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food science books?


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McGee. Maybe also McGee. Did I mention McGee?

(Harold McGee On Food and Cooking. 2nd Edition) You need nothing else.

McGee's Curious Cook is also interesting, as is Jeffrey Steingarten "The man who ate everything" and "It must have been something I ate".

Shirley Corriher "Cookwise" and soon "Bakewise" has both science and recipes but these others pale into insignificence in scholarship, content, completeness, and clarity beside the monument that is Hal's second edition of "On Food and Cooking"

No serious kitchen should be without it.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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The newest and most comprehensive is On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. McGee was the guest of a special Q&A here in November; click here to read it.

Other books that discuss the science of the kitchen are Russ Parsons' How to Read a French Fry and What Einstein Told His Cook by Robert Wolke.

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I second the above nominations, but want to include the importance of getting McGee's 2nd edition. The first is an oldie but a goodie, but the information in the 2nd is far more complete.

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kitchen Science by Howard Hillman is the reference you're looking for. It's not a college textbook, but does explain what goes on in the kitchen on a level we all can understand.

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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McGee''s book -- the second edition of On Food and Cooking - The Science and Lore of the Kitchen -- will not only answer most of your questions, but have you asking many more which will also be answered. It is also, for a book that gets very technically involved, very interesting and informative to read with the historical references and anecdotal information.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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McGee''s book -- the second edition of On Food and Cooking - The Science and Lore of the Kitchen -- will not only answer most of your questions, but have you asking many more which will also be answered. It is also, for a book that gets very technically involved, very interesting and informative to read with the historical references and anecdotal information.

across the atlantic herve this works are very informative and inspiring, a bit more user friendly I have found than mcgee, but certainly not as comprehensive under one cover

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You should have McGee but gor baking I would also reccomend "Baking, the Art and Science" by Schunemann and Treu, 1986 ISBN 0-9693795-0 . I got mine from www.chipsbooks.com.

It is perhaps more designed for professional baking students rther than home cooks, but it has very good illustrations of just what can go wrong with your loaf and how to correct it.

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if one is looking for baking science in particular is McGee''s book still the best?

How Baking Works by Paula Figoni is also good, and available in paperback. It's more comprehensive on baking than McGee, but she is not nearly as good a writer, and is a bit sloppy with detail, and it's a little less technical.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Someone mentioned Alton Brown's first book already, but his new one, I'm just here for more food, also has some neat stuff for baking.

Some people say the glass is half empty, others say it is half full, I say, are you going to drink that?

Ben Wilcox

benherebfour@gmail.com

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All of the above titles are fantastic, but I also like Peter Barham's book The Science of Cooking. As mentioned above Alton Brown's new book is focused almost solely on baking and is fairly easy to find. Happy baking. --Adam

"And those who were dancing were thought insane by those who could not hear the music." FN

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McGee''s book -- the second edition of On Food and Cooking - The Science and Lore of the Kitchen -- will not only answer most of your questions, but have you asking many more which will also be answered. It is also, for a book that gets very technically involved, very interesting and informative to read with the historical references and anecdotal information.

across the atlantic herve this works are very informative and inspiring, a bit more user friendly I have found than mcgee, but certainly not as comprehensive under one cover

As I understand it, This hasn't published much in English. In spite of that and in spite of the fact that we're an English language site, his name comes to the fore from time to time.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 1 month later...
I second the above nominations, but want to include the importance of getting McGee's 2nd edition.  The first is an oldie but a goodie, but the information in the 2nd is far more complete.

Ditto this. The newest edition is an amazing thing to read, melding history, science, linguistics, and lore. I found the first edition required slogging, whereas I keep picking up this one because, like a good novel, I want to be in it.

In addition, it seems to answer literally EVERYTHING about food. The first edition covered an amazing amount of territory, but the second is encyclopedic.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Magee and Wolke are both excellent books.

Now I know that these are not necessarily food science books...but if you add:

Larousse Gastronomique

The Visual Food Encyclopedia

and

The Food Lover's Companion

You will have virtually every question you have ever had about food answered.

Love my Visual Food Encyclopedia! Great when people ask what things look like. It also has lots of pictures of FISH! Something that I think was requested.

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Cookwise by Shirley O. Corriher is very informative and approachable. She puts the science next to recipes that they can illustrate each other. Anything by Christopher Kimball &/or Cook's Illustrated, The Dessert Bible, The Kitchen Detective, etc. will be helpful and much easier to read than Harold McGee. Don't get me wrong, McGee is great, I have all of his books but they're not exactly easy reading, especially for someone just getting into food science.

A. Kamozawa

Ideas in Food

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thanks for the mention janet. i do think it's important to be specific about what you want from the book. each title mentioned is somewhere along a curve that runs from mcgee at one end (or any of the REAL food science texts, which are practically impenetrable) to, probably, "french fry" at the other. as john thorne pointed out in his review of the new mcgee, that book is not so much a cook's book as a science book about cooking (he thought that was not such a good thing; i'm of a different opinion). john seemed to prefer the "french fry" approach. i like my book quite a bit (even after 4 years and seemingly countless other food science books), but i wouldn't for a moment pretend that it was better than hal's, unless what you're specifically looking for is a cookbook that uses some a little science to explain practical technique.

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Cookwise by Shirley O. Corriher is very informative and approachable. 

Corriher is pretty good at explaining things and knows her stuff, though her book is not organized to be used as a reference. If your looking for some piece of information, as opposed to a recipe, it can be hard to find.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Not exactly a scientific reference, but I like Merle Ellis' 'Cutting up in the Kitchen' for a meat reference. While he doesn't go as far as naming genus and species, he does give a nice breakdown of what cuts are what in different animals, suggested cooking methods, what to look for in a particular cut, etc. It is out of print, but I believe copies can be found on Amazon.

If you're interested in produce details, Aliza Green's 'Field Guide to Produce' is quite a nice, easy to carry book with a lot of produce information-- scientific name, alternate names, description, what to look for, how to cook it, what it goes with, etc. It also has a great center section with color photos of a lot of the entries. Then you can point out to the checkout clerk, "no, it's escarole, not romaine. See?" She's also just come out with 'A Field Guide to Meat'. I haven't had a chance yet to look at it much, but I'll bet it's just as detailed as her produce guide.

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)
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I love the Swedish "Boiling Soup With Physics" by Hans Uno Bengtsson and Jan Boris Möller. It's a basic book, on how you make sauce, fry your steak, marinate your meat (DON'T MARINATE), makes your sauce, boils your vegs, boils and fry your fish makes mashed potatoes, etcetra.... in the most scientific effective succesfull way. All acording to the law of physics. it's great, hope it's translated to english though.

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