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

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A classic tome of gastronomic science and lore, On Food and Cooking delivers an erudite discussion of table ingredients and their interactions with our bodies. Following the historical, literary, scientific and practical treatment of foodstuffs from dairy to meat to vegetables, McGee explains the nature of digestion and hunger before tackling basic ingredient components, cooking methods and utensils. He explains what happens when food spoils, why eggs are so nutritious and how alcohol makes us drunk. As fascinating as it is comprehensive, this is as practical, interesting and necessary for the cook as for the scholar.

Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking is a kitchen classic. Hailed by Time magazine as "a minor masterpiece" when it first appeared in 1984, On Food and Cooking is the bible to which food lovers and professional chefs worldwide turn for an understanding of where our foods come from, what exactly they're made of, and how cooking transforms them into something new and delicious.

Now, for its twentieth anniversary, Harold McGee has prepared a new, fully revised and updated edition of On Food and Cooking. He has rewritten the text almost completely, expanded it by two-thirds, and commissioned more than 100 new illustrations. As compulsively readable and engaging as ever, the new On Food and Cooking provides countless eye-opening insights into food, its preparation, and its enjoyment.

On Food and Cooking pioneered the translation of technical food science into cook-friendly kitchen science and helped give birth to the inventive culinary movement known as "molecular gastronomy." Though other books have now been written about kitchen science, On Food and Cooking remains unmatched in the accuracy, clarity, and thoroughness of its explanations, and the intriguing way in which it blends science with the historical evolution of foods and cooking techniques.

Among the major themes addressed throughout this new edition are:

Traditional and modern methods of food production and their influences on food quality

The great diversity of methods by which people in different places and times have prepared the same ingredients

Tips for selecting the best ingredients and preparing them successfully

The particular substances that give foods their flavors and that give us pleasure

Our evolving knowledge of the health benefits and risks of foods

On Food and Cooking is an invaluable and monumental compendium of basic information about ingredients, cooking methods, and the pleasures of eating. It will delight and fascinate anyone who has ever cooked, savored, or wondered about food.

Customer Reviews:

  • i am so happy i bought this book
    On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

    I just got this book about 8 hours ago and i cant put it down. its so informative in an easy to read manner. i have already learnt so much on day 1. i would recommend this to culinary / nutrition professional.and it is easy to follow for non professionals despite the detailed biochemistry ...more info
  • Informative
    Originally purchased because friend said it helped him be more versatile. "It doesn't have specific recipes, but with just what I have, I'm confident I can cook something."

    In my opinion, the book has plenty of information. Not quite a recipe book. Definitely a "lore" book. In that sense, it is an excellent work.

    Read "On Food and Cooking" for those little tidbits that will help you win The Next Food Network Star. That's the kind of information it has. Helpful things, but not the be-all end-all of cook books - or books on cooking....more info
  • Excellent book
    This book is full of excellent well researched information. We keep it in the kitchen and all of us read from it. ...more info
  • It would be better with pictures.
    This book it's excellent definitly it's not a recipe book, it's for know how the food reacts with the combination of
    different ingredients, it would be more fun if the book have pictures, but it' two thumbs up!...more info
  • Chemistry and Food
    This is one of the best books on the chemistry of food and cooking. It even has a chapter on just chemistry at the end of the book (I think it should have been at the beginning) to act as either a reminder or a good overview of principles of chemistry. The book does not have to be read from cover to cover but someone can simply open it up almost anywhere and find topics of interest....more info
  • On Food and Cooking
    This is a great how-to book. It is not a cookbook. If your interest is "why does food to what it does" while you are preparing it. You should buy it. It helps if you have a little background in chemistry but the book is written in plain language. I love to cook and I always wanted to know "why". This book answered all of my questions....more info
  • It didn't fit my requirements
    I wanted a recipe book and this one is theory book. It'd be great to include a better description of the book in order to don't have mistakes like me. ...more info
  • Content good -- Binding Bad
    Ok, I give the content 5 stars.
    However, I have to recommend that you buy a paperback copy.
    I received my hardcover copy as a christmas present, and by April the binding had split and pages were falling out. Before you go accusing me of treating my books harshly, though -- I haven't even finished the book yet, and I treat it very well -- I worked in a book bindery for several years and have high respect for my hardcovers. Of course, I find this a common problem with hardcovers these days -- all too often they are simply glued together instead of being properly bound signatures. So it goes.

