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On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee

If you've listened to the rumblings in the food world over the past decade, you've probably heard of this book. And with good reason. Harold McGee is the godfather of looking at food through a scientific lens (and he's wonderfully humble--he repudiates the term "molecular gastronomy"). On Food and Cooking is his chef d'oeuvre. If you've ever asked yourself why pasta causes water to boil over or how gluten works, this book will tell you. In fact, there are few things about food that this book does not discuss at length, and artfully. McGee's writing is a pleasure to read--to-the-point without being dryly scientific and technical. Frankly, this is one of those must-have books for your kitchen. If you have questions about cooking, then this book is for you.