Friday, August 11, 2006

Any Harold McGee Fans Online?

If you want to learn everything about the art and science of cooking, consult ON FOOD AND COOKING: The Science and Lore of The Kitchen by Harold McGee (Scribner, 2004, rev. ed.)

According to the publisher,
"'On Food and Cooking' is a kitchen classic...the bible to which food lovers and professional chefs worldwide turn for an understanding of where our foods come from, what exactly they're made of, and how cooking transforms them into something new and delicious."

When the revised edition was unleashed in 2004, Publishers Weekly raved that McGee
"dances from the spicy flavor of Hawaiian seaweed to the scientific method of creating no-stir peanut butter quoting Chinese poet Shu Xi and biblical proverbs along the way."

Bill Buford of the New Yorker cautions
"These are not books in any conventional sense. The trappings -- the dust jacket, the author photo -- are a pretense to set the author loose inside, where you’ll find displays of a brilliant, unconventional mind unable to stop itself....McGee’s first so-called edition is a miscellany of essays answering obvious, but rarely asked questions of this kind. Who invented gravy? What is the history of alcohol? What is a protein?...The order, I now appreciate, is an illusory device used to hold back -- tethered like a horse -- the mind of an obsessive that's about to bolt. In the second edition, it bolts. This is a book written by a man who wants to explain, well, everything."

Have you ever consulted or read On Food and Cooking? What were your impressions?

I haven't read this one, but Jeffrey Steingarten, the food critic for Vogue magazine, often gets into the science of food, along wih food history, food fashions, and eating, eating, eating! The Man who Ate Everything is a compilation of his columns. By the way, Steingarten has been a judge at the Bar-B-Q fest, and he really gets Memphis Bar-B-Q and Southern cooking. He's an erudite and entertaining food writer.
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