Book Review: The Curious Cook by Harold McGee

Another book I found hiding in the university's chemistry library, this was a fairly fun and entertaining read. You may have heard of Harold McGee—he writes for the New York Times and has written a couple of other books (one of which I'm currently reading!).

The Curious Cook is basically a book about playing with food. By playing, I really mean performing pseudo-scientific experiments. The first part of the book reads like a series of lab reports, just lab reports from the best lab course you could ever take.

McGee talks about searing meat, sous vide cooking, beurre blanc and persimmons from an objective and scientific standpoint, creating experiments to explain the chemistry behind the concepts. While the chapters aren't as in depth as his tome On Food and Cooking, they're a lot more fun and accessible. Plus, I'm game to read any book that has a whole chapter on sorbet, particularly if that chapter has recipes and instructions for making your own.

Unfortunately, the book doesn't really go out with a bang. The second part of the book is about food and our health, including heart disease and cancer. Although his explanations of how food might affect our health did give me more information, they weren't as accessible as the first few chapters.

The highlights
- It's a fun, light, easy read.
- It piqued my scientific curiosity about food, and made me think about ways to ask and answer my own questions.
- The last few chapters were really a lot less fun to read.

The verdict:
This book would make the perfect present for a teenager who likes both science and food (but maybe doesn't have a huge background in either). It also has a few pretty handy reference tables scattered throughout the book. It's a cheap enough book that I would consider purchasing it as a reference book, especially if I made a lot of fruit ices/sorbets or cooked a lot of meat.

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