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Feb 16, 2011 07:41 PM

Modernist Cuisine - The Art and Science of Cooking ... less per pound than Parmigiano Reggiano (it is almost 50 lbs)

Do the math ... $467.62 at Amazon ... but the shipping is free

Who is buying this six volume, 2,438 page cookbook with 1,522 recipes by Nathan Myhrvold?

Any good links to excerpts? There is a Chowhound post about cooking perfect fish that was interesting

Yes, I don't cook much, but I love knowing the science behind cooking and the fish post got me interested.

I'm a huge fan of Harold McGee who was a contributor to the book. He writes in the Amazon blurb

"Modernist Cuisine is a landmark contribution to the craft of cooking and our understanding of its underlying principles. Its scale, detail, and eye-opening graphics are unmatched by any other book on the subject. It will be an invaluable resource for anyone with a serious interest in cooking techniques, whether the professional innovations of the last few decades or the long traditions on which they build."

I'm also interested in the Sections for Food Safety (Simplifyig food safety with science) and Microbiology for Cooks (Protists and viruses and prions, oh my!)

There are recipes from fish and chips to a 30 hour hamburger.

It is cool that the Techniques and Equipment includes microwaves (and slightly dangerous tricks you can do with it).

Potentially iInteresting stuff to me from that part of the book which "pro­vides a new view inside the old approaches—from grilling to smok­ing, stir-fry to saute—to reveal what is really going on. This view through the sci­en­tists’ eyes debunks many long-held mis­con­cep­tions about tra­di­tional ways of cook­ing. The authors show, for exam­ple, why:

1.boil­ing often cooks faster than steaming;
2.adjustable grills cook just as hot as fixed grills;
3.expen­sive pots and pans are not worth it;
4.bak­ing is really all about dry­ing the food;
5.deep-fried food tastes best when the oil is older"

I'm just kind of disappointed there is no ebook version. More than the price, the thoguht of lugging this around and having it take up shelf space is sort of a negative for me.

Here's the table of contents from the website

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  1. Pre-ordered for under $400 when it first became available. I don't think that it's intended to be lugged around, but chances are good that there will likely be some sort of e-book extension to the tome.

    2 Replies
    1. re: wattacetti

      I know that. It is just I see a few moves in my future and the thought of packing even more books, especially 50 pounds worth, puts me off.

      Hope you'll report back when you get it. I'll probably just hang out in some books stores and browse through it to see how lug-worthy it is.

      1. re: rworange

        You know, if you buy it, you wouldn't need to invest in a home gym since you could use the books as free weights. indicates March 7 so that's another 2.5 weeks before the UPS guy starts talking hernia.

    2. Man, on it is $529.99 CDN. I would be all over it if I could only get it for $400. Cannot wait to hear your report on it, wattacetti. I really, really, really want it! The 50 lb doesn't put me off at all - in fact, the more encyclopedic and weighty the better. I consider anything under 400 pages thin! :-D

      As an aside, it is very frustrating that books are SO much more expensive on than when our dollar is pretty darned close. Just a rant...

      4 Replies
      1. re: chefathome

        Interesting; the Canadian list price jumped from $625 to $700 in the last couple of weeks. It also seems to have jumped by 200 or so additional pages. So at the price I ordered at, I'm getting this thing at a paltry $0.16 per page.

        Not all books are more expensive on; Blumenthal's Further Adventures in Search of Perfection (the one with the Blumenburger recipe) is considerably cheaper on this side of the border. I guess they're just targeting the high-profile titles.

        1. re: wattacetti

          You're right - not all are more expensive but I'd say the vast majority always have been (maybe 80% or so??). The reason I know is that I always check the reviews on as there are more of them there and the price is almost always lower, too...

          Man, I could stomach $400 or so but $700 is a little much. My birthday is coming up, though. I'll have to drop some subtle hints around the house.

          1. re: chefathome

            $700 is SRP;'s running $530, which is still a bit steep. You could sell this by say, reminding everyone that it's only 10,600 deposit cans for them to collect. And it's way cheaper than any recent bottle of Pétrus en primeur.

        2. re: chefathome

 had a one-day Boxing Day deal for $395.99 and since I'd been eyeing it for some time I took the plunge. It just arrived yesterday, it's stunning. Five large hardcover volumes in a clear acrylic case and a coil bound kitchen manual.

        3. You may be refering to my post Feb 14. No replies of yet. I may have jumped the gun. I'm going to copy it here in hopes of some more banter.

