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The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore (Anglais) Broché – 20 avril 1992

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Book by McGee Harold

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It's in the best of cookbooks and the worst of cookbooks, the simple and the sophisticated. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 26 commentaires
93 internautes sur 97 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Interesting, eclectic, weirdly informative 19 décembre 2001
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I have been searching for the "ultimate" book on the science of cooking for a while now, and this book is my latest read on the subject. While it's not what I was hoping to find, it is the most interesting of the books I've read so far.
McGee's earlier book, "On Food and Cooking" (ISBN 0684843285), attempted to be encyclopedic in its coverage of food topics, hitting on every ingedient from a historical and scientific perspective. As a result (for me, anyway), it failed to be fully satisfactory on both counts. This book makes no such pretense, and is much the better for it.
From the earliest chapters, discussing the effects of searing and various temperatures on meat (did you know you could kill trichinella by keeping pork below 5 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 weeks?), I knew that I was in for a much more interesting and lively read this time around. There is a lot of interesting, new and useful information in this book, though the information doesn't always necessarily satisfy all 3 criteria at once.
The second chapter, for example, covers the topic of why oil collects on the inside of your glasses when you cook. The actual reason turns out to be fairly pedestrian, but the story of his experimentation (including a rather tongue-in-cheek diagram of several pairs of glasses propped on inverted bowls around a frying pan) was fun to read.
The topics in the book were chosen more-or-less at random, consisting of free-form explorations of topics including how to force persimmons to ripen, just how little egg you can get away with in mayonnaise, the truth (such as it is) about food, cancer, and heart disease, and various thoughts about what makes things taste good. The chapters on sauces were in general very well done, and I like the fact that McGee spent significant time discussing strategies for defeatng salmonella in egg-based sauces.
The only word of warning I have to offer is that McGee's writing style tends toward the sesquipedalian (and if you don't feel comfortable with words like "sesquipedalian", you'll probably find the book a bit hard to read). While I can't fault McGee's knowledge, from a presentation perspective, well, Alton Brown, he ain't.
30 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Kitchen Science and Good Eats 25 mai 2001
Par Mary P. Campbell - Publié sur
Format: Broché
McGee really knows his food. Down to the very molecules. There's a good touch of amateur science as well, when he attempts to see how much oil an egg yolk can =really= emulsify (the answer was amazing!) and how one can use butter to emulsify itself! This book has inspired me with its easy-to-understand analyses of chemical and physical processes to do some food experimenting of my own - my husband is a vegetarian, so I can't use the direct knowledge of how butter and eggs work. But McGee =does= indicate which substances in the foods do the work, and I can find vegetable replacements for that.
Also of deep interest is the question "Why does food taste better cooked?" in which one discovers that "All food aspires to the condition of fruit." The topic selection is somewhat hodge-podge, but one comes away with a greater appreciation for the complexity of cooking (and not as impressed with beurre blanc sauces - it's almost impossible to screw those up!)
And for those who like this book, I recommend the T.V. show "Good Eats", hosted by Alton Brown, on the Food Network, which draws on a similar scientific interest in all things eaten.
26 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
How You Too Can Apply Science to Food. Excellent Read 10 avril 2004
Par B. Marold - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Harold McGee is probably the most widely cited writer in American culinary writing today. Alton Brown literally genuflects at the mention of his name and complains that he is hard pressed to find a subject on which Herr McGee has not already explored at some length. His major work, `On Food and Cooking' appears to be on the short list of Culinary Institute of America references for their students, next to Escoffier and their own references.
This work, `The Curious Cook', is a bit different that the other work, in spite of the subtitle `More Kitchen Science and Lore'. The larger book is largely theoretical. This book is largely experimental and its subtitle should be the title of the first and longest section `Playing With Food'. The lesson taught here is probably the single most important lesson you can learn in any endeavor. That is, when in doubt, try a little experiment. When I was studying philosophy, this largely took the form of thought experiments, not unlike the development of a Science Fiction plot. `What would happen if there were artificial people who were indistinguishable from biological humans. The result is the story `Blade Runner'. When I worked with chemistry, this step was obvious. Oddly, I had to relearn the lesson when I became a professional programmer. It took a few years and more than a few books to learn the value of prototyping code, even for some of the most simple algorithms. All this means is that when you cook, YOU ARE ALLOWED TO TRY THINGS OUT WITH THE OBJECTIVE OF SEEING IF SOMETHING WORKS. My favorite example is in making and using a simple bechamel sauce to make macaroni and cheese or creamed chipped beef without having the sauce break.
