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Any Reviews of "On Food And Cooking"?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I noticed Alton Brown seems to always have a copy of On Food And Cooking handy, whether on Good Eats or Iron Chef America. Is this book an essential part of a cookbook collection? Is it worth picking up a copy?

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/boo...84800012&itm=1
post #2 of 21
One word: INDESPENSIBLE Seriously, it has all the science behind what you do that you will ever need. Great, great reference book.
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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post #3 of 21
I completely agree wuth Chrose.

It's the best book on food science there is.

Mark
Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
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Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
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post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Cool. Sounds like I'll have to pick up a copy.
post #5 of 21
how does the new edition compare to the last edition? i've heard that there is quite a bit of new information in the newest edition, but have been putting off purchasing a copy. should i add it to my xmas wish list?

pierre
pierre
i t ' s . a l l . a b o u t . t h e . j o u r n e y
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pierre
i t ' s . a l l . a b o u t . t h e . j o u r n e y
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post #6 of 21
I like it better. I've only read parts, but I find it more detailed, better organized and better indexed.

Phil
post #7 of 21
It's definitely a book worth having, but... I was a little disppointed with it. I thought the index was lacking, it didn't read terribly well and it didn't go into topics with as much depth as I had hoped for.

A book this large should have an index a mile long. It doesn't. Famous people, chemicals/chemical reactions, ingredients, really just about any unique word should make it into the index. A few times I returned to the book to look up a topic I had previously read about and when I went to the index, I couldn't find it easily. For a reference book of this stature, that's unforgiveable.

As far as it not reading well... I remember being completely transfixed with the first version. I believe I read it from cover to cover in one sitting. This one took a lot more effort to get through. Sure, there's a lot more information and the information gets pretty technical, but overall, it lacked a certain liveliness of the first. The first book had an almost playful, revolutionary quality to it. A trickster element. This book just isn't as fun. Gobs of information, yes, but less fun. It's probably not going to happen, but he should write a book with Alton Brown. Alton Brown, although lacking in Harold's sheer informational bulk, is always good for an entertaining read.

Lastly, considering the size of it, this may sound strange, but I found it a little short. A lot of the topics leaned toward an introductory slant. When I briefly corresponded with Mr. McGee a while back he mentioned whittling down 2,000 pages of research to get to the 800 pages in this book. That's the version I'd like to see.

Now, it's very important to add that I just about worship Harold McGee. I feel that he surpasses even Escoffier as being the person having the greatest impact on food knowledge in the modern age. Needless to say, my expectations were gigantic. Don't get me wrong, I really liked the book, but as far as being the food science reference bible I was hoping for... no.
post #8 of 21
I have both versions and am about 1/3 of the way through the latest version.

Gotta have it (them). Putting this on your holiday list is a must.
post #9 of 21
Look for a review on the ChefTalk main page soon!

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

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post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Cool. I'm surprised there hasn't been an official review up yet. Can't wait to read it.
post #11 of 21
I 2nd, 3rd and 4th all of that. I just picked up my copy today. Everything they say about the book is true. I know it will become a definitive part of my cookbook library. And yes it is worth every bit the price if you cook any at all.
post #12 of 21
I like the book too. I used it as a text for one of my classes, and I still go back to it for recipes, etc.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #13 of 21
I have the book, and its a good read. Alton though, can be pretty overbearing. Much of his 'food science' is well known to folks that have been cooking for 50 years, like I have. I do think his books present exellent information for the new chef or home cook. Once you know the 'why', its much easier to stop using cookbooks, and start making up your own recipes.
post #14 of 21
Don't blame McGee for that. He probably had no control over the index. (FWIW, Shirley Corriher hates the index in the original Cookwise.) The way the publishing industry works, someone separate is hired to write* the index, and the quality of the index depends on that person's skill and knowledge of the book's subject matter and his/her empathy with potential readers, and the space available (which determines the possible number of entries). Obviously space was not an issue. It may just be that the indexer does not think the way you do. ;)

*For those who think that indexes are created by computer programs: no. A real, live person actually reads through the entire book, noting the major concepts and important phrases, names, places, events, etc. and subconcepts. All that is then organized, cross-referenced, and rephrased in the ways the indexer imagines a reader will USE the book. So if you dislike an index, it's probably not the author's fault.

[Disclosure: I am trained as an indexer and have written indexes for two books so far.]
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #15 of 21
As a writer who has had to index, it's a serious pain. Framemaker saves the day for me, nothing else even comes close that I've tried. Especially for hierarchical indexes. Doing it in Word will make you suicidal. I'm often surprised that it's the post office that has employee freak-outs, not publishing.

It's also a very fine balance. You can over-index too and then the whole thing becomes worthless.

For my own cookbooks, I always have a stable-ink pen and a highlighter. I highlight recipe names I would like to try. If it passes the trial, i write my own recipe list with page numbers in the cover pages so it's easy to find no matter the index. And as to indexes, I often pen my own entries in the index once I find something that wasn't in the index in the first place.

And who doesn't write tweaks to the recipe in the margins? As I read a cookbook for the first time, I find myself making notes on a spice or herb tweak or such quite frequently.

Phil
post #16 of 21
Huh... that's good to know, thanks! :)
post #17 of 21
If you do not have it.Get it! Worth every penny of the money spent. I went out and got my copy 1 day after the forum Cheftalk had with Mr Mcgee here. And I would not live in the kitchen without. Like Chrose said INDISPENSIBLE!!! And he's right!
post #18 of 21
I've always said that Joy of Cooking and Beard's American Cookery are the two indispensable reference books for the serious amateur cook.

Both of them have, in my opinion, absoluetly TERIFFIC indexes.

I've got a bunch of otherwise very good cookbooks that don't.

Mike :cry:
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #19 of 21
Everyone is confusing me with this index thing. I don't mean to sound stupid but what could the index possible have thats so important. Kind a new to this. Could someone enlighten me. Thanks...
post #20 of 21
Cakerookie, with a reference book as large as this, it's important to be able pick a topic and/or keyword, find it in the index and then turn to the appropriate page. If, say, I was having a problem with gelatin setting, I could look up gelatin in the index and quickly find a page that talks about the ingredients that prevent gelatin from setting. Quickly finding information like that in an 800 page book is close to impossible without a good index.
post #21 of 21
Thanks. Now I am straight...................
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