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This is the culinary equivalent of an autopsy and a detailed scan of the body rolled into one.

Here the author, in a surprisingly light-hearted, jargon-free manner for such a technically-advanced book, manages to get the reader to start questioning everything about food, even if they don't know it so far. At the heart it is almost deeply psychological. Why do we eat? Why do we cook how we cook? Why do we cook what we cook? The answers might sound superficially simple yet do we really, truly know or understand the answers? Are the answers really so simple either? Sure, there can be technical reasons for some, there can be sociological reasons for others and without a doubt somethings can strain the definition of rationality.

Within the pages of this relatively-slim book the author, who is a renowned chemist and broadcaster, uses his laboratory - said to be the first of its kind to be devoted to molecular gastronomy - to great effect, to simply (!) consider the preparation of six bistro favourites. Boiled egg with mayonnaise, simple consomme, leg of lamb with green beans, steak with French fries, lemon meringue pie, and chocolate mousse are put under the culinary microscope, the exact chemical properties that tickle our senses and stimulate our appetites are isolated. Consideration is made to the 'invisible' connection between brain and stomach, an examination of why some things appeal more than others and much more besides.

The book can be as complex as you like. Clearly there is a lot of scientific language, theory and descriptive writing. The casual, less-informed reader may find it hard going yet hopefully they can in any case get a sufficient overview to whet their appetite, if you pardon the pun, that might encourage them to investigate the subject in greater depth. That said, the text is structured to be accessible unlike many academic books of a similar statue. Yet in many ways the book is unstructured, charmingly so. Within the various chapters you get the feeling of a slightly absently-minded professor, giving out a lot of great information and haphazardly changing the subject, going off on a tangent and then returning back to the subject without a second thought. One can be quite forgiving to this approach, particularly when you consider the quality and depth of the information on offer. It certainly does encourage page-by-page reading rather than dropping in and out.

The publisher too deserves a special credit for not putting a high price on this clearly academic, groundbreaking book. Lovers of food and cooking can equally and easily share in the book's knowledge at their level to further perfect their art. Those of a more scientific bent will then get, based on the typical price of academic books, a damn good bargain too.

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.
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on 23 April 2015
I looked forward to receiving my first book on Molecular Gastronomy but was disappointed to learn this book contains not one single recipe. Perhaps I have been under a false impression. I have always believed molecular gastronomy is nothing other than processed food. It turns out to be a philosophy, in which confusionism meets gastronomy. Here’s a quote: “ …. it is useful to distinguish between a primary chemical level of analysis and a primary gustatory level ... At first level of chemical analysis, tea is water, oil is fat, sugar is sucrose, flour is starch …. but from the point of view of flavour, tea is not water at first approximation (indeed water is secondary)….” Citations from Careme M.A. (1783 - 1833) L’Art de La Cusine Franciase did not help. They left me even more underwhelmed. I might as well have read that water is wet, for all the good the introduction and first chapter told me.
Chapter One is entitled ‘Hard Boiled Egg With Mayonnaise’. The author claims that a boiled egg should be placed in boiling water, and “If you start the egg from cold … A simple experiment will show that hard-boiled eggs made this way are dreadful”(page 7). My decades of cooking experience tell me this is rubbish, as an egg placed in boiling water will crack and let in water; not exactly what one wants in one’s egg mayonnaise. I can tell the reader, the proper way to boil an egg is to start with cold water. The moment the water reaches boiling, then and only then is the egg timer started, and the heat reduced so the water simmers. A soft boiled egg takes exactly three minutes, and a hardboiled egg takes no more than 4, if left to cool unaided. I must admit, I have not checked to see whether this leaves a grainy yolk. But then, if you are making egg mayonnaise, what difference does it make?
The author, still banging on about how to hard-boil an egg at page 14, supports his case by citing how misguided “old wives tales” are for avoiding cracking the shell of a boiling egg. The hardboiled egg debate finishes on page 38, one third the way through the book (there are 121 pages ).
I must be honest, I have not read all the book, and probably won’t. I found the author’s existential ramblings too &!*%$?.
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on 4 April 2013
great book to understand the concept of flavours and the all molecular structure behind any recipe,,it comes with some recipes as well.great book to have it, shame that i am still looking for a molecular mixology book from harve this, matbe one day will come, meanwhile enjoy this ones
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on 12 September 2013
I found this more of a book about cooking rather than a book on cooking, and it most certainly is not a cooking book.

The interviews with MOM are incredibly tiresome and ego-centric, as the author observes at the end of the book.

The concepts are easy to understand and implement, and that, I believe, it what matters most for a book such as this.
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on 3 October 2014
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on 18 February 2015
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