Student - May 20, 2010

Delicious mayo from tasteless fats

Who? Emma Teuling
What? Research into plant proteins
Where? Just around the corner in Ede
Why? Final year internship for Food Technology at VHL Wageningen

'My intention was to do a final year internship in the Netherlands. That seemed easiest to me. As there were many arrangements to be made during the final year, it would be inconvenient being far away in another country. My school supervisor found me a position at NIZO food research in Ede. This is one of the better companies of its kind, and I jumped at the chance right away. I purposely did not opt for product development, but for a research traineeship. I was determined to enter Wageningen University after finishing my professional higher education, and I'm studying here now. 
'My traineeship supervisor was from America, so there was something international somehow. Oh well, it wasn't really that unusual. Half of those in my class were from Thailand. Moreover, before studying at VHL, I attended a year of high school in America. Language was therefore not a problem. Everything in America is bigger, from Cola cans to things sold in school. I encountered the mindset of that period again in my traineeship supervisor. An American does not belittle someone audibly. When it got tricky, she would sometimes just say: 'Oh, that looks alright.' Was that a sign of approval? Or did she consider it absolute rubbish? I had to keep asking to find out how I really performed. The Dutch forthrightness is easier to manage. 
'I researched into the possibilities offered by plant proteins. They are cheaper and environmentally more friendly. However, they also have many negative characteristics. For example, many plant proteins cannot function as emulsifiers. You can see that in soya; the blocks taste so dry. Plant proteins which can be mixed with water are often not tasty at all, or difficult to extract from the plant. I searched in publications for suitable protein types, which I then researched further into in the lab. You could get a lot of help there; there are people who know literally everything about a subject. Using my inventiveness, I made a vegetarian mayonnaise myself. Since NIZO doesn't engage in product sales, my mayonnaise will never be found in the shops, but my knowledge has been sold. Meanwhile, I have been given a part-time contract, and in between, I am doing a Master's course. I may be getting into an internship again shortly. Will it be in another country this time? I haven't thought about that yet.'