Chef It Up…Read EALM’s kitchen “aides”
By Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team
Ever wonder about the best way to store coffee, the correct temperature for cooking a cut of meat, or how to make a flakey pasty crust?
In today’s digital age we often just turn to Google for instantaneous answers to all of our questions. But there’s nothing quite like having this information in one easily accessible place. Keep in mind that not everything we read on the Internet comes from reliable sources. Finding trustworthy answers to these kinds of questions often requires us to research many different sites. Whether you are a dietitian, chef, home cook, or simply someone who eats (i.e. ANYONE!), you probably have a variety of questions about food and cooking. Why does a certain food do that when it cooks? Where does our food come from? How has food changed over the years? If you’re at all curious about food or cooking, here are three highly recommended books to help answer your questions…whether you’re an at-home food scientist, a “YUMPIE” chef or simply a literature loving foodie. These books are sure to make your epicurean experiences that much more satisfying.
Three kitchen “aides” to help the three different kinds of foodies:
For the scientific cook:
On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
For the more experienced and the science-minded person, On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee is a great resource—an encyclopedia dealing exclusively with food and cooking—and one of my favorites reference sources! McGee’s book contains definitive answers to many of our everyday food questions…and so much more. The book begins by focusing on the most commonly used ingredients. So here are just a few of the things you can learn: the difference between cream and milk, how eggs are graded, and various cooking methods for meat and fish. It provides descriptions of some of the more than 2,000 cultivated varieties of edible plants. It discusses different flavors. It explains the baking process and how to create a variety of sauces. It reveals how to brew alcoholic beverages. And it includes in-depth descriptions of cooking methods and materials. This book is a “must have” for nutrition and culinary students as well as professional chefs. It’s also a great reference tool for the at-home chef to keep close at hand. You can easily research the reasons behind a specific food reaction and/or quickly find answers to your daily cooking questions.
For our “YUMPIE” chefs:
Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks and Good Food by Jeff Potter
If you want to learn about food science but actually are not too fond of science, Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter may be the perfect book for you. A quick read, it helps you effortlessly expand your knowledge about food science. Potter breaks down the complexities of food science into easy-to-understand terms. And once you understand the science behind cooking, you’ll be able to view your recipes from entirely new perspectives. Your kitchen will be stocked with blank canvas for you to create masterpieces. Potter also includes some basic foundational recipes to help the concepts solidify in your brain. You’ll learn why something happens and then be able to attempt it in your own test kitchen!
By the way…. YUMPIE is a real word! A YUMPIE is a young, educated, career-orientated person who wants to get ahead in the world.[i] Don’t believe me? Check out dictionary.com.
For the literature-loving foodie:
Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson
If you want to learn more about food and cooking but are really more interested in the story than the science, Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson would be perfect for your next beach read or even a good option for your book club. Written by food writer and historian Bee Wilson, Consider the Fork takes you on an adventure depicting how your kitchen tools affect your food. Written as a novel rather than a reference tool, it includes some science and history but is also interwoven with personal experiences. Wilson’s book provides an interesting visualization about how the tools we’ve used throughout history have shaped what we eat today.
No matter what stage of the game you currently may have reached in your kitchen comfort, knowledge and/or expertise, you’ll learn much more about food and how best to prepare it with each one of these books. Not only will they help you when you’re in the kitchen, but you’ll also be able to impress your family and friends with some fun food facts the next time you’re out for lunch or dinner. Or, perhaps, if you wind up trying to solve a crossword puzzle laden with food clues!