adria (ElBulli) meets Cronenberg meets Blumenthal (Fat Duck) feeling. It’s funny that THAT’s my visual design critique.Too overdone, c’est trop! At the same time I’m inspired by the way that a chef can turn a collection of recipes into a coherent restaurant concept.

    Comment by debra — November 16, 2005 @ 13:17

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