If you thought quantum physics, Microsoft, haute-cuisine and ancient recipes don’t go along together, think again. Nathan Myhrvold has written an anomaly for a cookbook that reduces the act of cooking and reading recipes to the sub-atomic level, literally.
Michael Voltaggio, move over! Nathan Myhrvold is no ordinary chef who would publish glossy cookbooks like others in the league. A student of quantum physics mentored by Stephen Hawking, he has worked as Microsoft’s Chief Technology officer. Of course, he also has a fetish for food which has led him to create The Modernist Cookbook, which is almost of epic proportions. The Modernist Cookbook has 2,468 and has been described as insane and unusable by critics, but until you read a few other reviews, you wouldn’t know how cool the book actually is. Of course, the book is not meant for people who would want a pretty cook book that has all the recipes listed in a neat and glossy manner, and that which would make it easier for you to cook that lasagne which you can never perfect in your life. Even for the molecular gastronomy chef, these recipes are a bit lofty to properly achieve. The book is so much more than that, and is almost an art-piece in itself.
The Modernist Cookbook has 6 volumes and it took Nathan and his team almost 30 years to complete. The book is being described as a visually enchanting documentation of Nathan’s obsession with the science that goes along with creating food. The book explains what happens when one cooks vegetables or meat, at the most basic level. It tells you what happens when the meat turns brown and the book does so with the help of pin sharp, sumptuous and intricate photographs.
The book also touches upon microbiology and food safety, and the science that’s behind creating food that’s healthy, tasty and perfect to the atomic level. Of course, it comes with its list of recipes too. For instance, the Sous Vide Instant Hollandaise recipe could make crave for food almost instantly. Nathan has also won the World Barbecue Championship, which is enough to tell us that he is not just another scientist who is trying to tell the chefs how they could be doing things better, in a more scientific manner. Nathan’s obsession with food is deeper than that, and this unapologetic book provides the reader with an insight to cooking that borders on the subatomic level.
If you ever had questions like why the carrots turn light brown when they are being fried, and how much heat must be applied to make it a shade browner, and how safe or carcinogenic it could turn out to be if you burned the carrot a little more, this book certainly could be the answer. If you are expecting a cook book that would give you a list of recipes that look good in pictures, perhaps this book is not for you. The Modernist Cookbook uses reductionism to deconstruct the very idea of cooking to its basic elements. Jacques Derrida would be pleased. You could also take a look at the Blood Stained Cook’s Attire, and the Steak Branding Iron which would help you to customize your steak.