Many think Ferran Adria invented molecular gastronomy. Not exactly. He created several new cooking techniques and, most importantly, codified and published them to share with the world, thus taking his place as the ultimate culinary inventor of our time.
The term molecular gastronomy was actually coined back in the 1980's by French scientist and academic Hervé This. The idea was to test cooking theory and myth in the laboratory environment to see how things actually work. Like the advice of putting lemon juice on to apples, avocados and the like to keep them from browning. Chemically, does this actually work? Once you figure out why it works scientifically, you can possibly find a better way to do it. This is the basic idea of molecular gastronomy.
If you have occasion to meet Ferran Adria, I recommend you do not use the words molecular gastronomy with him, as he adamantly prefers the term 'new cookery.'
This week you have occasion to meet Monsieur This as he's in New York. Today he's at the meeting of the Experimental Cuisine Collective. On Wednesday he'll be at the James Beard House discussing his new book Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing the Science of Cooking (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History).
Many expect Monsieur This to be a snooty academic. Not at all. He's actually very engaging and charming. More like a great dinner party guest than a stuffy professor.