400 of 424 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2012
Disclaimer: I am a real reviewer who actually purchased and read the book. I felt compelled to write my first review because I was annoyed in two ways: first, the clearly fake reviewers, second, the readers who came in with ridiculous expectations about the contents of the book.
Second disclaimer: I am NOT a Tim worshiper. The 4-Hour Workweek is a sometimes unethical pipe dream that a couple people writers imitating Tim have made money on. For most of us, it contains a couple tricks to be more efficient at our 9-5. The 4-Hour Body is a relatively interesting and fun book on fitness and diet experimentation. I learned a few tips and tricks from it and really enjoyed reading about his experiences. I have read most of Tim's blog and consider it a sometimes better alternative to "Life Hacker".
Those two disclaimers being said, this is a GREAT book if you come in with the right expectations. If you're looking for 600+ pages solely devoted to grocery shopping, prep, recipes, cooking and eating, you will not find it here. You'll find about 200-250 pages dedicated solely to such, and 200 more at least somewhat related--consisting of wilderness cooking and survival, great restaurants, 140 character recipes, and basic tools you need in the kitchen. At a macro level, the most useful cooking lessons are Tim's notes on equipment to have in your kitchen, his 10 easy recipes (most of which are really interesting/easy shortcuts), and the charts on spices that go with different countries. At a micro level, I picked up a few random tidbits from the 1/2-pagers on how to quickly defrost a steak, how to make the perfect cup of coffee, etc. The most important part of this section is that Tim teaches you HOW to cook, not just how to follow a recipe. The best part about his methodology is that he removes all roadblocks from the reader--the excessively expensive equipment, the hard to find ingredients, and the difficult cooking techniques are all put nicely out of mind with shortcuts and detailed pictures.
The rest of the book, in my opinion, is actually more interesting. The first section is about a hundred pages are worth the price of admission alone. It details a method to learn anything efficiently--Tim is merely using cooking as a MEDIUM to teach this method. I've started applying this first section to learning a number of skills already. As the middle sections are the ones devoted to cooking and wilderness survival that I detailed above, the appendix is related to random skills and interesting "life hacks" that you can learn quickly. Yes, these feel like last-minute additions but if one thing is clear Tim actually cares about his readers, why not throw in these interesting pages--they do not detract from the focus as they are part of the appendix.
If I can say one thing--buy this book. For me, I can see myself going back to it for years anytime I'd like to learn a new skill (be it with cooking or otherwise). If you want to learn HOW to cook taught in an unpretentious tone with easy to follow pictures, you'll find it here. If you're interested in shortcuts to learning complex skills, you'll find it here. If you just want to pick up a few cooking shortcuts, you will most definitely be delighted with this book. And lastly, if you are a fan of Tim and his other works, absolutely buy this book.
Lastly, a note on format, BUY THE HARDCOVER. I bought the Kindle as well since it was on sale for just $4.99 on Amazon and it does not even come close to comparing to the hardcover version. This book is meant to have pages cut out and marked up, its detailed color pictures to be seen, etc.
851 of 920 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2012
Tim Ferriss tells you right off that this isn't a book about cooking, just like Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance isn't about Zen or changing oil. He'll teach you how to handle a knife and make a few interesting dishes, but mostly he takes you on a long, strange, self-indulgent, and sometimes useful trip.
What I enjoyed:
-- Ferriss's storytelling. He has a nice way with words: "Mangalitsa acorn-finished woolly boar tasted just like acorns. I was chewing on fall, clear as crystal, in a sliver of cured ham."
-- His emphasis on the slow food movement and local, organic farming. (But strangely, his "Clean 15" foods include sweet corn, which is mostly genetically modified.)
-- His language hacking tips, which are gold. I've always wanted to master several languages and found his methodology solid and logical.
-- The 140-character Twitter recipes from almost every country in the world: fun, simple, and intriguing.
What I didn't like:
-- Ferriss's tangential teaching style. At one point he goes from braising to English's 100 most common written words to kickboxing to chess to tango spins in order to emphasize the importance of selection and sequencing. It didn't work for me, because I often lost track of the original concept.
-- His foray in into survival and hunting skills, just so you can make your own venison burger. (If you want some cricket protein bars, however, you'll need to mail order the crickets.) This section could have been a separate book and might have been fascinating as a metaphor/methodology for learning entrepreneurial skills.
-- His unrealistic (for the busy person) science experiments, such as making arugula spaghetti using a syringe and flexible tubing just to avoid that dreaded white flour. (Though some of his cocktails in the same section sound delicious.)
If I were to sum up this book in one word, it would be "manic": excessively enthusiastic and somewhat disorganized. Ferriss is obviously a curious and driven guy. I came away feeling he gets satisfaction from the ability to tackle and master anything, but not joy.
