Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

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Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Daniel Rogov » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:10 am

Writing in the New York Times, Michael Ruhlman reviews the six volume cookery masterwork "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking". Written by a team of 46 led by zillionaire
Nathan Myhrvold, the set of six (total of 2,438 pages) sells for US$650 and deals in no small part with what until now has been called "molecular cuisine" but after this work will be henceforth "modernist cuisine".

Lots of detail in the review (including a notation of how six pages are devoted to precisely how one should wash one's hands before cooking).

Whether this will be perceived by history as a serious culinary work or a continuation of what I consider the post-modern joke started by chef Ferran Adria will be determined in time. You may not choose to shell out the large dollars for the book but reading the review is well worth-while, if only for the two photographs on the first page.

See the review at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/dinin ... .html?_r=1

Best
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:28 am

I agree, Daniel. And the tip on boiling older beans in distilled water actually works -- I tried a cup last night from a batch that just wouldn't soften and it came out beautifully. I'd like to get the short volume that accompanies the six volume set -- that one is for use in the kitchen.

Does anyone know if that volume will be sold separately?

Regards, Bob
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:08 am

Although I couldn't possibly justify the cost and most likely will never buy it, I want it. It sounds fascinating. Maybe even useful, to some degree. Like Bob, I'd consider buying the separate, short volume.

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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:15 am

Here's another commentary on it by Ruhlmann on the Times' dining blog ...

http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/ ... r-a-drive/
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:03 pm

I wonder if a group of us couldn't buy a WLP set, say six people who each got one volume to read for awhile before sending it on to another member of the group. Have it available at the janitor's office.

It's $461 and change on Amazon and I'd be willing to order and pay for it -- and collect a pro rata amount from any participants in the coop. Just to have numbers, say five people, $100 apiece to get a shot at studying it piecemeal. I would love to read it, and post impressions here and on Amazon. As a cook for one these days, it's more for the fun and information of it all -- but it intrigues me.

Any takers?

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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:53 pm

As a further enticement, here is the sort of review I would post on Amazon:

I've been interested in food almost all my adult life, starting out as a trucker in the Wisconsin Union as a college freshman, working my way up to catering captain four years later, working in a top flight pizza place in several roles, including pizza cook, running my own catering service for a year, attending week long courses at the Culinary Institute of America in New Hyde Park, and doing all of the cooking for my wife and myself for over 15 years. Along the way I've collected a hundred cookbooks, and am particularly partial to books like On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by McGee.

This book is irresistible, I've placed an order, and a number of the frequent posters on Robin Garr's Food Lovers Page and I are going to share it on a circulating library basis. From time to time, I plan to add to this review a hint or technique that one of us found particularly helpful.

As an example, use distilled water to boil beans; even the oldest beans will soften. One serious problem for the home cook is that dried beans are not dated by year of harvest so it is impossible to be sure beans are new. As Martha Rose Shulman wrote in "The New York Times" on February 1, 2011: "Make sure that the beans come to a simmer on top of the stove before placing them in the oven. Do not use old beans, which will not soften no matter how long you simmer them." As Michael Ruhlman wrote in the same paper on March 8, 2011 reviewing this book: "dried beans sometimes never seem to get tender (try cooking them in distilled water)."

I made a delicious casserole of kale and dried beans last week and the beans didn't really get soft after simmering and then baking for five hours; I had to make a smoothie out of my casserole to be able to enjoy it. But, one hour of simmering of the second half of the bag of beans in distilled water, and the beans were soft and delicious.

More anon. I can hardly wait.

Robert C. Ross
2011
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Daniel Rogov » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:25 pm

As for me, I promise to purchase the books and to prepare at least one recipe from them on the day that Syria, Palestine, Iran and Iraq and each of the other members of the Arab League sign a peace treaty with Israel. Or, if it should occur first, on the day that Hell freezes over.

Honestly. After all, would I kid you guys?

Ye faithful curmudgeon who doesn't give a good flying fig if they call it molecular gastronomy or modernist gastronomy.

Best (and yes, Smiling)
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:03 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:As for me, I promise to purchase the books and to prepare at least one recipe from them on the day that Syria, Palestine, Iran and Iraq and each of the other members of the Arab League sign a peace treaty with Israel. Or, if it should occur first, on the day that Hell freezes over. ... Best (and yes, Smiling)
Rogov


Also with a smile on my face, Daniel, please accompany me back in time to 1903, when we read togther, sitting perhaps on the banks of the Seine or perhaps corresponding by telegraph when we exchange news of a revolutionary new cookbook, "Le Guide Culinaire", said by the breathless French press to be written by the "roi des cuisiniers et cuisinier des rois."

Would you have waited until that cold day in Hell to dip into it? Prepare at least one recipe from it? Discuss it in your brilliant Edwardian column devoted to the culinary arts?

With deepest respect, Bob
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Karen/NoCA » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:15 pm

Is it available for Nook?
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Mike Wolinski » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:00 pm

I'm going to give it a pass, I really don't need a $650 cookbook.


-mike
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Daniel Rogov » Wed Mar 09, 2011 4:50 pm

Bob Ross wrote:...please accompany me back in time to 1903, when we read togther, sitting perhaps on the banks of the Seine or perhaps corresponding by telegraph when we exchange news of a revolutionary new cookbook, "Le Guide Culinaire", said by the breathless French press to be written by the "roi des cuisiniers et cuisinier des rois."
Would you have waited until that cold day in Hell to dip into it? Prepare at least one recipe from it? Discuss it in your brilliant Edwardian column devoted to the culinary arts?


Bob, Hi....

