Flavor is overrated. There—I said it. Sure, I want the food I eat to taste good, but that is the lowest possible bar I can set when cooking (for those wondering why they should listen to me—I’m a recipe developer by trade). Take scrambled eggs, for example. Other than burning them, it’s pretty hard to drastically alter their flavor. But we obviously know there is a difference between the eggs your parent made you as a kid before work and a carefully crafted French omelette, cooked and folded to perfection. That difference? Texture.

Whether you know it or

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Crispiness is almost entirely due to the starch in potatoes, says Joseph Provost, a chemistry and biochemistry professor at the University of San Diego who co-wrote “The Science of Cooking: Understanding the Biology and Chemistry Behind Food and Cooking.” The two main molecules of that starch, a type of carbohydrate, are amylose and amylopectin, deposited in solid granules throughout the plant. When potatoes are heated, especially in the presence of water, those granules release the starch molecules, which absorb water and swell up (this is called gelation). The starches start cross-linking in a layer on the outside of the

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