This Is a $625 Cookbook

Deal alert: Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking is currently $203.13 off on Amazon! Which means it's only $421.87. A $625, six-volume, 2,200-page cookbook? This is the price of molecular gastronomy.

Modernist Cuisine is the brainchild of former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold, who now spends his time using scientific methods and knowledge to make strange food. ("Raw lobster tail, freeze dried, is amazing," he told the Times.) The book is half undergraduate science textbook, half cookbook. According to its Amazon page:

The authors and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab have achieved astounding new flavors and textures by using tools such as water baths, homogenizers, centrifuges, and ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes. It is a work destined to reinvent cooking.

We are asked to "imagine being able to encase a mussel in a gelled sphere of its own sweet and briny juice." Imagine!

This Is a $625 Cookbook

Here are just some of the few amazing features of Modernist Cuisine's six volumes:

  • "Stunning new photographic techniques take the reader inside the food to see cooking in action all the way from microscopic meat fibers to an entire Weber grill in cross-section."
  • "The most comprehensive guide yet published on cooking sous vide (In a vacuum—ed.), including the best options for water baths, packaging materials, and sealing equipment; cooking strategies; and troubleshooting tips."
  • "Why baking is mostly a drying process."

And some very interesting chapter sub-sections:

  • "The Modernist revolution"
  • "Prions"
  • "Cryogenic freezing and carbonating"
  • "Restructuring"
  • "hydrocolloids."
  • "Gelling with hydrocolloids"
  • "Spherification."

The book is available in December, at which point it will be safe to say the chemical revolution in cooking is complete. The State Department better be on this, because it seems highly likely there is a recipe for Yellow Cake Uranium in there somewhere. [Modernist Cuisine] (Via Christopher Mims.)