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The Food Lab Better Home Cooking Through Science Hardcover – Illustrated, 23 October 2015
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J. Kenji López-Alt shows that cooks don't need a state-of-the-art kitchen to cook perfect meals. In a book centred on much-loved dishes, Kenji explores the science behind searing, baking, blanching and roasting. In hundreds of easy-to-make recipes with over 1,000 full-colour images illustrating step-by-step instructions, readers will find out how to make perfect roast turkey with crackling skin, how to make extra fluffy or creamy scrambled eggs and much more. Combining the unrelenting curiosity of a cheerful science geek with the expert knowledge of a practised chef, The Food Lab gives readers practical tools and new approaches to apply when they next step into the kitchen.
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The Food Lab is a keeper.--Chris Kimball "Wall Street Journal"
[The Food Lab] promises tried-and-tested accuracy, groundbreaking technique and inarguable results. All that, plus humor.-- "Washington Post"
A beautiful behemoth. . . . The Food Lab's vision of "better home cooking through science"--and, I would add, through the internet--is a convincing one.-- "New Republic"
An authoritative, instant-classic reference book that's also an engaging read.-- "Seattle Times"
Five years in the making, [The Food Lab is] a culmination of the wunderkind's unlikely ascent into a cultish figure--and the face of a new kind of home cooking.-- "San Francisco Chronicle"
Loaded with fascinating information...López-Alt gives you enough science for the explanations to make sense, but everything is still firmly rooted in practical home cooking.--Russ Parsons "Los Angeles Times"
The ultimate book for science nerds who cook.-- "Wired"
You need The Food Lab, as J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's magnum opus is 2015's most indispensable cookbook.-- "The Chicago Tribune"
About the Author
- Publisher : *Norton agency titles; 1st edition (23 October 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 960 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0393081087
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393081084
- Dimensions : 27.43 x 20.32 x 4.57 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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We actually couldn’t work out where the smell was coming from until we found out it was the book. We were about to call the exterminators.
Why does it smell so awful?
I gave it to someone as a gift and they have to keep it in another room because of the smell.
I am not exaggerating. It is an expensive book so We/I shouldn’t have to deal with this problem.
Do you know why (ink, paper) and any advice as to how to make the smell go away?
I would love the author to bring out a similar book on cakes and desserts.
Also, the book has a strong dead animal smell. Very weird. Hopefully the smell goes away.
By James McLendon on 28 May 2021
Also, the book has a strong dead animal smell. Very weird. Hopefully the smell goes away.
However, Amazon delivered the book in damaged condition
Top reviews from other countries
A few salient points to share:
First, this book presents itself as scientific and data-driven. That's what I was looking for, and I had high hopes. Very disappointed. The "science" of this book is basically Mythbusters-level science. The author describes a random curiosity (does mineral content in water affect pizza crust?), and then relays an anecdote of an at-home experiment. Is this scientific? Yea! In the same way Mythbusters is. And I love Mythbusters! But calling this book "lab-based" or "data-driven" or "scientific" would be akin to writing up fun descriptions of each Mythbusters episode, slapping it all together, and calling it a science textbook.
Second, this book is just a mess. Like, it looks pretty, for sure. But its organization is... a bit lacking. It has the feel of an author who didn't want to take any editorial input. It's a thousand-page brick, in nine sections. Those nine sections are:
....whhhhha? You're going to put together a book that you claim is basically a comprehensive culinary tome, and one of your NINE sections is... "ground meat"? And "fast-cooking foods," which is of course separate from "frying"? And "breakfast," but no other meal sections? Just a hodge-podge mess of random mealtimes, ingredients, cooking methods, and dishes?
Baking doesn't even get a section? Whhhhhat?
Honestly, I'm pretty sure that the author literally picked his most used or most popular blog tags, and just made those his sections. Within each section, the "organization" is similarly haphazard. No discernable rhyme or reason, beyond "I have a blog post about this!"
Third, the author comes off as... a cringey creep. There's a LOT of "gosh my wife and I can't stand each other, and we don't trust each other, and all she wants to do is SHOP!" humor. It's misogynistic, one-note, and boring. It feels like someone at an open mic stand-up show in the 90s. Who isn't doing well on stage. Oof. There's also a very weird amount of comparing foods to women's bodies. Both sexually (this guy REALLY sexualizes hamburgers... like, a lot) and just weirdly objectifingly (he at one point describes overcooked meat as being like a dried-up body of an old woman).
At one point, I think in the acknowledgments, the author mentions being inspired by gonzo journalism (i.e., Hunter S Thompson), Douglas Adams, and Kurt Vonnegut. He does not, at all, write with the talent or humor of any of those three writers. He DOES write like a college student who THINKS he's as talented and funny as the three of them. It's just... so cringe-worthy. I'm not sure how else to express it.
The book DOES have some useful methods described, as well as some interesting-sounding recipes I'll be trying out. It's a nice-looking book, with nice pictures. But the value it does have is, for me, outweighed by the unpleasant experience of reading it, its haphazard organization and content selection, and its disappointing failure to deliver on its claims to be a scientific or data-driven text.
As books go, I would recommend Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking instead. The Food Lab is better presented as a blog than a book.
This is the perfect book for you if:
1) You want to understand the reasons behind the cooking processes that you use, rather than just following along and doing what you're told.
2) You are a little bit "sciencey" and enjoy the idea of applying that in the kitchen.
3) You want a cook book that is a combination of science, readable anecdotes, and delicious recipes.
4) You demand that recipes work, use ingredients that you can find, are accompanied by pictures that draw you in, and require step-by-step instructions in the kitchen.
This is not to say that this is all you will ever need to cook out of, but it is a brilliant base to understand your food, cook delicious dishes from, and spark a love of cooking.
Things to be aware of:
1) This book leans towards american cooking
2) This book doesn't contain any baking/dessert recipes
3) This book is big. And i mean BIG. This isn't a draw back for me but my girlfriend struggles with the weight of it a bit.
I really can't recommend this book highly enough and hope that you buy it and enjoy it as much as I do!!
there are though two major issues i have which made me give only four stars.
the first is the constant draw in of the author`s personal life with his wife, mum...etc that is just not very interesting and totally irrelevant. Most people who read a book like this are in search for knowledge not "cute stories"
The second issue i have is the amount of recipe in this book. though i have to admit I am chef and therefore most of the recipes are only useful to help me understand the book`s a preceding concepts but to be honest most are for home cooks. plus there are way too many that i personally just skipped through.
regardless it was a pleasure to read it.