Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes Hardcover – Oct 26 2010
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“Get this book and you’ll wonder how you ever managed to cook without Harold McGee in your life. . . . No saucepan is left unturned in McGee’s quest to explain the mysteries and alchemy of the kitchen. . . . it is a joy to find a book that deals with the nuances of cooking, all those hair-pulling moments that result in apologies at dinner. Even for those successful chefs, this book will polish your skills.”
—Weekly Times Now
Praise for Harold McGee:
"Dazzlingly informative ... McGee is the father of modern food science and by far the most enjoyable writer to read on the subject."
— Sunday Telegraph (UK)
"He has made the jump from mere author to timeless authority."
About the Author
HAROLD MCGEE is a world-renowned authority on the chemistry of foods and cooking. He studied science and literature at Caltech and Yale, and has written two prize-winning books, On Food and Cooking and The Curious Cook, as well as many articles and reviews. He lives in San Francisco.See all Product Description
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Few of his previous works would be suitable for the everyday cook. This one is. How many people would wade through his earlier erudite discussions of protein strings, just to get a practical morsel for the kitchen? Few indeed.
This is a book that distills Mr McGee's work into a single practical volume. It may be "the size of a brick", but so what? Nor do I find the typography and layout disconcerting. I think they are ideal: they send you to the essential points immediately.
I have sent this book to some of my friends who would never read even think to peruse Mr McGee's previous opuses. But I am sure they will at least leaf through this one.
The above could have been forgiven, if the book had a decent layout. The old book was crammed with information and had a well-suited typographical layout. The current book has wide margins, spacious line spacing and quite a large font size, not to mention the puke greenish-blue highlights. We get something that looks like it went straight from Microsoft Word to the printing press; loads of italic and bold, bullets with huge indents... I do not understand the publisher's thinking at all. It is not a coffee table book, because it has no pictures and is full of practical advice. It is not a practical tool to have in the kitchen because it is thick as a brick. For some reason, the publisher made the book as bulky as possible. With the same layout as the old book, the number of pages would shrink with 60% percent.
The following doesn't really apply to this book, but since my review is featured, it might be helpful to you, dear reader: If you want more information about cooking (as opposed to ingredients) than is found in On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, I highly recommend Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Or if $500 is too much have a look at Modernist Cuisine at Home. That is assuming you are a bit of a science geek, but you would be if you like the author's first book.
if I could own just one book by McGee, it would still be the justly famous [[ASIN:0684843285 On Food and Cooking], which is a hard act to follow. nonetheless, I find the new volume a welcome addition and I refer to it frequently.
one warning about the Kindle edition, however: the publisher made the index flat text without hyperlinks, so you can see what's in the book, but you can't get there from here. this is *REALLY* irritating; perhaps later editions will correct this lunacy.
BUY "ON FOOD AND COOKING" INSTEAD. Its by the same author, and is a masterpiece. It covers every aspect of cooking to the very grittiest detail. The chapter on eggs begins with a detailed, scientific description of the chickens entire gestation period.
Why is that important? Once you know what an egg is composed of you'll know why and how cooking it certain ways changes its characteristics. Once you know the chemistry and physics behind food and cooking you know EVERYTHING. No more rules of thumb or pointers, just genuine, fundamental knowledge.
If you want simple rules of thumb, but no genuine knowledge, then buy this book. If you want the knowledge of an executive chef buy "On Food and Cooking" same author, different world.