214 of 252 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2012
I am a fan of Tim Ferris but I have to say that this book over promises and under delivers. Ferris is the master of marketing and hype and even teaches you his techniques on his blog so it is very easy to pick out what he did. Here are some of my thoughts on the book.
- The book claims it's not a book about cooking yet 80% of the content is food related. He talks a lot about meta-learning but doesn't really dive into learning types and just gives generic learning tips.
- The book reads almost like a magazine and jumps all over the place as you progress through.
- Random mens magazine style tips (how shoot a jumpshot??, Knifes, guns, camping etc) I feel like I'm reading a GQ magazine.
- Really big book, the formatting is good but some of the pictures looked very amateur.
- You can tell he didn't write a lot of content of the book. Ferris is the master of outsourcing yet he makes it seems like he is the jack of all trades.
- Tons of pages of recipes (I thought this wasn't a cookbook?)
...more later as I progress through the book.
Overall I would say that it is a very entertaining book but I didn't find it more educational than any magazine you can pickup off the newsstands.
125 of 153 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2012
Just a short review to say that I found this book to be unfocused and scattered. I think some of the information is interesting, but I didn't like the organisation of material at all. For 4 hour fanatics it's clearly going to be worth reading, but the average person will probably find the 4 hour work week or 4 hour body more interesting and useful.
46 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2014
Wow. I'm a huge fan of Tim Ferris, but this book makes me think he needs to stop taking those weird supplements. He's losing his mind. And sense of organization.
I highly doubt he wrote or edited much of this mess. I suspect he dictated it as he was performing one of his hundred adventures. Then it was codged together by an offshore team. The same team that wrote the thousand 5-star reviews.
I suspect there's some important message in this hodgepodge, but I couldn't find it.
49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2014
After reading this book, I am worried about the writer. He seems to suffer from the delusion that he is the master of everything he touches, but he cannot seem to explain any concept coherently, much less simply. The writing style is reminiscent of some muscle-building magazines -- a lot of hype and exclamation marks. He skips rapidly from topic to topic with no explanation of the relationship between the two. I was reminded of conversations I've had with substance abusers who have slept for many days. There are a couple of ideas of value in this morass of boasting and narcissism, but the ROI (the author's abbreviation for return on investment) is not worth the time required.
I think the author may need to turn his attention to learning to meditate.
68 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2012
I loved The 4-Hour Work Week, I liked The 4-Hour Body, and I dislike The 4-Hour Chef. Tim Ferriss rambles on and on about a multitude of subjects, jumping all over the place with his thoughts, images, charts, etc.. A book about learning, and nothing but learning, would have been very interesting. A book about survival, too. Or one about cooking good food easily and with little equipment. Ferriss goes the farthest in attempting the latter, but I believe he fails miserably. He writes pages and pages about cutting and the like, to the extent that I quickly got bored and did not want to continue reading. Finally, there was something that caught my interest; how to make an excellent cup of coffee. But what is this?!? To make that awesome coffee, I need some kind of fancy equipment that I have never heard about or seen anywhere, which is probably not even available outside of the USA and parts of Europe. Indeed, if I was to follow Ferriss' recommendations, I would end up with a huge closet full of new, expensive stuff - which is precisely what I have been trying to avoid during the past years. The simple fact is that cooking can be made a lot simpler, and that tons of special equipment is not necessary. I suggest that Ferriss stay off the strong tea or coffee, calms down, and creates a more organized, focused and valuable book the next time.
47 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2012
It's not a cook book. Don't buy if for someone that likes to cook. Buy it for someone that thinks the world is going to end and needs to know how make a stove out of an old can or how to slaughter a deer in the wild. There is a picture of the deer's heart hanging on a stick if that's your thing. The book also claims that it will teach you how to speak fluent spanish in eight weeks, become a world record holder in tango after 5 months, memeorize a deck of cards in less then 60 seconds, and lose 20-150 pounds on a slow carb diet, whatever that means. The book also claims that it compresses 6 months of culinary school into 48 hours. It does not do that. Well maybe a poor culinary school, maybe.
567 of 740 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2012
This is a decent book but not spectacular. It didn't change my life or teach me to be a chef - and I already know quite a bit about cooking. The "Good Eats" books are much better.
I find it interesting that all the reviews for this book are 5 star. I was impressed UNTIL I noticed that all the reviews were submitted on the same day at almost the same time. So, I looked at what else the reviewers were reviewing. Most of them ONLY reviewed this book. Even those that had reviewed other items, had only reviewed one or two and they both got 5 stars as well. The reviewers must also be reading the same things because (of those few who had reviewed more than 1 item) most had also reviewed the re-educating millionaires and fit mom books.
