Read On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee Online


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 deliciousHarold 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 qualityThe great diversity of methods by which people in different places and times have prepared the same ingredientsTips for selecting the best ingredients and preparing them successfullyThe particular substances that give foods their flavors and that give us pleasureOur evolving knowledge of the health benefits and risks of foodsOn 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....

Title : On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780684800011
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 896 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

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

  • Elizabeth
    2019-01-23 08:04

    This book is endlessly fascinating. Interesting tidbits McGee's has taught me: raw pineapple will curdle milk, but cooked pineapple will not. Some of our fellow humans will be repulsed by cheese because of an instinctual reaction to fermented foods. See? Fascinating!McGee's contains necessary information that you can not get from a recipe on practically every dish and ingredient known to man. This is the kind of book that will sit next to the stove, dog-eared and grease-spattered, eternally useful, until Personal Chef Robots become fixtures in all of our homes.

  • Cynthia
    2019-01-05 10:50

    Before there was Alton Brown, there was Harold McGee. This is a smart, dazzling, fabulously eclectic collection of information about what we eat. From Plato’s views on cooking to electron micrographs of cheese to a description of how eggs form in a chicken’s body to the history of beer and chocolate, this book offers an intoxicating wealth of food information, trivia, and science. Did you know that the cell walls of mushrooms aren’t made up of cellulose, like plants, but rather of chitin, the carbohydrate-amine complex that makes up the outer skeletons of insects? Or that raw lima beans contain sugar-cyanide complexes that can shut down your respiratory system? Or that a strawberry is a “false” fruit? If you want to know which vegetables were available at the court of Richard II, why fish is white, or the chemical composition of a saturated fat, then this is the book for you. Practical information, like how to tell stale eggs from fresh, is liberally sprinkled amid the science and anecdotes. Even if you don’t cook and only rarely eat, this is a fascinating book.

  • David
    2019-01-01 03:42

    Once upon a time, I was expressing my frustration with books on cooking to a chemist friend -- primarily that most books on cooking treat cooking as this magical art. They presume lots of knowledge on the part of the reader and they give directions that theoretically make the food what it's supposed to be, rarely explaining WHY you want to cook this meat at temperature x or mince this thing instead of slice, or whatever. I wanted something that answered a bit more of the Why?This friend suggested that I hunt down something on the topic that approached things from a scientific perspective, and while looking I stumbled upon McGee. It's certainly less front-to-back readable than I would have liked, and more encyclopediac. And while it has not exactly unlocked the black art of cooking for me, it's a great resource book to have in the kitchen. Any time I'm using a technique or ingredient I haven't used before, I consult Good Harry McGee. And it's a pretty well-written and researched book too (with lots of great historical context), and as such, it's fun to pick up and read random sections from, on occasion.

  • John Burke
    2019-01-10 03:57

    This is an invaluable resource when your kids ask "does THIS cheese have mold in it" or "why does it all stick together if you cook it too long" or when you want to know what makes espresso different from coffee. Is is not about cooking, but about why and how cooking works, about where the flavor is in the spices and why the tomato ripens, what makes a sauce a sauce instead of gravy or soup, and what nougat really is. The style is accessible but unafraid of chemistry. A wonderful companion to the cookbooks you read for recipes.

  • Hirondelle
    2019-01-05 06:48

    I think I am going to be currently reading this for a very very long time. It´s 800 pages, small print, massive index (essential) and bibliography. Human imagination and cultural complexity regarding food being as it is, not even 800 pages will be enough, so I don´t think it has EVERYTHING on food but it does have practically everything of the most common kind, in a wide global way. First thing - this is not a recipe book and it is a pretty serious book. You can use it as dictionary, using the very good index to browse and learn snippets at will. Reading a chapter from beginning to end takes its time and it is incredibly rewarding. I have been reading about cooking, and experimenting since I was a child, I own too many cookbooks to easily confess, and this is finally a book which puts things in context, which makes me understand the science of why this or that, put into cultural and historical context. For example did you know about differences between american and european flour?Maybe the most useful and interesting book on food I have yet found.

  • Matthew Iden
    2019-01-16 06:55

    On Food and Cooking is one of those few books that I can drop on a table, let it fall open to any page, and read for the next hour. As I said to someone once: you may not cook, but you probably eat. If so, this book should keep you entranced. Nearly anything you might want to know about the history, etymology, and process of gastronomy is covered in this volume, but even that is too dry a description to really explain how fun it is. Want to know why there are so many Sugar Loaf mountains around the U.S. countryside? That's how sugar used to be sold. Did you know part of the cashew is poisonous and the other can be made into beer? Want to read a description of all the kinds of distillation there are? Or how the science of nutrition was founded and where it may have gone wrong?All homes could use a small shelf of reference books: the dictionary, an encyclopedia, a basic cookbook. But right next to all of them should be On Food and Cooking.

