Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of cookbooks. I know how to make a thing or two; my ice cream is a well-established tradition, as are my potato salads. And by request I do pizza-from-scratch at times.
There is however one cookbook that I must own someday. The One Book To Rule Them All. At 24kg and 2438 pages it is the kind of book that needs a lectern when used. And it is a glorious piece of art in its own right, even if I have some fundamental problems with the author’s other Ventures, so to speak.
The 5-volume book I am talking about is “Modernist Cuisine“, and it has some of the most stunning photography of the cooking process and a variety of dishes you’ll ever see. Nathan Myhrvold, its creator, quips that as part of this book he acquired two halves of the most impressive kitchen in the world.
You see, the photographic style of this book involves cut-through pictures of barbecues, pots and stoves as well as the food in/on/around them. And these are not CGI shots either; these are all real cuts of the real deal.
If the name Nathan Myhrvold sounds vaguely familiar, you might have heard of him from his earlier job at Microsoft where for many years he was the CTO. Alternatively you might have heard the name in connection with Intellectual Ventures, the biggest of all patent trolls. As you might imagine, I have very strong mixed feelings about him.
But his cooking book is magnificent.
Cutting a state-of-the-art kitchen in half doesn’t come cheap though. A copy of this tome will at some point set me back AU$615-odd at The Book Depository.
The book is not without its criticism though, because everything is explained in terms of this very expensive kitchen that mere mortals will never afford. Since then he has produced a second smaller volume with practical applications of the techniques in your average home kitchen. This Home Companion is a mere 456 pages and a mere AU$150 instead. I’ll probably need that as well to compensate for any thousand-dollar whisks I might be missing.
If you want to get an impression of the contents of this book, have a look at Nathan’s TED Talk video, where he shows off some of the photography and explains what went into it. Or go to the Modernist Cuisine website if you think you can resist the shopping links.
It’s a sight to see, but beware…
…you might find yourself lusting after a $600 book by the time it finishes.