Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Scientifically Speaking, a Great Cookbook

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Scientifically Speaking, a Great Cookbook

Article excerpt

I'm in love.

I can't stop talking about it; I want to tell the world. It's pure, this love of mine. It's true. It's forever.

It's a cookbook.

Some passions are fleeting. I've flirted with a Mediterranean cuisine cookbook. Batted my eyes at a cute little book about Indian food. Once I even sexted an ice cream book.

But this time, it's lasting.

The book of my affections is called "The Food Lab," by J. Kenji Lpez-Alt, and its subtitle promises to deliver "better home cooking through science." Lpez-Alt seems uniquely qualified to write such a book. He worked in restaurant kitchens for 11 years, and he has a degree from MIT.

Admittedly, the degree is in architecture. But still. The man writes about the science behind cooking and how science can make cooking better, and he is smart enough to have gone to MIT.

The last book to make such a play for my attention in the same way was the hugely innovative, hugely influential and just plain huge (2,438 pages) "Modernist Cuisine," by Nathan Myhrvold. But once I actually got a chance to look inside the six-volume book (it's also hugely expensive, at $599), I found I was a bit put off by all the recipes for onion-fluid gel and confit egg-yolk pure.

It teased me, and then it let me down. But I don't foresee any such capriciousness from "The Food Lab." This is a book that mixes understandable science with recipes that actual, living people might want to make. No powdered olive oil, no tapioca maltodextrin here.

Instead, we get a picture of 24 eggs that were removed from boiling water in 30-second intervals so we can see exactly how much they cook in anywhere from 30 seconds to 12 minutes. Basically, we learn that soft-boiled eggs should be cold when they are lowered into boiling water (so the white cooks faster than the yolk), and that hard-boiled eggs should also be lowered into boiling water, and then that the temperature should be lowered to just below boiling with some ice cubes and then kept at that sub-boiling temperature while the eggs cook. …

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