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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
There are a number of good books that have tackled food science already. Some do so elegantly, like the vintage Cooking with Pomiane, while others, like Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, take a more scholarly approach. Russ Parsons's How to Read a French Fry surpasses them all by combining elegance and scientific knowledge with a lively enthusiasm and more than 100 good recipes.
Why does a little mustard help the emulsion of a vinaigrette? Why can you stick your hand in a 450-degree oven, but not in 212-degree boiling water? Why is the classic American pie dough so much trickier to make than a traditional European short crust? "Cooking," says food editor and author Russ Parsons, "is full of questions that science can help answer -- questions you might not have even thought about asking, but questions that can make you a better cook."
Parsons is eager to teach us about the mysteries of meat and heat, the second life of fruits and vegetables, the complexities of frying (deep and shallow), and the transformation of tough starches like beans into tasty little pillows. Each chapter addresses a basic process, slips in a number of tips and techniques to take advantage of the science, then follows with recipes that exemplify the process. The chapter on eggs, for example, ranges from the science behind hard-boiled eggs, hollandaise, and mayonnaise to tips on hot and cold emulsion sauces, and recipes for Green Goddess Salad and Chocolate Pots de Crème. It's a delicious course for cooks of any level. (Ginger Curwen)