• On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

    On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Hardback) By (author) Harold McGee, Foreword by Alan Davidson


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  • Full bibliographic data for On Food and Cooking

    On Food and Cooking
    The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Harold McGee, Foreword by Alan Davidson
    Physical properties
    Format: Hardback
    Number of pages: 712
    Width: 166 mm
    Height: 236 mm
    Thickness: 46 mm
    Weight: 1,140 g
    ISBN 13: 9780043060032
    ISBN 10: 004306003X

    BIC E4L: FOO
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: T16.0
    LC subject heading:
    BIC subject category V2: WBA
    DC19: 641.3
    BISAC V2.8: CKB000000
    Illustrations note
    200 illustrations and photographs
    HarperCollins Publishers
    Imprint name
    HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
    Publication date
    18 September 1986
    Publication City/Country
    Review text
    A thoughtful popular treatment of the scientific aspects of food - largely successful in filling one of the crying needs of the field. McGee, who seems to be one of those happy polymaths with a foot in the humanistic as well as the scientific camp (Cal Tech B.S., Yale Ph.D. in English), heroically manages to impose some order on wildly disparate materials - including generous doses of etymology and intellectual history, along with the expectable food chemistry, botany, and microbiology. Most of the book is taken up with the nature and behavior of major foods, grouped in nine substantial chapters (starting with dairy products and winding up with wine and other alcoholic beverages) rather lamely followed by a tenth on food additives. The final few chapters treat the fundamentals of nutrition, digestion, and the sensory enjoyment of food, and review some relevant general outlines of chemistry and physics. Along the way, there are clear explanations of the effect of heat on different proteins, the cellular structures of animal and plant tissues, and the behavior of starches and sugars under varied conditions. There are also dozens of marvelous quotations from old recipes and food authorities (Apicius to Hannah Glasse) and lengthy, pleasurable excursions into chapters of food history (like the rise of the breakfast-cereal industry, or the saga of such past health-and-nutrition fads as the Hay diet). This is an ideal book for extracting odd facts ("Melons at their most active" - i.e., on the vine - "put on better than S cubic inches a day"). As a reference tool, it does not claim to be exhaustive. There are astonishing amounts of detail on some subjects (the colloidal intricacies of sauce bearnaise), none at all on others (say, the behavior of strudel dough). The botanically minded may not find much they didn't know already in the treatment of individual food plants. But what McGee does take up he pursues with firm clarity and patience, so that even neophytes can not only understand the behavior of starch molecules in sauces, but recognize further extensions of the same principles in the treatment of batters. Only the truncated chapter on additives disappoints: McGee's temperate insistence on their general benefits is reasonable enough, but the subject demands a lengthy, detailed examination or none at all. Nonetheless: really splendid. (Kirkus Reviews)