Ooh La La
Taming the Breath of the Wok
“The most important book
in the culinary arts
Iradiating Food to Perfection
“A breathtaking new
in understanding cooking…”
The Lost Art of Pot Roasting
It is being hailed as a masterpiece, a “landmark contribution to the craft of cooking.”
“As important a work for the 21st century as Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine was for the 20th century.”
As one reader (a happily satisfied one, I might add) noted, it is difficult to review Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, without “coming across as hyperbolic: after all, it’s a 50-pound, 2400-page beast that will cost you an entire year’s cookbook budget and must have cost unfathomable sums to produce.”
Indeed! This six-volume, 2,400-page set reveals science-inspired techniques for preparing food that ranges from the otherworldly to the sublime. It promises omelets light and tender on the outside, but rich and creamy on the inside. It teases the taste buds with delectable French fries that assure a light and fluffy interior and a delicate, crisp crust that doesn’t go soggy. It torments the imagination with the idea of being able to encase a mussel in a gelled sphere of its own sweet and briny juice. So tantalizing and spectacular is this culinary work of art it suggests the possible presence of the Holy Spirit in an unscheduled appearance.
But Modernist Cuisine is not about piety or the supernatural, but about three scientists, inventors, and accomplished cooks, along with a 20-person team who have achieved astounding new flavors and textures by using tools such as water baths, homogenizers, centrifuges, and ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes.
A work destined to reinvent cooking.
The Chemistry of Color Changes in Cooking
But lest you think this is all gastronomical razzle dazzle disguised in a plume of heavenly smoke, the Modernist Cuisine incorporates the groundbreaking efforts of famed giants in culinary arts, borrowing techniques from pioneering chefs at world-renowned restaurants such as elBulli, The Fat Duck, Alinea, and wd~50.
And if you wilt at the thought of your own ham-fisted ineptitude in such esteemed culinary company, Modernist Cuisine is like a gentle, soft spoken, wizened sage, providing step-by-step, illustrated instructions, as well as clear explanations of how these techniques work. Like having Yoda right in your own kitchen. Think of it as being comparable to traveling to the famed Two Bordelais for a bit of cooking instruction, sans the humiliation, embarrassment, hassle and cost.
And if you haven’t experienced even a hint of a shudder over the images, what are being touted as stunning new photographic techniques that make the science and technology of the culinary arts clear and engaging, well, with all due respect, might I suggest checking your pulse. This lavishly illustrated book take the reader inside the food to see cooking in action all the way from microscopic meat fibers to an entire Weber grill in cross-section. Whether you are a professional chef, a technology and science-inclined home cook, or just a dedicated foodie or lover of beautiful things, you will view cooking and eating in a whole new celestial light.
Parametric Recipe: Pasta
Admittedly, it is somewhat pricey, but consider how giddy you’ll feel at having the pleasure of having as your very own, more than 300 pages of new recipes for plated dishes suitable for service at top-tier restaurants. Not to mention recipes adapted from master chefs like Grant Achatz, Ferran Adrià , Heston Blumenthal, David Chang, Wylie Dufresne, David Kinch, and many others.
Or imagine how silly you might feel to learn that plunging food in ice water doesn’t stop the cooking process, as you’ve repeatedly told your kitchen helpers.
Or why low-cost pots and pans can perform better than expensive ones.
Or for those of you like me, with a disarrayed mind, why modern cooking techniques can achieve ideal results without the perfect timing or good luck that traditional methods demand.
And finally, a bit of journalistic balance in citing one of the reader reviews on Amazon (Gaven Scott from Sunnyvale, CA), which are currently running at four and half stars, out of five, on approximately fifty-five reviews.
Does MC live up to its hype?
Yes it does.
Is it relatively expensive as cookbooks go?
Well, on a pound-for-pound basis,
no, not really.
Sure, in absolute terms
something like $450-$625
for a “Cookbook”
will seem crazy to many,
but their error will be in
pigeonholing MC as
“Just a Cookbook”,
which is like
a Ferrari as
“just another car”.