Tom Yum Kung Soup by Jean-Georges: water seasonings aromats, shrimp, mushrooms.

On this week’s episode I explore my second favorite ingredient in the kitchen, one we scarcely think about: water. I interview chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, on his journey from Alsace to the south of France to Bangkok, which transformed his life. And he demos the first dish he ate there.

And I also speak with Adam Bosch, 0o the Environmental Protection Agency, about the extraordinary New York water supply. And we go inside the very first aquaduct that delivered water from upstate New York to Manhattan in 1842, transforming the city from a fetid swamp to a thriving metropolis.

Adam Baosch, director of public affairs for the NYC public watershed.
Sara Kelsey in the Croton Aquaduct, opened in 1842 to deliver fresh water to Manhattan

When something is ubiquitous, such as water, we tend to take it for granted. Imagine if you woke up and found no water running from your tap, no coffee, nbo shower, no water for chicken stock. What if all neighborhoods had to haul water from fetid ponds, a time when beer was the safest liquid to drink.

Water is life. And it is magic in the kitchen. In this Episode 5 of “From Scratch with Michael Ruhlman” we explore a few aspects of the elemental substance with experts in the kitchen and out.

For the tours mentioned in the show, go to this link at

For more about Jean-Georges Vongericthen, visit his restaurant site, read this recent piece in The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

His new memoir, which I wrote with him, is JGV: A Live in 12 Recipes. That’s where you’ll find the Tom Yum King recipe.

My new book, From Scratch: 10 Meals, 150 Recipes has just been published as well.

Listen to the podcast From Scratch wherever you get your podcasts! It’s produced by iHeart Media here, or if you listen to podcasts on Apple, here.

Can you remember the first time you smelled lemongrass?