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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's science you eat! Love this book.
I like science, and love cooking. So Culinary Reactions : The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking by Simon Quellen Field is very exciting to me. The idea is to explain in clear and easy language how the chemicals in our foods react and behave to create what we eat.

From the liquid nitrogen frozen ice cream in the introduction, to the very end where he explains why...
Published on November 7, 2011 by Shala Kerrigan

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156 of 161 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what it is.
This book comes off as a write up of Google searches. It contains lots of interesting factiods, to be sure, and on the whole is worth the price, but it's neither a chemistry course nor a cooking course nor -- what you'd hope for -- a braiding of the two.

It's not a biochem course, not even a lightweight one, as it doesn't build from first principals -- it just...
Published on November 25, 2011 by Tumblemark


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156 of 161 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what it is., November 25, 2011
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This review is from: Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking (Paperback)
This book comes off as a write up of Google searches. It contains lots of interesting factiods, to be sure, and on the whole is worth the price, but it's neither a chemistry course nor a cooking course nor -- what you'd hope for -- a braiding of the two.

It's not a biochem course, not even a lightweight one, as it doesn't build from first principals -- it just throws out whatever chemistry facts happen to pop up, some times at a basic level and sometimes at a very deep level -- too deep, I'd think, for most cooks. Neither is it a cooking/baking course (it mixes both), as again it doesn't build up an understanding from basic principals. So you get a chemistry fact, sometimes paired with a curious fact about cooking or baking. Then off to the next fact. Fortunately, it has a table of contents and a good index, so at least you can find the tidbits you might be looking for. Many times they are interesting, but not always.

My degrees are in chemistry and I consider myself reasonable well read when it comes to gastronomy, so I enjoyed the book and read it completely. But I think if I were someone expecting to be lead through an understanding of basic food chemistry and simultaneously basic cooking/baking I would have been confused and disappointed. You'd come away with some facts, but I don't think you'd come away with an understanding of the chemistry of cooking or baking, and I don't think you'd become a better cook (or chemist).
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There is better out there, June 13, 2012
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This review is from: Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking (Paperback)
This book is not poorly written and does contain knowledge worth learning. The problem I had with the book is I had already purchased and read "the science and Lore of the kitchen" written by Harold McGee. I had found that Harold McGee's book was more detailed and covered a vast amount of knowledge. When I compared both books I felt like Culinary Reactions was kind of like attending a second grade class but you already graduate from high school, I found myself asking, why am I reading this? I can recommend this book to someone who is interested in obtaining the basics of food science. But if you are looking for more than I recommend "the science and Lore of the kitchen" written by Harold McGee.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's science you eat! Love this book., November 7, 2011
This review is from: Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking (Paperback)
I like science, and love cooking. So Culinary Reactions : The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking by Simon Quellen Field is very exciting to me. The idea is to explain in clear and easy language how the chemicals in our foods react and behave to create what we eat.

From the liquid nitrogen frozen ice cream in the introduction, to the very end where he explains why salt and ice freeze ice cream and all the information in between, he's managed it very well.

The chapters each cover a specific topic, and there is some overlap in the examples used. Like making cheese involves making a protein gel using protein chemistry and can be flavored using molds which are covered in the biology chapter.

The language is clear and scientific. He explains the way molecules interact to create foams such as bread and meringues, how beer and vinegar are made, how specific cultured bacteria can create inhospitable environments for more dangerous bacteria. The affects of acids and bases on recipes, including a very clear explanation of the difference between the two.

Yes, it's science, but it's easy to read and understand.

There are few cooking projects that show the chemical processes at work. A whipped topping that's stabilized with the addition of xanthan gum, a homemade cheese cheese with instructions for two great, inexpensive and easy to build cheese presses, a turkey that's is surface sterilized to be cooked for a very long time at below boiling point temperatures to keep it super juicy, extracting DNA from pumpkins and fruit, and lemonade with color changing grape juice "chameleon eggs".

If you have a practical knowledge of cooking, you will probably get inspired to try other things like creating invert sugar solutions to use instead of simple syrup, or trying acids like lemon juice in your meringues instead of cream of tartar.

The understanding of the scientific principles behind why ingredients behave the way they do can help make anyone a better cook I believe. I found the information exciting and inspiring, and know I'll use it to develop more recipes for my family.

It's educational and interesting. The projects provide great science experiments to do with your children or just on your own. It's one that my husband is interested in reading as well. He's already said he will build me a cheese press following the instructions in the book so I can try making harder cheeses. I really enjoyed it, and recommend it to anyone who has an interest in science and cooking.

[I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book to review on my craft blog- Don't Eat the Paste]
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The science of everyday cooking, November 1, 2011
This review is from: Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking (Paperback)
Culinary Reactions explores the scientific principles behind everyday recipes. Don't be intimidated by the word science mixed in with this description, the way he explains the process is fun and easy to understand. The author starts out with the basics of chemistry in the kitchen including the importance of measuring and weighing ingredients. He also talks about the importance of using quality ingredients and how to estimate calories.

Each chapter is broken down by the type of reaction involved: Foams, Emulsions, Oils and Fats, Solutions, Crystallization, Protein Chemistry, Biology, Scaling Recipes Ups and Down, Heating, Acids and Bases, Oxidation and Reduction; and Boiling, Freezing and Pressure.

