All things being equal, I have to wonder – seriously, wonder – whether a cookbook can possibly be worth $625. Plus tax.
Okay, details. If you haven’t heard of the Modernist Cuisine, it’s the baby of one scientific millionaire, a team of chefs and scientists, and millions of dollars. A certain Nathan Myhrvold got into sous vide cooking, which apparently is a whole genre of cooking food at specific scientific settings in a vacuum. Finding no definitive cookbook at the time, Myhrvold decided, hey! I’ll write it! He then hired a whole bunch of chefs and cooks from modernist restaurants around the world (Fat Duck, anyone?), built a laboratory, and cooked up 2400 pages of seriously intense cookery.
From what I can see, the 5-volume set is not so much cookbook as reference and photographer’s wet dream. First of all, it’s 5 volumes. Five volumes. Second of all, the recipes sound singularly useless, along the lines of “Put the broth in the centrifuge and spin at 480rpm for 2 minutes.” Now, full disclosure: I haven’t seen the books myself, because they’re all sold out in Toronto. But apparently, the consomme recipes are really good.
There’s also heaps on food safety and food science, like why deep frying in old oil tastes better than new oil. And judging by some of the photos online, the imagery is amazing, like this one:
They put together a bed of coals and a pot roast, and cut the damn thing in half. Geez. (A larger resolution of the photo can be seen here.)
My take on this is that it’s very, very interesting – I have to admire people who decide to do something, and since they have the money to do it well, do it all the way. But it’s not even remotely something for which I’d save up.
Have you heard of this book? What do you think?
– Jean AAR