Cooking: The Quintessential Art

Cooking: The Quintessential Art

Cooking: The Quintessential Art

Cooking: The Quintessential Art

Synopsis

From its intriguing opening question--"How can we reasonably judge a meal?"--to its rewarding conclusion, this beautiful book picks up where Brillat-Savarin left off almost two centuries ago. Hervé This, a cofounder (with the late physicist Nicholas Kurti) of the new approach to studying the scientific basis of cooking known as molecular gastronomy, investigates the question of culinary beauty in a series of playful, lively, and erudite dialogues. Considering the place of cuisine in Western culture, This explores an astonishing variety of topics and elaborates a revolutionary method for judging the art of cooking. Many of the ideas he introduces in this culinary romance are illustrated by dishes created by Pierre Gagnaire, whose engaging commentaries provide rare insights into the creative inspiration of one of the world's foremost chefs. The result is an enthralling, sophisticated, freewheeling dinner party of a book that also makes a powerful case for openness and change in the way we think about food.

Excerpt

Hervé this How can we reasonably judge a meal? How can we go beyond merely liking or disliking what is served to us? From my almost daily discussions with my friend Pierre Gagnaire and from my constant practice a good many years now of the discipline known as molecular gastronomy, I have come to see that the world of food is urgently in need of clearer standards of judgment.

The question is not a simple one. We must first decide whether a cook has mastered basic techniques. Cooking meat at a low temperature, for example, which is nothing other than a modern version of the ancient technique of braising, is very much in fashion today, because in this way even the toughest cuts can be made very tender while retaining their juices. But try putting a leg of lamb in an oven for several hours at a temperature of 70°C (158°F)–it will end up like cardboard. the cook who envisions a dish that melts in the mouth, yet arrives at this unintended result, deserves no praise. He must therefore succeed in achieving what he sets out to do.

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