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On Food And Cooking: The Science And Lore Of The Kitchen by Harold McGee is a first class, comprehensive reference book on the science, history and indeed geography of all things food. It is not the sort of book one would sit down with and read from cover to cover, but rather one to dip into and learn everything there is to know about the item(s) you want to cook from food production through prepping and cooking to actually eating and tasting the food . I would suggest that this should be essential reading for any chef (amateur and certainly professional) as it explains, in manageable chunks (no food pun intended), the basic scientific principles as well as technique for achieving the very best result. To have this invaluable understanding and knowledge will surely help and inspire the chef to produce imaginative and creative recipes and dishes to delight the palate and senses. (Note: thanks to Amazon US as I was unable to source this book in the UK - great service)
Bought in the UK from a UK supplier - and yet this is the US version. Ive flicked through and found many references to US terms and measures. Beware. Im trying to return mine which arrived damaged too.
The most influential and comprehensive book written on what actually happens when you cook things. McGee is the inspiration for some of the world's greatest cooks including the two widely regarded as the current best; Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck and Ferran Adria at El Bulli.
The book mixes history, science and geography to show not only how things cook, but why there are regional variations in cuisine. Read it to learn how to cook or read it as one the best popular science books written on food. It is worth 1000 recipe books.
As others have said, this is an excellent book about food and the cooking of food. The detail is remarkable and the reader cannot fail to gain much from repeated reading. Forget the lack of recipes, if you know how and why cooking affects food the rest is obvious. .