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Arômes Artificiels
Status: Fake flavors
image The latest scandal in the world of French gourmet cuisine: the use of artificial bottled flavors (aka arômes artificiels) to substitute for high-end ingredients such as truffles, wild mushroom, caviar, prawn, crab, shallot, scallop, saffron, and even wine. The London Times reports:
in the kitchen, the chefs are spraying an omelette with a truffle-flavoured chemical and injecting fake wild-mushroom drops into a duck filet. Science fiction? No, this is the reality in many French restaurants, which are “cheating” their customers with a growing range of artificial products, according to gastronomic purists. They say that the use of flavourings to enhance the taste of otherwise ordinary dishes is misleading because they are rarely mentioned on the menu. For years, secrecy surrounded the products, which come in liquid and powdered form. They were an unspoken ingredient of contemporary Gallic gastronomy. But their existence has been brought into the open by two leading chefs, Joel Robuchon and Alain Passard, who have both spoken out against what they describe as a “scandal”. “It is shameful,” said M Passard
Many of these aromes can be purchased at chefsimon.com. Their pictures of the flavorings, such as the artificial wine powder, are kind of interesting. But their product page also bears the warning: USONS SANS ABUSER! (Let us use without abusing!)
Categories: Food
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jun 11, 2006
Comments (9)
It is sort of a jip. I can taste the difference in my own cooking when I use pure vanilla extract & imitation vanilla. I don't think I could taste if someone else did it. I can taste fake almond, though.

I mean, if people are going to very high end restaurants & think they're getting product A, but actually get product B with essence of A...it's not fair to charge the A price.

Sort of like ordering beef & potatoes & getting a bigmac & fries.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Sun Jun 11, 2006  at  05:34 PM
Honestly, I couldn't care less. The reason you pay big is for the taste, not the individual ingredients. So what if it's fake if it tastes the same?
Posted by Dracul  on  Sun Jun 11, 2006  at  09:47 PM
Well, yes and no. You're paying big because a lot of these ingredients either cost a lot to buy, or take a lot of time to make. If you're getting neither, you really are not getting your money's worth.
Posted by Mel  on  Sun Jun 11, 2006  at  10:55 PM
If I'm being charged for truffles, I want to eat actual truffles. Not scratch&sniff; truffles.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Mon Jun 12, 2006  at  05:38 AM
Shallots? I understand all the expensive ingredients, but why shallots? It would be cheaper to add real ones.
Posted by AussieBruce  on  Mon Jun 12, 2006  at  09:03 AM
I saw these on Daily Planet about a year back. They were in spray bottles and had many flavors like peanut butter, bacon and eggs, and they were spraying them on toast, instead of the real thing. They said you had "the great taste, without the calories".

But what about the texture? I like my BLT thick and juicy; I don't think a spray would ever do it for me.
Posted by StarLizard  in  Quebec, Canada  on  Mon Jun 12, 2006  at  12:09 PM
It might be a good thing to use at home for someone who can't afford truffles or other more expensive ingredients. If nothing else, it would be fun to experiment with!
Posted by Tru  in  Other Words  on  Mon Jun 12, 2006  at  02:33 PM
Yes, they would probably be convenient for cooking at home: less expensive, easier to use, easier to keep, et cetera. Assuming, of course, that they do actually taste like what they're supposed to imitate.

The only problem I would have with these is if cooks were passing them off as the real thing, and charging you prices for real truffles or whatever. To me, that would be fraud.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Tue Jun 13, 2006  at  02:42 AM
These bottled flavors are not always cheaper than the real thing (though it's hard to imagine something more expensive than truffles).

Sometimes they're used, not for reasons of cost, but because they're easier to store and handle, they're more concentrated, and for various other technical reasons.

For example, vanillin (an artificial vanilla flavor) is usually used in baked goods because most of the flavor of real vanilla evaporates during the baking process. Artificial vanilla, and other flavors, are also used in some products because they can be produced in a colorless form. Real vanilla will darken white cakes or frostings, but certain artificial flavorings keep them snow-white.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Panther City, Texas, USA  on  Tue Jun 13, 2006  at  07:06 PM
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