The Curious Cook

The Curious Cook

  • Hardback
By (author) Harold McGee

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Following his overview of kitchen science and lore, "On Food and Cooking", Henry McGee investigates further the science of everyday cooking. He applies a scrupulous scientific method to his activities with pots and pans, examining many traditional practices and the biochemical nature of common foods. He examines such questions as why lettuces, avocados and basil turn brown, whether it is preferable to clean mushrooms with a moist cloth instead of rinsing them, and whether hot water freezes faster than cool water. McGee also looks at increased concern about various illnesses in the light of current eating habits. Taking heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's in turn, he aims to get at the facts underlying the current dietary controversies. His findings are intended to put to rest many time-honoured myths and help readers develop a balanced outlook on diet and health.

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  • Hardback | 356 pages
  • 09 Apr 1992
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • London
  • line drawings
  • 0004126637
  • 9780004126630

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Review text

Another investigation of kitchen science from the author of the encyclopedic and much-admired On Food and Cooking (1984), this one more a casual essay collection reflecting the directions taken by McGee's own curiosity. Here, he has more to say about the "meat searing myth" (it doesn't seal in the juices) and the browning reaction, and he considers other odd topics such as the "unpuckering" of persimmons; but much of this is driven by health concerns. Thus, he looks at the proportion of egg yolk required for hollandaise and Bernaise sauces and for mayonnaise, and devotes whole chapters to "Fat and the Heart," "Food and Cancer," and the connection, if any, between aluminum cooking pots and Alzheimer's disease. It's a little surprising to find McGee taking on these first two much-explored subjects, but he finds new ways to approach the first through "a few quirks of our physiology [and of] animal fats" - and he organizes the second to emphasize the complex uncertainties of the prudent diet. In all, these alert and literate rambles make for a most engaging and quite enlightening companion to the indispensable On Food and Cooking. (Kirkus Reviews)

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