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


nathanm
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I recently saw a preview of the iPad edition of the Alinea book. I'm considering buying an iPad when it's released, just to use it for the book. There have been some other amazing food-content uses of the iPad, for example the gorgeous iPad edition of ELLE à Table makes me want to learn a lot more French.

There are also some weak uses of iPad and ebook technology. The overwhelming majority, actually. But given what I've seen I'm confident that the Modernist Cuisine team has the capacity to do an awesome iPad edition.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I recently saw a preview of the iPad edition of the Alinea book. I'm considering buying an iPad when it's released, just to use it for the book. There have been some other amazing food-content uses of the iPad, for example the gorgeous iPad edition of ELLE à Table makes me want to learn a lot more French.

There are also some weak uses of iPad and ebook technology. The overwhelming majority, actually. But given what I've seen I'm confident that the Modernist Cuisine team has the capacity to do an awesome iPad edition.

Almost the only thing I use my iPad for is kitchen work. Recipes, food mags,food writers, that sort of thing. I started using it as an e-book and very quickly went back to my kindle.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I'm sure it could be awesome (and it better be expensive! If I find I could have gotten an ipad AND the book on it for the same price as the book I'll have to pack my knives and kitchen torch and make a trip up North! :cool: ) but Alinea is one single book with not that many (if any?) cross references, not what MC seems to be, a gigantic encyclopedia.

Maybe it's just me, but I'd be way more tempted to click on a link and get lost for hours on an ipad, than getting up and getting the other book(s) referenced if I'm just reading a recipe or chapter.

Ipads are very neat, I'd just wish they support all web applications and sites (flash) instead of fighting some nerdy sandbox brawl (with Adobe). Or do they support flash now? I don't even like flash websites, but I'd like my computer even less (a mac) if I could not see a site I want to visit. Of course, that's an other discussion for a different forum. I just don't have use for one, I'm almost always close to this laptop here, I'd just have to carry two things around.

It would be interesting to have MC virtual, if there are also videos and demos included. Then I would probably consider getting a softcopy of it as well. Actually, a single use code to an online version would be nice to get with the book!

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

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I got to see the book today and browse it a little. It really is amazing set of books!

I kind of rolled my eyes when people described the set as overwhelming at first but now i completely understand what they were saying.

Just browsing the a few of the volumes i saw about 100 different topics i wanted to read more about, or recipes i wanted to attempt.

Most of which seemed fairly accessible.

The photography you see on the modernist cuisine website is really just the tip of the iceberg, Every page is full of amazing photos.

Michael Ruhlman in his review called this book "mind-crushingly boring" and called the text "compelling as my high school science textbooks". I could not disagree more, I have never opened a more interesting book in my life, I want to take a vacation for a week or two just to read it all.

I want to thank nathanm for creating something so extraordinary!

I am still waiting for my book to ship from amazon.ca and getting a glimpse today has made the waiting even more painful, but at least i now know that the wait and expense will be worth it in the end.

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I really enjoyed Seattle Food Geek's writing and observations as well. How nicely written it was. I have sent it to any number of friends.

One might think a professional author of books about the CIA, leading kitchens and best selling cookbooks could have done half as well...

Edited by JBailey (log)

"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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(from SeattleGeek's review)

Suppose you want to turn a sauce into a thick gel with a particular mouthfeel for a dish you’re trying to create. Your Culinary Institute textbook might advise you to thicken by reducing, adding cornstarch, or perhaps using gelatin. But suppose that doesn’t yield the texture you’re after. A trip to the grocery store might reveal a few more options: xanthan gum, guar gum, fruit pectin, or perhaps even carrageenan. But which should you use and how should you use it?

I've been making jams with agar since I heard Narsai David discuss it on his 'Cooking with Narsai' radio show 20+ years ago, because they free me from the tyranny of sugar required in my parents' pectin-based recipes. They're more consistent now, but it's still quite hit or miss. I can't wait to learn more about the thickeners I already have, and to see if there is something better out there, and apply those lessons to everything from jams to soups.....and the ever-present problem of textural damage due to freezing for my make-ahead lifestyle.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)
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People who want an ebook version of Modernist Cuisine because they think it might be cheaper should probably think again. I'm in the last (I hope) third of a project to re-purpose a relatively small (~200 pages) cookbook as an ebook, and I can offer the following observations from my experience:

  • If photos or illustrations matter, forget the Kindle format. Kindle is basically one long column of type interspersed with low-resolution pictures. It's great for novels and such, but it's useless when color or layout matters.
  • Therefore, all the careful work dedicated to layout and typography for the paper version must be reconsidered, and that's just the start. Most likely, to present the material effectively in the new format, you'll have to generate an entirely new design. This is not a trivial exercise.
  • Even assuming that the book was originally laid out in an intelligent publishing application, every link will still need to be re-examined, recoded and tested (Michael Ruhlman doesn't know "mind-crushingly boring" until he's done this sort of task). Beyond that, how do you handle cross-reference linking? As someone noted above, you could easily end up with many open windows/tabs, and not remember where you started. If you want an ebook to be truly useful, you have to figure out how to backtrack a game of dictionary tag.

That's just the general stuff. When it comes to Modernist Cuisine, you have specific challenges:

  • The photography is not just exquisite, it's essential to the narrative of (at the least) the section in which it appears. This makes an iPad version challenging. It's a great platform, but the screen is still pretty small. Maybe that's a compromise you make, but you would still want to be sure that images appear to their best advantage regardless of platform. That could mean simple stuff like resizing, or it could mean painstaking image mapping and pop-ups that scale to whatever screen and window size is being employed.
  • The numerous sidebars, most of which are not to be missed, will require creative thinking and reformatting. If you render them as actual sidebars, you'll end up with mice type on smaller screens. How do you handle those so that they're accessible but not obtrusive?
  • The sheer length of the book will make it a difficult download, especially if you include high-resolution photography. It seems a better candidate for a DVD -- I'm sure we're talking about gigabytes of data.
  • None of the above considers video, which would increase file size and add to the production costs.

