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nathanm

"Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet (Part 2)

588 posts in this topic

I think that those of us reading this thread are "slightly" biased towards the book and Nathan's passion in this area[.]

I'd go one step further and say that many of us are the ideal readers for this project, and as such it feels like a dream come true. It is certainly appropriate to imagine other readers who, for perfectly legitimate reasons, don't feel the same way.

I’ve been following the modernist cuisine threads on-and-off and do find it all pretty fascinating. And such a thrill to have the author on line and engaged in discussion with us. But at the risk of coming off as a little old lady shaking her cane in the air at newfangled methods, I’ll admit to having some reservations about the whole concept of manipulating food so extensively.

I realize that many of the ingredients and techniques we think of as part of traditional gourmet cooking are ingredients that have been already highly manipulated and processed to produce something revelatory. Like bread, wine and cheese, among other things. So I get the argument that modernist cuisine is just taking that same philosophy and applying it in new and unique ways. And yeah, it looks really cool, the techniques are astoundingly interesting and I know some of it is downright delicious, delighting the eye as well as the palate.

However, I work as a product developer for a major food company, and something about it all just rubs me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I know mass-produced, cost-reduced factory-made food for the masses is in an entirely different league than genius chefs turning out brilliant creations for high end restaurants. But they’re using the same tools.

For instance, I have, at my disposal, hundreds of flavors from flavor scientists who are world-renown experts in their field; some of these would knock your socks off in intensity and quality. Although I’m tempted to sneak a few of the more outstanding examples home to add to my own cooking (Trust me, I’d be a rock star in the eyes of my family if served a Thanksgiving gravy that had a cleverly concocted blend of a great caramelized onion flavor, the most perfectly intense roasted top note, a savory enhancer perhaps.), I couldn’t do it. To me, that’s not cooking. And then I realize that these flavors are tools that, with the right equipment, the highly skilled modernist cook could possibly create in their own home (or restaurant). In fact, the picture of the modernist’s kitchen looks horrifyingly similar to our pilot plant here at work!

So it feels right to use these tools as long as I invest in the equipment, learn the science and techniques and produce them myself. But not right if I take what’s already out there in the food industry, add a splash or two, and use them to elevate my own cooking to a higher level? In other words, where is the line drawn? Maybe it shouldn’t be? And what’s next? The virtual meal that has the ability to far surpass the real life experience?

I don’t want foie gras that looks like a cherry. Or olive oil gummy worms. Yeah, they’re really interesting and I can appreciate the skill it took in their creation, but it all just seems too gimmicky for me. Not to mention that many of the ingredients referenced in the book are things we’ve been using for years here at work that consumers balk at on our labels. The world is being turned upside down!

These are just some nagging thoughts regarding the intersection of technology and art and not necessarily a criticism.

A good analogy might be hand painted art vs photo shopped pictures. Both use the creative process and both might be equally pleasing to the eye. And even traditional oil painting utilizes some chemistry in the manufacture of the oil-based pigments. But I tend to have a greater appreciation for the cruder, more soulful, old-fashioned methods and the product they create. Which is ironic given my food science background. Or maybe it’s my background that has me stubbornly insist on drawing that arbitrary line that separates the culinary arts from food technology.

That makes a lot of sense and is a subject worth talking about and discussing. I certainly do not want virtual meals or my whole days nutrition in the form of a sheet of paper. I think the "line" needs to be drawn on a personal level and everyone will decide foro themselves. For example, I seriously doubt that cooking in my clay pots and pans actually makes that MUCH of a difference, but I love to use them and enjoy doing so. So, I am not about to chuck them all out just because MC tells me that it's all BS.

Going back to MC, it's point is to actually provide the cook/chef with all the possible information and scientific proof to make that "where to draw the line" decision. At least I hope it does. If adding meat glue to fried chicken is your "line", then skip it and just follow the rest of that technique and so on.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Having just read an interview with Myhrvold in the New Scientist I don't think the man knows what he is talking about. One observation he makes is that a steak that is twice the thickness needs four times longer to cook than one half the thickness - that is rubbish - you give a 1 inch steak four times longer than a half inch thick steak all you get is cremated steak.

He also says there is no point in chilling vegetables after blanching, left to cool off on the side gives the same result. Come on, the sooner you stop the cooking process by chilling the crisper the result.

If I find erroneous statements like that in any academic work I am afraid I dismiss it out of hand.

He should stick to computers and let those with years of experiance in the culinary arts do the cooking. Am I being stupid??