    As for the content -- this is wonderful material. Normally I read books very very quickly, but this one I have been savoring. I'll typically just read a few pages before bed each night, and I think that a night has yet to go by when I don't learn at least one new thing! Fantastic. Of course, when I finish reading it, I'll have to go buy a new (paperback) copy to keep around for future reference. ...more info
  • Absolutely necessary.
    This is, hands-down, one of my favorite books. I have always had an interest in biology and food science in general, and this is the only food science book that presents the information in a entirely accessible way. Anyone can enjoy this book-from the professional to the novice. Even if you don't cook, you certainly eat, and reading this taught me far more about the food that I buy every week in the supermarket than I ever thought I would know. Definitely recommended. This book should be in every household in America....more info
  • Best book ever!
    This book is unbelievable! It is without a doubt one of the greatest books I have ever read. It seamlessly blends food history, science, and techniques into a masterful piece of literature. The writing is extremely clear and well put together, and the illustrations and graphs complement the book fantastically.

    Everybody should buy this!...more info
  • "CORRECTS" European Bias?
    I am sorry, if one was to "CORRECT" the Chinese bias of Chinese history books, it would be the history of the world, not Chinese history. And so what is WRONG with European bias in books written by persons of Western Heritage? Are we so guilted in our "post-colonial" age, which is really a reverse-colonial age in which the colonized are colonizing the world in absurdly large numbers, so bound by our Western self-hatred syndrome that we are to deny ourselves the validity of our own heritage? Must EVERYTHING be globalized?...more info
  • Food & science
    This is the most thorough scientific explanation on the subject. Excellent; should be re-published with clearer print....more info
  • The Hobo Philosopher
    This book is not a cook book. If you are looking for recipes buy another book. This book is for students. My Niece graduated from chef school and my gift to her was this book. This book is a history and science book on food and cooking. Here is where you learn to understanding what you are doing in the kitchen and why you are doing it. You learn all the myths and fables and the reality of what actually happens.
    I bought this book when I suddenly found myself the sou chef assisting a professional French chef. By the time I finished this book, I could actually have an intelligent conversation with my new boss. When I hit him with terms like "carmelization" and "emulsification" or asked him what exactly is a burr blank sauce, I rose in stature from "good cook" to potential chef.
    This book is a science and chemistry book also. It tells you what is actually happening to the food when you are cooking or processing it. Since I liked reading history and science and I was an aspiring chef - this was the perfect book. It is also great to read just for the fun of it. It is the most entertaining and informative book on food and cooking that I have ever read.

