Camp Kitchen

Part of studying biochemistry in Oxford was the arcane sounding lecture series, “Enzyme Kinetics” by Raymond Dwek, who claimed that his name was an acronym for “Down With Enzyme Kinetics”. In biology enzymes accelerate chemical reactions in a way that is dependent on temperature: The higher the temperature the faster the reaction goes, until the enzyme itself starts falling apart from the heat. At which point the whole exercise turned into a discussion of cooking. Previous years had had the pleasure of the company of the chef from the restaurant Elizabeth, a pleasure which we had to forgo due to Thatcherite austerity. So while we learned that the yolk of an egg (but not the white) would cook at 70°C, we never saw it in action. And, of course, this was in the days before the discovery of extremophiles, organisms that survive and thrive in environments previously thought to be so extreme as to be devoid of life. Of all these, my favourite is a prawn that can withstand 120°C at high pressures. If caught it could never be cooked, except, perhaps, with a blowtorch. So, don’t come the raw prawn with me. Read more…