Recently, in a laboratory outside Seattle, I ate a piece of buttered toast that I will remember for the rest of my life. The bread itself was not extraordinary, but it was spread thickly with the brightest-green butter I've ever seen. It was not true butter, but rather an extract of pure green peas. Fresh peas are blended to a puree, then spun in a centrifuge at 13 times the force of gravity. The force separates the puree into three discrete layers: on the bottom, a bland puck of starch; on the top, vibrant-colored, seductively sweet pea juice; and separating the two, a thin layer of the pea's natural fat, pea-green and unctuous. A standard pea yields about three percent fat, so the half-ounce of glistening viridian on my toast was the equivalent of perhaps a pound and a half of peas condensed into a single bite.
I was eating with Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, in the rather amazing kitchen at the heart of his 20,000-square-foot laboratory outside Seattle.