I would not have waited a moment. Although Escoffier's recipes were complex and time consuming they strove to bring food to its most natural flavors and elements and that was apparent even then. My major objection to "molecular" or "modernist" cusine is that it attempts is to take food as far from its natural elements as is humanly possible. In a sense, if I want an olive contained in a condom, I will put an olive in a condom and if I want sea water foam I will eat oysters on the half shell.

Still smiling
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:29 pm

Daniel, being serious for one moment -- how could you know that? Antoine Carême was the big gun at the time and some critics at the time thought Escoffier was simply dumbing down Carême's work.

Back to smiling. Best, Bob
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Mark Lipton » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:31 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:
I would not have waited a moment. Although Escoffier's recipes were complex and time consuming they strove to bring food to its most natural flavors and elements and that was apparent even then. My major objection to "molecular" or "modernist" cusine is that it attempts is to take food as far from its natural elements as is humanly possible. In a sense, if I want an olive contained in a condom, I will put an olive in a condom and if I want sea water foam I will eat oysters on the half shell.


Rogov,
I understand this complaint against modernist cuisine, but to me it is a mistake to focus on process as opposed to product. My major criticism of modernist cooking (with the caveat that I've hardly made an exhaustive study of the subject) is that, by and large, it lacks soul. This criticism is my own and as such is likely quite idiosyncratic, but I want cooking that speaks of a place and/or time, just as I want wines that speak of their own place and time. When I dined at El Cellar de Can Roca last year, the cooking was distinctly modern but the results emphasized Catalan ingredients and had Catalan flavors. Their "sphericated olives" were green and tasted intensely of olive despite having no textural similarity and their prawn dish memorably showcased the local fauna. OTOH, I have no great desire to dine at the semi-local modernist palace Alinea because I don't see any desire to root it in a particular sensibility apart from that of modernism. Others (such as Jeff Grossman) will point to their sense of theater but I don't dine for theater just as I don't go to the theater for dinner :wink: When Alinea's chef opens up his long-awaited Next restaurant, I will happily buy a ticket to go there (what was I saying about theater?) because it will serve food firmly rooted in a particular time and place.

My $0.02,
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Salil » Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:38 pm

I'm halfway through the books.

These are absolutely compelling. I am not a fan of modernist cuisine and techniques in general, and some things in here are just over the top for me. I certainly have no intentions of running pureed carrots through a centrifuge for instance or trying out cryogenic cooling methods, and some of the equipment and recipes here are for those with a lot more time, kitchen space and funds to devote to cooking than I have.

But other parts - like a 100+ page section in book 2 on traditional cooking methods like grilling, stir fry and sauteing are amazing to read, and some of the dishes he writes about are certainly quite inspiring and have me thinking about modifying them for my (comparatively spartan) kitchen tools.

And for those who think that Myhrvold is basically getting into ridiculous things like deconstructed soups and foams - worth at least scanning book 2 of this, and reading his sections on charcoal grilling (which I've been trying to follow since) or broiling. Now I want to try making pizza under the broiler soon...
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Mike Bowlin » Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:18 pm

Karen/NoCA wrote:Is it available for Nook?

Probably an APP on the iPhone 5 by next week. :D
Thanks,
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:43 pm

Salil wrote:I'm halfway through the books.

These are absolutely compelling. I am not a fan of modernist cuisine and techniques in general, and some things in here are just over the top for me. I certainly have no intentions of running pureed carrots through a centrifuge for instance or trying out cryogenic cooling methods, and some of the equipment and recipes here are for those with a lot more time, kitchen space and funds to devote to cooking than I have.

But other parts - like a 100+ page section in book 2 on traditional cooking methods like grilling, stir fry and sauteing are amazing to read, and some of the dishes he writes about are certainly quite inspiring and have me thinking about modifying them for my (comparatively spartan) kitchen tools.

And for those who think that Myhrvold is basically getting into ridiculous things like deconstructed soups and foams - worth at least scanning book 2 of this, and reading his sections on charcoal grilling (which I've been trying to follow since) or broiling. Now I want to try making pizza under the broiler soon...


Nice to hear from someone who owns the set. It sounds like there's plenty in there that's doable for a normal human cook as opposed to a pro with a well-outfitted kitchen and lab.

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a very narrow field" - Niels Bohr
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Dale Williams » Wed May 08, 2013 6:43 pm

Salil wrote:These are absolutely compelling. I am not a fan of modernist cuisine and techniques in general, and some things in here are just over the top for me. I certainly have no intentions of running pureed carrots through a centrifuge for instance


So last night Steve made the carrot soup for SOBER. The Modernist Cuisine at Home version doesn't need a centrifuge, just a pressure cooker and a blender. I have to say, one of the best soups I've ever had in my life
http://modernistcuisine.com/recipes/car ... necessary/
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Dale Williams » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:39 pm

Resurrecting this thread...ok, I admit it, last night I microwaved tilapia. I don't know which is more shocking, that I cooked in microwave or that I bought tilapia. I have to say it was pretty close to perfect, classic steamed whole fish with ginger and scallions.
I want to do the carrot soup, which I loved. And try the pressure cooked carnitas, and the kitchen sink sous vide salmon ( still thinking about an actual sous vide controller)
\

http://modernistcuisine.com/recipes/
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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:43 pm

Gotta admit, it was startling to see Rogov's name show up.

I believe I've microwaved fish in the distant past with good results.

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Re: Modernist Cuisine - All You Wanted to Know for $650

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:59 pm

And here I thought you bumped this thread because of the newest release by Adria & Co. -- the last in the set of mammoth photo/recipe books about El Bulli.
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