Nathan's exact words in the article are "Suppose you're cooking a steak that's 1 inch thick and now I tell you to cook a steak that's 2 inches thick. Most people would agree that cooking the 2-inch steak will take longer, but how much longer? Intuition tells you it should be double the time. But heat conduction in things with similar geometry scales roughly as the square of the thickness. So it will take roughly four times as long. That's a simple rule, but I've never found a cookbook that says that.. it is a common cooking technique to plunge something into ice water to stop the cooking. But it turns out it doesn't stop the cooking any quicker than if you leave it out on the counter.."

As someone with years of experience in the culinary arts AND an advanced scientific degree/background, I would agree with both of these statements. Maintaining all other variables equal, a piece of steak that is twice as thick will take between three to four times longer to cook hence the reason that in situations where time becomes a constant (two different cuts of meat that need to come to the pass at the same time), a cook gets "creative" by manipulating the temperature(crank the heat or reduce the distance between the product and heat source) or the thickness (slice it in half or press down on the meat to "reduce" the thickness, flip it constantly, put a hot pan on top of the meat to double the amount of heat sources, etc).

As for the use of ice baths, I believe Nathan is not talking about product “crispness” and just addresses carryover cooking. When you pull your al dente noodles out of the hot water, should you chill them quickly by rinsing them in cold water or just leave them in the counter?

I would not say that you are “stupid” (your words, not mine..) but telling someone to “stick to computers and let those with years of experiance in the culinary arts do the cooking” is probably not the best comment to make, specially to a forum of people with different culinary backgrounds who have an interest in the science of cooking and who feel that the information in Nathan’s book is long overdue.

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The false modesty of how Ruhlman is not qualified to review the book is quite telling. He's "just" a trained chef, food journalist, author of multiple books referenced by MC, and has written about the world's best modernist chef. That's all. But even he isn't qualified to review the book.

Oh please! If he really thinks he couldn't do the job then he shouldn't have accepted the assignment. But nobody would say he isn't qualified. Of course he is. And if he does accept the assignment why spend the text to remind us of his resume. It's often true that a book review tells us more about the reviewer, than about the book, but that is said in a figurative manner ; in this case it is literally true.

I think this is very unfair of you. The way I interpreted Ruhlman's statement is that even though he knows a lot, even he cannot possibly fully verify everything you say in this book. Does that make sense? Basically he is saying you have covered so much ground that it is far beyond his knowledge - so that was a compliment of the book!

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I think that those of us reading this thread are "slightly" biased towards the book and Nathan's passion in this area[.]

I'd go one step further and say that many of us are the ideal readers for this project, and as such it feels like a dream come true. It is certainly appropriate to imagine other readers who, for perfectly legitimate reasons, don't feel the same way.

I’ve been following the modernist cuisine threads on-and-off and do find it all pretty fascinating. And such a thrill to have the author on line and engaged in discussion with us. But at the risk of coming off as a little old lady shaking her cane in the air at newfangled methods, I’ll admit to having some reservations about the whole concept of manipulating food so extensively.

I realize that many of the ingredients and techniques we think of as part of traditional gourmet cooking are ingredients that have been already highly manipulated and processed to produce something revelatory. Like bread, wine and cheese, among other things. So I get the argument that modernist cuisine is just taking that same philosophy and applying it in new and unique ways. And yeah, it looks really cool, the techniques are astoundingly interesting and I know some of it is downright delicious, delighting the eye as well as the palate.

However, I work as a product developer for a major food company, and something about it all just rubs me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I know mass-produced, cost-reduced factory-made food for the masses is in an entirely different league than genius chefs turning out brilliant creations for high end restaurants. But they’re using the same tools.

For instance, I have, at my disposal, hundreds of flavors from flavor scientists who are world-renown experts in their field; some of these would knock your socks off in intensity and quality. Although I’m tempted to sneak a few of the more outstanding examples home to add to my own cooking (Trust me, I’d be a rock star in the eyes of my family if served a Thanksgiving gravy that had a cleverly concocted blend of a great caramelized onion flavor, the most perfectly intense roasted top note, a savory enhancer perhaps.), I couldn’t do it. To me, that’s not cooking. And then I realize that these flavors are tools that, with the right equipment, the highly skilled modernist cook could possibly create in their own home (or restaurant). In fact, the picture of the modernist’s kitchen looks horrifyingly similar to our pilot plant here at work!

