Cookbook Review: The Science of Cooking by Dr. Stuart Farrimond

Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is so astounding in its thoroughness and sheer dedication to its premise that I struggle to begin to review it. How does one write a short blurb and assign a star rating to something that was clearly a monumental project for years? It doesn't seem fair. I will say that Dr. Farrimond has produced a landmark cookbook that challenges the reader to rethink everything they thought they knew about food. He lends his scientific background to a delicious subject with teaching tidbits behind every page.

The book itself is broken down into sections that address common myths and questions about various topics in food and cooking. What is the difference between organic and free-range chicken? What does dry-ageing really do to a steak? What is the much-discussed Maillard reaction and why is it so important? Answers to these questions and more are explored right down to the molecular activity that shapes our world. Dr. Farrimond breaks everything down in laymen's terms while not compromising on sharing the real nitty-gritty science behind everything.

With this premise, the book runs the risk of becoming too dry and textbook-esque, but he somehow keeps everything just succinct enough to remain interesting. The wonderful visuals don't hurt either. They range from gorgeous color photographs to well-crafted charts, diagrams, and other figures that help explain the science for us visual learners out there. They bring to life what would otherwise be an interesting collection of science articles.

As I flipped through the pages, I was strongly reminded of the 101-question science books I used to read as a kid, which aimed to teach by asking questions. This book strikes the perfect balance between intellectual and fun, and it brought back all the nostalgia of those books that first ignited my own interest in science. If you're a fan of Alton Brown and his quirky Food Network classic, Good Eats, you will love this book as well.

If you're debating whether or not to buy this book, buy it! It would make the perfect gift for your geeky home cook, your hungry science nerd, your budding little chefs, and it would also just make a fun coffee table book. I can't wait to add this to my own collection and use it as a reference text when I want to know more about what I'm cooking. Thanks to Dr. Farrimond for running with this great idea and executing it so well!

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

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