Has molecular gastronomy reached the plateau of productivity?

Hype-cycle Martin Lersch asks over at the wonderful blog Khymos:

Molecular gastronomy was recently chosen as word of the month (not quite sure exactly which month this was). They give the following definition:

the art and practice of cooking food using scientific methods to create new or unusual dishes

This is not the best definition I’ve seen, to be honest. Why should one limit it to new or unusual dishes? When taken to extremes this only results in gimmickery. Strangely enough there are no hits when I search for “molecular gastronomy” at www.askoxford.com, so one might wonder whether they changed their mind? Personally I feel that molecular gastronomy should strive to improve both home cooking and restaurant cooking. That’s also what I tried to convey with my 10-part series with tips for practical molecular gastronomy.

The Webster’s New Millennium dictionary has this definition:

the application or study of scientific principles and practices in cooking and food preparation

This definition includes both the fundamental scientific aspects and the applications of these. But to me it’s too close to “food science”. Where is the enthusiasm? Where is the delicous meal with tempting aromas and textures? As you might know several definitions have been launched over the last couple of years. My favorite definition is still Harold McGee’s (although he does no longer use the definition himself): “Molecular gastronomy is the scientific study of deliciousness”. In my opinion it joins the two worlds which for too long have been separated – the world of science and the world of gastronomy and everything delicious.

It was a German blog post by Benedikt Köhler over at molekularküche (German blog on molecular gastronomy) that made me aware of the Oxford dictionary definition, and he also reminded me of the hype cycle, a term coined by the US based analyst house Gartner (read more about it in the book “Mastering the hype cycle”). It features the following 5 phases shown below and I agree with Benedikt that these terms can also be applied to the rise and fall (and hopefully also resurrection) of molecular gastronomy…