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The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen Hardcover – November 6, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
There are three essential sections to this slim volume, each one providing understanding to any cook, no matter what their experience level is. It's not exactly a book to sit down and read through as you would a regular book, except for the opening section. Instead, this is one to have nearby when you're reading through a cookbook, and you come across a term that you don't know, for example, a chiffonade or daube, or when you want some clarification on just what is poaching or why is a confit is so desired by foodies. No, it's not that massive tome, Larousse's Gastronomique, but it's quite a bit lighter and easier to go through than that chef's bible.
Ruhlman starts off slowly, after an opening essay by Anthony Bourdain. He gets right down to the very basics with a collection of eight essays on why you need to have knowledge of a variety of tools and ingredients, namely: Notes on Cooking, From Stock to Finesse. The language is geared for the average cook, who has never set toe into a professional kitchen or culinary school, but do want to improve their own skills at cooking.
The eight essays are as follows:
Stock: Ruhlman gets pretty darn rhapsodic about stocks; how to make them, how to ruin them, and while you don't really need to make your own, it's still a good idea to try. He also takes some of the mystery out of making them, such as how to actually 'skim' the stock, and get rid of that pesky raft. What I really liked about this one is his recipe for veal stock -- it's one that I will have to try soon.
Sauce: And yes, you can make them too.Read more ›
Love love love the way Ruhlman writes about food and chefs overall in his other books, so I was excited to get a copy of "The Elements of Cooking." Then I found myself a little disappointed with the eight essays at the start. I looked back at my Alton Brown book "I'm Just Here for the Food" (v2) and decided the sections there on stock, salt, tools, etc. were way more useful in Alton's book. Ruhlman waxes poetic with his opinions... but Alton is vastly more instructive. (Do you want to get truly inspired -- and laugh your butt off -- about stock? Get Bourdain's ""Les Halles Cookbook!")
I did like the A-to-Z part of this for its definitions. However, they weren't very instructive, either. I can't fault Ruhlman for that, because he doesn't claim this is an instructional book. I recently got a copy of James Peterson's new book "Cooking" which doesn't cover all the techniques or terms in Ruhlman's glossary, but it gives step-by-step info and photos on a lot of them.
Bottom line, I suppose, is that there is no perfect book on food, not even McGee's "...Read more ›
For starters, the book claims to be patterned after a true classic, Strunk and White's little manual of writing, `The Elements of Style' (Elements). Many books have taken the same tack, especially in the field of computer programming technique. The big difference is that programming is very much like writing, and even more amenable to simple rules, while cooking is far more similar to a plastic art, where your ingredients vary from day to day, from source to source, and from season to season. The second slip down the slippery slope of concept is that the book does not consistently follow Strunk and White's pattern. Where `Elements ' is composed entirely of brief lessons on good usage and writing technique, Ruhlman starts out in the manner of `Elements', but a third of the way through converts to the style of Fowler's equally famous writing manual `Modern English Usage'. That is, the book switches from advice by technique to a glossary of culinary terms. And, it is this section which is called the `Elements'. The first fifty pages, which look most like `Elements', are labeled `Notes on Cooking from Stock to Finesse'. Now if this book had followed the `Notes' pattern or the `Usage' style throughout, I would have been far happier. As it is, both sections have a feeling of incompleteness about them.
There are at least two other superficial weaknesses of this book which are truly amazing, given the stature of the author and the publisher (Scribners).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's a great accompaniment to On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee.Published 26 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is a book for beginner, or for an experienced cook.
I have followed Ruhlman for decades now. He is an expert journalist with superb style. Read more
As always, his writing about cooking is clear and detailed. This book gives precise information about cooking from A to Z.Published 10 months ago by Lady Bird
Excellent book and a great way to learn the fundamentals of how and why food behaves the way it does and how to use this knowledge to become a better cook.Published 16 months ago by Michael T. Lawson
The essays that open the book are exciting, inspirational prose for anyone who loves food and cooking; the glossary of food terms that follows is a concise reference that opens the... Read morePublished 19 months ago by A. Boudreaux
I like the contents of the book, found it interesting, as I have all the other books by Mr Ruhlman that I've read. Read morePublished 22 months ago by D. Earls