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Holding The Big Bad Book of Gastronomy

Roll Over, Escoffier, Dig These Rhythm And Blues...

In this last post of the covering the actual cost of investment in cooking Modernist Cuisine (having already covered tools and specialty ingredients), we’ll now turn to the actual recipes and where to find them.  The end game is just eating a mouthful of delicious food, yes?  These resources will get you started recreating the Michelin starred dishes of the world, plus help you gain the skill set to create your own unique dishes.

The Free Stuff

There’s of course tons of stuff on the Internet you can use to get started with no up front investment.  Here’s a random selection to start with:

There’s also many videos out there.  Here are some that I know of:

The links on our blogroll on the right side of the page can point you to other places in cyberspace where you can find all things Modernist Cuisine, like the reference resource at Khymos or the community at eGullet.


Although having an iPad mounted up in your kitchen seems to be the future, there’s still something to be said for a dog eared cookbook on the counter, pages sticky with ingredients from past excursions into its contents.  And besides, it’s hard to accidentally delete an actual book.  Below is a selection of cookbooks that can help you out with unlocking the potential of contemporary cuisine.

Finding these used is a much harder proposition than many books, since these tend to be collected more than just bought and sold.  You never know what you might find at your local used bookstore or Goodwill, so it’s worth looking.  Online booksellers tend to have the best prices, but I am all for supporting your local booksellers, like Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle or Powell’s in Portland.

Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet

Modernist Cuisine The Myth. The Legend.  If you want to not just cook the dishes, but completely understand the process behind it in its totality, here it is, all 43 pounds.  Yes, you could just check it out at the library, except you’ll have to wait for ten years.  And yes, indeed, $478 is a lot of cash.  But think about it.  If you’re into this, you’re probably into going out to fine dining restaurants.  You could easily spend that on one dinner for two at an expensive place, or at least three dinner dates to a normal upscale establishment. Skip a few dinners, and it’s paid for. With 1522 recipes, that works out to about 31 cents per recipe – a reasonable price, right?  And it also comes with a history of gastronomy, scientific principles of heat and water transfer, and food safety rules based on food microbiology among other things.  I mean, really, considering it took over four years and 46 people to create it, it’s a steal.  You’ll return to it again and again.  You know you will.  Just do it!

Alinea by Grant Achatz

AlineaRecipes from the best restaurant in the United States.  If you need inspiration, check our blogroll for some home cooks who have cooked through the whole thing.

A Day at elBulli by Ferran Adria

A Day at elBulliA detailed view of an entire working day at elBulli, with a selection of recipes by the master of the New Cookery.  Though some dishes call for a freeze dryer, many of these can still be done at home.

The Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal

The Fat Duck Cookbook These dishes are fun and delicious.  And the whole book has been cooked through at home as well.  I’ve done a few dishes, and they’re amazing.

Ideas In Food by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot

Ideas In Food Grown out of their awesome blog, this handy volume gives you a collection of great recipes and the principles behind them in an engaging, conversational tone.  And at $15 bucks?  Psh. Done.

Other Books

There are other great books out there for reference on food science and even art books too.

On Food And Cooking by Harold McGee

On Food And CookingIt’s not a cookbook, but if you’re into the science of cooking, this is the classic that should be sitting on your shelf.

Modern Gastronomy A to Z by Ferran Adria

Modern Gastronomy A to ZA handy reference to terms and specialty ingredients you’ll encounter when cooking Modernist Cuisine.

Comer Arte by Francesc Guillamet

Comer ArteA beautiful coffee table book of images of Ferran Adria’s cuisine.

Other books worth checking out:

So it’s all out there.  Starting out with a small investment, you can discover the new cooking techniques of the last 30 years.  It’s doable, it’s a blast, and you can amaze your friends and family with delicious, unexpected meals.  Good luck and have fun!