I mentioned in a previous post that I always have two books that I’m reading: a downstairs book and an upstairs book. The downstairs books are stuff that I can read while the kids play, book targeted at the general public that don’t take too much brainpower to get through (my last one was Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace). My upstairs books always relate to questions of God, my latest topic of interest being how to figure out what God’s will for you at any given moment, and then actually carry it out (my last two books were Journey to Easter and He Leadeth Me).
So anyway, my belated Mother’s Day gift just arrived from my grandfather, and I am just way to thrilled about it. People should not be this excited about books. I present to you: On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee.
Because I could never do it justice if I summarized it myself (I recently described it to a friend as “a book with all this cool stuff about food”), I’ll quote the Publisher’s Weekly review:
A stunning masterpiece that combines science, linguistics, history, poetry and, of course, gastronomy. [McGee] dances from the spicy flavor of Hawaiian seaweed to the scientific method of creating no-stir peanut butter, quoting Chinese poet Shu Xi and biblical proverbs along the way. McGee’s conversational style—rich with exclamation points and everyday examples—allows him to explain complex chemical reactions, like caramelization, without dumbing them down. His book will also be hailed as groundbreaking in its breakdown of taste and flavor.
I’m only half-way through the first chapter, about milk, and I’ve already learned so much! It’s fascinating to hear about what other cultures throughout history did with their milk — e.g. turning it into yogurt and covering it with oil to make it last longer, or even fermenting it to make alcohol in the case of nomadic cultures whose lifestyle didn’t lend itself to brewing beer or wine.
It’s about three inches thick, so given my downstairs reading rate it should only take me a decade or two to get through it. I can’t wait!
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