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Science of Good Food: The Ultimate Reference on How Cooking Works


The science of cooking is the most fascinating and influential development in cuisine.

Award-winning chefs and cutting-edge restaurants around the world are famous for using the principles of chemistry and physics to create exciting new taste sensations. From Ferr?n Adri? of El Bulli restaurant in Spain to Homaro Cantu of Moto in Chicago, great chefs combine unexpected textures and flavors with secrets of new cooking techniques in great dishes....

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The science of cooking is the most fascinating and influential development in cuisine.

Award-winning chefs and cutting-edge restaurants around the world are famous for using the principles of chemistry and physics to create exciting new taste sensations. From Ferrán Adrià of El Bulli restaurant in Spain to Homaro Cantu of Moto in Chicago, great chefs combine unexpected textures and flavors with secrets of new cooking techniques in great dishes.

This is the first reference to bring the science of food to home cooks and professional chefs alike. Organized from A to Z, this highly readable book has more than 1,800 entries that clearly explain the physical and chemical transformations which govern all food preparation and cooking. Entries vary from agriculture and food safety to animal husbandry and flavor science.

Each entry begins with an explanation of the science behind the food, equipment or cooking method. Extensive cross-references encourage the reader to delve more deeply into topics of interest.

More than 200 illustrations and photographs help home cooks visualize the basic principles of food science. Also included are 100 recipes that demonstrate those principles, from how deep-frying works to how to keep red cabbage from turning blue.

The Science of Good Food provides straightforward explanations of the what, the how and the why of food and cooking, encouraging cooks at all levels to be more confident and creative.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Herald-Record
Chances are home cooks and professionals alike could learn a new bit of kitchen knowledge from The Science of Good Food.
The Pueblo Chieftain
For anyone interested in food, The Science of Good Food is fascinating reading as well as a useful tool.
Joachim and Schloss use a dictionary approach for their comprehensive guide to the whys and wherefores of cooking and eating. In succinct articles, they address such cooking processes as roasting. In simple prose, they explain the term, outline what the process does to food, and then delve into how the process actually accomplishes its purposes. Similarly, the authors define a wide range of ingredients, giving brief histories and explaining how each ingredient is used to advantage. Well-organized tables of data help sort out detailed information. Recipes scattered throughout offer ways of actually putting information into practice. Expositions of fundamental chemistry avoid detail and will appeal to those with only rudimentary scientific literacy. Full-color illustrations of such basic topics as knife anatomy contribute to understanding. Sidebars cover minor, yet useful, topics, including cooking potatoes and preventing soggy pastry crusts. Good for basic cookery reference collections. Teens curious about how food gets to the table can turn here for clear answers.
Minneapolis-St. Paul StarTribune
A smorgasbord if fascinating facts, tidbits, recipes and guidance for curious cooks.... It's for everyday cooks like me.
— Beth Dooley
This is an A to Z reference book that brings the science of food to home cooks.
— Kathryn Rem
Observer-Reporter (Pittsburgh)
Foodies interested in learning the science behind cooking will appreciate "The Science of Good Food: The Ultimate Reference Book on How Cooking Works."
We Taste Cincinnati online
The Science of Good Food is the ultimate GPS for your kitchen.
— The Things We Get blog
The knowledge -- of science -- will make you a far better and more flexible chef.
— Kevin Weeks
Minneapolis-St. Paul StarTribune - Beth Dooley
This encyclopedic volume, organized from A (acid) through W (wine) is a smorgasbord if fascinating facts, tidbits, recipes and guidance for curious cooks. In a rapidly growing subcategory of the cookbook shelves, this tome is distinguished by its depth and breadth of information and its easy-to-read format and casual, yet confident tone. It's for everyday cooks like me who struggle to help their eighth-graders with science homework.
Register-Mail - Kathryn Rem
This is an A to Z reference book that brings the science of food to home cook... Complex subject matters are written in an easy-to-understand style, and there are lots of charts and graphs and some color photos. The book contains more than 100 recipes related to the subject matter.
We Taste Cincinnati online - The Things We Get blog
The Science of Good Food is the ultimate GPS for your kitchen, with delicious recipes designed to teach useful techniques and answer culinary questions.... Bursting with practical tips and their scientific foundations, The Science of Good Food brings the exciting culinary frontier of molecular gastronomy into the home kitchen. - Kevin Weeks
These [food science] books are valuable — I think every cook should have some understanding of the chemistry, physics, and biology of food and cooking.... The knowledge — of science — will make you a far better and more flexible chef.
Publishers Weekly
Though it doesn't quite live up to the "ultimate reference on how cooking works" claim, Joachim and Schloss' encyclopedic guide to all things food is a welcome culinary reference. Alphabetically arranged, cross-referenced entries like "citrus," "game," "juice," "roasting" and "sweeteners," allow readers to navigate deftly the book's trove of information. The authors explain not only how techniques like frying work, they also give readers the chance to make Perfect French Fries with their newfound knowledge. Over 100 recipes bring scientific data to life, most dramatically in examples like Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream and Coconut Sweet Potato Foam, more practically in gluten-free flour and low-fat brownies (substituting dried plums for butter). Armchair chefs will enjoy learning why a whole potato cooks more quickly in boiling water than in a 500 degree oven, the difference between wet and dry-cured hams, and the secrets to making a smooth, creamy custard. The book's range is admirable, but its depth erratic; the entry on bacteria and food contamination is much too brief, and readers are sure to find that their favorite fruit/ingredient/technique doesn't get the attention they feel it deserves (hoisin, for example, merits an entry, but soy sauce is an afterthought; teriyaki and ponzu are absent). Still, this admirable endeavor deserves a spot next to Alton Brown's Good Eats and Harold McGee's classic On Food and Cooking.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778801894
  • Publisher: Rose, Robert Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/10/2008
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 630,164
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

