Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)

Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History)

Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History) Rating:
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Hervé This (pronounced "Teess") is an internationally renowned chemist, a popular French television personality, a bestselling cookbook author, a longtime collaborator with the famed French chef Pierre Gagnaire, and the only person to hold a doctorate in molecular gastronomy, a cutting-edge field he pioneered. Bringing the instruments and experimental techniques of the laboratory into the kitchen, This uses recent research in the chemistry, physics, and biology of food to challenge traditional ideas about cooking and eating. What he discovers will entertain, instruct, and intrigue cooks, gourmets, and scientists alike.

Molecular Gastronomy, This's first work to appear in English, is filled with practical tips, provocative suggestions, and penetrating insights. This begins by reexamining and debunking a variety of time-honored rules and dictums about cooking and presents new and improved ways of preparing a variety of dishes from quiches and quenelles to steak and hard-boiled eggs. He goes on to discuss the physiology of flavor and explores how the brain perceives tastes, how chewing affects food, and how the tongue reacts to various stimuli. Examining the molecular properties of bread, ham, foie gras, and champagne, the book analyzes what happens as they are baked, cured, cooked, and chilled.

Looking to the future, Herve This imagines new cooking methods and proposes novel dishes. A chocolate mousse without eggs? A flourless chocolate cake baked in the microwave? Molecular Gastronomy explains how to make them. This also shows us how to cook perfect French fries, why a soufflé rises and falls, how long to cool champagne, when to season a steak, the right way to cook pasta, how the shape of a wine glass affects the taste of wine, why chocolate turns white, and how salt modifies tastes.


  • ISBN13: 9780231133135
  • Condition: New
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  1. Rating

    Mr. This has written a well-developed group of essays, really scientific reports, on aspects of cuisine. This is neither a consideration of cooking artistry or technique, but rather varied explorations of the scientific principles behind the transformation of materials in food science. I found many of the essays interesting although some have less relevance to my kitchen than others. Some essays are clearly written for other food industry professionals–the discussion of vinaigrette includes the xanthan gum, et al, which home cooks generally don’t use to stabilize their vinaigrettes. Where Mr. This gets really interesting is in his multi-essay development of emulsions (mayonnaise, vinaigrette, flan, quiche, cream, etc.), gels, and the chemistry behind them. I am already excited to try his suggestions for a chocolate ‘dispersion’. In fact, I would recommend to Mr. This, should he write another book for a more general audience, to focus on the emulsion and the gel as central concepts of his cuisine, which have opened up new potential worlds of innovation. Throughout the book he strikes a good balance between respect for tradition (as a source of preliminary hypotheses to be tested) and innovation–his discussion of potential new two-phase cooking techniques from a complete matrix was quite French in its precision and dream of new potentials. Not to be missed, once you have made it through the book, is his witty and worthy glossary.

    The writing is quite scientific and usually, but not always, well translated from French. In places this irritated me, such as an appositive “Mr. X, he who does such and such, walked…” (not the exact quote), the ‘he who does such and such’ being a word-for-word translation of the French “celui qui fait…”. However this was an irritation and not an impediment.

    I do strongly recommend this book although it is NOT the best for a general foodie-science geek who wants only to understand the principles behind most common household cooking techniques. That is done much better by Alton Brown, et al and this book presupposes such knowledge, and more. It is a more advanced text and a look into the new world of ‘molecular gastronomy’ as a science and the brave new world it is ushering in.

  2. Dr Adam Weiss says


    The author takes the reader deep into the molecular level of cooking and the principle behind the process. If you ever wanted to know why butter response to heat like it does from room temp to cooking with it -this book is for you. Learned new information on the cooking and the effects on foods.

  3. Rating

    After reading the Italian translation a coupe of years ago, I was so much hoping for an English translation, and here it is; and it’s brilliant! It’s quite one thing to follow recipes and follow instructions, and quite another to understand at a physico-chemical level WHY you need to do things in a certain way. As a scientisty person- really, just as a curious person- you want to know what’s happening to the meat that makes it tender and flavorful, or the cake just that right consistency.

    I guess the philosophy that best suits me is to understand the science so well that the art is set free to explore. If you understand WHY, you can also figure out HOW to change it. And more importantly for someone like me, you also know WHAT to do when you make mistakes 😉

    What makes the book particularly worth the $$ is the extent of the science- right down to the molecular basis of taste.

    If I had a complaint, it would be that the articles are WAY too short. This book seems like the summary of what would be the Vedas of food science.

  4. Margot Vigeant says


    If you’re thinking about buying this book, you are interested in the chemistry of food and have probably read Robert Wolke’s “What Einstein Told his Cook” or Joe Schwarcz’s “That’s the way the Cookie Crumbles” or perhaps even the paragon of English-language food chemistry: Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking”. If you haven’t, I recommend you start with one of those first (“Einstein” would be my #1 choice).

    Why? Because those books are better written and about topics that are of more general interest to a North American audience. Molecular Gastronomy is unabashedly FRENCH – which is an excellent thing, but surprising if you’re not expecting it. The foods it focuses on are French foods, the research it cites is French research, and I suspect even the translator has French as his first language. So, for example, this book discusses the “Perfect Sabayon” – a lovely culinary question, however one that many Americans (even “foodie” Americans) might find less interesting than the question of cookies going stale (as covered in Schwarcz). The translation is odd…. it is clear, in reading it, that it wasn’t originally written in English. Some particularly French phrasing persists in the translation and I am also not convinced that the translator had as extensive a chemical vocabulary as was called for (for example, the phrase “vitreous transition temperature” is used, where “glass transition temperature” is the term used in most materials science texts).

    As other reviewers have commented, the vignettes themselves may leave something to be desired. Each chapter is quite brief (Schwartcz’s work is similar), so may not have the text to go into the depth a reader might desire. However, the real strength of this work is that it addresses interesting food/chemical questions that aren’t being covered by the North American writers…. there’s a lot of wine, cheese, and emulsified sauce in this book that you don’t see anywhere else.

  5. Octavio Colmenares says


    Excelent book. Written in short (2 pages at most) concrete ideas of the subject but very ilustrative. The writer shows expertise and real practical knowledge of the topics described. A second volumen should be written by the same author. Anyone interested in cooking, after reading this book will be capable of deciphering the why, what and how to cooking…

  6. Buddha Dev Bej says


    molecular gastronomy gives you an insight of science behind cooking.

    it explains and busts the myths of a kitchen

    if ur a person who likes getting into the food to understand it and its changes wd cooking, then this book is a must to be read.

    for all those who have a passion for new age cooking, grabe it or ur left behind the new trend going past u

  7. John Matlock says


    Cooking, which has certainly been around for a long time, has been treated more as an art than a science. The recipies and techniques that we follow are handed cown from parent to child, or since writing was invented from chef to student.

    But do many of these procedures make sense. Why do we have such traditional ideas of cooking that seem almost cast in stone with little or no evidence that this is indeed the best way to do things.

    In this book M. This states a principle, but carrying it further he researches where this principle originated, and then conducts carefully measured experiments to see if this is true. For instance in making beef stock, the rule says put the meat into cold water and increase the temperature gradually. What happens if you put the meat into boiling water? Or what is the difference in Cheeses that are made from milk from cows that had south facing fields when compared to cows on fields that faced a northern slope. What about if the cow was fed silage (wet grass stored in silow where it ferments)? And what’s the best way to test whiskey?

    That’s the idea, here is the analysis of cooking taken to a scientific level. It’s a fascinating book for one interested in more than just the mechanics of cooking. I was reminded of Russ Parson’s book ‘How to Read a French Fry.’