So it feels right to use these tools as long as I invest in the equipment, learn the science and techniques and produce them myself. But not right if I take what’s already out there in the food industry, add a splash or two, and use them to elevate my own cooking to a higher level? In other words, where is the line drawn? Maybe it shouldn’t be? And what’s next? The virtual meal that has the ability to far surpass the real life experience?

I don’t want foie gras that looks like a cherry. Or olive oil gummy worms. Yeah, they’re really interesting and I can appreciate the skill it took in their creation, but it all just seems too gimmicky for me. Not to mention that many of the ingredients referenced in the book are things we’ve been using for years here at work that consumers balk at on our labels. The world is being turned upside down!

These are just some nagging thoughts regarding the intersection of technology and art and not necessarily a criticism.

A good analogy might be hand painted art vs photo shopped pictures. Both use the creative process and both might be equally pleasing to the eye. And even traditional oil painting utilizes some chemistry in the manufacture of the oil-based pigments. But I tend to have a greater appreciation for the cruder, more soulful, old-fashioned methods and the product they create. Which is ironic given my food science background. Or maybe it’s my background that has me stubbornly insist on drawing that arbitrary line that separates the culinary arts from food technology.

That makes a lot of sense and is a subject worth talking about and discussing. I certainly do not want virtual meals or my whole days nutrition in the form of a sheet of paper. I think the "line" needs to be drawn on a personal level and everyone will decide foro themselves. For example, I seriously doubt that cooking in my clay pots and pans actually makes that MUCH of a difference, but I love to use them and enjoy doing so. So, I am not about to chuck them all out just because MC tells me that it's all BS.

Going back to MC, it's point is to actually provide the cook/chef with all the possible information and scientific proof to make that "where to draw the line" decision. At least I hope it does. If adding meat glue to fried chicken is your "line", then skip it and just follow the rest of that technique and so on.

I've been avoiding jumping in on this topic - partly because I've been living it in real life as my friends learn that I have been a proud owner for the past few days. I actually get a bit of ribbing from some people who bought it for me as a gift! From the little experience I have so far with the book - I've literally just scratched the surface - it seems that many of the recipes are examples to prove a theory, or illustrate a point. Like the hamburger that's been referenced quite a few times. A friend forwarded the NY Post article to me, which made me a little sick. Obviously, the writer of that article has not read the entire book, or even the small amount that I or anyone who's been active on this and the cooking with forum have... It seems to me that the point of the hamburger is to show a variety of possible techniques in relation to a "humble", relatable product - as opposed to a "frou frou" plated dish. To me, using the hamburger as an example is brilliant because it makes it that much more accessible and tangible. One of the things many of us have found so far with the book is its remarkable ability to clarify a rather complicated topic and make it tangible/understandable to those without PhDs.... Plus, the book makes no opinion that you must do all of the techniques to do the recipe. Rather, it is showing the extent of how far is possible - but surely not necessary. While vertically grinding the beef may make it as juicy as possible, I'm sure it'd be just fine without using that technique - maybe 95% as juicy? But isn't it great to know how to make it EVEN better???? Whatever... the point is there's nothing wrong with showing all the possibilities of technology - people can decide for themselves how much they want to use for their end result. But you can't make the best decision without all the facts, which is what this book is all about - giving us all the facts from a very well thought out/researched perspective.

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I found the NYT review to be very positive. To me, most of the negative was applicability (which will be an issue for some people) and breadth. Those seem like possibly fair issues: it is a somewhat specialized volume, even if purely due to its size. The review's view of the actual content seemed positive, the negative was more meta.

I'd agree with the false modesty comment, but on the other hand, I think that false modesty in this context is a sort of dance or ritual; its expected he would say it.


Edited by Paul Kierstead (log)

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Oh the last couple days have been so interesting! The release of Modernist Cuisine has ruffled some feathers. First Alton Brown. Why was he so dismissive? Was he worried that he'd be toppled from his food science throne? Or was it something else? We have all encountered people with a very narrow point of view. They are distainful of people with less skill/education/wealth than them and fiercly suspicious of people with more skill/education/wealth than them. I usually think of them as late majority, but I would never think of Alton Brown or Michael Ruhlman as late majority. Here is an explanation of the diffusion of innovations in a society, explaining that term:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations

America definitely has a cult of mediocrity. And this book (best book ever) and it's author (wealthiest/most educated/most skilled man ever) are certainly superlatively exceptional. Maybe Alton Brown and Michael Ruhlman are a little afraid of being associated with the book, of being perceived as geeks, not "regular", and they are willing to feign ignorance (MR) or poverty (AB) to maintain that perception. If that's true, how infinitely disappointing, in them and our culture in general. I was completely taken by surprise that a book about cooking could be so threatening to so many people. There is so much pressure in our culture not to stand out. You see school children make fun of dumb kids AND smart kids. There is so much pressure to be regular and Modernist Cuisine is not regular!

