When it comes to your TV-viewing preferences, do you have a hard time choosing between cooking shows and Mythbusters? Do you wonder why medium-rare steak is so popular? Why cooked egg whites turn white? Why you might want to salt your grapefruit? If you’re a sciencey type who likes to cook (or would like to learn how to cook) check out Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food—a book described by one reviewer as “The best science-meets-the-kitchen book to come out. Ever.” Written for anyone who likes to think about how things work, Cooking for Geeks is a compendium of food science, interviews, and experiments, with great recipes to tie it all together.
Potter is a computer scientist and amateur cook who discusses the biology, chemistry, physics, and mechanics (i.e., tools) of cooking in a clear and inviting style, along with plenty of helpful charts, photos, and online references. He also provides tons of fun experiments the reader can do at home to better understand concepts like the physiology of taste and smell, or how caramelization works. Other fascinating topics include food-borne illness, genetically modified foods, playing with chemicals, and having fun with hardware. Though he doesn’t recommend trying it, gadget-geek Potter includes a cool story about how he clipped the lock on his oven to allow him to use his oven-cleaning cycle to cook pizzas at 1,000°F.
As informative as it is, Cooking for Geeks is more than just a textbook. Throughout the book you’ll find lots of really good, easy recipes—each one related to the topic at hand. I had fun making my own soda with water, sugar, yeast, and lemon juice. And I’m looking forward to trying the Seared Tuna with Cumin and Salt, Rosemary Mashed Potatoes, and Chocolate Port Cake, to list just a few of Potter’s mouth-watering recipes.
Now check out this video of Potter making 30-second ice cream using liquid nitrogen!