Comparative French Onion Soup

Nice looking bowl of soup from the blog, There's a Newf in My Soup!

In order to be able to come up with a blog post everyday, I have decided that each day will have a general category, and that Friday will be dedicated to food posts. I know that having a “Foodie Friday” post isn’t very original, but it just seems appropriate, and I will try to keep them interesting, highlighting some of my favorites foods, recipes, and techniques.

Today I came across a neat posting that actually reminded me a little bit of my thesis. The post, entitled “French Fridays with Dorie, et al: A Comparative Study of French Onion Soup” does a great job of highlighting the sort of trial and error, and adapting other methods that are common to cooking and science. I spent quite a bit of time during my thesis going through similar processes and developing analytical methods for novel brominated flame retardants (BFRs, more on them later), but instead of having delicious French Onion Soup, I ended up with nice smooth chromatographs!

Just as with the soup, where are so many variations to consider, (e.g. type of onion, broth, wine, vinegar, herbs, garlic, cheese), when developing a gas chromatographic analytical method there are many areas where slight variations can make a big difference.  A professor at Duke University, Heather Stapleton, reviewed many of the analytical methods used for quantifying a certain group of BFRs called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Like the soup posting, the review (found, here) highlights several areas that can make, or break, your analytical method, be it injection technique, column selection, temperature program, or ionization.

While I can agree that eating and making the soup is probably more fun, having a nice chromatograph can be just as rewarding as a nice bowl of homemade soup.

Mass spectra from a chromatograph of the BFR BEHTBP

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2 thoughts on “Comparative French Onion Soup

  1. Pingback: Networks and Degrees of Separation | On a Quasi-Related Note

  2. Pingback: Reflections on the 6th International Symposium on Flame Retardants | On a Quasi-Related Note

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