Most helpful critical review
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
An interesting read, but I will buy a different book
on February 3, 2010
There's definitely some interesting parts and useful suggestions herein, but I preferred two other books. Wolke's "What Einstein Told His Chef" was arguably somewhat clearer, if less thorough. The clear winner is McGee's classic "On Food and Cooking," 2nd ed. Even Herve This references and praises McGee's book, and that is where your time and money are best spent.
Whether or not you like this book probably depends on your personality. As a detail-oriented engineer, I found myself frequently frustrated by his incomplete and ambiguous explanations that often followed glowing promises to reveal treasured secrets.
Just for example, his section titled "How Can We Not Spill the Tea When Pouring It?" explained the phenomena of dribbling spouts with a mediocre desription of the Bernoulli effect causing a decrease of pressure on the underside of the spout. (That's what gives lift to an airplane wing, isn't it?) He doesn't say anything about choosing a spout of a particular shape nor my grandmother's trick of wiping a smear of butter under the spout. More to the point, he never answers the question he posed!
Little incoherencies like the above example drove me crazy, but another reader of different temperment might just sail on by and enjoy the illusion of having learned something useful.
He does give some practical cooking advice, and his scientific explanations hint at the reasons. It just seems like there is some slight disconnect between them, and I wondered whether it related to the translation from French (which sometimes shows trivial irritants like wrong verb tenses).
I don't disagree with any of the reviews, even the 5 stars, but I'm glad I borrowed this from the library and will put my money on buying a copy of McGee instead.