On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

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Scribner's, 1984 - Cooking - 684 pages
"On Food and Cooking" is a unique blend of culinary lore and scientific explanation that examines food -- its history, its make-up, and its behavior when we cook it, cool it, dice it, age it, or otherwise prepare it for eating. Generously spiced with historical and literary anecdote, it covers all the major food categories, from meat and potatoes to sauce bearnaise and champagne. Easy-to-understand scientific explanations throw light on such mysteries as why you can whip cream but not milk; what makes white meat white; whether searing really seals in flavor; how to tell stale eggs from fresh; why "fruits" ripen and "vegetables" don't; how to save a sauce; what hops do; and what happens when you knead dough. A chapter on nutrition reveals that Americans have been obsessed with their diet since the 1800s and exposes the fallacies behind food fads past and present. There's a section on additives -- a not-so-new addition to food -- and taste and smell, our two pleasure-giving versions of the oldest sense on earth. With more than 200 illustrations, including extraordinary photographs of food taken through the electron microscope, this book will delight and fascinate anyone who has ever cooked, savored, or wondered about food.

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User Review  - Eoin - www.librarything.com

I love this book. Full of exactly what I wanted to know without knowing what it was I wanted. It works beautifully as a general reference and can be read straight. If you eat, read this book. Read full review

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User Review  - lexmccall - LibraryThing

I think I will always be "currently reading" this book, because I refer to it so often (it sits with my regular cookbooks, even though it hasn't got actual recipes). But I think I can truthfully move ... Read full review


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About the author (1984)

Harold McGee earned his B.S. from the California Institute of Technology and his doctorate in English Literature from Yale, where he subsequently taught. He now lives in Palo Alto, California, and writes about science.

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