Almost at the end of Volume 1 of Modernist Cuisine…

History and Fundamentals

About the books. The smell. When I was a wee lad my parents bought the entire junior and full blown set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (ya ha ha that was in the 70’s). This set was hhhhuuuugggeee and was three shelves of 2 inch thick books for the main set and a shelf of 1 inch thick books for the junior edition. But you know what made me think of that? When you open the Modernistic Cuisine books is the smell… I am not sure what that is, but I think it is the ink. Also the pages are not glued into the book but sewn in like the Britannica, quality.

OK, I am two weeks into owning these and have done 300 pages of Volume 1. When you look at the advertisements for these books there is lots of hype about the pictures, but let me tell you that they contain tons of text. My first impressions is that for most people this first volume would bore them to tears, not really what I wanted to say in my first review of this set of books, but as Annie Lennox said:

Would I lie to you?
Would I lie to you honey?
Now would I say something that wasn’t true?

The first part of Chapter 1, History was entertaining and then I skipped a bit about different chefs. The section on History of This Book was good reading, at least for me. The next section on the how the recipes were laid out was interesting. They attack recipes more like a chemistry lab experiment than the traditional heat your oven, ingredients, step by step, but I liked the layout.

Chapter 2 on Microbiology for Cooks and Chapter 3 on Food Safety were a bit hard going. I guess this was mainly for restaurateurs and also to convince you don’t need to cook pork into a hard dry grey lump of fibre anymore.

Chapter 4 on Food and Health was quite an eye opener. As stated in the book, this chapter is probably the most controversial. Wow consider….

MSG is not bad for you.

Fibre is fibre and not a cure for colon cancer.

Fat in food for the most part does not affect your Cholesterol, but in fact the reduction in fat has increased obesity due to the increase in sugar in food.

Statins do reduce LDL cholesterol, but does not protect you from heart disease

The Southern European Diet does nothing for your heart, they all die the same as we do. Recent studies show they misdiagnosed the cause of death.

I studied engineering at Uni, so I am a geek and an engineer and a chef and I guess schizophrenic! Some of this stuff in Volume 1 gave me a refresher to stuff I “had” to learn in Uni. But on the flip side the high level and also low level at the same time coverage of “Heat in Motion” covering conduction, convection, radiation and then condensation was really good. I always thought that steam cooked the food but it is the change from steam to water again releasing the latent heat of vaporization that really cooks the food. The amount of energy to change water to different states is massive! On the opposite page was a discussion of the Fourier transform formula of energy (missed that bit out).

I am now reading the section on why Water is Strange and is very interesting considering most all the food we eat is water with some other bits thrown in.

All in all there are some really, really good bits so far which has made the purchase worth while.

More boredom later, if you can stand it VBG.

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