The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore

by Harold McGee

Kitchen Science and Good Eats

May 25, 2001

McGee really knows his food. Down to the very molecules. There's a good touch of amateur science as well, when he attempts to see how much oil an egg yolk can =really= emulsify (the answer was amazing!) and how one can use butter to emulsify itself! This book has inspired me with its easy-to-understand analyses of chemical and physical processes to do some food experimenting of my own - my husband is a vegetarian, so I can't use the direct knowledge of how butter and eggs work. But McGee =does= indicate which substances in the foods do the work, and I can find vegetable replacements for that.

Also of deep interest is the question "Why does food taste better cooked?" in which one discovers that "All food aspires to the condition of fruit." The topic selection is somewhat hodge-podge, but one comes away with a greater appreciation for the complexity of cooking (and not as impressed with beurre blanc sauces - it's almost impossible to screw those up!)

And for those who like this book, I recommend the T.V. show "Good Eats", hosted by Alton Brown, on the Food Network, which draws on a similar scientific interest in all things eaten.

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Mary Pat Campbell, last updated 11 June 2001