David Joachim has written, edited or collaborated on more than 25 cookbooks. His book The Food Substitutions Bible was an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) award winner. He lives in Philadelphia.

Andrew Schloss is a writer, teacher and food industry professional. The author of 11 cookbooks, including 2500 Recipes, and countless food articles, he is also past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). He lives in Philadelphia.

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Where Food and Science Meet

Cuisines change. A new ingredient, cooking technique, nutrition study, piece of kitchen equipment, or the latest dish from a trendsetting chef is enough to evolve the way we think about what we cook and eat. One of the most powerful changes in food in this century has been propelled by the transformative effect of science on haute cuisine. Award-winning chefs and cutting-edge restaurants from Spain to Singapore to the United States have become famous for harnessing the principles of chemistry and physics to create mind-blowing taste sensations. Their early innovations have already filtered down to adventurous home cooks, who are experimenting with foams and using vacuum sealers to cook sous vide ("under vacuum").

The convergence of food and science may seem new, but in fact food and science have always been closely aligned. Candy is a vivid example. The original candies were medicines made by medieval apothecaries. A little honey or other sweetener helped to mask the awful taste of the medicine. By the 1800s, candy makers abandoned any medicinal benefits and focused instead on the pure pleasure of sweetness, developing all manner of sugary confections, from multicolored lollipops to rich-tasting toffee. But you can still see the medicinal origins of candy in throat lozenges and chewable vitamins.

By the mid-1900s, the intersection of food and science was dominated by nutrition. Chefs, home cooks, and consumers became increasingly interested in how food affects our health and in ways to improve food's nutritional benefits. Heavy cream-based sauces gave way to lighter purées of vegetables and fruits. And new cooking technologies such as nonstick pans and microwave ovens allowed cooks to reduce the calories in their cooking. By the late 1900s, interest in nutritional science led to a deeper awareness of food composition and a hunger among chefs for more information about the chemistry of cooking. Fortunately, the discipline of food science had been developing for centuries. Until that time it had focused on processed foods to improve the packaging, shelf life, safety, flavor, texture, and aroma of packaged food products, as well as the technology and machinery necessary to produce food products. From early-19th-century research on canning to the latest studies on flavor perception and food packaging, food science provided a wealth of scientific information about the chemistry and physics of cooking.