Those are the things that are obvious; any design project, even the small ones, presents surprises. It would be a miracle if a 2400-page tome didn't break a record for them, and I'd be astounded if such an undertaking didn't require some very tricky scripting (if not new techniques). Just mapping the book would take a couple of hundred hours. All in all, it's hard to imagine that an ebook that preserves the beauty and utility of Modernist Cuisine would in any way be inexpensive.

Which doesn't mean it wouldn't be worth it. I say all of this as someone who would love to have an ebook version so that, like Amirault, I didn't have to tote around three books to remind myself of all that might be at stake in a particular preparation -- and as someone who's already damaged volume 3 by taking it into the kitchen (I hang my head).

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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There's a suggestion for the next printing - edible paper which takes on the flavours of what's spilled on it!

Or at least scratch 'n' sniff for some of the photos ...

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

eGullet Ethics Code signatory

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Dave the Cook

As in the movie The World According to Garp there is the airplane crash scene: "T. S. Garp: We'll take the house. Honey, the chances of another plane hitting this house are astronomical. It's been pre-disastered. We're going to be safe here."

You have now pre-disastered your copy of MC!

"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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Chris Young found time in his increadibly busy schedule to reply to my interview-by-email a couple of weeks ago. Amongst other things he explained a little about how he became part of the project and his time at The Fat Duck. He also shared the email from Nathan Myhrvold that got him on the team:

> From: Nathan Myhrvold

> Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2007

> To: chris@thefatduck.co.uk

> Subject: Crazy Idea

>

> Why don’t you come work for me?

>

> Nathan

BTW Chris Young presented Modernist Cuisine at The Flemish Primitives in Oostende, Belgium on Monday. I was so lucky to peak into what was possibly the first copy ever in Europe :)

Martin Lersch, PhD
Chemist and food enthusiast

Visit Khymos, a blog dedicated to molecular gastronomy and popular food science.

Follow me on twitter @tastymolecules

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I've ordered through amazon and expect it next month as well. I was just checking on amazon and they have another seller on there that has it in stock for $593 (strand books) via amazon in case someone needs it quicker.

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I recently saw a preview of the iPad edition of the Alinea book. I'm considering buying an iPad when it's released, just to use it for the book. There have been some other amazing food-content uses of the iPad, for example the gorgeous iPad edition of ELLE à Table makes me want to learn a lot more French.

I bought an iPad for work (I'm a software geek, currently working on mobile apps), and it quickly made its way to the kitchen and practically lives there. It's an amazing resource, even if all you do is use it as a recipe book. I cut and paste recipes on the web from my computer (where I sit all day) into Evernote, which I also have on my iPhone and iPad, and wham! that recipe is everywhere I am. I can cook from it in the kitchen and refer to it on my phone in the grocery store. I can make notes as I cook, or the next day, at my computer ("great recipe, next time don't eat so damn much.")

I'm very excited as more and more cookbooks come out in iPad format, too. I just love the thing. Highly recommended as a cooking accessory.

Edited by abadoozy (log)
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I apologize if I missed it in buried somewhere in this thread, but will the books be available individually? While I'm sure it's worth the money that's a lot of cash all at once. :blush:

Sorry, Rob. So far I believe MC is sold only as a set, and I don't think I've ever seen any plan to sell the volumes separately. That would require some revisions. For example, the index is currently contained in only one volume.

Edited by RDaneel (log)
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Someone should make an iphone/ipad app, where you shoot a photo of a cookbook page with your camera phone, and the phone converts all the words on the page to editable text, then it lets you crop the original photo of the whole page down to just the photograph of the dish, and then saves them both to a searchable database.

Have it so you can set the cookbook title and author first, then you shoot as many pages as you want, and it saves them all with the correct information.

Obviously you would need some options to shoot multiple pages for one recipe, or shoot a new photo if the recipe and the photo of the dish are on different pages.

Imagine having your entire cookbook library stored on one ipad with full text and photos...

You could search by ingredients, author, book, cuisine...

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As someone who had access to the electronic preview copy of the book, I'd have to say that even with a 22 inch monitor, it was hard to read. Plus as Chris Amirault said, there is the the desire to cross reference and have mutiple volumes open at the same time.

I'm still to get my print copy, which is on a slow boat from the US but I'm sure that it will be easier to use than the PDF version that I had access to. Transferring it to an e-format that would be usable would be a huge undertaking and hence would not come cheaply. My suggestion is don't hold your breath for it happening any time soon, if at all.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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You could search by ingredients, author, book, cuisine...

Have a look at Eat Your Books

I have over 750 cookbooks and the EYB site recognises 650 of them - some are old, pre-isbn books and others are obscure and not known by them yet.

Of those 650 180 are fully indexed which equates to >55000 recipes.

Since subscribing to EYB I have found many recipes that I had on the shelf, but would not have found without their index.

It doesn't give you the recipe on the ipad - but it does give you an index to your paper resources.

Cheers,

Peter.

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I just got a notice from Amazon that my order for Modernist Cuisine is delayed and they'll give me an estimated ship date when they get more information. I have my centrifuge, my sous vide, upgraded my scale, got some "goodies" ready to go.

What a disappointment.

Science tastes yummy!

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