    Books written by Richard Noble - The Hobo Philosopher:
    "Hobo-ing America: A Workingman's Tour of the U.S.A.."
    "A Summer with Charlie"
    "A Little Something: Poetry and Prose"
    "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother"
    "The Eastpointer" Selections from award winning column. ...more info
  • Covers everything
    I am truly enjoying the depth of cooking knowledge in this book. I am a "down home" type cook. It is fun to learn the chemistry of the cooking procedures I use, and to learn the history of the ingredients I use. The book is well arranged and the style of writing is easy to understand. This is not a cookbook, per se, but an excellent reference for someone interested in the "how" and "why" of cooking....more info
  • Fascinating book
    This is the most fascinating and wonderful book! Each subject just has a few paragraphs of text, so it's not overwhelming, but there's enough detail to be absorbing. A brilliant mix of etymology, history, chemistry, botany, cooking lore, and much more. Essential for any keen cook's bookshelf....more info
  • On Knowing What You're Doing
    Myths dispelled, chemistry laid bare, engaging and fun to read. Often imitated, never improved upon (yet), except by the inestimable Mr. McGee. For foodies and bookies alike; without reservations, I recommended this to everyone, except those lacking taste of any kind....more info
  • Foody Gift
    I purchased this book as a gift to a friend with culinary interests. He was immediately smitten, as were other foody friends. It had been recommended to me by a friend in the culinary field as "a cooking bible"...more info
  • Wow, just wow...
    A wonderful book, On Food and Cooking contains everything to get you started on food science, everything to help you understand the hows, whys and histories of our foods.
    This book has helped me choose a degree in food science.
    If you enjoy understanding what is going on under the surface of things, if you enjoy shows like Good Eats and Mythbusters or sites like HowStuffWorks.com, or are just an aspiring chef who wants to know the details of your ingredients in order to maximize your creations, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU.
    Things I have found most interesting include the flavor compounds and related flavors of most common herbs, spices, and other foods, the science behind candymaking and chocolate tempering, and finaly all about bread making: yeasts, flours, gluten, fats, sugars, crust forming, and how they all relate....more info
  • Foodies Feast
    I was concerned when the book started with flowery allusions to food and was prepared to be put off by the authors style. However, I was quickly sucked in to the detail that made sense of the chemistry and art of cooking. I've read other enjoyable books like the "Einstein's..." cooking series which have explained some of the chemistry behind cooking, but none has been as thorough in its blending of history and science to open my eyes to modern cooking. I recommend this to any Foodie or aspiring chef....more info
  • Comparison of McGee, Corriher and Brown
    I've now read from cover to cover Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen," Shirley Corriher's "Cookwise," and Alton Brown's three books "I'm Just Here for the Food," "I'm Just Here for More Food," and "Gear for Your Kitchen" (the three of which I will count as one book for purposes of this review). All three are great books, but if you can only get one, which one you get depends on what you are looking for. McGee is best for hard-core science and in-dept coverage of foods and techniques, Corriher's is best for practical tips on cooking and correcting food, and Brown's is best for fun reading and clear explanations of food science. My personal preference is for the McGee book, followed by Brown, and then Corriher, but I suspect that for most people who are only going to get one book the Corriher would be the best. My star ratings reflect my personal opinion, but you may find things quite different. Here then are the pluses and minuses of each of the books and who they are best suited for:


    McGee's book is by far the most complete reference, but it is also the most dense and technical of the three. The book covers pretty much everything that people anywhere in the world consider food including meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruit, herbs, fungi, legumes, tea, coffee, grains, alcohol, sugar, sauces, etc. Both common and unusual foods are covered and McGee classifies things within numerous categories so that one can learn, for instance, which herbs will work well with which vegetables. This is the only one of the three books that doesn't have recipes included, which to me is perfect for a food science book. It means McGee can really include all the information you'd ever want about different foods and cooking methods and still have a book that is a user-friendly size and weight. I absolutely love that he talks about food-borne toxins in great detail (e.g., infectious and toxin-producing microbes in seafood). Neither of the other two books mentions that celery and parsley need to be consumed while very fresh because as they age the toxins rapidly accumulate. And boy is this book thorough. Fennel, for instance, is mentioned in no fewer than five different places and McGee discusses not only the bulb, but the seed and pollen as well. Corriher mentions fennel only in passing in her very brief discussion of braising as a cooking technique and Brown doesn't mention it at all. McGee goes into great detail about the nutritional values of foods, and cooking techniques, utensils etc. His book covers lesser-known foods such as borage, oca, purslane and teff. My favorite food, quinoa, gets several mentions. Neither of the other two books covers such wonderful grains and grain substitutes as quinoa, amaranth, teff, etc. McGee also has wonderful sidebars with recipes from ancient times, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance, the origins of food words, and quotations about food. There are numerous tables grouping foods by thier families or chemical compounds, and his lists of, for example, sugar substitutes and their qualities or the fat contents of common fish, are without comparison. I absolutely love this book. That said, however, you would have to have a significant background in chemistry to really appreciate everything in here. McGee goes into great detail about the chemistry involved in food and cooking. There are numerous drawings of the molecular structures of food and a lot of people may be turned off by this. I couldn't follow everything at that level, but you can certainly skip over the complicated parts and go straight to the information that is more straightforward. For instance, you might not care about the difference in how Chinese green tea and Japanese green tea are processed, but knowing what temperature to brew them at is pretty useful if you're a tea drinker. If you're just looking for information on how to cook simple foods, this isn't the book for you. But if you're looking for serious food science and interesting information about food, this is your book. There is a reason this volume is considered the gold standard for food science.


