Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Guy Crosby's "Cook, Taste, Learn"

Guy Crosby, PhD, CFS, is adjunct associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. He is the science editor for Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street and was the science editor for America’s Test Kitchen. He is coauthor of New York Times best-seller The Science of Good Cooking (2012) and Cook’s Science (2016).

Crosby applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Cook, Taste, Learn: How the Evolution of Science Transformed the Art of Cooking, and reported the following:
The page 99 test fails for my book Cook, Taste, Learn - How the Evolution of Science Transformed the Art of Cooking for the simple reason that the book is composed of three different, but interwoven elements, and page 99 touches on only one of the elements. The first traces in seven chapters a history of cooking from the first controlled use of fire nearly two million years ago to the emergence of agriculture during the Neolithic period to modern science’s understanding of what happens at a molecular level when heat is applied to food. The second element consists of 22 brief science sidebars that explain concepts of food and cooking science pertinent to the topics discussed in each chapter. For example, in chapter two a narrative on the evolution of domesticated bread wheat is supported by a sidebar explaining the structure and function of gluten. The third element describes seven of my favorite recipes that illustrate an important aspect of cooking science. The publisher cleverly distinguishes the three elements by printing each one on different colored pages allowing the reader to choose whether to read about evolution, history, science, cooking, nutrition or health. The book vividly illustrates how the often tragic lives of famous scientists and chefs cross-fertilized the evolution of cooking science.

Page 99 is the middle of three pages of a sidebar on "Terroir - A Taste of Place”. Most readers are well aware that terroir refers to the relationship between where a food is grown and the qualities of the food. The French first developed this concept to relate where grapes are grown and the quality of the wine. Page 99 discusses two examples in which the quality of cooked dry cannellini beans is proven to be dependent on the calcium content of the soil where they were grown, and another on microbial terroir pioneered by chef David Chang, chef/owner of the Momofuku restaurant group, who demonstrated that local microorganisms impart different unique flavors to fermented foods. The book culminates with several chapters on how modern cooking science can improve the nutritional quality and gastronomic delight of everyday food cooked at home. Science-driven changes in the way we cook can help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases and enhance the quality and joy of life. Cooking will be seen no longer as just an art but as a perfect blend of art and science, creating simple dishes that are delicious to eat and good for our health. The book is beautifully illustrated and includes some of the author’s own works.
Visit Guy Crosby's website.

--Marshal Zeringue