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Espuma, what?

July 31st, 2009 · 14 Comments · Espuma

posted by Nils Noren

Cream espuma?

Cream espuma?

“Foam is a culinary technique invented by Ferran Adria”. That is what comes up if you look up foam (culinary) in Wikipedia. What about whipped cream (which I happen to like a lot)? Did Ferran invent that? Mousse? Meringue? Don’t think so. By the way don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with Ferran, I couldn’t have more respect for the man and what he does. But it’s a fact that foams have been used in the culinary world for A LONG TIME. Just wanted to set that straight first.

Ferran invented foam?  Who knew?  We love Ferran.  Credit him for his amazing new applications of foam instead.

Ferran invented foam? Who knew? We love Ferran. Credit him for his amazing new applications of foam instead.

Now to the real reason for this post. Why do some people in English speaking countries insist on calling foams espumas? It sounds good on a Spanish menu, but on a menu written in English, not so much. In fact it sounds gross, like someone is spitting in my food. And why all of a sudden stop using a perfectly fine English word that has been around for a long time and replace it with a Spanish word? Or is espuma only related to foams that come out of an Isi bottle? If you put a product made in a kitchen in New York into a bottle made by an Austrian company that’s manufactured in China (we checked on the bottle) and turn it in to a  foam, all of a sudden it should have a Spanish name? Makes no sense to me.

Since we are on the subject of foams. I can’t help to finish with this. If you are going to put air into your food, make sure that you start with a flavor that really needs to be diluted; because air has no flavor (if it does, probably not so good). I know this is obvious but it still happens that I get foams where the flavors are too diluted.  I think that is why foams get such a bad rap.

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14 Comments so far ↓

  • chef tamara

    Maybe by writing espuma they can charge more? ;)

  • Larry P

    Make the same identical foam, just different flavors, on two consecutive nights. On the first night call it a foam…

    “Oh… foam. He’s still doing those? How retro.”

    On the next night call it espuma or puff or aerated…

    “Now this is more like it. Something fresh and new!”

    When the customer says “I just loved that possum puff, it was such an improvement on that armadillo foam you did last night!” just smile, say thank you and try to wait ’til they leave before laughing hysterically.

    That doesn’t answer your question, I just think it’s funny because it’s somewhat true. I don’t know the answer to the question. I can honestly say I’ve never used the word espuma on a menu before.

  • Roberto N.

    According to Albert Adria in his dessert book, the use of a diferent word was adopted, in his statement by the French, to show a diferent technique. Since foam or espuma translate to Mousse, and that word is already in use, Adria says the French took the word “ecume” which is still another word for it. But he states that it’s an indication of the impact that Ferran had in the culinary world.

  • fooducation

    Language and knowing stuff is closely interconnected. Using wrong or imprecise words might in fact sow misconceptions in peoples’ minds. I guess sloppy language is one of the reasons for all the fuss about the term molecular gastronomy

  • Elias

    Never cared about foams… don’t like them on my food, they serve to real purpose apart from visual novelty. I am waiting the day that chefs ditch the smears and thick syrupy sauces and go back to a good sauce I can dip my bread in. Sorry to be a bit critical, I embrace many virtues of “molecular gastronomy” but foams… no… sorry..

  • thayes

    Don’t forget about “sferifications”? That one has always bothered me.

  • Elias

    yikes…. forgot about that… what was the point??? fruit/vegetable juice in a jelly sphere? ok, it looks cool, but whatever you do to it, it is a fruit/vegetable juice!!!

  • Elliot

    I believe it’s all good, I concure on the statement that most foams need bolder flavor to be of any importance to the dish, and anything less is, well..eye candy at best. But whatever your gig, food is grand, and variation of deliverience is always intresting to me regardless of wether or not it’s my style. Snots.

  • Jan Groenewold

    Foams often enhance flavor if properly made.
    This has to do with aroma release that is intense because of bubbles (with aroma trapped in them) bursting in our mouth.

  • CHSprostart

    Your arguments seem to be motivated by xenophobia. As for how it sounds in English that seems to be a matter of preference. Ferran did not invent foam, any more than you can credit anyone to create anything, but he did improve the technique. It is espuma because the technique was formulated in Spain. please take a moment to think next time you decide to rant.

  • glenn

    Cooking was invented by el bulli

  • John

    I see someone has edited the Wikipedia entry to give a better historical perspective.

  • James

    Espuma is the term used in French, their translation is mousse, which has other connotations, or écume which means scum.

    So that’s probably why we’ve got espuma, because it didn’t fit into French.