Nathan Myhrvold’s Modern Food Manifesto Causes Quite a Stir

Get the scoop on Myhrvold's manifesto, which clocks in at six volumes and 2,438 pages, covering ever
Brangien Davis  |   March 2011   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
Wok Cooking Nathan Myhrvold
A cutaway shot from Modernist Cuisine illustrating the hard science behind a simple stir fry—temperatures, metallic atoms, conduction zones. It's one of many culinary techniques the book explains by way of chemistry.

Critics seem helplessly drawn to hyperbole when it comes to reviewing Nathan Myhrvold’s new encyclopedia of cooking, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking ($625; modernistcuisine.com). Already considered the guide to molecular gastronomy (the foodie discipline interested in the physics and chemistry of culinary techniques), the tome has been lauded as “the most important book in the culinary arts since Escoffier,” “the cookbook to end all cookbooks” and “unparalleled in its breadth and depth.” Could all the praise be true? That last, at least, isn’t exaggeration: Myhrvold's manifesto clocks in at six volumes and 2,438 pages, covering everything from the history of food preparation to how to use agar, a gelatin-like substance derived from algae. It seems Myhrvold, the former Microsoft chief technology officer, inventor and esteemed nature photographer with a Ph.D. in theoretical and mathematical physics, has added a chef’s hat to his vast collection of crowns.

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