- Hardcover: 244 pages
- Publisher: Springer; 2001 edition (June 8, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 3540674667
- ISBN-13: 978-3540674665
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.6 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Science of Cooking 2001st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA items qualify for FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime.
If you're a seller, Fulfillment by Amazon can help you increase your sales. We invite you to learn more about Fulfillment by Amazon .
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From the reviews:
“The Science of Cooking is organized into two distinct sections, with an introduction and ancillary material. … The helpful Glossary provides basic definitions of chemical terms that many cooks may not have encountered. … ‘Foodies’, chemists who are interested in food, and serious cooks will enjoy the spirit of this book.” (Cheryl Baldwin Frech, Journal of Chemical Education, Vol. 81 (4), April, 2004)
"This year, at last, we have a book which shows how a practical understanding of physics and chemistry can improve culinary performance… [Barham] first explains, in a lucid non-textbooky way, the principles behind taste, flavour and the main methods of food preparation, and then gives fool-proof basic recipes for dishes from roast leg of lab to chocolate soufflé."
- FINANCIAL TIMES WEEKEND
"This book is full of interesting and relevant facts that clarify the techniques of cooking that lead to the texture, taste and aroma of good cuisine. As a physicist the author introduces the importance of models in preparing food, and their modification as a result of testing (tasting)."
"Focuses quite specifically on the physics and food chemistry of practical domestic cooking in terms of real recipes. Industrial food technologists and process engineers will not find design equations or process flowsheets. Instead they, and those with more immediate home cooking interests, will find a clear, fascinating, informative and serviceable description of the scientific phenomena occurring during domestic cooking, and how to exploit an understanding thereof to achieve results consistently, adapt recipes confidently and adeptly rescue catastrophes. Each chapter starts with an overview of the scientific issues relevant to that food group, e.g. toughness of meat, thickening of sauces, collapse of sponge cakes and soufflés. This is followed by actual recipes, with the purpose behind each ingredient and technique explained, and each recipe followed by a table describing some common problems, causes and solutions. Each chapter then ends with suggested experiments to illustrate some of the scientific principles exploited in the chapter."
-FOOD & DRINK NEWSLETTER
"Will be stimulating for amateur cooks with an interest in following recipes and understanding how they work. They will find anecdotes and, sprinkled throughout the book, scientific points of information... The book is a pleasant read and is an invitation to become better acquainted with the science of cooking."
"You do not have to be a chemist or a physicist to cook a meal, any more than you need a qualification in engineering to drive a car; but in both cases, a little technical knowledge can help when things go wrong. That is the reasoning behind this odd volume that combines an explanation of the scientific principles of cooking with a down-to-earth guide to kitchen utensils, ... some experiments to try at home, and a random collection of around 40 recipes."
"I believe that cooking is a bit like this: it is natural ability, not scientific knowledge that makes a good cook. Not withstanding, as physicists who are always asking "why is it so?," this book is full of interesting and relevant facts that clarify the techniques of cooking that lead to the texture, taste and aroma of good cuisine. As a physicist the author introduces the importance of models in preparing food, and their modification as a result of testing (tasting)"
- THE PHYSICIST
"…At last, we have a book which shows how a practical understanding of physics and chemistry can improve culinary performance … [Barham] first explains, in a lucid non-textbooky way, the principles behind taste, flavour and the main methods of food preparation, and then gives fool-proof basic recipes for dishes from roast leg of lab to chocolate soufflé."
–Financial Times Weekend
"Will be stimulating for amateur cooks with an interest in following recipes and understanding how they work. They will find anecdotes and, sprinkled throughout the book, scientific points of information...The book is a pleasant read and is an invitation to become better acquainted with the science of cooking."
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This excellent book can be evaluated on at least three different levels. On the highest level, where Barham talks about the relevance of science to cooking, the author is just a bit weak. Early in the book, he compares a cook's following a recipe to the conduct of an experiment, and I think this metaphor simply does not work, and, I think the author repudiates this notion later in the book when he does a true description of how a recipe would be written if it were an experiment. A second major weakness in his talking about science is where he describes both a recipe (experiment) and a theory as a model. Philosophers of science clearly distinguish experiment from explanation (theory) and while `model' is a good word for theory, it is definitely not a good word for experiment. Oddly enough, there are important roles for experiment in cookery, but only when one is truly developing recipes and examining the properties of a new foodstuff product. Thankfully, the author gets on to the important business at hand of actually describing science and applying it to cooking, two tasks he does with great skill.
Unlike Harold McGee, Barham correctly puts his introduction to basic chemistry in the front of the book. I am sure that thousands of people will stumble over this with unprintable mutterings in an effort to get to the writing about pots and potatoes, but you must gives serendipity a fighting chance. A fair number of readers will pick up on this stuff and it will clearly improve their understanding of what follows. This is especially true as Dr. Barham or his book design team has done an excellent job of selecting illustrations of the basic organic molecules of which he speaks. There is a risk here that since I studied organic chemistry I may not have the same eye of a chemical innocent, but I think not. I believe reasonably intelligent people prefer the straight skinny rather than explanations tailored for 12 year olds. In addition to basic chemistry, Dr. Barham opens the subject of cooking with an overview of the science of food and heat and food and the senses. Here begins what is Dr. Barham's greatest single contribution to food science writing, and the thing that would make this book a superb textbook on food science. In each chapter, Barham supplies two or more experiments on food science that can easily be done at home or in a standard school chemistry lab with no expensive special equipment.
