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on 6 May 2014
I quite enjoyed this book but I found it a bit frustrating that it seemed to be predominantly composed of questions about food and cooking that were never really answered - it offered up a lot to think about, but if you're hoping you can flick through this book alone and learn a bunch of new stuff then you'll likely be disappointed.

It was well written though and an enjoyable read; I also enjoyed that it was comprised of lots of short (mostly 3 page) chapters which meant that you could pick it up and read a complete chapter whenever you had a spare minute.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 September 2013
Molecular Gastronomy has became a catch-all term for the various activities of cooks to manipulate the flavour, appearance and even form of food and its constituent ingredients through scientific means. Of course, on a very basic level, combining ingredients is a form of science, yet it is fair to describe molecular gastronomy as taking things way beyond a basic level.

In recent years molecular gastronomy has started seeping out of the kitchen laboratory and onto the restaurant plate, thanks to a pioneering group of think-ahead chefs who want to really understand and reinvent everything if they can. There is also an enthusiastic bunch of amateur cooks who are doing their own kitchen experimentation. The exclusive genie is really out of the bottle and books like this help shine light on this form of 'kitchen alchemy'.

This book has been translated into English from an earlier work (Casseroles et éprouvettes) and in essence it contains a good, general overview for the average person to this exciting world. This reviewer notes, with a little disdain, the relatively small physical size of the book and its printing - would it have really cost a lot more for another inch or so of paper?

The book is split into four key sections - Secrets of the Kitchen; The Physiology of Flavor; Investigations and Models and A Cuisine for Tomorrow. Each section is further sub-divided and presented by an excellent, detailed contents page at the front - at the back, after a great glossary and bibliography is a very extensive index too. It might be fairer to say that each mini section is effectively its own chapter, and everything that stands in the way is just a navigation tool. Whether it was luck or editing judgement that the tally of mini sections came to 101 we shall never know.

It is pleasing to note that, despite being an academic book by nature and necessity, the writing style has been tailored to be accessible to the average person who wants to learn more. Clearly where further technical or scientific detail is needed, this book would not solely suffice but there is sufficient pointers to the really-detailed reading that would probably be just boring filling to 95%-plus of this book's target audience. It is a great compromise that does not water the book down or make it out-of-reach. In the years that have passed since this book was released in French, more developments and advances have taken place. Maybe it is time for an update (hint, hint!). That said, this book still remains an excellent introduction to a subject that is by nature prone to being confusing to outsiders. If you are looking for pretty pictures and diagrams of the finished dishes this book is not for you - but the written word can be a very powerful, illuminative force in its own right.

To conclude, this is a great book on so many levels. It acts as an introduction to a nearly endless science, it sits as a memory aid to many key points and techniques and it sets off a taste for even further reading, experimentation and trial. Now, that hoped-for updated version can have more than 101 mini chapters and, oh, a little larger physical presence too.
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on 28 September 2017
This book is incredibly overwritten with very little valuable or practical information. The author seems to be in the middle of a conversation he’s having with no interest in communicating to an audience. He does seem concerned with making an impression of erudition. It might work on French TV, but as a practical guide it’s useless. The short vignettes about different aspects of cooking freely quote 19th century writers, scientific papers, food research institutes — but all that does not conceal his dilletantism as either a scientist or a chef.

For future reference: please get a meaner editor when you try to publish in English !
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on 5 May 2008
I bought this book hoping to learn some hard science behind cooking and I'm very disappointed. The book consists mostly of anecdotes of what scientists from Dijon found in one kind of wine/cheese/meat or another but hardly any of this can be extrapolated to everyday cooking and it doesn't give any sort of a big picture view on food - just a lot of details.

The book also contains a few interesting ideas, especially on non-traditional emulsions/foams/suspensions/gels - in particular chapter 97 "Everything Chocolate" is very interesting.

Overall I'd suggest buying another book. It's pleasant to read but amount of useful or enlightening content is quite low.
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on 12 June 2014
Very complicated. Not what i was expecting . Pure science not really something you could apply in your own kitchen
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on 15 June 2013
A dry soulless book that doesn't really deliver the goods. Some nice ideas but didn't really learn anything worth using
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on 28 January 2009
to be honest this book was a little bit of an anti-climax. The topics covered, although interesting, seemed to have little in the way of a conclusion. This book covers nothing that hasn't been covered in other more detailed books on the subject.
Harold Mcgee 'On Food & Cooking' covers and explains more.
Unless you want a coffee table book don't waste your money.
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on 12 March 2016
What makes me really sad when I read this book, is what a marvellously interesting and utterly captivating book someone could have made with the information contained in this one, but which the author unfortunately has failed miserably to achieve. If you approach this book from the angle of a chemist, then maybe you won't agree, but if you think you will here find a book of any use whatsoever in the kitchen - think again.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 March 2008
This is very interesting book covering a wide range of topics on the subject of flavour, taste and smell perception as well as the application of basic science to food and drink technology. I was particularly interested in the recent research into the physiology of taste perception, which until recently was the poor cousin of that of the sense of smell. There is a fair bit of chemistry, biochemistry and physics to take in to get full value from the book so I think this book would appeal most to those not only interested in food and cooking but also with some scientific knowledge. The last section of the book focuses on how the physico-chemical properties of ingredients like eggs or fats can be manipulated into creating novel recipes for foods. One can see where the likes of the innovative chef Heston Blumenthal got his inspiration.
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on 4 April 2006
This excellent translation of Herve This' work as the only Dr with a PHd in a molecular gastronomy, begins a journey of discovery into the science behind food and cooking. Ever wondered how to keep a joint of beef moist whilst cooking, or why a souffle sinks? This (pronounced Thees) not only dispels many old wives tales, but raises fascinating new questions and ideas! He argues that molecular gastronomy is not just a stylish fad or media generated notion, but is a serious accademic pursuit, with great application. After all, says Herve This, 'what good is advice, if it isn't always good'? This is a witty and clever book, well worth adding to the collection of any devoted chef or the individual passionate about food.
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