This book is divided into two sections: the first 50 odd pages contain a few essays on some aspects of cooking (the pieces on stock and salt use are quite interesting), while the remainder is a 200 page glossary of cooking terms. When I first opened the book and saw that it was essentially a glossary I was a bit disappointed. It struck me immediately that 200 pages is hardly enough to provide any sort of comprehensive coverage of such a vast topic, even when one recognizes that the focus is decidedly on French cuisine. I read the book in a few sittings and, while I found a few bits interesting here and there, my initial impression was confirmed. Larousse Gastronomique has little competition here.
on March 29, 2009
A book that works on two levels. First it treats major topics like sauces, stocks, salt, heat, etc. The it is a mini-encyclopedia, with many cooking terms explained with succinct discussions. I have given this as a gift many times to foodie friends. They love it!
The only dangers are that you will want to read Ruhlman's other books and you will start improvising in the kitchen because you understand the basics!
on August 3, 2008
I've always considered myself an experienced foodie who has been willing and able to explore dishes from around the world. I recently decided to bring this home and start upping the anti of my own cooking at home. Unfortunately I have had little opportunity for any training or experience at all at preparing what I have enjoyed so much in the past. I heard through the grapevine that Michael Ruhlman's Elements would be a good choice on learning how to work my way through complex recipes and to just get a better grasp on what the heck I'm doing, why, and what I should avoid. The book has become a really essential resource in our home and has really brought our cooking to the next level.