In the new millennium, innovative chefs began to use that knowledge to create more exciting dining experiences. They took industrial ingredients like transglutaminase, an enzyme that binds meat into hot dogs and chicken nuggets, and used the enzyme's capacity as "meat glue" to form shrimp "noodles" and to pull pork shoulder from the bone, glue it back together, and cook it under vacuum to create a single piece of meat, richer and more succulent than any pork raised on a farm. Chefs discovered that they share the same goal as food product scientists: to create pleasurable sensations through food and to discover new ones by combining or juxtaposing flavors, textures, shapes, colors, temperatures, and aromas. Ultimately, home cooks also share the same goal of making great-tasting food. And science can help.

The Science of Good Food simplifies the complex science of food for home cooks and chefs alike. Organized from A to Z, it contains more than 1,600 entries that clearly explain the physical and chemical transformations that govern all food preparation and cooking. Entries touch on a variety of sciences and disciplines, including chemistry, physics, botany, zoology, biology, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, flavor science, psychobiology, agriculture,
animal husbandry, food safety, and food product development.

Entries on ingredients discuss the basic molecular makeup of meats, poultry, game, fish, shellfish, vegetables, fruits, grains, cheeses, eggs, doughs, and most other foodstuffs, as well as what happens when these foods react with heat, so that you can cook better with these ingredients. Entries on equipment discuss such topics as why copper bowls make superior egg foams and which kind of grill gives you the best crust on a steak. Entries on chemistry principles unravel the physical and chemical transformations that take place during everyday cooking, explaining things like aeration, caramelization, and gelatinization. Scores of charts and tables, and more than 200 photographs and drawings, help to illustrate the basic principles of food science.

In addition to demystifying the complexities of cooking, The Science of Good Food sheds some light on the confounding phenomena of everyday eating, such as why artichokes make certain foods taste sweeter and what causes some people to think cilantro tastes like soap. We also give you the know-how you need to experiment in the kitchen and solve cooking problems that may crop up. We include more than 100 recipes that demonstrate the science of good and innovative cooking, from Perfect French Fries (page 260) to how to caramelize sugar in a microwave oven (page 398). The ultimate goal throughout the book is to provide practical information that you can use to create better-tasting food. The straightforward explanations of the what, how, and why of food and cooking are intended to help you become a more skilled and confident cook. After all, cooking and science are really after the same thing: helping us to enjoy life. We hope this book helps you do just that.

How to Use This Book
The entries in The Science of Good
are arranged alphabetically and cross-referenced like an index. An extended index also appears at the back of the book to make it easier to find what you're looking for. Entries are listed in strict alphabetical order, even when they consist of more than one word or of a hyphenated word. For example, Aldehyde appears before Al Dente.

Entries are broken into three sections, called What It Is, What It Does, and How It Works. The first section defines the item and may include a bit of historical or other interesting information. The second section discusses the item's significance in food preparation and cooking and offers practical kitchen tips. The third section explains the science behind the item, including flavor chemistry and chemical transformations that occur during cooking. Other practical tips are included in Kitchen Wisdom boxes, while more detailed science information appears in Science Wise boxes. Interesting food trivia is included in a section called Fast Facts.

The A-to-Z organization of this book makes it easy to find individual items but harder to see the connections between those items. For that reason, the entries are extensively cross-referenced. Let's say you want to know how sauces can be thickened by starch. The Sauces entry is a good place to start, but you'll find out even more by going to the Starch entry, which will appear bold within the Sauces entry. Whenever you see a word in bold, that means you can find more information about that particular item by turning to its own entry. If you don't find what you're looking for in a particular entry, check out the See Also cross-references at the end of the entry. Hopefully the A-to-Z format, the index at the back, and the extensive cross-referencing throughout the book forge these all-important connections between the individual entries.

A quick word about measurements. We have included both imperial and metric measurements throughout. In some case (particularly in the recipes) the metric measurements have been rounded for ease of use. We also included ranges of measurements to account for minuscule differences in food products and cooking conditions around the world. There are no absolutes in food because food comes from living, respiring organisms that are subject to innumerable variables such as climate, soil, and genetics. We have tried to be precise without being absolute.

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