Book tip: On Food and Cooking – Harold McGee

Food Science covers so many topics, from meat to apples, to marshmallow, to herbs, to chocolate milk. Everything you eat can somehow be analyzed from a scientific perspective as well. And that’s just exactly what makes this book so amazing. It covers just about any topic related to food science.

Several years ago, when I was studying food technology at university, I asked (and got) this book for my birthday. I thought it was really interesting, but hadn’t expected that I would use it as much as I use it for. Despite the fact that just about anything can be found on the internet nowadays, I often start a search on any topic in this book. It offers very concise and understandable pieces of information on all sorts of topics.

The book has over 800 pages and 15 chapters with chapters such as eggs, fish & shellfish, seeds or sauces. And then there’s the chapter covering a whole lot of basics on molecules and chemistry. On Food and Cooking isn’t a book you’d read through completely though, it’s more of an encyclopedia. You flip through when you’re not looking for something and just want to learn something new. Or you’ll look up a very specific queston.

on food and cooking sneak peek 1

Today’s discovery

So, today I flipped open the book and landed on page 23o where McGee happened to be talking about sea urchins! I learned they are added to scrambled eggs in France whereas Japanese tend to eat them raw. I actually had sea urchin once, when I was at a fishermen’s village where they sold fresh sea urchin. I must say though that I probably won’t be tempted to eat it again any time soon. Although the fact that it’s not widely available here in the Netherlands does also play a role.

Just after the sea urchin section McGee explains ways to preserve fish, for instance by drying or salting the fish. Even though he doesn’t go into the details, it’s a great way to get to know some small tidbits and be inspired for a new search.

Overall conclusion

This book is great for those with a broad range of interests when it comes to food science. I think it’s both great for food bloggers, students or professionals in the kitchen. It’s also easy to understand for those with a limited background in the sciences (or for whom that’s been a long time ago).

Have a look at my resources page to find more books that could interest you!

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