Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Kitchen as Laboratory
Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking
Arts and Traditions of the Table
Perspectives on Culinary History
Cesar Vega (Editor), Job Ubbink (Editor), Erik van der Linden (Editor)

Columbia University Press
January 31, 2012 / ISBN: 978-0231153447
Non-Fiction: Food Science Anthology

Reviewed by Beth E. McKenzie

The first article I ever read that mixed edible food and science was "The Physical Chemistry of Making Fudge" by Sue Ann Bowling for the Alaska Science Forum. The next batch of fudge I made was smooth and creamy, and so I was hooked on Culinary Science. I have since enjoyed Alton Brown's television show "Good Eats" particularly for the clever discussions about carbohydrates, proteins and the breaking and joining of bonds (and don't forget the inspired props!).

The Kitchen as Laboratory
takes my education one step further. I have a general background in molecular structures, chemistry and physics. It helped in reading some of the explanations, but the technical information is delivered in such a manner as to make familiarity with these subjects unnecessary. I enjoy understanding why I like certain kinds of cheese on my sandwich and why my sugar cookies are always hard and crunchy instead of crisp and chewy. There is a recipe in each essay that will allow you to practice what you learn.

In my estimation ,about three-quarters of the chapters contain information that those of us with a simple, boring, American palate will enjoy. The other chapters enhance more courageous tastes. Part of the adventure in reading this was learning not just techniques but about types of food that I am not familiar with. For example, in the same way that Rocky Mountain Oysters are not seafood and Rattlesnake Eggs don't come from a reptile, Fox Testicle Ice Cream happily does not involve a fox.

Table of Contents:

1. The Science of a Grilled Cheese Sandwich
by Jennifer Kimmel
2. Sound Appeal
by Malcolm Povey
3. Mediterranian Sponge Cake
by Cristina de Lorenzo and Sergio LaGuardia
4. Spherification: Faux Caviar and Skinless Ravioli
by Csear Vega and Pere Castells
5. Konjac Dondurma: Designing a Sustainable and Stretchable "Fox Testicle" Ice Cream
by Arielle Johnson, Kent Kirshenbaum and Anne E. McBride
6. Stretchy Textures in the Kitchen: Insights from Salep Dondurmas
by Tim J. Foster
7. Moussaka as an Introduction to Food Chemistry
by Christos Ritzoulis
8. The Sticky Science of Malaysian Dodol
by Alias A. Karim and Rajeev Bhat
9. The Perfect Cookie Dough
by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot
10. To Bloom or Not to Bloom?
by Amelia Frazier and Richard Hartel
11. Bacon: The Slice of Life
by Timothy Knight
12. Scandinavian "Sushi": The Raw Story
by Pia Snitkjaer and Louise M. Mortensen
13. Maximizing Food Flavor by Speeding up the Maillard Reaction
by Martin Lersch
14. Lighten Up! The Role of Gases in the Culinary Experience
by Matt Golding
15. The Meringue Concept and Its Variations
by Peter Wierenga, Helen Hofstede, Erik van der Linden, Sidney Schutte, and Jonnie Boer
16. Why Does Cold Milk Foam Better? Into the Nature of Milk Foam
by Julia Maldonado-Valderrama, Peter J. Wilde, and Maria J. Galvez-Ruiz
17. Ice Cream Unlimited: The Possibilities of Ingredient Pairing
by Elke Scholten and Miriam Peters
18. Egg Yolk: A Library of Textures
by Cesar Vega
19. Ketchup as Tasty Soft Matter: The Case of Xanthan Gum
by Thomas Vilgis
20. Taste and Mouthfeel of Soups and Sauces
by John R. Mitchell
21. Playing with Sound: Crispy Crusts
by Paula Varela and Susana Fiszman
22. Baked Alaska and Frozen Florida: On the Physics of Heat Transfer
by Adam Burbidge
23. On Superb Crackling Duck Skin: An Homage to Nicholas Kurti
by Christopher Yound and Nathan Myhrvold
24. Sweet Physics: Sugar, Sugar Blends and Sugar Glasses
by Natalie Russ and Thomas Vilgis
25. Coffee, Please, but No Bitters
by Jan Groenewold and Eke Marien
26. Turning Waste into Wealth: On Bones, Stocks, and Sauce Reductions
by Joe Ubbink
27. Restructuring Pig Trotters: Fine Chemistry Supporting the Creative Culinary Process
by Jorge Ruiz and Julia Calvarro
28. Innovate: Old World Pizza Crust with New World Ingredients
by Thomas M. Tongue, Jr.
29. Eating is Believing
by Line Holler Mielby and Michael Bom Frost
30. Molecular Gastronomy Is a Scientific Activity
by Herve This
31 The Pleasure of Eating: The Integration of Multiple Senses
by Juan-Carlos Arbyoleya, Daniea Lasa, Oswaldo Oliva, Javier Vergara, and Andoni Luis-Adruiz
32. On the Fallacy of Cooking from Scratch
by Cesar Vega and David J. McClements
33. Science and Cooking: Looking Beyond the Trends to Apply a Personal, Practical Approach
by Michael Laiskonis

Reviewed 2012