Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold
- Print Length: 456 Pages
- Publisher: The Cooking Lab
- Publication Date: October 8, 2012
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0982761015
- ISBN-13: 978-0982761014
- File Format: scanned PDF
I have been a cook for over thirty years, and I majored in Biology, so scientific terms don’t scare me. My motto is: if someone else can do it, so can I.
Now for the review: The problem with most cookbooks is they do not provide the cook with a reasonable starting point from which to make excellent cuisine. I remember the days when I used to struggle to try to make recipes from Larousse Gastronomique and Joy of Cooking that were spectacular, but that end always seemed to elude me. I never felt as though I prepared a meal- ANY meal which rivaled or surpassed that of my favorite restaurants. Those cooks in the high end restaurants knew things that I didn’t know, and used equipment I had never seen, let alone used. Well, that is no longer the case. I picked up the original tome (Modernist Cuisine) and extracted from it the recipes I could do in my kitchen at home, and at once realized that there was a whole world of phenomenal food out there, waiting to be tasted.
I cooked chicken breast sous vide (using a Rube Goldberg contraption I have since replaced with the SousVide Supreme) and the breasts were done perfectly, with all the delicate tastes intact. Wild duck breasts that had been lying in the back of my freezer because I knew they would taste like cardboard? They were the best poultry I had ever tasted. With those two successes under my belt, it was on to fish! I live in Florida, and so am fussy about my fish. My first foray was into cobia, and that dish, on that day, was the best fish I have ever tried, let alone made. And so on. Best green beans. Best carrots. Best risotto. Best salmon. You get the idea…
After getting sous vide under my belt, then I started playing with other techniques. Spherification is a blast, and I modified a technique from Thomas Keller’s Under Pressure to make watermelon and mango ‘egg yolk’ “Steak Tartare”, which was a huge hit with my guests. I just had the best carrot soup of my life, with the recipe taken from MCAH, which uses caramelization techniques well known to pros, but heretofore unknown to me (it involves a pressure cooker). Making classic sauces takes an hour or so, instead of many, many hours.
This is not a book for everyone, because not everyone really, really likes food. Or likes being able to create things in their own kitchen that far surpass their local restaurants. If food is just fuel, forget about MCAH. If, on the other hand, you have a part of your mind that remembers special meals, remembers certain dishes of their past with pleasure, and likes to savor their food, rather than gulping it down so you can watch the 7:00 Seinfeld reruns, this is the book for you. It is the first book that goes beyond- far beyond- what Erma Rombauer started all those years ago with The Joy of Cooking. The new millenium put self publishing in our hands (faceBook) and video distributing (YouTube) and reporting (Twitter), and now, in this age of paradigm shifts, we have world-class cuisine in our own homes. It’s crazy, but it’s cool.