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I'm Just Here for the Food: Version 2.0 Hardcover – October 1, 2006
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The illustrations and examples are priceless. Who else would explain polyunsaturated fats by using pictures of shopping bags and dead rats? The recipes (about 80) are easy to follow, and each builds on the one before to give you a good understanding of the techniques involved. The aim of this book is to free you from your dependence on recipes, so that given a set of ingredients, you can create, if not a culinary masterpiece, at least -- dare I say it-- good eats.
Just a note about the arrangement of the book. Unlike most cookbooks, this volume isn't arranged by ingredient. Instead, it is divided by technique, in keeping with the author's goal of teaching the basics. Also, you won't find any cakes or cookies here. This book is about "cooking" the foods as they come from the plant or critter involved, rather than "making" food from the raw materials. (As AB puts it, "I didn't make the steak, I made the steak better.") Stuff you "make" is planned for the next book.
My only gripe about the book is that the typeface is a tad small for my tired old eyes. And the pages, pleasantly heavy as they are, aren't coated so they might tend to soak up grease. That isn't much of a problem, because this book really isn't meant to be read next to the stove anyway. Read it in a comfortable chair and prepare to achieve enlightenment. Yes, you too can be a briner.
Now that you know who wrote this book, I'm sure you'll understand why I pre-ordered it the second I heard it would be coming out. As you know (you do know now, right?) Alton Brown is the "Mr. Wizard" of cooking. He presents the science behind all kinds of cooking in a way that anyone can understand and enjoy.
"I'm Just Here For the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking" is the first in what will hopefully a series of books about the scientific principles underlying various recipes and cooking methods. This book focuses almost exclusively on the various methods of applying heat to food, what they do, how they affect foods, and how to control them. The presentation (in form and visual style) is reminiscent of a grade school textbook, but the text is light, easy to understand, and very witty.
Alton Brown is not a lightweight when it comes to erudition, either, but somehow the man can quote Brillat-Savarin and Greek philosophers without sounding stuffy. I only wish Brown had been there to collaborate with Harold McGee on "On Food and Cooking : The Science and Lore of the Kitchen" (ISBN 0684843285, still the most comprehensive work on food science and history available), or to give style tips for "The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore" (ISBN 0020098014, and a good read nonethless). While those books may be more comprehensive and technically-oriented than this book, the style can get kind of tough to handle in those books.Read more ›
McGee's book is by far the most complete reference, but it is also the most dense and technical of the three. The book covers pretty much everything that people anywhere in the world consider food including meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruit, herbs, fungi, legumes, tea, coffee, grains, alcohol, sugar, sauces, etc. Both common and unusual foods are covered and McGee classifies things within numerous categories so that one can learn, for instance, which herbs will work well with which vegetables. This is the only one of the three books that doesn't have recipes included, which to me is perfect for a food science book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great basic cooking book for techniques. The hubby likes to try things in it. .Published 5 months ago by nancy w.
Chef Alton Brown always displays a creative side to the culinary world. Great Read.Published 6 months ago by Chris Sohacki
Simply put, this is the science behind cooking laid out in a practical approach. Alton Brown doesn't just teach you how to cook certain meals, as an ordinary cook-book would, but... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Natural Minded Family
Informative but I didn't realize Alton relied so much on cute rhetoric and home-made inventions. I had purchased this for myself and, at the same time, I also purchased Cook's,... Read morePublished 7 months ago by S1Guy