As China and Korea increase funding for scientific research by 10 percent a year, federal funding for science is declining as a share of the U.S. GDP. I fear further cutbacks in funding as House Republicans try to cut the deficit without raising taxes.
This myopic approach threatens America's future. Iconic scientific institutions can no longer perform the fundamental research that fuels our knowledge-based industries and economy. We are losing the science race — particularly the race in gastronomic science. But with your help, we can win that race.
Last year NIH was unable to fund any of the basic research proposals submitted by The Institute for Gastronomic Research. I happen to be the Executive Director of this legendary institution, serving for absurdly low pay. I don't want to boast, but I am usually cited as the leading gastronomic scientist, if not in the entire Madison Park neighborhood, certainly on the 400 block of 39th Ave. E. My scientific work has often been compared, unfavorably, with Pasteur's.
I had hoped that private foundations might step up to finance basic gastronomic research, but they seem to prefer trendy causes and soft science. Foundations will give grants to study "sociological interventions to increase self-esteem in pre-adolescent dorks and wimps afflicted with ADHD." But if you pursue basic science, ask the big questions, and value scientific knowledge for its own sake, you get nothing.
At the Institute we have been forced to abandon a planned staff expansion. Unable to hire my wife in a part-time position, I will remain the Institute's sole employee. This is not crippling since the Institute has always favored breakthrough research by a single individual, rather than dispersing resources on inconclusive group studies. Nonetheless, the Institute's overarching mission — cutting-edge research at the frontier of gastronomic science, provided that someone else picks up the check — is threatened.
In 2012 we hope to answer the question that has puzzled scientists and philosophers for four centuries: What is the best restaurant in Paris? By rigorously applying the scientific method I am prepared, once and for all, to settle this question definitely. Over a six-week period I will dine four times at each of Paris's 21 two- and three-star restaurants.
Using a sophisticated covariance matrix, I have already selected the menu items that will provide the most useful scientific data at the least cost (most bang for the buck). To illustrate, at L'Astrance I plan a light lunch comprising:
Amuse Bouche: les Tartelettes — Mousseline de betterave et vinaigre balsamique; et mousseline de poire avec carotte jaune et praliné de noisette.
Escalopines de bar à l'émincé d'artichaut, caviar oscietre gold.
Coquilles Saint-Jacques d'Erquy à l'unilatérale; chou et thé vert "Ashikubo Sencha."
Arlettes caramelisées fromage blanc, citron et pamplemousse confits.
I am currently working on wine pairings. Further plans will be developed before ordering dinner at Le Meurice.
I have a very modest budget: $65,000. I am personally willing to finance up to $500 and will double this amount if my brother pays me what he owes. However, since he claims I owe him money I cannot bank on this amount.
Therefore I turn to you, faithful readers. Help us pursue basic science. Help us expand the frontiers of human knowledge. This is your chance to defeat the Republicans in their war against science. Please contribute at gastronomicscience.org.
As a special bonus, if you contribute today, we will send three follow up letters asking for more money.