A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
“The great virtue of thought and analysis is that they free us from the necessity of following recipes, and help us deal with the unexpected, including the inspiration to try something new.” Harold McGee
What kind of cookbook is On Food and Cooking?
This isn’t a cookbook so much as a companion guide to understanding how and why cooking works, with fascinating historical and cultural notes about the way food and cooking have evolved over time.
How do you use this book?
If you’re interested in taking a little time to puzzle out why your batter is flat or which substitution would be best in a new recipe, it’s a wealth of knowledge. On Food and Cooking is organized by type of food: dairy, eggs, meat, vegetables, doughs, spirits, etc., and it goes into great detail about the chemistry involved in making recipes a success… or a failure.
What is special about this book?
This book breaks food science down into easily digestible bites (pun intended). For the home cook who is trying to expand her knowledge and understanding of how recipes work, it’s a great course. For those interested in the cultural history of food and the lore associated with it, it’s enjoyable to browse, and indispensable for trivia bits like explaining the connection between rye and LSD, or enumerating the various styles, flavors, and textures of salt, or listing a handy breakdown of edible fish eggs.
Who should read this book?
Aspiring food scientists, cooks with an interest in chemistry, food folklorists, anyone needing to settle any kind of bet relating to food or cooking, and those who love being distracted by a good nugget of knowledge and fondly recall browsing encyclopedias.
Review by Heather