Culinary Reactions isn't really a cookbook although you fill find recipes scattered throughout the book. The breakdown of the chemical reactions may not necessarily tell you what to expect in each chapter unless you're familiar with cooking chemistry. As an example, Foams includes things like marshmallows, whipped cream and ice cream. The book explains why each reaction occurs so I learned that proteins in these foams are changed from their natural state (denatured) and attract and repel different things which eventually causes them to stick to different things and form a film that holds their shape. Each chapter includes diagrams of various molecular structures so you can see the actual chemical reaction that takes place. There are also several shaded boxes that include chemistry lessons you can read for more information on specific processes discussed in the chapter. This is perfect for those of us that either never took chemistry or haven't thought about it for years... just in case you don't remember what a covalent bond actually is.

There are lots of great recipes included throughout that show the various chemistry process. A few examples of recipes included are Whipped Creamsicle Topping, Cherry Dream Cheese, and Thanksgiving Turkey. The recipes are easy to follow and have a complete list of ingredients and supplies needed. There are also black and white photographs to show you each step.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in finding out WHY something works in the kitchen the way it does. It's written in a way that a non scientific person can follow along with out a problem but is in depth enough that someone with a science background won't be bored or feel talked down to. There are several recipes that use alcohol so all the experiments won't work with children but much of the book would work well in a high school science home school curriculum. Definitely an interesting read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay as an Overview, December 19, 2013
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This review is from: Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking (Paperback)
This book is alright. It covers some basic knowledge about the chemistry of food and has some brief Chem background. However, unless you remember your high school chem class, I would not recommend this book. The Chemistry explained is brief and to grasp the concepts fully requires an understanding of bonds, enzymes, pH, and proteins. Several subjects are briefly broached, but nothing is explained in depth. The modeling of the chemical structures is also not explained very well. Some chemical structures will be referenced pages later and you will have to flip back to understand them. Additionally, when he is covering Cis- Trans Isomerism, the area where the cis and trans bonds are present isn't highlighted. You really have to study both structures carefully to see the point he is making. I find this to also be true with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and I wish more diagrams were included with the section about hydrophobic and hyrodphilic reactions. I found it very hard to understand without a physical representation. The recipes provided within the book are peculiar. Not ones I will probably attempt due to the ingredients involved. Another aspect I wish the author had covered was the health effects of food additives. The author did cover some practical kitchen applications such as how to start an emulsion more easily, the making of cheese, gels, sols, and vegetable gums. Overall I thought it was a decent book, but not one I think I benefited much by reading.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awesome and Strange at the Same Time, March 16, 2012
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This review is from: Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking (Paperback)
Some facets of this book were amazing: great information, fun experiments, and an engaging tone. The author's fun, enthusiastic tone is often reminiscent of the Mythbusters. The explanations of why things work (like beating cream leading to both whipped cream and butter, two drastically different results made from the same ingredients by the same method) were fascinating. This would be great to use with kids.

After reading this book I feel much more prepared to design my own recipes, gauge the results of a printed recipe based on its ingredients and their ratios, and adjust recipes to achieve desired results.

There were, however, some strange aspects to this book as well. Some portions completely lost the Mythbusters-style energy and got entangled in chemical structures that weren't really meaningful to me. Granted, I'm not good at chemistry, but the shift was odd and disappointing. Though the information on why things happen was accurate, this is NOT somewhere to look for nutritional wisdom - the author clearly abides by FDA company line, allowing that MSG and corn syrup are fine and raw milk is evil regardless of clear evidence to the contrary. Finally, the ending of the book is startlingly abrupt. The final chapter finishes like any other and then there just isn't anything else. No conclusion, no wrap up, no acknowledgement that you're on the last page. Very odd.

All things considered, this is worth picking up and checking out.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great concept, great photography, poorly written., July 9, 2012
This review is from: Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking (Paperback)
I had trouble digesting this book. There is a lot of good information in the pages, but it's so poorly written. It is dry, and cumbersome, with a number of typographical errors that distracted me from the content. I would not recommend this book-- you'd be better off with McGee's on Food and Cooking.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars it's a strange mix of facts, December 23, 2011
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This review is from: Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking (Paperback)
I got this book for my little sister that is taking chemistry class and also loves cooking. however, if a reader has no experience in chemistry this book will be trying. if the reader does have experience in chemistry, this book will be trying. i was not expecting something so technical. i would recommend this book to a culinary student who had an interest in chemistry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars is like looking the kitchen with a microscope, March 18, 2013
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Loved it, great explanation of every ingredient interaction. I recommend this book to every really curious person who wants to know about cooking
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars chemistry in ur kitchen.., May 22, 2012
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This review is from: Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking (Paperback)
The book explains every single chemical reaction pretty good.

But the pictures on the books are black and white and not all recipes have a picture.

And I understand the love for pets, bur seriously in this book the author talk a lot of his bird and the few pictures of the recipes, the bird is on them too!. Not hygienic for me or very professional either.

But the way she explains how everything works is really good.
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Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking
Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking by Simon Quellen Field (Paperback - November 1, 2011)
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