Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor

by Hervé This

This book sounds like such a good idea: short chapters — vignettes, if you will — detailing the physical and chemical processes involved in food preparation and preservation, and the biological and chemical mechanisms of taste and flavor.

There's a problem, however. Upon seeing the chapter title "Hard-boiled Eggs," a reasonable person might expect to find out how to make the perfect hard-boiled (or soft-boiled) egg, right? No such luck. What you do get is information about how the different parts of the egg are made of different proteins that solidify at different temperatures, and therefore a framework of sorts for figuring out on your own by experiment or deduction how to make the perfect hard- or soft-boiled egg. If you're looking for scientifically tested and perfected recipes, you won't find them here. (But you will learn what you need to know to perfect some recipes yourself, which I guess is how it's meant to be.)

About a quarter of the way through, I started skimming, and before I knew it I had skimmed my way right to the end. It's not a bad book. It's really quite interesting, just not what I wanted it to be.

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