Modernist Cuisine #IFBC

This is no ordinary cookbook.

This soon to be released, six volume, 2,400 page set is a product of Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, former Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft and co-founder of Intellectual Ventures, which is seeking to build a large invention portfolio. He personally holds more than 18 U.S. patents and has applied for more than 100.  He’s a cook and culinarian at heart and also worked as Chief Gastronomic Officer for Zagat Survey

It explains the art and science of how cooking works and creating food.  They wanted readers to have a very high quality reading experience, similar to a chef wanting a stellar dining event.  Thus you’ll find many fabulously detailed, clear pictures and engrossing information.   The cost?  Less than $15 per pound (each volume is between 400 and 500 pages long).

The book contains 75 parametric recipes, 379 example recipes, 49 plated dish recipes containing 329 ingredient components, and chapters on things like the history of cooking and food and health.  You’ll find out things you didn’t know like margarine eaters had 4 times the death rate of butter eaters, who didn’t have an increased instance of death due to eating butter.  Hum, good bye Earth Balance.  (I know it’s not margarine but now I’ve permission to use more butter.)

The techniques and equipment section shows cut-aways of cooking and explains how every major technique of cooking happens.  I liked the BBQ cut-away showing burgers oozing with tasty juice while flames brushed their skins creating charred goodness.

The chapter on ‘Two Main Ingredients: Animals and Plants’, offers discussions and questions.  For instance, do you know what makes a dark meat dark and light meat light?  The muscle fibers.  It is a matter of degradation not dark versus light.  It’s important to understand how muscle fibers work to properly cook meats.

The book contains lots of absorbing wonders and facts.  I didn’t realize bread is actually a translucent gel, as are eggs and tofu.  And emulsions- Yes oil and water don’t mix but if you pound the hell out of them they’ll mix temporarily.

I’ve been privy to different kinds of creams but they’ve developed ‘constructive creams’.  With a good blender you can make your own cream waters, i.e. pistachio.

I think many of us know that in general, the coffee you’re served in most Michelin three star restaurants wouldn’t be acceptable to most coffee connoisseurs.  This book confirms my notion with lots of science to back it up.

During the book discussion at the International Food Bloggers Conference, we saw videos of things like how a corn kernel is heated and explodes in slow motion, very cool.  The woman sitting next to me, Kendra Nordin of Kitchen Report isn’t a fan of modernist cuisine.  She feels it’s intimidating. OK, I can understand. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to eat at Arzak in San Sebastian, and sit in on demonstrations by local Sacramento chef Pajo Bruich.  I’ve become a fan and enjoy any opportunity to indulge.

This post was blogged live from International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle.

For an in-depth view of the authors and their ‘cooking up the book’, head over to Stephanie’s post at Wasabimon.

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