Some parting thoughts in the interim:
This project brought forth many ideas about what we eat and why. I must thank my classmates who astutely pointed out that the macro-scale questions about ingredient transparency, documentation, and labeling emerged as a result of my project. Why is it that restaurants are not required to report their protocols and remain immune with their trade secrets and protections against industry know-how? How would the world of cooking/eating change if restaurants and commercial goods were required to list all tools—living and nonliving—as part of their food safety requirements?
An abstract disconnect emerged from working with microbes, one that dealt with time and scale. Since the project emphasized exploration and process over delivery and execution, some dishes could not be replicable due to the constraints of microbe availability (e.g. a SCOBY takes 3 weeks to develop). It is odd to me that the finite nature of these ingredients counters the commonly held notion that microbes are ubiquitous and dispensable; yet, at the same time, the limit to microbes-as-ingredients reflect and highlight the seemingly infinite nature of food commodities made available in conventional food systems.
Other ideas in the making: I am curious about nata de coco, which ferments the biofilm of Acetobacter xylinum. I came across this dish while ideating with Nick, my friend and colleague to whom I owe a huge hug of thanks. Thank you for being as whacky about food as I am and for prioritizing process.
I am also fascinated by the overlap of agar between microbiology and Japanese desserts. One of my dearest hopes is to make a raindrop cake, whose main ingredient is agar, and inoculate it with the bioluminescent enzyme luciferase. This will require multiple assays to test in consultation with IGEM protocols. I must thank Kevin for all of this insight on steering me away from GFP. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Many thanks, also, to my instructors, colleagues, and friends at Concordia University for letting me think out loud about this project. To those who were adventurous, thank you for taste-testing with me. I thank you from the bottom of my gut.
This project is nowhere near complete. Stay tuned.