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On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen [Kindle Edition]

Harold McGee , Patricia Dorfman , Justin Greene
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (373 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $40.00
Kindle Price: $21.47
You Save: $18.53 (46%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description

Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking is a kitchen classic. Hailed by Time magazine as "a minor masterpiece" when it first appeared in 1984, On Food and Cooking is the bible to which food lovers and professional chefs worldwide turn for an understanding of where our foods come from, what exactly they're made of, and how cooking transforms them into something new and delicious.
Now, for its twentieth anniversary, Harold McGee has prepared a new, fully revised and updated edition of On Food and Cooking. He has rewritten the text almost completely, expanded it by two-thirds, and commissioned more than 100 new illustrations. As compulsively readable and engaging as ever, the new On Food and Cooking provides countless eye-opening insights into food, its preparation, and its enjoyment.
On Food and Cooking pioneered the translation of technical food science into cook-friendly kitchen science and helped give birth to the inventive culinary movement known as "molecular gastronomy." Though other books have now been written about kitchen science, On Food and Cooking remains unmatched in the accuracy, clarity, and thoroughness of its explanations, and the intriguing way in which it blends science with the historical evolution of foods and cooking techniques.
Among the major themes addressed throughout this new edition are:
  • Traditional and modern methods of food production and their influences on food quality
  • The great diversity of methods by which people in different places and times have prepared the same ingredients
  • Tips for selecting the best ingredients and preparing them successfully
  • The particular substances that give foods their flavors and that give us pleasure
  • Our evolving knowledge of the health benefits and risks of foods

On Food and Cooking is an invaluable and monumental compendium of basic information about ingredients, cooking methods, and the pleasures of eating. It will delight and fascinate anyone who has ever cooked, savored, or wondered about food.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Before antioxidants, extra-virgin olive oil and supermarket sushi commanded public obsession, the first edition of this book swept readers and cooks into the everyday magic of the kitchen: it became an overnight classic. Now, 20 years later, McGee has taken his slightly outdated volume and turned it into a stunning masterpiece that combines science, linguistics, history, poetry and, of course, gastronomy. He dances from the spicy flavor of Hawaiian seaweed to the scientific method of creating no-stir peanut butter, quoting Chinese poet Shu Xi and biblical proverbs along the way. McGee's conversational style—rich with exclamation points and everyday examples—allows him to explain complex chemical reactions, like caramelization, without dumbing them down. His book will also be hailed as groundbreaking in its breakdown of taste and flavor. Though several cookbooks have begun to answer the questions of why certain foods go well together, McGee draws on recent agricultural research, neuroscience reviews and chemical publications to chart the different flavor chemicals in herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables. Odd synergies appear, like the creation of fruity esters in dry-cured ham—the same that occur naturally in melons! McGee also corrects the European bias of the first edition, moving beyond the Mediterranean to discuss the foods of Asia and Mexico. Almost every single page of this edition has been rewritten, but the book retains the same light touch as the original. McGee has successfully revised the bible of food science—and produced a fascinating, charming text.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Scientific American

"In 1984, canola oil and the computer mouse and compact disc were all novelties... [and] the worlds of science and cooking were neatly compartmentalized." A lot has changed in 20 years: magazines and books now discuss the science of cooking, and culinary schools offer "experimental" courses that investigate the whys of cooking. So McGee, a writer who specializes in the chemistry of food and cooking, has completely rewritten his 1984 classic, expanding it by two thirds into a book that weighs in at almost 900 pages. He offers thorough, scientific explanations of countless topics, including why brining your turkey is not a good idea, why food wrapped in plastic often tastes like plastic, why you should never refrigerate tomatoes. And he continues to display, as one admirer said of the first edition, "a scientist's skill and a cook's heart."

Editors of Scientific American


Product Details

  • File Size: 11496 KB
  • Print Length: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Rev Upd edition (March 20, 2007)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000PAAH1W
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,989 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
945 of 961 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Text on Food Science AND Lore. Buy It. December 3, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This red `On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen' by Harold McGee is a new edition of what is the most widely quoted culinary work in English. It may be almost as influential on the thinking of culinary professionals as Julia Child's `Mastering the Art of French Cooking' was on attitudes of American home cooking. The testimonials from the likes of Thomas Keller, Paula Wolfert, Jacques Pepin, and Rose Levy Beranbaum just begins to tell you how important McGee's volume has become. I was immensely pleased to see the exchange of acknowledgments between McGee and Keller to see how much the academic can learn from the professional chef.

I can devote my thousand words on how good this book has been to the culinary world, but most of you already know that. What I will do is to list all the reasons one may wish to read this book.

