I'll start with a disclaimer - I am a hobbyist and not a prefessionally trained chef. Even if you are a very experienced hobbyist don't expect to be able to prepare more than 5-10% (or less) of the recipes in this book. This book is not a beginner or even an advanced cookbook. While it contains recipes (on the attached CDROM), most of these recipes contain techniques that are far from standard and that may require specialized chemicals (such as Sodium Alginate and liquid nitrogen) and/or devices (such as a PacoJet, or a syphon with elBulli devised attachments). Furthermore, these recipes are far from forgiving, and most of the time you'll end up with a *really* unappetizing mess rather than a meal. Practicing before inviting friends is not an option with this one... For perspective, I own about 50 cookbooks, from the basics to celebrity chef bibles. To compare, apart from a few complex recipes, about 50% of Thomas Kellers' book is pretty doable.
Now for the good. This book is more of an inspirational journey than a cookbook. It chronicles a team of chefs journey outside of the realm of the known. Ferran Adria has reached the pinnacle of traditional cuisine, got the elusive third Michelin star, and instead of cashing in by opening cloned 3 star restaurants (like Alain Ducasse and Thomas Keller) has decided to venture out and explore.
The book is part of a series of books obssessivly annotating this journey. As an example of the depth of the obssession lies the tools the team created: To the young team yet unaware of the rigorous language of food science - mere words seemed inadequate to describe the products and procedures they had invented. So with a semi-deranged, Tolkien like fastidiousness, a philosophy, a methodology, an alternative supportive language (along with rune like icons)and even a map were created.
This tome is obssessive compulsive creativeness at its best. Like a Peter Greenaway film, it attempts to establish its place in a made-up chronology of food evolution. But just as cinema will never resemble a Greenaway Film, haute cuisine, while taking up some of Ferran's creation, will never become elBulli.
As for the recipes? These techniques, while (somewhat) annotated, are difficult to master for the home cook. As an example, I am still waiting for my Airs to emulsify properly. I'll get there, but it will take time and lots of thrown away food. But I'll keep trying. As for my pasta less raviolos? They are getting much better thanks!