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Science and Cooking  By  cover art

Science and Cooking

By: Michael Brenner,Pia Sörensen,David Weitz
Narrated by: Donna Postel
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Publisher's Summary

Based on the popular Harvard University and edX course, Science and Cooking explores the scientific basis of why recipes work.

The spectacular culinary creations of modern cuisine are the stuff of countless articles and social media feeds. But to a scientist they are also perfect pedagogical explorations into the basic scientific principles of cooking. In Science and Cooking, Harvard professors Michael Brenner, Pia Sörensen, and David Weitz bring the classroom to your kitchen to teach the physics and chemistry underlying every recipe.

Why do we knead bread? What determines the temperature at which we cook a steak, or the amount of time our chocolate chip cookies spend in the oven? Science and Cooking answers these questions and more through hands-on experiments and recipes from renowned chefs such as Christina Tosi, Joanne Chang, and Wylie Dufresne.

©2020 Michael Brenner, Pia Sörensen, and David Weitz (P)2021 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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A good book - with some winning points

This is a publication that accompanies the Harvard EdX Online MOOC Food Science course. In order to get the most out of this course, you should have the book handy and/or have taken the online course (which is free, by the way!). It is produced by the core food science team: Michael Brenner, Pia Sörensen, and David Weitz, each quite well known in the field in themselves, yet, as if that wasn't enough weight, they are supported by Ferran Adrià, José Andrés, Harold McGee and other huge names in modernist cuisine.

Unlike the 'Modernist Cuisine' series by Nathan Myhrvold, which takes a comprehensive guide to cooking on a very specific level, explained with science, and McGee's On Food and Cooking, which comprehensively explains how food exists using a scientific approach (neither of which are currently on Audible), this course and book teaches the general scientific principles of cooking. In that sense, it may diverge to explain the science quite heavily, at times leaving the food principles behind in some areas, while, strangely, taking an over-simplified tone in other areas, assuming the reader has zero understanding of any food science principles. I also don't love the over-informal tone and phrasing. In that sense, I don't feel that it is always well targeted in terms of readership. Or maybe it is and I'm just not the main target reader.

Nevertheless, the book covers a reasonable scope and attempts to introduce most of the concepts through recipes, which is interesting and fun at times, although many of them are impossible to do at home (but still interesting to learn about) and yet another reason why you really need the book while you're listening (although not completely necessary - as all the figures mentioned and recipes are described). It begins to get very interesting from Chapter 4 on diffusion and builds well on all ideas throughout the book. You may be wondering why something is being introduced, but it is later utilized to explain other concepts.

Although this is far from as comprehensive as Myhrvold's and McGee's books, it still does well to introduce a lot of information in a short space. Let us not forget that this is a publication by the world's leading experts from Harvard University and beyond, so it is content that can be relied upon and trusted; and, it's framed in a way that is as easy to understand as possible, which then allows you to apply the principles to your own cooking. It's certainly worthy of your time and effort - as there are simply no other audiobooks on Audible, next to Thís' "Molecular Gastronomy" and Myhrvold's "Modernist At Home," that provides as much detail of what goes on, on the molecular level, in your food, at the current time, from a general principle perspective.

The reader/performer does an overall decent job. She reads the math and science components well, and also does well with the French, which makes a pleasant change, although she makes a few errors in pronunciation for the food items, some of which can be a little annoying (such as "pray-LEEN" instead of "PRAH-leen" for praline and "AGar-AGar" instead of "agAR-agAR"). However, she has an overall relaxing and pleasant voice that adds a certain softness and warmth to the occasionally cold scientific text, while maintaining the embedded lightness and humour the authors attempt to convey. I found it best when played at 1.3x speed - as I felt her reading speed was a little too slow to follow at times.

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No PDF or any receipts included

No recopies in a book says : in pictures or follows. Absolute disasters as something to take as a real life experience.

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Excellent Narration

the narrator is amazing her voice fits the topic, and the tone of her voice is perfectly balanced.

Thank You
August 15th, 2021

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  • Chris Pedder
  • 02-23-21

This is nothing but someone reading out recipes!

Unlike the excellent pop-sci books eg What Einstein Kept Under his Hat, this has no science or explanations in it.
I’m baffled why anyone would produce this as an audio book.