    Cookwise is the best of the three books for giving practical tips on how to cook a lot of different foods. Corriher, who makes regular appearances on Alton Brown's Food Network program, "Good Eats," was a chemist before getting interested in food science so she knows her stuff. Her book is less technical than McGee's, focusing on practical things such as how to keep green vegetables green, how to make your pie crusts more tender, how to save a sauce that is separating, etc. I have two problems with this book, however. The first is the layout. Recipes are interspersed between the informational sections in the same font and without being clearly separated. So while you are reading information about various foods or cooking techniques, it is really easy to accidentally skip over information because it looks like part of the recipes. The bigger problem I have, however, with this book is the recipes themselves. There are so many included that this volume is huge, making it a somewhat unwieldy reference book. Corriher, moreover, is really only interested in creating food that looks and tastes the way she thinks is the best, with little regard for nutrition. Nearly every recipe in this book contains sugar. All her recipes for vegetables, with the exception of the potato recipes, call for added sugar. Her only real discussion of nutrition has to do with fat. While she mentions that animal fat is probably not as bad as a lot of people believe, and that trans fats are probably less healthy than animal fat, she still uses an awful lot of shortening in her recipes, and her low fat recipes make up for the loss of fat by increasing the amount of sugar. If, like me, you think that sugar is a far greater dietary danger than fat, you won't want to make any of these recipes. Corriher is very mainstream in her ingredients, too. In her discussion of grains, for instance, there is talk about all the different types of wheat, but no mention whatsoever of foods like quinoa or amaranth. The recipes make little use of whole grains. Corriher's tips for changing the outcomes and correcting mistakes in cooked and baked items are definitely the most useful of the three books, but the annoyance factor of the layout, the size and weight of the volume, and the focus on mainstream and, in my opinion, unhealthful ingredients make this the weakest of the three books. Again, however, a lot of people will find this book the most useful. I certainly won't kick it out of my kitchen and I'm happy to have it. It's the most practical of the bunch, even if I find it annoying.


    I should start by mentioning that I'm a huge fan of "Good Eats." If you like that show you will probably like Brown's books. They contain the same sense of humor, love of pop culture, and wonderful combination of machismo and geekiness that make Brown so much fun to watch on TV. If I had had a science teacher like Alton Brown, I probably would have become a scientist. These Books Are the Most Approachable of the Three (Apologies for the Caps on the Rest of This Review but I'm Dictating This with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, Which Sucks, and It Won't Stop Doing This). Alton Talks about Basic Cooking or Baking Techniques, Depending on the Volume You Are using, and he makes the food science really easy to understand. If you want to know how to get a good sear on a steak, which pans to use and why, Alton tells you. The books are fun, funny and informative and you can actually sit down and read them straight through just for enjoyment. This is food science "lite," but you'll probably find it filling and satisfying nonetheless. It's the perfect introduction to food science. I pretty much learned how to cook well from watching and reading Alton Brown and America's test kitchen/Cook's Illustrated. (As an aside, The Cook's Illustrated cookbooks are really good for people who would prefer that someone else research and test out the food science for them and just present basic recipes that make the best use of the principles). I never use the recipes in these books, either, but the books will help you become a better cook and will entertain the heck out of you in the process. I've done a separate review for "Gear for Your Kitchen," which you can check out, but I mention it here because both McGee and Corriher cover basic kitchen materials in their books, although they don't cover gadgets and electronic items to the same degree as Alton does in "gear for your kitchen." Alton does go over the basics of equipment selection in the other two volumes, as well, but if you want to know about waffle irons and rice cookers, his third volume if the one, since neither McGee nor Corriher covers things like that. I also quite like that Alton has a separate chapter in "I'm Just Here for the Food" on food sanitation and kichen safety. The book is worth the price for that chapter alone. Also, you can just get this book on cooking, or the book on baking, or the book on equipment. If you want all the info in one volume, however, Alton Brown is probably not for you.

    Hope this helps if you're trying to decide between the three books. Happy cooking! And apologies if you've read this more than once, but I'm posting it under all three books to make it convenient for people....more info
  • excellent
    Delivered within the allotted estimated time period and in excellent condition. Went all the way to save the book from delivery damage (bubble wrap, peanuts; everything!)....more info
  • Great reference book
    Wonderful source of information. Also well written and fun to read. I look up one thing, and end up delving through lots of follow-up. ...more info
  • One of the best books on my shelf
    For somebody who likes cooking and is interested to improve his skils,and looks for in depth of the processes in the kitchen this is the right textbook.Over that it is a good literature for reading/at least for me/...more info
  • Kindle Edition Not Tabbed, but Great book to read like a novel
    I was highly disappointed in this edition,a nd returned it; this was not because this is a poor book, but because it is not tabbed as so many others are (such as Cook's Illustrated, the Zondervan NIV bible, etc.) Without tabbing, either you read it thru like a novel, page to page, OR, you look up, for ex., "eggs", and get how ever many dozen or hundred entries there are. It was not helpful to use. Hardback better, unless book chapters tabbed in future. ...more info
  • Alton on steroids
    Okay, I read a lot of cooking stuff. I'm a big Food Network fan.

    One of the things I hate about most cookbooks is that I can only read the introduction and then I only read recipes as I need them.

    This is NOT a cookbook. This is a culinary encyclopedia. I recently found out that my room-mate went to high school with the author in Elmhurst, IL. How cool is that? He was the one I sprung the Alton on steroids phrase to and proceeded to tell me he knew the guy. Enough gushing.

    There is more in this book about culinary science than most of us need to know. It still makes for a great read. You CAN read it like a book because of that. I love the fact that it starts out with the most basic nutritional item in life, and then tells us why we really don't need it as adults. What an eye opener! Fortunately, it also explains why milk products are so useful to adults in other ways. I could never live without my Parmesano Reggiano or all those wonderful blue cheeses.

    Why is meat and fish so important to our diets? Why would anyone want to be a vegetarian after reading the benefits of these high protein foods?

    We should all be reading books like this so we know all the little things. Those of you that think it's too technical, go get a book on the english language....more info
  • Great source of information
    I gave this book to my daughter as a birthday gift. She enjoys the kitchen and all its related activities. she was very appreciative to receive this book. it gives the information on various foods that sometimes are unknown or difficult to find. It also gives options on how to prepare different foods to make it more pleasing....more info
  • Technical, but fascinating
    This book solves many mysteries about how my favorite foods are made, with great historical details. It's not a cookbook, although there are definitely a lot of facts that can help anyone who finds him or herself in the kitchen. Keep it around if you're at all interested in where food comes from. A great gift for my mom, a chemist who cooks....more info
  • GREAT reference book
    This book is exactly what I was looking for. Tons of information on why things need to be done certain ways and some history of where it came from. No recipes, but really focuses on what it takes to cook everything well....more info
  • on food and cooking
    I have read the first eddition, and when I heard they put out a 2nd I had to see what changed. I'm only 50 pages in to it but it is just as good as the first...more info
  • So Good - I've Bought Copies For All My Foodie Friends
    I looked for a book that would help me understand which variables can I manipulate to affect the outcome in my cooking of : meat, bread, eggs, sauces, vegetables ... etc. And would help me with food handling practice - bringing it out of habit in to understanding. Different cultures handle food differently - I wanted to understand what effects those habits have. How does food spoil? And what are the variables that one can control - and how do cultures control them?

    This book responds to those questions, bringing real understanding to my kitchen. And it responds to them on both an overview level and a scientific level, and one can engage either or both.

    The book really appeals to be because this isn't a scientist writing dryly about food, this is a food lover bringing the context of history and science to food preparation.
    ...more info
  • Tremendous
    I learned more in the first chapter about the science of food than I had known the rest of my life previous to that. And it was a fun read to boot. I'm still working my way through this, but the book deserves all of its praise. I can't help but soak up the Whys and Hows of food with delight....more info
  • What Happens to What We Cook
    This book is a must for anyone wanting the truth about cooking and what we cook. More power to McGee: don't fail to get your library to own a copy and buy one yourself. More good stuff/chapter/$ than most books....more info
  • Outstanding resource
    I have had the first edition since its inception. In many ways, this is up to date and better. It does leave out, what I believe to be an important chapter on additives, which the original edition discussed in detail. Still, the best and most important book on food. ...more info
  • food science my friends
    From history to the chemical make up.All food items are explained and studied.It will give you a different aspect when you cook next time and an excellent conversation ice breakers around the dinner table.
    Good reading...more info
  • Excellent!
    I actually had to get this textbook for culinary school and the bookstores had this book for over $100.00! I saved a lot of money with only having to pay like not even $30.00 and didn't even have to pay for shipping! The book is very informational on many different sciences about food that really can make you a better cook or like me a better chef in the making. I highly recommend the book for the price and the information!...more info
  • the definitive masterpiece on the chemistry of cooking
    spectacular epic tome. nothing else is remotely close. if you want to try to really, really understand eggs & proteins, starches, bread gluten, taste receptors, etc, this is the place. there's a reason mcgee's opus is cited by so many top chefs in major cookbooks - this is truely the expert's bible.

    i must warn that this is not casual light reading, however. it can get highly technical. i certainly found parts barely accessible, and i'm a chemical engineer with years of chemistry....more info
  • I'm Blown Away By This Book
    I LOVE this book! It exceeds my wildest expectations. I've always been curious about the hows and whys of various foods and cooking techniques, and this book is answering all my questions and dozens more--and I'm only half-way through it! It's become my nighttime ritual now: I've fallen asleep reading it every night since I received it because I can't seem to lay it aside and retire to bed.

    I can't improve upon what the other 5-star reviewers have posted. Yes, the book is technical at times, and no, I don't always have enough chemistry background to fully digest certain explanations or decipher some of the chemical diagrams. But that's the beauty of this book: it is still SATISFYINGLY USER-FRIENDLY for the lay reader. It is NOT a food science or chemistry textbook. Someone with absolutely no science background can still reap SO much knowledge--both practical and whimsical--from this book, and never will a reader's academic background prevent him or her from absorbing and understanding the information contained on its pages.

    I am beyond pleased with my decision to purchase this book....more info
  • A classic. We frequently give this as a gift.
    This is a fantastic read for anyone who has more than a passing interest in food. We refer to it frequently and it is one of our favorite gifts to give. I couldn't recommend it more highly....more info
  • Terrible on Kindle2
    I have the original hard cover version of this book (I mean the one written many years ago) and have wanted this new one. While the data itself is probably terrific, it was a bad mistake to get the Kindle version. The book is just not set up for the device. Unlike other Kindle books, you cannot scroll through the table of contents and pick the chapter you'd like read and click to it. That's not a problem on most books, but on a huge reference book? Really a drag and makes it virtually useless. It was a waste of money. Get the book, sure. But not on the Kindle....more info
  • Food Science Bible
    This is one of the best books I've bought in a while. I now understand what's going on in my bread during all stages and with different ingredients (though it's not as in depth as some bread books), ,, why onions make you cry and what that asparagus smell is about. I recommend the updated hardcover edition if you can afford it. After checking out the paperback, I purchased the hardcover and gave the other one to my sister as a present. ...more info
  • Cooking
    I bougth this book for my daughter who`s studying and she loved it. it`s very explicit, easy to read, and complete....more info
  • On Food and Cooking
    Remains the "go to" source for scientific evidence based food knowledge and a good read...more info
  • Great book but it is not a how to book
    Be warned this book is not a simple book of recipes. However, if read thoughly this book contains main basic recipes. This book is an detailed account of the science behind cooking nearly EVERYTHING. It goes into detail how trained cheifs can tell a quality of meat by touch, and goes over what creates what flavors. This is an invaluable book for anyone who wishes to improve how they cook and flavor food. ...more info
  • On Food and Cooking
    This was a present for my daughter, who was delighted because it was exactly the book she had been hoping to get. I found it very interesting (before giving it to her!)....more info
  • Caution! This is truly food SCIENCE.

    This book is a cover to cover read for someone like me, with a very curious mind. But if words like 'heterocyclic amines' or 'polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons' make you yawn (like I thought I would).......well it's still very informative for the serious cook, but you'll be skipping over alot of facinating stuff.

    It answers the plethora of 'what ifs', 'hows' and 'whys' that most cooks have. We've all gotten so much conflicting advice from cookbooks; this one helps us to come to our own conclusions with the confidence that real scientific knowledge is backing us up.

    It's the most important book in my food library, hands down!

    ...more info
  • Amazing!
    This book is simply amazing. It has to be the most useful utensil in any kitchen. As a scientist, I love the in-depth treatment that is given to almost every aspect of almost every edible thing on earth. It may not be the most appropriate book to everyone. You must be willing to dedicate a lot of effort to soak in all the knowledge available in it....more info
  • A non-cook book cook book
    If you want to understand why certain combinations of food taste better, or how to cook better in general this book is for you. McGee takes a great deal of time to experiment in the kitchen and understand not only what makes a good recipe but why it does so....more info
  • Excellent book on understanding the science behind cooking
    This is one of the best written scientific books I have come across. This is a very lengthy tome and is not an easy read. However, true to the tagline, Harold McGee not only explains the aspects of the different ingredients used in cooking, but also gives interesting stories behind the ingredients.

    I am still reading this book, 4 months after buying this book, but what I have read has just left me wanting to read more. I have also started following Harold's articles on his website, which I find to be equally interesting as well.

    In all, this is a great reference book for any amateur or professional cook, or just someone interested in food!...more info
  • Science and Kitchen in one volume -- What's not to love?
    My sister knows I adore good cookbooks and kitchen gadgets and my family often giggles at what I pull out of a kitchen drawer or bookshelf. She also knows I love chemistry, having purchased a chemistry set for $5 after I received the money for my 10th birthday. Because our parents gave me money instead of buying me the set I wanted, I not only bought it (adding the sales tax from my savings) but immediately burned sulphur in their clothes closet to see if it really did smell like rotten eggs. It does.

    When a package arrived from Amazon and I had no outstanding orders, I assumed it was a birthday present and I was right. What brought me joy that has lasted for three weeks now is the book, "On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen," by Harold McGee. Since my sister had just visited and we'd gone through numerous cookbooks for our baking endeavors, she knew this was a book I did not own, so I am extremely grateful that we'd decided to bake together.

    This volume is for a person who loves the kitchen, cooking, food and has an interest in why things do what they do, especially the reactions that occur when ingredients are combined and subjected to manipulation. This is not a cookbook, but rather an encyclopedia of foods, ingredients and implements. It is absolutely perfect for me, the closet chemist who realized at an early age that she loves food science. My copy will not be placed on a bookshelf because I need to have it close at hand for reference and entertainment on a daily basis. It is a food science bible that's perfect for a non-professional, detailed enough to whet the appetite but not overwhelm. I'm sorry to report to all my sisters that this is by far the best present of 2009!...more info
  • And One More Reason ...
    I bought this book (which I have loved in both editions) for my 14-year-old science nerd nephew. Sure enough, now he's a foodie, too!...more info


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