This book gives Totally Too Much Information (TTMI) to be read in one sitting. (Danger, Will Robinson! Information overload!) Like how one feels towards the end of Thanksgiving dinner! In a pinch, it may also be used to "boost" shorter members of the family up to the table ;-)
Mr. McGee's tome should be savored in digestible, bite-sized morsels. Read it while cooking up a big feast or nuking a quick snack. There is an excellent Index in which the reader may browse for specific items. As the author explains in the Introduction: "This is not a book of cookery - it offers no expert recipes - it is meant [to explain] the nature of our foods, what they are made of and where they came from, how they are transformed by cooking, when and why particular culinary habits took hold. Chemistry and biology figure prominently in this approach, but science is by no means the whole story. History, anthropology, and etymology also contribute to our understanding of food and cooking."
This is an essential treatise on the *science* - not art - of cooking. It explores *how* the traditional techniques (recipes and routines) work. We might have known the principle, but never put it together in the concept of Kitchen. For instance: that ugly "skin" when heating milk or reheating a cappuccino: "Whether fluid milk is used to make a soup or a sauce, scalloped potatoes or hot chocolate, the tendency of its proteins to coagulate can cause problems. The skin that forms on the surface of boiled milk or cream soups is a complex of casein and calcium and results from evaporation of water at the surface and the subsequent concentration of protein there."
To me, this is WAY more palatable than that Organic Chem 101 text with which I happily parted years ago. Better living through [cooking] chemistry!