Cooking for nerds
Ever since I was a little kiddo, I loved to help my mother in da kitchen. The first meal I learned to cook was the goulash from the (looking retrospectively) very lousy cooking TV show. Of course my parents told me it tastes great, probably because they were happy they do not have to cook and my meal was probably edible. But whatever, I liked the process of cooking so it was a win-win situation! (btw. my best friend told me that it is not tasting like goulash, but rather a mushroom sauce).
Nowadays, I still love the cooking, and I think I am at least little skilled now. And that’s because of one particular cookbook I have come across randomly on teh interwebs: The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt the MIT graduate-turned cook.
How did I find the book? Well, one day I was just doomscrolling on twitter, and I have come across tweet mentioning a webpage , how to make McDonalds’s style fries at home (Disclaimer: No other fries can beat the McDonald’s fries).
I read the article and I was like
Daaamn, this guy knows his shit, who is he? and it turned out he made a cookbook that is
full of recipes in the same scientific style as the fries recipe I mentioned. And If you are like me, and you love to know
how things work, I think you would enjoy the book too. Just a note: there is nothing wrong on just following
the recipes in any cookbook, I am just saying that this “how does it work”-style cooking suits me more.
What is in the book and what have I learned?
- Many recipes (as you would expect). But not just recipes, but every recipe (or chapter) has some introduction why the recipe works, described by physics and chemistry.
- Introductory chapter that describes common cook-ware, what you need and why
- Chapter that explain how to dramatically improve your knife skills (ever wanted to be like the chef in the TV cutting onion blazingly fast?)
- Common myths revealed (sear the steak or not? Salt it before, or not?)
- Experiments with cooking ingredients to prove stuff or just to get a grasp of haw the things work
Of course I haven’t tried every recipe in the book, there are so much of them, but I especially like the pasta chapter, because it has many quick, easy and tasty recipes you can make in less than 30 minutes.
Because the cooking methods are well explained throughout the book, you will also learn how to improvise in the kitchen, if you are brave enough. Some chapters, for example how to make creamy soups, kind of forces you to try it, because there are no step-by-step recipes for those, but just a set of guidelines to keep in mind - I tried, it worked!
I love cooking more than ever because of this book. My family enjoy it too (especially because they do not have to cook). Of course, cooking home takes some time, but it is much cheaper than eating in restaurant, and you know exactly what you eat. It is also part of DIY philosophy I love.
One last note: None of the links above are affiliate. I just love the book so much and I recommend it to all nerdy folks that love cooking like me.