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Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing the Science of Cooking (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  137 ratings  ·  24 reviews

An international celebrity and founder of molecular gastronomy, or the scientific investigation of culinary practice, Hervé This is known for his ground-breaking research into the chemistry and physics behind everyday cooking. His work is consulted widely by amateur cooks and professional chefs and has changed the way food is approached and prepared all over the world.


Paperback, 232 pages
Published July 8th 2010 by Columbia University Press (first published January 1st 1996)
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Well I'm a science nerd, a food lover, a novice chef/wannabe baker/cook, and I also teach a college class called the biology of food. So this book was all but guaranteed to get high marks from me. It would have gotten a full five star rating, but I deducted one for a couple reasons. First, the writing style was kind of all over the place. It was humorous and then serious without any leadin or any indication of what was to come. It ended up reading very choppy beach use of that.

Second, the level
I can't quite put my finger on why this one didn't work for me. Somehow, the information never quite seemed to stick in my head. It's not like I'm intimidated by chemistry--I've got a degree in engineering, I've hacked my way through science textbooks much denser than this. And I've already picked up a decent working knowledge of the chemical underpinnings of cooking.

I'm not sure whether the problem lies in the translation or in some kind of culture gap. But I constantly felt as if there were as
this is the dude that invented molecular gastronomy -- the scientific investigation of culinary practice!!! some chefs around the world take his principles and a lot of creativity and make crazy food like foams and gels and shit. it's got more to do with bragging rights than nutrition, but it is so cool.

this book is an exploration of the chemistry and physics behind the crazy science experiments we make for meals. this is his second book, and here he focuses specifically on things that happen i
Herve This is widely associated with the "school" of Molecular Gastronomy, which is why I didn't want to read his book. Other excellent texts on the science of cooking exist, e.g. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen, New York: Scribner, 1984 and Robert L. Wolke, What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen science explained, New York: W.W. Norton, 2002. I had no interest in making chemistry-set dishes unrecognizable as food by any of my grandmothers. On the recommendat ...more
Niya B
For anyone who has wondered why animal bones make things gel, or what puts the sponge in sponge cake and for anyone who wants to make a better souffle, or to ensure that their sauces are perfectly unctuous This' Kitchen Mysteries is the perfect beginning. The writing makes the sciences incredibly accessible, the passion for creating the most perfect version of something through rigorous testing of variables makes the entire piece rather endearing. It's a lovely piece for the more scientifically ...more
The second book I've read by Herve This ... and this is the one I'd recommend. He has a capacity to take simple topics (jam, egg, sauce) and make you feel like like you can competently take them on in a whole new sophisticated way. The structure of eggs explains so many dishes. Better yet ... how to recover an egg dish that appears to be failing ... that's valuable. The book is both basic and advanced. If a young foodie asked me what to read to learn how to cook for themselves I'd recommend firs ...more
Chefs, cooks or foodies: beware! It is not a science treaty. It is not a how to do molecular gastronomy cookbook. It is a brief explanation in small themed chapters with smaller Q&A type sections about things this "mad hatter food scientist" has asked himself and then gone and scientifically prove, disprove or find out rightly.

Brilliant? Yes! Inspiring? Nope. Damn well informative and logically explained with a degree of elementary storytelling? You bet! Hey, it has answers to questions and
I ended up just skimming over parts of the book -- parts of it went too in depth with the chemistry of cooking, and it mostly revolved around souffles and other egg products that I just don't bother making, as well as around wine and alcohol products. There was a sections on cooking meats that was interesting, if I cooked more meat. I was mostly disappointed in the bread section. I didn't really learn anything that I haven't learned in other places.

All in all, I guess this book just wasn't for m
I can't *really* rate this book since I didn't finish it. Maybe I don't remember as much chemistry and biochemistry as I thought, but the terminology just seemed a little too vague in places I wanted more description and too much description in places I didn't care about. And I really, really like science. And ultimately, what I did finish wasn't going to help me cook better. Disappointed that this wasn't better.
This book assumes that the reader already has significant experience in the kitchen. There are some interesting tidbits, but the author seems more interested in the details of the chemistry than in providing much in the way of useful kitchen instruction. The book would have benefited from having accompanying recipes that demonstrated some of what the author was talking about.
Jesper Donnis
Good companion to Harold McGee's On Food
Brief entries about some of the science behind cooking. And I learned how to tell a cooked egg from a raw one.
For me, this book was above my head in terms of kitchen skills & understanding and too technical in terms of the chemistry, but there were interesting tidbits and odd bits of humor sprinkled throughout.
Useful at parts but often a bit confusing and repetitive. On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee is in the same vein and more readable, though it's also a bajillion pages long.
Liz De Coster
This book was interesting an informative, but some of the "technical" aspects (explanations for various chemical interactions, etc.) were a bit complex for me.
This book had a lot of really interesting information, but lacked organization. Took me awhile to get through it, but I am mostly glad I did.
The "science" was too much of an obstacle for me to feast on the book - so I sampled here and there when something appealed to me.
fascinating. like grade-school science but about shit you can safely put in your mouth.
Jul 29, 2012 Donna marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

Just scanned all the unread books on my bookshelf :p
Dec 16, 2008 Maria rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: humanist gourmands
Shelves: food
I suspect this book could be a gateway drug to Science. Hard Science.
Definitely for serious chefs which I am not!!!
Herve This is one of my biggest inspirations in the kitchen. This book is a good introduction to what he is all about.
Daryl G
Daryl G marked it as to-read
Nov 25, 2015
Elena Weltschmerz
Elena Weltschmerz marked it as to-read
Nov 20, 2015
Lena Petrova
Lena Petrova marked it as to-read
Nov 14, 2015
Nathaniel is currently reading it
Nov 08, 2015
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Hervé This is is a French physical chemist who works at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique. His main area of interest is molecular gastronomy, or how our knowledge of chemistry and science in general, can be used as a tool to enhance culinary experiences, rather than the purely empirical knowledge which more often than not dictates the rules in the kitchen. With the late Nicholas Ku ...more
More about Hervé This...

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Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History (1 - 10 of 21 books)
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  • Food is Culture (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)
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