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Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking Hardcover – March 7, 2011
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“Modernist Cuisine is a landmark contribution to the craft of cooking and our understanding of its underlying principles. Its scale, detail, and eye-opening graphics are unmatched by any other book on the subject. It will be an invaluable resource for anyone with a serious interest in cooking techniques, whether the professional innovations of the last few decades or the long traditions on which they build.”
“The most astonishing cookbook of our time.”
—Katy McLaughlin, Wall Street Journal
“Big, beautiful, and worth the hype… it is the answer to everything you wanted to know about cooking, not to mention so many things you never thought about.”
—Andreas Viestad, The Washington Post
If the uncertainty of the New Year has you feeling a little anxious, let us make a suggestion: Get yourself a food calendar. A food calendar won t necessarily make you feel at ease and it won t give you insight into how the Donald Trump administration is going to play out. But it will give you something pretty to look at every single day. And that s something. We re talking beautiful food photography, close looks at modernist cuisine and fun food illustrations. Here are seven calendars that will make 2017 feel a little bit sweeter. #1 Modernist Cuisine 2017 Wall Calendar --Huffington Post --This text refers to the Calendar edition.
Top customer reviews
Prior to this I have flipped through the books and tried to read one book in 4 days. The science behind all method of cooking is explained in details with accompanying graphics. The collection is complete and so thorough. It is amazing.
The only complain that we (or my husband to be precise) had was the delay in getting the book to us. He had Prime to ensure 2 days delivery at most, but the book only got to us in 6 days, so it ruined his surprise by a day.
I might add that many recipes do require "modernist" equipment, such as sous vide apparatus but there are a number of affordable options available for those who want to simply give it a shot.
It's hard to review this book without it coming across as hyperbolic: after all, it's a 50-pound, 2400-page beast that will cost you an entire year's cookbook budget and must have cost unfathomable sums to produce; you're either going to love it or hate it. However, I can say with confidence that if you liked McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, you are going to love Modernist Cuisine.
While the press coverage of the book so far has focused on the more esoteric aspects of the book--centrifuges, rotovaps and chemicals, oh my!--the book actually simply treats those items on equal footing with woks, sauté pans, and water. It covers them because you can cook interesting, tasty food with them. Of course, the weird stuff gets all the attention, because, well... it's weird. But this is a book that devotes an entire chapter to *water*. And the things it teaches you *will* make you a better cook. The authors are never satisfied with "it just works, don't ask why." It seems like every paragraph, on every detail, is tightly focused on the question of not just "what happens?" or "how do you do it?" but also "WHY does it work?" and "HOW does it work?" This book is particularly excellent if you are science-minded, but it is written with such clarity that I believe anyone can learn these things from it. Who knew that blowing on a spoonful of soup to cool it was so complicated, and so interesting?
Probably the most relevant criticism I have encountered is the notion that the recipes it presents are unapproachable. And a few things do, in fact, require a centrifuge (though the majority of the time it is an optional step). There is no doubt that many if not most of the recipes require ingredients that standard American kitchens don't stock. Most of us don't have Agar and Xantham Gum in our cupboards, and some find the very idea of cooking with "chemicals" a frightening, foreign, or downright objectionable practice. Truth be told these "chemicals" are no more (or less) unnatural than baking soda or refined sugar (the book spends a great deal of time discussing food safety and nutrition before diving into the "crazy chemicals"). Amazon even sells a starter kit that I've found quite useful: Experimental Kit Artistre - 600 grams. And for the most part these ingredients are not used "just for fun": the goal of the Modernist Cuisine movement is to examine the foods we eat, and our perceptions of that food, and try to make things that taste great, and perhaps even engage us on an intellectual and emotional level. I've made a few recipes from the book so far, and in particular the Mac & Cheese was astonishing: it is far and away the best M&C I've ever had or made, without question. It actually tastes like cheese! (What a concept, I know). And it's easier to make and more forgiving than the traditional béchamel-based method. So some of the recipes are simple, and some are complicated. If you have Alinea you probably have a pretty good idea of what the complicated ones look like: daunting, yes, but *not* unachievable if you are willing to put the time in.
Obviously a review of a 2400-page book could go on more or less forever, but I think the upshot is this: if you are interested in learning the "how" and "why" of cooking, of even the most mundane processes (they cover boiling water in great detail), this book is probably deserving of six stars; it is simply monumental. Save your pennies, this is a worthwhile purchase. If, on the other hand, that is *not* interesting to you, it's probably two stars: get the first and second volumes from a local university library, and don't worry about the rest (if you are only going to read the first two volumes I'd say it's tough to justify the price tag).
* Level of detail is incredible
* Covers the "how" and the "why" of every detail of the cooking process
* Depth and breadth of coverage is... well, worthy of 2400 pages
* Stunning photography, graphic design, and even printing
* Many of the recipes are very challenging
* Coverage of hyper-expensive equipment can be off-putting
* Too tall to fit on any normal bookcase
I asked for gift cards for christmas and birthdays. I saved my money from my measly restaurant job earnings for months to afford this book set. The fact that I can make nearly nothing out of this book hasn't dissuaded me from buying it. Because I now have access to a tome of information. I will study this set like I am back in culinary school, and if I someday open my own restaurant, I will be able to use a lot of this information.
For the home cook, this series doesn't help much. It has a lot of repetition and dry material that makes it a somewhat difficult read. They do have Modernist Cuisine at Home, which I've heard is good for that. Even for the professional, this series is hard to get into and find things that will be useful in the day to day. I've found a few things it has already helped me with, such as common ratios, properties for thickening fluids and such. But I will covet and love this book set like a dragon for gold, and shoot arrows into the knees of any adventurer that tries to take it away from me.