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Kitchen Mysteries
By Hervé This
ISBN: 023114170x
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
List price: $22.95 
Type: Science
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive coffee-table Biblical stature
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 ≥300
Added info: zip overwhelming scant balanced generous
Photos/drawings: none distracting decorative instructive glorious
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine considerate work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging tolerable clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy dubious years of service gift quality stunning
Table of contents: AWOL frustrating passable useful excellent
Index quality: none tragic adequate good a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writer: beginner food writer writing cook personality auteur
Cook: unknown self-taught chef teacher celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfactory exceeds home run
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward best friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: Hervé This is one of our heroes. Not only does he investigate (and occasionally debunk) all kinds of cooking questions, his writing is simple, entertaining, and clear. The translator (This writes in French, after all) has done a great job of capturing the conversational tone as well as the scientific detail.

This is not a cookbook by any means – there are either four or five recipes, and they are hard to find. Most sections are presented in a question-and-answer format, with short articles on all the important cooking topics – ingredients, procedures, methods, utensils, taste, etc.

Unless you have a reasonably strong background in science, you may not be able to follow every concept. There is a glossary of scientific terms in the back, but it did not answer every question we had. Nonetheless, we were able to follow most everything, and even in the places where the science was a little beyond us, we got the gist of the idea.


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