347 of 359 people found the following review helpful
the new and improved bible of food and cooking,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Hardcover)
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.) This is really a totally new book: it's been completely reorganized, new illustrations have been added, and it's 66% longer than the old version. I'm guessing that the only reason that this book has the same title is for marketing value: the first book was very well known by cooks.