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The Art of Modernist Cooking
http://www.heinleinsociety.org/thsnexus/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=1351
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Author:  PeterScott [ Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:30 pm ]
Post subject:  The Art of Modernist Cooking

I have just started volume 2 of this 6-volume juggernaut of culinary publishing, but I can't restrain myself any longer. This is an absolute tour-de-force of cookery. By the way, if your eyes bug out when you see the price of the set, it's not surprising; each volume is enormous. I'm borrowing them through interlibrary loan.

These books are Kindle killers. When you flip the pages of one of these behemoths, the very notion of an e-book edition will make you double over in laughter. They sport huge lush color photographs covered in delicate annotations, totally illegible on any computing display smaller than a wall. These books lay bare the physics and chemistry of cooking in the most practical and comprehensible terms. Hardly surprising given that the main author is none other than - wait for it - Nathan Myhrvold, chief technologist for Microsoft and also trained master chef (there really may be nothing that guy cannot do). Therefore it starts from basics, i.e., the invention of fire. The first volume barely makes it past the topic of food-borne pathogens.

I was already a fan of O'Reilly's Cooking for Geeks, but this series is the ne plus ultra of the genre. It is already lighting a fire under my expertise in the kitchen. If you cook, take a look. If you love someone who cooks and your budget can withstand the strain, this would make a helluva Christmas gift.

Author:  BillMullins [ Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking

About 10 years ago, at a Gathering for [Martin] Gardner, I got to see Myhrvold speak. Among other topics, he went over the idea that dinosaurs could crack their tails like whips, creating a sonic boom. Fascinating stuff.

Author:  Airgetlam [ Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking

So, being a fan of cooking, I went to look this up. I'm assuming it's Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, since the author matches?

Hefty price indeed.

Author:  RobertPearson [ Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking

Sounds marvelous! The only thing I recall reading about these books before was an article on "The Perfect Hamburger." IIRC the ingredients cost about $100. :o

Author:  PeterScott [ Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking

I am more and more excited as I read on. I just learned the physics of baking and how humidity is the dominant factor and why preheating is important. It's devoted separate chapters to boiling, sautéing, broiling, roasting, pot roasting, frying, ... I mean, the level of detail is astounding. Cutaway photographs of pots with annotations showing the different heating zones and what's going on. Mere recipe books are faint shadows in comparison with this painstaking treatise of the science. This makes it far easier to create and modify recipes of our own instead of depending on ones written by other people.

Author:  sakeneko [ Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking

*Damn*. I looked at the price -- over $800! But this sounds like a *wonderful* series of books that I'd love. (I enjoy cooking, am pretty good at it.) I might just start saving mad money and get it after I've funded the Heinlein Collection. <G>

Author:  JamesGifford [ Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking

ATK/Cook's has been doing this for years, if a bit less systematically. All of their main recipe articles include sidebars on the science and technology of why one technique works and another doesn't. A subscription to Cook's online might be a cheap alternative to putting this behemoth on your shelf.

Author:  sakeneko [ Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking

I think that both might be worth having. <G> Thanks for the pointer to Cooks online -- I'll check it out.

I rather like behemoths, though, when the behemoth in question is *books*. So I think I'll put this book set on my "mad money" wish list as well, and see if I can accumulate that much mad money. ;)

Author:  PeterScott [ Thu Nov 01, 2012 5:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking

sakeneko wrote:
*Damn*. I looked at the price -- over $800! But this sounds like a *wonderful* series of books that I'd love. (I enjoy cooking, am pretty good at it.) I might just start saving mad money and get it after I've funded the Heinlein Collection. <G>


Tangent: I do notice this bias in the USA towards buying books rather than using the library. I'd never spend that kind of dough on cookbooks. I'm getting these volumes on interlibrary loan; I don't need them in my house forever. But in the USA I just never hear anyone consider the library as an option for getting a book. Are they that bad there? Mine rivals Amazon: I go online, find a book or DVD I want, put a hold on it, if it's not wildly popular it's tagged with my name on the shelf at my local branch the next day. Getting a book via interlibrary loan is equally easy online, takes about a week to get a book from anywhere in North America, on rare occasions costs money, like $5. Or I can submit a suggestion for purchase, as I did a few days ago for the 2012 book "Unfair Trade," which caught my eye on a bookstand. Got email today that they are going to buy it and it'll be in shortly.

My bookshelves are already full: I don't have room for anything I don't want to read multiple times or require for reference. Fewer than five books a year qualify under those criteria for me.

Author:  JusTin [ Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking

PeterScott wrote:
But in the USA I just never hear anyone consider the library as an option for getting a book. Are they that bad there?


I use my library for 90% of the reading I do. Our inter-library loan program is quite good and I've been using it more since our County library has had a significant decrease in funding and doesn't have the budget to buy like they used to.

I don't read much non-fiction, frankly. Generally just news magazines and the paper.

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