So I did it. I read the whole thing – all five volumes. “But the last one is just recipes.” Yes, I know – I read all of them. And I’ve been able to cook over 30 of the 1522 recipes, which, granted, is just scratching the surface but it has given me some perspective. So, have I learned anything?
I can’t list everything I’ve learned or picked up from The Work (as I like to call it), but some of the main takeaways from Modernist Cuisine off the top of my head:
Concentration And Purity Of Flavor: Taking humble neutral ingredients, like milk, oil and water, and infusing them with flavor so they add extra punch to whatever you’re making. An example is using a centrifuge to extract clear juices from fruits and vegetables to use in place of water for stock. Also, keeping flavors intact by cooking food just to the point where it’s warm but not transformed to a cooked flavor.
Technology Is Your Friend: Why spend all day on a stock when a pressure cooker can make it in an hour? Why spend hours waiting for something to freeze when you can dip it in liquid nitrogen? Or, on the other hand, DO spend days cooking a tough piece of meat using sous vide. Instead of boiling, slow cook an egg and get a yolk like a custard. These innovations can create extra time or new textures and flavors that can’t be done with traditional techniques.
Science!: Now I can troubleshoot much better when something goes awry and can predict how something might turn out because I understand food’s physical properties. This has also made me a bore when going to restaurants. I try to keep it to myself.
Wash Your Hands Properly: enough said.
They say that over 40,000 copies have been sold. I wonder how many people have read the entire set. Of those, I wonder how many aren’t in the food industry. Perhaps I am an island…
But either way, what’s next? I remember someone once told me you read a book three times: once to read it, a second time to study it, and a third time to enjoy it. Well, I guess I better get back to it. Again.
I got the set a few months ago and I’ve only read books 1-2 in full. I have to take time to step back and digest the “mind = blown” -ness of what it contains.
I got it last year so hey you’re a speed demon. 😉
Habitual procrastinater and lover of slice shot photos.
Andreas Gradert said:
That’s my plan for the holidays – congratulations 🙂
chef walter said:
i didi it too , it took me 5 months , best reading exp. ever !!!!!!!!
Seems we all need a lectrice? Miou-Miou was quite good in 1998 🙂
I got it back in June and read through the entire thing, even the spiral bound workbook that comes with it. I haven’t made anything from it yet (immersion heater is on the way), but the inspiration and the changes to how I think are priceless.
Peter Le Bek (@_lebek) said:
If you _were_ in the food industry likelihood is you wouldn’t have time to read the entire set. We amateurs have it right.
paulette brissitt said:
That’s good writing. But first, Jethro is the name of a food wholesaler business walking from my house. So, oh Jethro! that’s someone’s name it seem. I smiled through out the writing. I could read like that too. Small things do count.
Jonathan Brill said:
Bloody awesome!!! I thought I was a food geek…until I read your ENTIRE blog the other night. Truly inspiring.
I’ll be reading through the book this fall!