  • Nick Black
    2019-01-02 07:05

    At $25, it's rather more palatable (pun intended!) than Modernist Cuisine's $675, and was referenced in the same New Yorker article. According to GnuCash, I spent more money last year on cigarettes than groceries; changing that seems a noble enough objective. I'll likely start by stocking pepper.btw, wenger, i dig your taking up of my "*-acquire*" bookshelf semantics!

  • ^
    2019-01-07 02:56

    The 2nd edition. Concentrated knowledge; yet NOT written in impenetrable ‘academicalese.’ McGee's ability to amass, sort, analyse, and order an enormous amount of relevant information is awesomely impressive. He makes the average PhD. thesis look sheepish.This is definitely a reference book to be laid open on a table and lovingly dipped into by an enquiring mind. Not held open in the hands: too heavy. However, I’ll keep my (much smaller) copy of the 1st edition, because I want to follow how McGee’s thinking has modified and changed over the twenty years between 1984 and 2004.Every school library ought to have a copy on their shelves. How better to turn children onto the joys of science than a book on ‘edible science’?

  • Lisa Hawkins
    2018-12-30 09:48

    It would be a stretch to say that I am a cook or a 'foodie', but I imagine that every culinary master in America must own this book.This is NOT a cookbook -- it's a guide to food, a dynamic explanation about where your food comes from, the science behind how it cooks/blends/rises and how preparation techniques impact taste. It's a book that is hard to peg, and not one that you'll read cover-to-cover in one sitting. The writing is succinct but not tedious to follow, and every chapter packs in a spectrum of interesting facts.

  • Scott Erickson
    2019-01-05 05:48

    This is a truly epic book. It covers food from every relevant angle: gastronomically, biologically, chemically, historically, culturally. It's exhaustive and, as a result, can be exhausting sometimes. It took a month of fairly regular reading to finish, and I skipped some parts. But if you read this book from cover to cover, you probably should skip some of it, too. It covers so many aspects of nourishment that while you're basically guaranteed to find parts that are interesting or intriguing to you, you're also likely to run into parts that don't grip you that much. So skip the latter and dwell on the former to get the most enjoyment. And it makes for a good reference book, if you ever feel like learning about some given food or cooking process.The main takeaway I got from this book is the sheer magnitude of how much we as a species shape our food for our diverse and often competing needs and desires, and have for thousands of years. Animals and plants evolved to survive, not to nourish us. But between breeding, cooking, and various other tricks, we have optimized or otherwise significantly altered almost everything we consume, with some trade-offs but largely for the better. Plants as common as cabbage, lima beans, potatoes and lettuce have had some of their old wild, natural toxicity bred out of them. We cook them to draw out or disable more undesirable toxins and enzymes and to unlock nutrients, and we dilute toxins in the case of spices and herbs to the point where we find them enjoyable. Or we simply learned to love them, such as with chili plants which literally cause us pain. And for any two foods that technically come from the same plant or animal, in reality they come from different varieties that have been bred specifically for those foods (corn for eating plain vs for popping, grapes for wine vs for raisins, cows for meat vs for milk, etc). Strictly speaking, then, there's very little you could say is purely 'natural' out there no matter where you look. So it's not about whether or not you want to eat food taken straight from the bosom of mother nature, it's about in what way and to what extent you want to modify and control the food you eat. Organic vs processed is such a gross oversimplification, and means very different things from one type of food to the next.I read the ebook on my Kindle Fire, and there were some issues with the formatting. I hope whoever is in charge of that cleans it up someday. That said, the issues were minor, mostly just chunks of text where they shouldn't be. The links and most everything else was fine.

  • pinknantucket
    2018-12-25 07:52

    OK so I didn't read absolutely every word of this book, but it's over 800 pages and I reckon I read more than enough of them to equal a decently long novel. I'm actually reading it for my thesis, what with McGee being a pre-eminent food scientist and all, and it's so much more pleasurable to read than your average science textbook. Describing the science behind food - why does bread rise? Why should you start stocks with cold water? - McGee takes you not only through the science but also into some of the history, and this is a large part of its charm. Where else can you learn about why the outside of egg yolks turn yellow on boiling while also enjoying fantastic quotes like this one from Miss Leslie in 1857: “But to stir butter and sugar is the hardest part of cake making. Have this done by a manservant”. Quite - why didn't I think of that? Only bad point from my current perspective is that it's so easy to get distracted by other non-thesis related topics, like how to make cakes and how beer works. Also, nice diagrams!

  • Diana
    2019-01-22 07:57

    Very comprehensive book for the average person who is really into food. It goes into the historical and scientific background of various foods. The writing style is easy to follow, so there's no getting lost with this book!I found the author's writing style to be a little too flowery, but it may just be that I am not enough of a food connoisseur to understand some of his descriptions. For example, he describes buffalo milk as being barnyardy and reminiscent of mushrooms and freshly-cut grass. These descriptions seem a bit subjective to me, but what do I know? This was one of my class texts, and it was surprisingly readable. Still a bit dull for reading on your own though. Some chapters look like they'll be exciting, like the chapter on sauce, but it's pretty much a chapter on the chemistry of thickening reagents.