UPDATE 11/26/2012: Since some have wanted specific criticisms, here are some things I didn't like:
- There was quite a bit of old information - things that are either common knowledge or things that Mr. Ferris has presented before. Note, I'm not a Ferris follower but I like to pick up cooking tips when I can.
- The book felt thrown together, are we learning to cook or hunt or do science experiments? Apparently, all those things and much more and in a random fashion.
- Atkin's like diet advice feels very preachy. If I want diet or nutrition advice, I'll read a book by some one who has specifically studied nutrition.
- From the title, I would have thought the book would be mostly about learning to cook like a pro and the techniques pros use with a few interesting asides. Instead, there's only a little of that, a huge spattering of recipes mixed with a ton of information on many unrelated subjects.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2013
I wrote a very lengthy review when I was only 1/3 through the book. I didn't slam the book per se, but I focused a lot on problems I had with it. Now I'm 2/3 through the book, and I have to edit my review to reflect the fact that I can't put it down, and can't wait to cook my way through this thing. Even with its imperfections, I love this book.
Here are the problems I had with the book:
(1) Tim has an ever-shifting curiosity, bordering on a very intellectual ADD. Overall, I actually enjoyed many of the deviations and found that a lot of Ferriss's interests (fitness, basketball, guns, survivalism, alternative proteins) parallel mine. On the other hand, it could get distracting for someone only interested in food, and a lot of the "this is a technique for learning in general, using food" stuff doesn't work. The first section is especially rife with esoteric metaphors. (2) The self-promotion often falls just shy of pretension--so many anecdotes start off with how Tim sucked at something, heard an unconventional shortcut from a mysterious stranger/named semi-celeb, and then suddenly could perform that thing at a professional level with no effort or training (#humblebrag). The format was engaging the first few times and then quickly got old. Frustratingly, the stories and advice from these anecdotes can be inconsistent. Honestly, I could go into it, but I say that you are better off reading the first section until boredom takes over and then skip to "DOM," the second section. While I recognize some value in the first section of the book about learning in general, at most it is worth a skim unless you are interested in learning that particular skill or need to psyche yourself up about cooking for 600 pages through the art of obscure metaphor.(3) A last criticism is with the hyperbolic and gimmick-heavy tone. The 4 hour thing is totally unnecessary here--what I found to be an engaging, creative, and worthwhile approach did not need to be shoe-horned into the "4-Hour" brand Tim is cultivating for himself. This material is great, and no, you won't be able to read this whole book, much less do everything in it, in 4-hours.
But if you cut through the bs, hype, and hyperbole, there are some great tips on equipment you may want, techniques to use (I learned some cool tricks for juicing lemons, flavor combos, and tea pairings), and some quick and easy recipes vetted by a man whose health-conscious diet is more restrictive than mine (as opposed to the usual chunks of butter I find myself substituting out of recipes) and whose taste and experiences easily trump my own. But I do think the "DOM" section, albeit not without some advice I personally consider wrong (see his advice on garlic, knives, eggs, and others), is worth the $10 or so the entire book costs on kindle. I got some really great recipe ideas and the way Tim presents recipes, techniques, and principles of general applicability is organized and a pleasure to follow. This is the first food related book I have highlighted and annotated (on my ipad of course).
Overall, you need to keep in mind the target demographic: people who have previously had very little interest in cooking and are looking for an easier way to get into it. This book seems especially suited for fans of Tim's other work who feel like following him from personal health into the world of cooking. For the rest of us, Tim still has a contagious enthusiasm for food, cooking, and life that really comes through in his writing. Although I found much of the beginning of the book frustratingly irrelevant and bristled at the often self-serving stories, it's definitely worth its dollar cost. (That the first section may be largely useless to you is something to consider if debating between the ebook and the hard copy, because I feel it's not worth its physical weight). If you are an experienced home cook looking to up your game, you may be disappointed or even aghast at some of the advice here. But I did learn a lot about food ...and everything else in the world. However, even if you fancy yourself a pretty proficient cook, Tim's recipes take out a ton of the work of sifting through online and paper-copy recipes, and modifying them to fit a fitness-conscious lifestyle. If you, like me, are into personal fitness, eating clean/healthy, saving time dishes and money, then Tim has taken all of the work out for you. I love how he suggests alternative ingredients and methods along the way to not only allow wiggle-room, but to teach would-be chefs how to improvise and substitute. I initially read this thing like a book with the intent to pick up some good ideas here and there, but I am going to start over from the beginning and cook my way through this entire book.
As a final note, I have met Tim several times (I'm one of the Jiu Jitsu practitioners he talks about in one of the metaphorical anecdotes) and can tell you from personal experience that Tim is a sincere, eager, intelligent, and talented guy who, yes is obviously great at self-marketing for maximum profit, but also genuinely wants to teach people things and improve their lives in exchange for their buck.