I was browsing through my book collection today and picked up Molecular Gastronomy: exploring the science of flavor. Although I’ve owned this book for years and read through it on several occasions, it is still as interesting to re-read. The chapters are sort but sweet and filled with so much knowledge which seems almost essential to any chef or avid home cook. It is filled with practical tips, insightful observations and suggestions. To get the most out of the book you it helps if you have a fairly decent knowledge of the cooking methods and techniques.
The author Herve This (This – pronounced Tees), is a renowned physical chemist who has worked with the likes of multi Michelin starred chef Pierre Gagnaire, and the very man who coined the term ‘Molecular Gastronomy’. This book was the first of his books to have been translated into English.
The book begins by reexamining and debunking a variety of time-honored rules and dictums about cooking and presents new and improved ways of preparing a variety of dishes from quiches and quenelles to steak and hard-boiled eggs.
The book then goes on to discuss the physiology of flavor and explores how the brain perceives tastes, how chewing affects food, and how the tongue reacts to various stimuli. Examining the molecular properties of bread, ham, foie gras, and champagne, the book analyzes what happens as they are baked, cured, cooked, and chilled. Looking to the future, This imagines new cooking methods and proposes novel dishes. A chocolate mousse without eggs? A flourless chocolate cake baked in the microwave? “Molecular Gastronomy” explains how to make them. This also shows us how to cook perfect French fries, why a souffle rises and falls, how long to cool champagne, when to season a steak, the right way to cook pasta, how the shape of a wine glass affects the taste of wine, why chocolate turns white, and how salt modifies tastes.