          Myhrvold's Fish Technique Saturday's Wall Street Journal had an article about Nathan Myhrvold's new cookbook series Modernist Cuisine. If you haven't heard about it, I would encourage you to read about it. They also had a brief Q and A. See part of it below. Has anyone tried this? Did it work? How long did it take?

          PROBLEM #4: You can't make perfect fish.
          SOLUTION: Broil it in wine.
          In an oven-proof pan, lay a piece of fish on a bed of onions, fennel or another aromatic. Pour wine to nearly cover the fish, leaving only the skin uncovered. Place the pan under a hot top-heated broiler and cook until the skin is crisp; the exact timing will vary widely depending on the thickness of the fish and other factors. Remove from broiler, insert a digital thermometer and wait until the fish reaches the desired temperature (somewhere between 120 and 130 degrees is often optimal). If the fish does not reach temperature, heat the pan gently on the stove top until it does. The fish will be tender, with crispy skin.

          WHAT'S GOING ON: "Evaporative cooling" is at work here. The alcohol in the wine evaporates so rapidly that it cools the wine, keeping it from getting too hot and overcooking the fish. Meanwhile, the broiler crisps the skin to perfection.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pappy

            Yes, that's the post I linked to, thanks for reposting. I was hoping someone had tried this. I wonder though how wine-soaked the fish tastes.

          2. I first read about this set of books, being called The Most Important Cookbook Ever, last Thursday here:

            Today the following article appeared via the Serious Eats blog:

            Absolutely fascinating in every way.

              1. re: Servorg

                Myrhvold doesn't expect to produce an e-version. It's huge, the photos and graphs are important, and the 6 volumes constantly cross reference each other. My book has been delayed until April but I am still very excited to see it.

                1. re: runwestierun

                  funny - those sound exactly the reasons it would be perfect in an e-version

                  1. re: thew

                    Not to mention that it's rather ironic that Mr. Myhrvold wouldn't produce an e-version...

                    1. re: thew

                      According to the authors:

                      "Eventually, there may be [an electronic version], but we have no cur­rent plans to offer an elec­tronic ver­sion of Modernist Cuisine. We began this project before the mar­ket of e-books developed—at the time we started design­ing the book, the Kindle had not even shipped yet. Kindle is a won­der­ful e-book plat­form (we love ours!), but it is not the best medium for a book such as this that offers so many large, color pic­tures. Our use of dra­matic pho­tog­ra­phy is a large part of how Modernist Cuisine makes the art and sci­ence of cook­ing acces­si­ble. Although the Apple iPad has a color dis­play, its screen size is still very lim­ited, and by the time it shipped, we had designed a thou­sand pages for print. We decided that a large-format, high-quality printed book is still the best plat­form today for deliv­er­ing this kind of content—particularly our pho­tographs and illus­trated step-by-step procedures—to the major­ity of the peo­ple who will want to use it. Eventually we would like to spend the time and resources to make an e-book edi­tion that offers new and inter­ac­tive fea­tures, but that is a lot of work and is prob­a­bly a cou­ple years away."

                      Generally, it seems that the MC team thinks that paper's advantages in dpi, color depth, and size outweigh any convenience gained by an ebook version. Note that they do have a searchable electronic index. Of course, that does little to diminish the apparent irony of the lack of ebook...

                      1. re: emannths

                        nook has color. ipad screen is larger than the kindle's. these reasons don't hold much water. but it's their to do or not

                        1. re: thew

                          But what's the dpi? Or color depth? And all these screens are much smaller than the printed book (the page is 16.5" diagonal). And this is assuming there are no formatting challenges (e.g., footnotes don't work well on a Kindle).

                          Could you consider high dpi, color depth, or page size to be luxuries? Sure. But if those are your goals (which for the MC people they clearly were), paper is the only option at the moment.

                          1. re: emannths

                            the ipad has a ppi of 128, which is the same as a 15" macbook pro

                            i believe it has a color depth of 24

                            1. re: thew

                              And the book uses an apparent resolution much higher than 200 ppi (converting between offset printing techniques and fixed pixel displays is not necessarily straightforward, but this is a reasonable lower bound). It's a little harder to evaluate color gamut and contrast comparatively, at least given my lack of knowledge on the subject, but may experience is that a well-printed page will best even excellent displays. Here's what MC says about their printing process:

                              Anyway, I think it's reasonable to say that objectively, the large, high-res, colorful pages of MC surpass the images that current ebook readers can render. Whether this outweighs the conveniences that ebooks provide is a much more subjective question...