- Series: California Studies in Food and Culture (Book 23)
- Hardcover: 366 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; 1st Ed. edition (October 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520252950
- ISBN-13: 978-0520252950
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,791,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cooking: The Quintessential Art (California Studies in Food and Culture) Hardcover – October 1, 2008
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Among the arts, culinary art ranks as one of the least objectively defined, yet it’s one universally enjoyed. In recent years, molecular gastronomy’s deconstructions have forced some deeper thought about taste and its relationship to other senses of smell, sight, touch, and even hearing. To illustrate his theories of taste in classic style, This invents dialogues among characters representing different schools of philosophical thought. He seeks to develop a scholarly aesthetic of taste that can stand up to the same sort of analysis that the visual arts enjoy. French chef Gagnaire applies This’ theory to kitchen practice. The recipes he offers assume command of all the skills required in classical French cooking as well as access to pristinely fresh ingredients, such as foie gras and kidneys. This’ work is an intellectual exercise wholly removed from food-entertainment television. --Mark Knoblauch
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The book starts with the question of how can we judge a meal, how can we judge a dish, and moves forward through dialogs, cooking thought experiments, and mathematical digressions. It's molecular gastronomy chat time between This and chef Pierre Gagnaire.
Herve This seems to have an endless set of books arriving in the States recently and they deserve serious thought. Fundamentally cooking has to be based on and built up from science, but few chefs really understood anything of basic food chemistry or physics until fairly recently. That they were still able to produce wonderful meals is a tribute to their ability, but with more background, more could be possible surely? As strictly an amateur chef, but a professional scientist, I have learned the whys of so many kitchen "do it this way because" rules from This's other books. This one is much more of a discussion, a debate even, over the fundamentals of cooking. None of it has immediate utility to me, but it is interesting and fun. Perhaps it would be of more use to others?
So, I recommend the book, but return to the caution above, you won't be headed into the kitchen with this book.