“Cooking for Geeks” by Jeff Potter; O’Reilly Media

And now for something completely different… cooking!

Cooking for Geeks

I’ve always been intrigued by “Cooking for Geeks”. I came across it several times, and finally when I saw it in O’Reilly Blogger Reviews program I couldn’t resist.

This book is true to its title – it explains the principles of cooking in a slightly different way. It explains the tastes and some basic ideas of balancing and composition. It talks a lot about food consistency and “doneness” in terms of chemical reactions between various components and in response to temperature over time. It shows how the basic principles of cooking and baking work from such perspective. Finally, it has some great points on hardware and foot safety.

All this narrative is interleaved with recipes, placed right after related material. Sauces in taste composition, pizza, bread and cakes in chapters on baking, and so on. They are pretty exceptional – often discussing a few ways to approach a problem, or things to pay attention to, why they matter and what depends on them. Finally, there are some interviews with chefs, geeks and cooking passionates.

It’s very light language, though sometimes quite information-dense and a bit too abstract. I learned a ton from it. A lot of very basic stuff that every homegrown cook does intuitivelly, but you never know why it works this way. Some things may have been too advanced or too abstract, though. I wish there were more of those recipes, which really do a great job of explaining things on real examples. Sometimes I felt it’s a bit too abstract for me, and at the same time it was probably too basic for experts.

All in all, I think it was worth the read. Entertaining and enlightening at the same time, even if not all content is immediately interesting to everyone.

Paper edition could be a bit better. It looks beautiful, and you could keep it handy and even make annotations in it.

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