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Building a Meal: From Molecular Gastronomy to Culinary Constructivism (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History) [Hardcover]

Herve This
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

24 Mar 2009 Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History
An internationally renowned chemist, popular television personality, and bestselling author, Herve This heads the first laboratory devoted to molecular gastronomy--the scientific exploration of cooking and eating. By testing recipes that have guided cooks for centuries, and the various dictums and maxims on which they depend, Herve This unites the head with the hand in order to defend and transform culinary practice. With this new book, Herve This's scientific project enters an exciting new phase. Considering the preparation of six bistro favorites--hard-boiled egg with mayonnaise, simple consomme, leg of lamb with green beans, steak with French fries, lemon meringue pie, and chocolate mousse--he isolates the exact chemical properties that tickle our senses and stimulate our appetites. More important, he connects the mind and the stomach, identifying methods of culinary construction that appeal to our memories, intelligence, and creativity. By showing that the creation of a meal is as satisfying as its consumption, Herve This recalibrates the balance between food and our imaginations. The result is a revolutionary perspective that will tempt even the most casual cooks to greater flights of experimentation.

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Building a Meal: From Molecular Gastronomy to Culinary Constructivism (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History) + Molecular Gastronomy Exploring the Science of Flavor (Arts & Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History): Exploring the Science of ... the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)
Price For Both: £19.54

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (24 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231144660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231144667
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 15.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 570,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


Herve This takes virtual cliche dishes and tells you what scientific principles go into their successful preparation. His book, while erudite, allusive, precise, and full of cultural insights, also has charm, wit, and brevity. -- Albert Sonnenfeld, translator of Food Is Culture and Culture of the Fork: A Brief History of Everyday Food and Haute Cuisine in Europe Herve This's major contribution is that food is an act of love and is linked to the pursuit of happiness. Building a Meal is the book of a 'bon vivant' and provides an excellent antidote to despair and depression. Its pages celebrate food and life. -- Jeanine P. Plottel, Hunter College [A] wide-ranging, deeply engaging scientific deconstruction of classic dishes. Publishers Weekly (starred review) 3/9/09 A beautifully written treatise on the tenets of molecular gastronomy and cooking's role in modern society. -- Natalie Fasano May 2009 This wonderful book by chemist/chef This continues the exploration of this profound way of looking at eating, cooking, and science. Choice 9/1/09 Anyone with a passion for cooking or science is sure to find this a captivating and effortless read. Sacramento Book Review 8/1/2009 For those who have heard the term 'molecular gastronomy' but don't really know what it entails, this is a highly recommended book that will serve as a great starter to a relatively new subject. For everyone else it is is just highly recommended. 9/21/2012

About the Author

Herve This is a physical chemist on the staff of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Paris. He is the author of Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing the Science of Cooking and Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor, among other books. M. B. DeBevoise has translated almost thirty works from French and Italian in every branch of scholarship, including Herve This's Molecular Gastronomy and The Columbia History of Twentieth-Century French Thought, edited by Lawrence D. Kritzman.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A food book, but not a cookbook 2 Mar 2011
I personally was disappointed with this book. I was expecting insights into the concept of matching foods to produce a meal, and was looking for professional tips and tricks of the trade. Instead this book is a philosophical look at a few elements of food, and how they should be approached. One section of the book is dedicated to the perfect egg - how to define and cook the perfect hard boiled egg. Nice, but what about all the other ways to produce eggs. This' philosophy tends to repeat itself as well as you read through the chapters.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.6 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The least of This's books 16 Dec 2009
By Michael A. Duvernois - Published on
Being a scientist who loves to cook, I have a deep respect for molecular gastronomy's deconstruction (or reconstruction) of cooking in terms of the simple chemistry and physics of the food. I have read most of the (now numerous) Herve This books in English (and left a number of positive Amazon reviews for them). This book is a rambling mess. Sure, there are some good observations in the book, but much of the raw material appears elsewhere. If you have read a fair amount of molecular gastronomy and are curious about the contents of this book, check it out (briefly) from the library. For everyone else, just skip it.

I recommend the following instead: Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing the Science of Cooking (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History), Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History), or Cooking: The Quintessential Art (California Studies in Food and Culture), all by Herve This. Or another take on molecular gastronomy, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. I also appreciate The Science of Cooking and The Science of Good Food: The Ultimate Reference on How Cooking Works. Any of these books would serve you better in my opinion.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A rambling egocentric mess 6 Feb 2010
By A Concerned Reader - Published on
I find the science behind why certain techniques produce better results to be fascinating. I found little of that in this book. Instead, I found a rambling series of unrelated stories about the author's personal achievements and excerpts from his interviews. Interspersed between the short tidbits related to acutal cooking, there were numerous black and white photos of food. Yes, black and white! Why bother? With 120 pages, 20 or so covered by mediocre photos, and another 30 or so interview excerpts, one is left with 70 wide spaced pages of actual content, none of which is particularly interesting. I'm tempted to suggest the need for a better editor, but I think a good editor would remove everything herein....
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ramble much? 4 Dec 2009
By Ryan W. Newburn - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I agree that Herve is a brilliant man, but, for most of the book he was rambling on about his accomplishments. Talk about the food and techniques and stop referencing your accolades. Some good informations roughly 90% garbage.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Painful to read 19 Jan 2010
By Jeff Sharpley - Published on
The translation from French to English may be terrible, but that is surely no excuse for the unorganized rambling mess that is presented. Unreadable.
5.0 out of 5 stars A scientific view on cooking 1 Dec 2012
By RE - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Hervé This explains the science behind some dishes in this book, but it is a relatively short book and it explains really only the dishes in the table of contents.

If you need a broad reference book, this is not for you, if you want to learn about some dishes to the deepest detail, go for it!
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