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Taste Buds and Molecules: The Art and Science of Food, Wine, and Flavor Hardcover – February 28, 2012
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"Anyone who cares about wine-and-food matching must study this book. It’s ingenious.”— Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator
“Young, passionate, and a rare talent, Chartier is among the two or three most articulate and intellectual thinkers I have met. His breakthrough book has been translated from his native French, and is finally available in English. TASTE BUDS and MOLECULES is not your average wine book... Chartier essentially does what Ferran Adrià at elBulli did with food... deconstruct[s] it and challenge[s] his readers to open their minds and consider the possibilities of a journey through aromas, flavors, textures and the fascinating yin and yang of it all. This is a magical mystery tour through the human sense of taste and smell... highly recommended.”— Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate
"If Catalan superchef Ferran Adria is the leading missionary of molecular gastronomy, Mr. Chartier is his counterpart with a corkscrew."—The Globe and Mail
"The first step into a new world that is now open wide in all its splendour to those who love gastronomy."—Juli Soler and Ferran Adria, elBulli restaurant
“If there were a Nobel Prize for gastronomy, François Chartier would be a deserving recipient… This book will give both the neophyte cook and the most experienced chef the confidence necessary to transgress culinary traditions and forge new paths by trying out wine and food pairings that seem unlikely at first glance.”—Martin Loignon, PhD, molecular biologist, Montreal
"François Chartier is on the cutting edge of flavor exploration. If you're in the industry and you don't know his name yet, you will, and you likely won't forget it. An acclaimed sommelier, cook, flavor detective, and best-selling author, Chartier has instigated the new aromatic discipline 'molecular food harmonies and sommellerie.' And he's sharing it all, one incredible, palate-opening, mind-blowing explanation at a time."—StarChefs
"I’m reading a new book, Tastebuds and Molecules: The Art and Science of Food, Wine, and Flavor by François Chartier, an extraordinary high-wire wine-and-food pairing equivalent of molecular gastronomy. Not surprisingly, the book is endorsed by Ferran Adrià and Juli Soler of El Bulli, with whom Mr. Chartier, a French-Canadian wine and food writer, worked closely for several seasons at their restaurant. Without offering too much detail, Tastebuds and Molecules goes astoundingly deep into the science of flavors, offering advanced techniques for matching foods and wines."— Eric Asimov, the New York Times
"The most powerful, and even empowering, elements of the book are the charts that link a main flavor with all of the culinary components and wines with which it shares a common molecular makeup. Taste Buds and Molecules is a must-have for oenophiles-turned-cook or cooks looking to pair wines with more confidence."—Drink Me magazine
"The most powerful, and even empowering, elements of the book are the charts that link a main flavor with all of the culinary components and wines with which it shares a common molecular makeup. Taste Buds and Molecules is a must-have for oenophiles-turned-cook or cooks looking to pair wines with more confidence." —Drink Me magazine
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François Chartier's work isn't really about food and wine pairings as such; that's just the medium Chartier is familiar with, and the one he chose to write what has got to be one of the best books I've seen describing flavor interactions. In that regard, it's pretty close to exhaustive, covering not just the foods themselves but common flavor molecules -- soloton, for example, which provides the mapley scent in fenugreek, or eugenol, the active flavor in cloves and a surprising number of other plants (including strawberries, Ceylon cinnamon, and pineapple), and many other things -- phenols, iodine compounds, terpenes, and the like. But it's not just bland academic discussions; although a quick brushup on organic chemistry wouldn't hurt, it also talks about individual foods and the flavors that develop as they're prepared, and just as importantly, how and where the same or complementary compounds show up in wines and cheeses. There's even a whole chapter on maple syrup -- while it's not very common for most people outside breakfast, I personally use it in cooking every once in a while so I'm glad to see Chartier putting in a good word for it.
I've seen a few complaints about the graphic design, and although it's pretty busy and a little hipsterish, I don't find it all that bad; the charts describing relations between foods and flavors are generally pretty clear, and the photography is generally quite good, at least if you're into food photos with very shallow depth of field (a technique I've seen used most effectively in the humor-oriented Mini-Mart A La Carte). I'm taking a star off for that, though -- I don't mind the overall presentation but as the other reviews show, not everyone likes it. However, overall I'd say this is one of the best books I've seen on understanding flavor on a molecular level, building on the work of Harold McGee, Hervé This, and Ferran Adria quite effectively.
The prose I find stilted.
The organization shows no internal cohesion.
But the guy's ideas are correct.
I've tried some wine/food pairings based on his observations and...they work.
All criitcism falls away before the realization that this is a book that gets to WHY wines and foods work together. It also shows that there are similarities with some wines and some foods that are not usually paired and when they are then paired...they work.
What the guy says works.