I must also note that Dr. Barham is crystal clear on methods of heat distribution. This is important, as Alton Brown's first book has a major error in its opening discussion of heat transfer methods in that he does not rate convection with as much importance as conduction and radiation. Dr. Barham corrects this error by citing that in fact, convection is the most important means of heat transfer in ovens.
The next chapter deals with cooking tools and the materials from which they are made. While this chapter is no match for the detail in Alton Brown's book on kitchen equipment, it does include a few cautions that I do not recall Alton's having mentioned. The most interesting is the warning against the very expensive stainless steel sheathed pots with copper or aluminum cores that extend all the way up the sides of the pot. While others have recommended this, the author warns this may cause hot spots high up on the wall of the saucepan that may have undesirable consequences if hot liquid splashes against the even hotter metal high in the pan. Unfortunately, the good doctor does not back this observation up with a demonstration, so it is no better than an anecdotal observation, but I will feel a bit more respectful to the cookware lines with only a disk of high conducting metal in the bottom.
The first real foody subject is `Meat and Poultry'. I find it a bit odd that the author says that meat cookery is the one place where an understanding of science can make the biggest difference in cooking results. I can say with confidence that a scientific view of things is probably at least as important, if not more so in baking, where the effect of errors in measuring ingredients can be truly disastrous (or inventive, depending on how you look at it).
This chapter is the first appearance of actual recipes and the second great contribution to food science writing (first being the experiments). Here, Dr. Barham not only gives excellently explained recipes; he also gives great little tables of problems that may arise with various cooking methods and how to solve the problems. There is little that is new here except that the presentation gets a lot of the ideas across more effectively than simple narrative. Shirley Corriher uses a similar tabular presentation, although her information is more proactive than diagnostic in that it explains the reasons for steps in the procedure rather than giving solutions for problems.
Be warned that all units are metric and there are some unexplained English references here and there, such as the term `A4' for letter paper. I recommend this book very highly. It doesn't have Alton Brown's humor or Shirley Corriher's southern charm, but it is a very, very sound book, once you get past the first three pages.
One caveat: the author is British, and recipes, measurements, and terms are geared for the British/European cook. This means you'll find a complete explanation of sausage rolls and nothing about popcorn. Just FYI.
Had a slew of my culinary questions, like "why thawed meat is more dry when cooked than the fresh one", answered.
Most of information presented in this book can be found on the web these days but you know, having it all compiled in one place saves you a lot of browsing time.
Worth every buck spent on it.
In contrast, "The Science of Cooking" makes no pretense of being encyclopedic in its coverage of food science. Instead, the focus is directly on the chemical and physical processes at work in the kitchen. As such, it succeeds admirably, and much of the information that seemed "missing" from "On Food and Cooking" here seems simply absent because it is outside the scope of the work.
While the introductory material gets a little condescending at times (I mean, who actually needs to be told what an atom is?), and some of the sidebars get overly technical for most people (do you really care about differential equations?), such sections are easily ignored. The few really queasy technical discussions are even set in a different background color to let you know they may not be for the faint-of-heart (and the rest of those colored sidebars are quite readable and interesting on their own).
Be aware that the author is a scientist, not a chef. This book is tightly focused on chemical and physical effects of ingredients. Things like flavor and food safety are not part of the discussion, beyond a few passing mentions. Most notably, the author repeatedly demonstrates a lack of understanding of the effects of salt on flavor, and talks of things like clarifying cold stocks with raw egg whites without a discussion of slmonella (which is admittedly perceived as less of a problem in the author's native Britain).
The book is organized like a textbook, with sidebars, tables, and even little experiments at the end of each chapter. There are useful conversion tables, and charts on various topics. It is easy to skip over what you find uninteresting and to skip directly to the information you need when using the book for reference.
The information here is valuable, concise, and well-presented. You'll find yourself understanding things like the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats (and why you should care as a cook), how foams form (and why they collapse), why and how cooking affects flavor and texture, etc.
I was able to read through this book very quickly and easily, while learning (and even retaining) more information than I normally would from a non-fiction book of this sort. This book is definitely an excellent overview of the processes involved in cooking, and indeed, probably contains as much information as most of us are ever likely to use on the subject.
Why 4 stars and not 5, you ask? There are some important omissions that bothered me. The most glaring examples are that there's no discussion of osmotic pressure, or the role of pH in various processes, topics that "On Food and Cooking" covered admirably. The section on cooking utensils and appliances is largely a waste of space, in part because the author is British and doesn't have access to many of the alternatives that have become common in serious American kitchens. Be warned, the book is very British in its use of language. You will need to know that "hob" is a British English for "stove", for example. Also, all of the recipes use metric weights and volumes, so should you actually wish to follow them (not something I'd particularly recommend), you'll need an accurate metric food scale and measuring cups.