Elements of Cooking
Hervé This lists the ten elements of basic kitchen knowledge.
- Salt dissolves in water.
- Salt does not dissolve in oil.
- Oil does not dissolve in water.
- Water boils at 100 C (212 F).
- Generally foods contain mostly water (or another fluid).
- Foods without water or fluid are tough.
- Some proteins (in eggs, meat, fish) coagulate.
- Collagen dissolves in water at temperatures higher than 55 C (131 F).
- Dishes are dispersed systems (combinations of gas, liquid or solid ingredients transformed by cooking).
- Some chemical processes - such as the Maillard Reaction (browning or caramelizing) - generate new flavors.
This is a fine, thoughtful list. It's not complete. One of the most important missing elements is:
3a. Some flavorful components — notably some flavors in onions and herbs — dissolve in oil but not in water.
Also, while salt is central, I think it is worth mentioning that sugars and acids generally don't dissolve in oil and do dissolve in water.
Thanks, Michael Ruhlman!