Friday, May 16, 2008

ZOMG, Food Nerd Books!

I've always been a bit...overenthusiastic when it comes to the science behind the dinner, but doing this weekly food science post for the Kitchn has really put me over the edge into True Nerdom. And let me tell you, my friends, it feels like home.

For the last few months, I've been almost exclusively relying on my main man Harold McGee and his book On Food and Cooking as my source for food science and chemistry. And Harold, I love you. You know I do. But I think it's time that we saw other people.

The problem with the world of food science is that there's just not that much being published on the subject. I dunno, maybe I'm weird (HA!) in that I just like to know, ya know? I love doing something in class, then figuring out why that works, and then doing it again.

(Meanwhile, emulsions STILL elude me.)

One of the things I really like about Harold McGee is that he hits that middle ground where what he says makes sense to lay people, but he's not dumbing it down at all. That's what I really try to do when I write about science and chemistry stuff. I just want us both to read the same thing and to have it make sense.

I'm really excited about this Wild Fermentation book. It talks a lot about one of my favorite topics, sourdough, but also about brewing beer, making kimchi, and other naturally fermented things.

I haven't read or watched a lot of Alton Brown, but people often mention "Oh, Alton Brown talked about that in that episode!!!!" after my posts, so I thought it was time I spent some time with the guy. Flipping through the pages, I think he also strikes that "Make Sense, Not Dumb" balance.

The other two books, What Einstein Told His Cook, are a bit of an unknown. The first book looks like a lot of stuff Harold and I have already been over. The second one looks like a book I could spend some time with.

There's one other book that I'm itching to get my hands on: Molecular Gastronomy: The Science of Taste by Herve This. The only have it on reserve at the library and I haven't had time to get to a bookstore in several months, so it remains a mystery. I have a feeling it will be a touch over my head, but nerds are nothing if not determined to understand that which eludes them. Or keel over while trying.

In other, but related, news: I've been coveting the Kindle electronic book thing from Amazon. I didn't pay it any mind, then I saw that everyone wanted it, then it went out of stock, and now I kinda want it? Does that make me bad? It did cross my mind that the whole "out of stock" thing was maybe a marketing ploy from Amazon designed to make people like me more interested, but...I still want one.

Here's the thing. I think that devices like the Kindle is really the future of publishing. It just makes sense.
Amazon has done a really great job of making an electronic product that still has a lot of the features that we love about books--ie, roughly the same size and weight as a book, 'turning' the page, a screen that can be read in the sunlight, dog-earring pages, and the like.

Amazon is also amassing a fairly substantial library of books. Even Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking is in there. For me, having my reference books in one handy electronic device would mean that I could truly go work from anywhere without constantly having to make little notes to myself to double check a book reference when I get back home.

Having my cookbooks on an electronic device like this would be awesome. It would be easy to prop it near my work station and eliminate the need for all the post-it scribbles I have fluttering all over the place.

Plus, I'm also one of those people who has to take a million books with me whenever I travel just in case.

So why am I just coveting and not buying at this point? Well, aside from the price tag, my biggest concern is about buying books. When I buy a book, I want it to really be mine. Meaning, I want it in a universal file format that can be used whether I'm using a Kindle or some other equivalent device that is lurking on the horizon. So far, it seems that Kindle books purchased through Amazon can only be used on Kindle devices.

I'll bide my time, thanks. Apple will surely be hatching something shortly. Or maybe Google will succeed in taking over the world and enforcing it's Free Information for All! act.

Anyone in my listening audience have a Kindle and want to give their two cents?

No comments: