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http://www.amazon.com/Food-Cooking-Science-Lore-Kitchen/dp/0... is a good book that discusses culinary science, and it costs a lot less than $450.

You should absolutely buy this book; it's fantastic and extremely readable. Flip to a random page: oh look, it's every herb used in mainstream and ethnic cooking in the west, broken down by key volatile compounds!

McGee's column in the NY Times is also required reading. McGee "broke the story" on gelatin consommes, for example (which by the way one of the coolest tricks ever: simmer anything in water for a few hours, strain, pour in 1/4 packet of gelatin, cool it, freeze it, and then let it thaw in a strainer in the fridge; the gelatin does for the broth what a raft does for a classic consomme --- just read the article; teaser: perfectly clear chocolate consomme ---


I have the book and was disappointed, my experience was "OK let's learn about X" I search to find mention in the book, and I get something like "mostly harmless." Or something with much less information than in the first few lines of the wikipedia article about X. I still don't know where's any good stuff in that book. Anybody cares to explain?

McGee is very much a compromise book. For any given topic, be it science, practical cooking techniques or food history and anthropology there are several better books out there. But if you only want one book that briefly touches on all those things then McGee is a good introduction to many topics. Look at On Food and Cooking as a starting place to get inspiration for further research, not as a final destination.

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