Having said all that, I must say that I am still peeing-in-my-pants excited about getting my copy, which tragically has been delayed until all my modernist chemicals expire. :wink: I think of this book like I do my new husband's impending back surgery. We can pay some guy a few thousand dollars and he will go to school for about 20 years, train for maybe 8, buy millions of dollars worth of equipment and fix my new husband's spine. The return on the investment so so so outweighs the individual cost. For $500 I can get THIS BOOK! I am the luckiest girl alive.

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I think this is very unfair of you. The way I interpreted Ruhlman's statement is that even though he knows a lot, even he cannot possibly fully verify everything you say in this book. Does that make sense? Basically he is saying you have covered so much ground that it is far beyond his knowledge - so that was a compliment of the book!

Perhaps I was being unfair. It is hard to say.

One way to view is as you suggest, that he was genuinely stating how advanced the book is and that he can't personally vouch for all of it.

Another way to view is as I suggested - a way to estabish his credentials. His supposed inability to review it didn't stop him from being very critical.

A third way to view it, which some folks have suggested to me is that it is damning with faint praise - i.e. a way to say that the book is so complicated that even somebody with a degree from cullinary instute of America who has written lots of books can't understand it.

I am sure there are other interpretations. The tenor of the rest of the piece makes me think my interpretation is correct. He didn't really need to trot out all of his credentials the way he did. Given that Ruhlman is a professional writer, edited by a professional editor at NYT, I am not that inclined to think that the nuance and direction is something that they shape actively. A professional's prose isn't supposed to accicentally make a point.

But hey, maybe I am wrong.


Nathan

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A third way to view it, which some folks have suggested to me is that it is damning with faint praise - i.e. a way to say that the book is so complicated that even somebody with a degree from cullinary instute of America who has written lots of books can't understand it.. But hey, maybe I am wrong.

OOoOoOo No, no, no, no.. You are very very very wrong Nathan. So wrong I don't even know where to start.. Soooo wrong..

Ruhlman never received a degree from The Culinary Institute of America :huh: Just saying...

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I was a little surprised to see a story on MC posted on slashdot.org. I was more surprised to read the comments and not find any flamewars. That's quite an accomplishment for a personality associated with Microsoft (slashdot is a very Linux oriented nerd news site).

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What did Alice say? Curiouser and curiouser?

I also wonder if Ruhlman and Brown may indeed fear a backlash from followers who don't have the interest, means or desire to follow what this book may present? Mr. Browm I personally dismiss as an entertainer more than a food leader. Mr. Ruhlman, though, has been a user and advocate for the companies which sell the Sous Vide Professional and Sous Vide Supreme machines. His authorship of Under Pressure puts him squarely in the chamber vacuum/circulator/Pacojet discussion as either an expert or one who could convey in words the concepts of sous vide and advanced cooking.

Regardless of what Michael Ruhlman wrote in the NYTimes, a fact may have been undiscussed. No public company or privately held firm is at risk for publishing Modernist Cuisine. The invested dollars to date and for getting the book published and into buyer's hands has all been Nathan's risk. While he may indeed account to his family, it was his dollars he ventured not knowing whether even one of us would really buy his book, let alone a hoped for 6,000 orders.

I would be interested to learn when Michael Ruhlman was first contacted about The French Laundry Cookbook or even Under Pressure whether he wrote it 'on the come', as the phrase goes, or if he had a contract that laid out payments, terms and conditions? If they failed would he have lost his base payments? Risk and courage of your beliefs are marvelous qualities Nathan...not to mention being responsible for the paychecks of your collegues who worked with you on Modernist Cuisine.


"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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By the way Nathan, what time did Ruhlman call or email to thank you for answering his questions over the last several weeks and to discuss your reaction to his review?


"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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The thing that amazes me is the passion that people have on the topic of "modern cuisine". They (usually) haven't read the book, but they already know what's in it. Plus, even though the book clearly describes many of the real experiments that were used to confirm a fact, they continue to "just not believe it". Some of the comments here, and many of the comments on Ruhlman's blog, are of this dismissive-yet-not-informed type.

But clearly this has struck a nerve -- just look at the number of readers of this thread. Has there ever been such a thread on eGullet?