I am constantly amazed at the blissful ignorance behind some common misstatements by very good professional chefs who have established themselves as celebrity educators on various TV cooking shows. I suspect the most common is the statement that laying meat into a hot saute pan sears the flesh to seal in the moisture. This misstatement is the subject of McGee's first chapter, where with a simple kitchen scale, he demonstrates what should be common sense to anyone with some knowledge of physics. Application of high heat reduces the moisture in the meat. This essay was published before the Food Network was a gleam in network entrepreneurs' eyes, yet Emeril and Tyler and Rachael and even Wolfgang repeat this misstatement on a regular basis. The lucky thing about this statement is that searing meat or any other food for that matter, has a very important benefit, in that it develops flavor through caramelization and the Maillard reactions. By design or by chance, the explanation of the Maillard reactions come in the very last chapter of the book, providing the reason we have been searing food for millennia.
There are other books that deal with food and science. Some of the most recent and most famous are `Cookwise' by Shirley Corriher, `I'm Only Here for the Food' by Alton Brown, and `What Einstein Told His Cook' by Robert Wolke. All of these works are exceptionally good books. But, none of these works give the kind on encouragement and the kind of clues you need to find culinary answers on your own.
One warning may be in order. Science, i.e., the method of experimentation and observation is the most powerful method developed to answer questions and acquire knowledge, but it is certainly not enough to make you a superior cook. For example, I really like Alton Brown's `Good Eats' shows and I often use his recipes, but whenever I see Mario Batali do something in a different way than Alton, I invariably use Mario's recipe or method rather than Brown's suggestion. The heart of the reason behind this is that Mario Batali is a very, very good professional chef and Alton Brown is not. Preparing food is a fine mix between knowledge and artistic expression. Professional chefs know the best ways to do things to achieve the most desirable culinary result, even if they do not know the scientific explanation for why they do things in a certain way.
I will warn you that some of the essays in Parts II and III are a bit long on reflection and a bit short on practical application. I may even go so far as to say some of these sections are just a bit dull. In spite of this, the first section on `Playing with Food' plus the essays on aluminum and the Maillard reactions are all pure gold for the dedicated foodie.
Very highly recommended for anyone interested in food.
25 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Entertaining for both the professional and amateur "foodie" 29 mars 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Broché
How could McGee follow "On Food and Cooking", a bible to those who live and love to cook? He has written a more conversational and humorous book combining cooking lore and practical chemistry to answer a thoughtful cook's questions to "I wonder why...?" His chapters on ices/sorbets and sauces contain essential info I've never found anywhere else. It was too short! When is the sequel being published?
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Master recipes and some food for your inner nerd 30 août 2006
Par Lynn Hoffman, author:Radiation Days: A Comedy - Publié sur
Format: Broché
If the author's mother ever told him to stop playing with his food, we can be glad he ignored her. Most of The Curious Cook is the happy result of what sounds like great playful time in the kitchen. There are essentially three focuses set out for this book:

*The first and most useful is a set of master recipes based on the author's experiments with food. The chapter on fruit ices alone is reason enough to buy the book and anyone thinking about buying an ice cream maker will have a lot more fun if they buy this book too.

The section on beurre blanc is both a how-to and a paean to this simple, quick and beautiful sauce.(chapter 6) Anyone who ever makes their own mayonnaise will be grateful for chapter 8.

*There is a bit of lab science:Chapter 11-the pleasures of merely measuring-is a recounting and tribute to the truly nerdy curiousity that some of us cooks develop. McGee's writing is fluid and friendly and it makes the laboratory-manual topics seem positively inviting.

*The third section is some food and health stuff that recalls things you've probably read in consumer food-oriented magazines a dozen times. You could skip chapters 12-14 without missing much.

The Curious Cook is definitely a bed table cook's book (rather than a kitchen cookbook), and a delightful one. It's hard to imagine a food-lover not enjoying it.

Lynn Hoffman, author of The New Short Course in Wine

and the forthcoming bang-BANG from Kunati Press
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