Building a Meal: From Molecular Gastronomy to Culinary Constructivism

Herve This, Author, M. B. DeBevoise, Translator Columbia University Press $19.95 (185p) ISBN 978-0-231-14466-7
French chemist This, co-creator (with fellow scientist Nicholas Kurti) of the kitchen science discipline known as molecular gastronomy, offers readers a window into his world through this wide-ranging, deeply engaging scientific deconstruction of classic dishes. Those hoping to find recipes for concoctions like wasabi foam or celery ""caviar"" will be disappointed; This dismisses such cuisine as parlor tricks for foodies. Instead, he examines what he calls ""culinary dictums,"" such as adding salt to water when boiling eggs or starting a stock with cold water, using science to confirm, disprove or update common kitchen wisdom. Beginning with the humble hard-boiled egg, This explains food concepts thoroughly but plainly-among them why creamy sauces ""break,"" the proper time to salt a steak, and the importance of soaking sliced potatoes in water before French frying them. This's tour is frequently fascinating, and his digressions on a host of topics (from cooking trends to proper mayonnaise-beating etiquette to noted French mathematician Blaise Pascal) lend charm and warmth. For anyone expecting a clinical approach buttressed by equations and formulas, the biggest surprise isn't This's dedication to good old flavor, but his insistence that love is a cook's most important ingredient.
Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 152 pages - 978-0-231-51353-1
Paperback - 135 pages - 978-0-231-14467-4
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