Food Dictionary: The Maillard Reaction
Named for French chemist Louise-Camille Maillard, the Maillard reaction means more to us menfolk than just amino acids, polymerization, and various other chemical reactions. In the backyard, we can see the Maillard reaction take place in the browning or searing of meat over heat. It's that dream of dreams that every wannabe pitmaster has ... GRILL MARKS. Grill marks are those wonderful things that make people go "ooooo .... grilled food," and they take place via the Maillard reaction.
For pity's sake and to honor Maillard for putting science to the food reaction that the caveman in all of us have already become accustomed to.
The Maillard reaction takes place when components like reducing sugars and amino acids or proteins react together. It occurs in most foods on heating and also takes place in the human body.
In food technology the Maillard reaction plays a central role in the development of color, aroma, flavor, texture and nutritional value of cooked and processed foods.
In humans, the Maillard reaction contributes to the increased fluorescence, color and cross-linking of extracellular proteins during normal aging. Acceleration of these reactions is implicated in the development of diabetic complications and in inflammatory processes linked to neurodegenerative diseases and atherosclerosis.
National BBQ month continues on. Sorry to input a little bit of nerdiness and 11th grade chemistry class into your day.