First, the book is simply interesting to amateur foodies and culinary professionals. This is the serendipity principle. If you prospect in a rich land, you will invariably find something of value. The `lore' in the subtitle is not an afterthought. The book includes history, linguistics and cooking practice in addition to simple science.
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345 of 357 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the new and improved bible of food and cooking December 2, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a truly unique and wonderful book. It contains a tremendous amount of information about the food we eat. It shows the structure and composition of animals, plants, eggs, liquids, and seeds, explaining why each one has certain characteristics (for example, it turns out that the smell of fish comes from the decomponsition of a chemical in ocean fish cells that maintains the proper pressure balance with salt water). It explains what happpens when ingredients are chopped, mixed, heated, cooled, fermented, or otherwise transformed.

I discovered the first edition about five years ago, and it permanently changed how I think about food and how I cook. Since then, I've seen many other chefs mention this book. For example, in Michael Ruhlman's book "The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute," CIA students often study this (unrequired) book to better understand what they're doing.

You should be aware that this book is more an encypclopedia than an a recipe book or a collection of essays. If you're looking for a fun discussion of food science, then Alton Brown's "I'm just here for the food" may be a better choice. If you're looking for recipes that are optimized by principles of food science, I'd recommend Shirley O. Corriher's "Cookwise." (Actually, I'd recommend both of those books anyway.) Some readers may find "On Food and Cooking" a little bit too dense and technical to read from cover to cover, but as a reference book, it's unmatched.

The second edition is a great improvement over the first, and I'd strongly recommend it not only to new readers but to anyone who read the first edition. (Just the new section on fish makes this book worth purchasing.
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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Foodie's Bible, Colorful and Endlessly Fascinating December 11, 2004
Format:Hardcover
Food lovers can rest easy now that Harold McGee has updated his eminently readable 1984 tome, "On Food and Cooking". He is the literary counterpart to the Food Network's Alton Brown in providing an amalgam of history, science, literature, and cooking tips, spreading his knowledge across fifteen chapters, each devoted to a different food category. McGee leaves no food unturned. He starts rather appropriately with milk and dairy products, life-starting foods, and goes through edible plants, cereals, doughs and batters, wine and beer and distilled spirits, even basic food molecules. This is no dry scientific book, as McGee is a wonderfully colorful writer, lucid and endlessly fascinating.

McGee is truly a Renaissance man when it comes to food, and the book is packed with historical facts, literary anecdotes, and food legends passed down through the ages. For instance, when he talks about dairy products in the first chapter, he also brings up the domestication of the goat, the development of Parmesan, the history of ice cream and the best way to clarify butter. But his writing style is never contrived or pedantic and never gets in the way of the intriguing facts he brings to light. There are great illustrations and almost like a textbook, replete with easy-to-follow charts, graphs, and pictures, On the sidebars of each page, McGee shares insights from the likes of Brillat-Savarin, Plutarch and their culinary brethren along with ancient recipes for ash-roasted eggs, stuffed bonito with pennyroyal, and other delicacies. However, his focus is not purely historical, as he examines with great acuity, modern food production, current health risks and an easy-to-understand lesson on atoms, molecules, and the nature of energy. Rest assured that cooking basics are covered thoroughly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars All the Info You Ever Wanted
I was going to say more than you would ever want to know about food but I read some of it and I still don't know! Not the authors problem but mine. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Dennis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 9 days ago by Panagiota
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought this book for my culinary school classes.
Published 12 days ago by jack caraveo
5.0 out of 5 stars The original and best book on chemistry in cooking
I got the first edition of this book - the first of many books that tried to explain the chemistry of cooking and it's relationship to common culinary practice - and was enthralled... Read more
Published 18 days ago by MorganR
5.0 out of 5 stars Right on
Good price
Published 20 days ago by Heather Hendrix
5.0 out of 5 stars Really cool book. If you want to know about how ...
Really cool book. If you want to know about how a ingredient works or why an ingredient does something this is the perfect book.
Published 25 days ago by kyle Briski
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference
It's an approachable scientific perspective on cooking with information that can elevate your culinary technique and give you knowledge applicable beyond recipes.
Published 25 days ago by ECM
5.0 out of 5 stars The best cooking book I have ever read!
Since I did a course from edx.org last year I was looking for this book. This book show how and why somethings happen in cooking.
Published 1 month ago by CRISTINA MIYUKI TAMAGAWA
5.0 out of 5 stars Cooking as science
A must read for professional cooks interested in learning the relations between science and cooking.Harold Mcgee is a great writer.
Published 1 month ago by silvia makansi
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
If you are looking for a book of recipes or a book on cooking techniques, then look elsewhere. However, if you want to know more about the whys of cooking, this is the best book... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Chuck
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More About the Author

Harold McGee writes about the chemistry of food and cooking, and the science of everyday life. He has worked alongside some of world's most innovative chefs, including Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal. He lives with his family in California.



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