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

b

 

y Harold McGee

Review
What makes white meat white? Does searing really seal in flavor? Why is it that fruits ripen but vegetables don't?

These and other food mysteries are conclusively solved in Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. A unique mix of culinary lore, food history, and scientific investigation, McGee's compellingly readable book explores every aspect of the food we eat: where it comes from, what it's made of, and how and why it behaves as it does when we bake, broil, steam, or otherwise ready it for the table.

In addition to chapters on foods such as eggs, fruit, meat, and dairy products, McGee investigates wine, beer, and distilled liquors (the first alcoholic beverage was probably produced 10,000 years ago when some honey was forgotten); food additives (adulterated food has always been with us); and digestion and sensation (most of our food aversions are learned by taste-testing in childhood), among other topics.

A section on nutrition reveals, among much else, that Americans have always been prey to food faddism.

The book concludes with an easy-to-understand investigation of the basic food molecules--water, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and oils--and a discussion of cooking methods and utensil materials. There's a lively chemistry primer guaranteed to make clear and enjoyable what was probably less so in the classroom.

With more than 200 illustrations, including extraordinary photos of cellular food anatomy, the book will delight anyone who cooks or enjoys food.
--Arthur Boehm, Amazon.com

 

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