150.JPG

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I am sure there are other interpretations. The tenor of the rest of the piece makes me think my interpretation is correct.

But hey, maybe I am wrong.

I actually think it's sour grapes on the part of both Alton Brown and Michael Ruhlman.

They didn't write the book, which would surely have solidified them as the masters of their chosen fields. Nor were they asked in any way to contribute to the book, although as you mentioned above, Ruhlman did write and ask questions for his review.

Alton Brown was being disingenuous about his ability to purchase the book and Ruhlman was being disingenuous about his feigned ignorance. In neither case does it garner any respect.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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As far as I've read, Ruhlman has no CIA degree and has never been employed running a restaurant kitchen. Calling himself "chef" is inflating his resume.

Having said that, he has made a living writing and blogging about food, which is not nothing. In this sense at least his credentials are similar to Julia Childs's.

I agree with Nathan, he seems to want it both ways. He's probably succeeded too. His star is rising temporarily on the back of Nathan and his team's work. He might even get on the Today Show to grouse about the book. But long after the review is forgotten...eg next week, MC will be honored and useful.

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The response to Modernist Cuisine has been "interesting". It and modern kitchen techniques in general seem to function as something of a litmus test for people's gut responses to modernism writ large. One friend of mine was almost hostile to the concept of souse vide cooking and said that the control SV offers takes away all the the art and craft. The concept of having process control rather than the magic of a chef's intuitive / experiential knowledge of when to take something off the grill bothered him greatly. I was greatly surprised since he's in the computer industry.

I suspect that in other eras I would be reading the same negative responses about thermostatically controlled ovens, electric cook-tops, crock pot slow cookers etc.

Every advance in control in one area allows the chef to attend to some other area in greater depth. The whole meal improves. Not having to fight with a piece of meat may let me make a better veggie.

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... A good analogy might be hand painted art vs photo shopped pictures ...
I'll take a well done photo-shopped image over a poorly done painted picture, and a well painted painting over a sloppily photo-shopped photograph. It's the quality that matters. I'm an artist. A painter to be exact. But what I care about isn't the medium, it's whether the image works.

In food, I care first and most about whether it's a good meal. Whether it's SVed and rotovapped - or - baked over a wood fire is only a descriptive and irrelevant story if the flavor doesn't work.

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Pretty odd exchange about this topic on Ruhlman's blog today. When someone pointed his attention to this discussion, Ruhlman wrote, "those knuckleheads have had it in for me for a long time. i haven’t been to the site in years." Not sure what to make of that non-response, for a variety of reasons.

As someone who devoted scores of favorable posts to using his Charcuterie book, I find the name-calling and paranoia counter-productive at best. Surely Mr. Ruhlman, a Society member from way back, would join us for a discussion here about the relative merits and drawbacks of the book and of his review of same?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I just scanned the link to Ruhlman's blog. Most of his comments are essentially favorable toward MC.

I still see a publicity grab here.

Am I a knucklehead? I suppose I am. I don't take offense at this. :laugh:

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I am a proud knucklehead!


"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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What an interesting turn of events here!

I thought Ruhlman's article was one of low quality, it did not seem to me that he read much of the books. Granted, if he has to put out a "timely" article, it's impossible to read it all unless he had access to the online version or otherwise got his hands on it. (or is he sour about not getting a free copy?)

But recently I'm wondering where he's heading, I follow him on Facebook and get a bit too much of advertisement for kitchen gadgets at times. And that's just something - IMO - a critical food writer should not be doing. It tastes too much of a George Forman grill or a "set it and forget it" late night infomercial. Just my opinion of course.

And as far as I know he is not nor has he ever been a chef, does he really use that title? That would be very disappointing.

And I remember him being here, why is he so sour about this site? I have not seen one single post in the areas I frequent that would have "had it in" for him in any which way, that's just silly. Why so insecure? Odd.

I'll have to read what Alton had to say, but I agree with a post above, Alton is an entertainer. And he's quite good at what he does. But who knows what he actually knows, the show is scripted and written by a team and it lives though his quirkiness and odd camera angles (through the oven/fridge) and gimmicks like hands coming out of nowhere to deliver the next piece of equipment. He's in the end just the talking head. Very funny show, I enjoy watching it and learned interesting things, but his books are a layout nightmare and completely useless to me. Unless I want to show around a good example on how not to produce an easy to use book. Quite unfortunate actually, I was looking forward to them, but colored fonts in 5 sizes on colored pages are fine in pulp fiction, but out of place here. Well, to me.

