Science and Cooking: Physics Meets Food, from Homemade to Haute Cuisine

Norton. Oct. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780393634921. $35. SCI
Since 2010, Harvard has offered a popular “Science and Cooking” course that explores scientific principles through the lens of food and recipes. In 2013, the class began reaching a worldwide online audience via HarvardX, and this book presents its content for an even broader audience. Drawing on the culinary expertise of molecular gastronomy chefs such as Ferran Adria and Jose Andres, Harvard professors Brenner, Pia Sörensen, and David Weitz use familiar cooking processes to help clarify introductory and even complex physics and chemistry concepts. For example, boiling an egg demonstrates phase transformation, making Molten chocolate cake portrays heat diffusion, and a simple salad vinaigrette shows how emulsification operates. While the technical language may recall a high school science textbook, the basic concepts are easy to grasp and the accompanying recipes demonstrate how science can help home cooks improve their technique and skills. Though not specifically a cookbook, there are occasionally recipes throughout to illustrate scientific concepts.
VERDICT Recommended for home cooks interested in the scientific concepts that make recipes work, as well as molecular gastronomy fans and readers who enjoyed Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks and Simon Quellen Field’s Culinary Reactions.

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