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The Science of Good Food: The Ultimate Reference on How Cooking Works Paperback – October 10, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

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  • The Science of Good Cooking (Cook's Illustrated Cookbooks)
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  • On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though it doesn't quite live up to the "ultimate reference on how cooking works" claim, Joachim and Schloss' encyclopedic guide to all things food is a welcome culinary reference. Alphabetically arranged, cross-referenced entries like "citrus," "game," "juice," "roasting" and "sweeteners," allow readers to navigate deftly the book's trove of information. The authors explain not only how techniques like frying work, they also give readers the chance to make Perfect French Fries with their newfound knowledge. Over 100 recipes bring scientific data to life, most dramatically in examples like Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream and Coconut Sweet Potato Foam, more practically in gluten-free flour and low-fat brownies (substituting dried plums for butter). Armchair chefs will enjoy learning why a whole potato cooks more quickly in boiling water than in a 500 degree oven, the difference between wet and dry-cured hams, and the secrets to making a smooth, creamy custard. The book's range is admirable, but its depth erratic; the entry on bacteria and food contamination is much too brief, and readers are sure to find that their favorite fruit/ingredient/technique doesn't get the attention they feel it deserves (hoisin, for example, merits an entry, but soy sauce is an afterthought; teriyaki and ponzu are absent). Still, this admirable endeavor deserves a spot next to Alton Brown's Good Eats and Harold McGee's classic On Food and Cooking.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Joachim and Schloss use a dictionary approach for their comprehensive guide to the whys and wherefores of cooking and eating. In succinct articles, they address such cooking processes as roasting. In simple prose, they explain the term, outline what the process does to food, and then delve into how the process actually accomplishes its purposes. Similarly, the authors define a wide range of ingredients, giving brief histories and explaining how each ingredient is used to advantage. Well-organized tables of data help sort out detailed information. Recipes scattered throughout offer ways of actually putting information into practice. Expositions of fundamental chemistry avoid detail and will appeal to those with only rudimentary scientific literacy. Full-color illustrations of such basic topics as knife anatomy contribute to understanding. Sidebars cover minor, yet useful, topics, including cooking potatoes and preventing soggy pastry crusts. Good for basic cookery reference collections. --Mark Knoblauch
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Robert Rose (October 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778801896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778801894
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1.3 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #897,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just got a copy of this big glossy Canadian published paperback and I am having a lot of fun paging through it. So, first off: it's an attractive book with lots of color photos, tables and reader-friendly formatting. At issue, however, is the publisher's claim that this book is the "ultimate reference of how cooking works." That's a bit much since the bibliography cites McGee, Corriher, Wolke and others who, up to now, own the subject. So, is it a contribution to the literature?

You betcha! This is a most reader-friendly food science book. Three headings describe each of the 1600 entries: what it is, what it does and how it works. 'How it works' entries are science-based: chemical, molecular, biological, etc.. Cross referencing is so omnipresent that it invites the reader to flip back and forth through the book over and over again. Tables abound, text size and shadings are used generously, photos appear on about every three pages--with the result that the book is a visual delight, front to back: more approachable than McGee, more thorough than Corriher or Wolke. It's quite complete, too. I looked for descriptions of a few arcane subjects--such as the Maillard Effect--and found them. I noted too, with pleasure, that the authors avoided dating the book with foodie political views, du jour.

It's a winner and bound to be recognized as such by the IACP and/or the James Beard Foundation. If you are looking for a reference book for an in-law, kid or grand kid who shows promise in the kitchen, this tome will prove to be a valued selection. You will like it too.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought the book for a friend of mine who was a chemistry major. He loves it! We started cooking gourmet meals together as a hobby, and he always had a lot of questions that I could not answer. "What's the difference between searing and browning?" "What's the difference between baking powder and baking soda?"
This book gives very detailed break down of food and ingredients. You will love it if you enjoy watching Alton Brown's food science show.
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Format: Paperback
I generally like this kind of book--one that explains the science behind why recipes work--but this book was a disappointment to me. The encyclopedia format, based on alphabetical entries, made finding the information I was looking for difficult. A lot of the most interesting information was to be found in unindexed sidebars, making this book nice to browse, but really hard to use when you want an answer to a specific question. I finally decided to return the book when I checked out the entry for "Meringue," which referred me to the sections on "Eggs" and Foams" (uh-oh, faddish, I thought). When neither section offered ANY information about meringues--one of the true miracles of food science, and a classic case of the primacy of technique in cooking--I knew this book wasn't going to be of any ongoing use to me. The lack of reference charts, and basic go-to information, which would have been nice to have all in one place, makes this book a white elephant that loses its place on my shelf.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very well written and full of useful information.
I always wanted to understand how the ingredients interacted with themselves in the recipes. It is such an easy and enjoyable reading that I could bet that everyone (even people that do not like cooking) would like this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an encyclopedia format, in your face, right to the facts book about; food, cooking methods, techniques, meat identification, and basically anything you need or want to know with anything that has anything to do with food. I can honestly say it has made an impact on the way I cook and think about food. Some of the reading is hard to follow, for instance when they describe the exact molecules that produce flavor (amexlycyclitecaratine) that is not a real word but they do appear like that in the book.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this as a Christmas gift for my mother, who is already very knowledgeable about food and cooking. She has already learned many new things. In my quick perusal of the book I was impressed with it, both the text and illustrations. It is also a very thick book book and I feel it's a good value.
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This was purchased as a gift for my son, the geeky gourmet, and he likes it. It's a big, thick book that works and reads rather like an encyclopedia. In my quick review of it I found it does cover the science of food and cooking in a detailed and thorough way. However the format of the pages and presentation of the information is a bit dull. Alton Brown's books (I'm Just Here for the Food, for example) cover similar, though less scientific, ground and make it more fun.
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