But then, in the end, I don't care what anybody thinks about the books except me, I'm hoping it's not all "order $5000 worth of new kitchen equipment" first, I hope - and believe - that I can use it just fine with my pretty well equipped kitchen. And I expect to learn a lot of interesting facts, and see some of the best food photography ever. Actually, if they'd put out a book with just the photos, I'd buy that too. All I've seen so far are stunning, setting new benchmarks for food photography.


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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“The concept of having process control rather than the magic of a chef's intuitive / experiential knowledge of when to take something off the grill bothered him greatly…”

I think that’s part of my problem too. I read the tip on how using more oil results in a crispier, less oily fried whatever, and thought – yeah, I found that out through years of experience, through trial and error. I got the frying thing down perfectly, and the feeling of accomplishment that follows is exhilarating.

And what this book does is to show that anyone with enough money to buy the book and the with right expensive gadgets, with a scientific mind, an analytical bent and a bit of practice can be an accomplished cook, no matter the skill level or years of experience. And logically, one might say, so? That’s a good thing – kind of evens the playing field. And maybe even leaves more room for the creative process now that the basics are nailed down.

But I feel like it takes all the nostalgia and romance out of the process. We may have had a grandmother who just knew how to make food taste soooo good. It was intuitive; and we could “taste the love”. And just as some of the most beautiful women are those who aren’t perfect, some of the most satisfying dishes are those that have the mark of individuality. Perfection is boring, uninspiring.

Take that now-famous hamburger, all of the components made with such precision. So perfect, so... processed.

Where’s the soul in modernist cuisine?


Edited by angevin (log)

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Five minutes with the barbecue section will disabuse most readers of any sense that the book lacks soul, whatever that is. But taking this argument on its face, I must ask: where's the soul in any cookbook that claims a recipe produces excellent food? Cook's Illustrated, Cookwise, Bittman's Best Recipes books... don't most cookbooks claim that they're sharing solid information?

If someone can find me a reference to Shirley Corriher, Christopher Kimball, or Mark Bittman exorcising the soul from cooking because they wrote a book describing how to do it well, I'd be shocked. But, thanks to some expensive equipment that seems unfailingly to distract those who haven't seen the book, these sorts of comments can be applied to Modernist Cuisine.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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    • By bhsimon
      Anyone tried this?
       
      I'm trying to think of something novel to do for my friends at an upcoming birthday weekend. We are renting a house in the Hunter Valley (Australian wine region) and food is a major component of our weekend. Last time I did fizzy fruit—the grapes and oranges were awesome and everyone enjoyed the unique experience. I want to do something quirky like that again.
       
      The whipping siphon is easy to transport so I'm interested in using it. The siphoned soufflé in Modernist Cuisine, volume 4 page 297, has a chocolate variation that does not require propylene glycol alginate or maltodextrin (I don't have those things in my pantry, yet). That looks like it might be a good one to try. Anyone done that and have some advice for me before I dive in?
    • By bhsimon
      Besides the health concerns, deep frying steak is the best way to get an even colour and crust on steak. In my most recent experiment, I tried the technique of deep frying prior to, and after, cooking the steak sous vide. In the past, I had only fried the meat after it had been cooked.
       
      The meat was veal chops. As can often be the case, the meat was mishandled somewhere along the way. The obvious signs of this were indentations in the surface. This kind of thing makes it tricky to pan fry and get even colour.
       


       
      This soft meat is also tricky to vacuum seal as it can often be further compressed and misshapen in the process.
       
      I was delighted to observe that a short 45 seconds in hot oil fixed both of these issues! I didn't expect that. Nice. The meat plumped up and that indentation was gone. It also held its shape nicely when vacuum packed.
       

       
      Time and temperature matters. The difference can be just a few seconds or degrees. In the next picture, the time was the same but the oil was 20°C hotter for the steak on the left and the crust is noticeably darker. My next experiment will try 30 seconds at 200°C before and after.
       


      The goal is to keep the crust as thin as possible.
       

       
      I hadn't anticipated the secondary benefits of deep frying prior to sous vide. The plumping of the meat and slight firmness made them easy to package and present. I am curious whether anyone has observed this. I am also curious if it would it work in hot water, rather than oil.



    • By Mike.jj
      Hello Egullet family.. its good to be back on here, been away for a while, i hope to find some new trending recipes .. and be ready to get some African dish recipes for those who love African Dishes, You can Read and  Download  Mp3 Audios here of some Nigerian dishes, and there are more coming in which i would be placing on here.. Thanks
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