  • Vicky
    2019-01-24 10:58

    When I ruined cream sauce by cooking it at a too hot temperature (so that instead of thickening, the cream just broke down into water and oil), I thought I needed to know a little more about exactly what was going on when I cooked. I asked my brother (scientist and cook) to get me something like that for my birthday, and he sent this book. Lots of interesting information for cooking geeks. I am not sure yet if it has improved my cooking, but it's still fun to read. Most interesting to me: the sections on nuts and bread.

  • Greymalkin
    2019-01-03 10:45

    Such a fun and interesting book. As a foodie and a scientist I appreciate his approach to cooking and food. I also love the sense of joyful curiosity that suffuses the book. I was lucky enough to attend a talk by Harold McGee and he is still just as charming and enthusiastic as he seems in the book. He had so many interesting facts to impart that I wished the talk was three times as long. I'd love to sit down and chat with him.

  • Monica Lauer
    2018-12-24 09:57

    Being a total food nerd, this book was heaven for me. I am curious about the chemistry, preparation and anthropology of food and McGee has all of those bases covered. If you cannot handle information purveyed to you in a dry, textbook-like manner this is not the book for you. However if you want to know everything there is to know about eggs, milk, herbs, veggies, meat and more and why they all work together so well (or don't) you definitely need to pick this one up!

  • Elizabeth Theiss
    2019-01-05 04:59

    Who knew that food science could keep you up late at night? This is a can't-put-it-down explanation of how cooking, pickling,preserving, fluffing, rising, kneading and all manner of other cooking techniques work. I return to McGee's explanations again and again. I am a better cook and a more appreciative eater as a result. Bravo Mr. McGee!

  • Eva Gogola
    2018-12-28 02:42

    This book is a MUST for the kitchen. I was never one for math, chemistry or any sort of science until I started cooking. This book is a great resource and packed tight with incredibly interesting food knowledge.

  • John Croutch
    2019-01-05 10:53

    If you love cooking and want to know the minutiae of the science behind cooking, then this book is for you.

  • Esteban Siravegna
    2019-01-18 06:03

    Great reading about a lot of facts on cooking, or debunking a lot of urban legends such as 'sealing' the meat in order to preserve tenderness.

  • Claudia
    2019-01-19 08:03

    Of course i did not read it all, used it selectively as reference.

  • Rod Greener
    2019-01-24 10:51

    The finest book on food science and food history on the market!I will never actually be done reading as I go back to it all the time.

  • _topo_
    2018-12-29 04:54

    tutto ma proprio tutto quello che si vuole sapere sul cibo, dal punto di vista storico, gastronomico, biologico...

  • Radu P
    2018-12-25 08:00

    "Cooking is applied chemistry, and the basic concept of chemistry-molecules, energy, heat, reactions-are keys to a clearer understanding of what our foods are and how we transform them." This book it has an immeasurable value.The author did a huge research in order to write it. I was always curious to find out the explanation for all cooking procedures,argumentation for the sience behind the cooking.The author manage to do it very well. Also you can find good tips and tricks which you can apply it at home or in a professional kitchen.It should be a must read for all the professional cooks. Would read in future the other two books from Harold Mcgee:Keys to good cooking and The curious cook.

  • Jason
    2019-01-08 08:42

    For lovers of Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. This the best of materialist explorations of food preparation. McGee gets into the foundational molecular details and interactions of ingredients and explores basic components like sauces and dough. This is not fussy though - it's imminently readable, and he covers both technique and historical trends. I've been reading straight through, but I'm glad it's in the library, so I can re-read as I delve into new cooking practices.

  • Owen
    2018-12-27 02:52

    Excellent read! Very interesting and informative while balancing readability. Does a great job of incorporating science, food history, and use. I wish they would publish updates regularly but the topic is so broad that it's probably a mammoth task. I am typically a fiction reader and have been able to work my way through this which is unusual for me.

  • Maximum Peaches
    2019-01-12 04:56

    I learned a lot from On Food and Cooking. I've been buying frozen vegetables for a while and reheating them in the microwave in a bowl. I learned the microwave only heats food down to about an inch and that heating vegetables can destroy vitamins in them. Now I'll spread the vegetables on a plate about an inch deep so they don't get overcooked. It teaches the common ways of cooking and I found out why the meat I'd been cooking was coming out tasting dry. It covers the healthiness of foods but for completeness I would want to supplement that segment with a book like Living The CR Way.

  • Thu Hoài
    2019-01-15 06:43

    This could be on my reading list at any time, as it filled with an enormous amount of information on food chemistry and cooking. Embark on a delicious journey with McGee and dive in any chapter of your interest.

  • Jason Lowry
    2019-01-11 02:46

    A great reference book on gastronomy and the history of food in general. Once you open this book it is really hard to put down.

  • Danie Sharpe
    2019-01-21 09:00

    Must read for food geeks.

  • Rodrigo Duarte
    2019-01-03 03:48

    Un imperativo para los cocineros con inclinación científica.