It finally arrived yesterday: 50 plus pounds of cardboard, paper and acrylic, packaged so carefully, with such meticulously designed padding, it could have housed a museum-worthy piece of art. In fact it did: my very own copy of Modernist Cuisine.
What is it, you may ask? It is a six-volume, 2,438-page set of books with a total of 3,216 full color photographs and 1.1 million words dedicated to food and cooking. It is described as a benchmark, a landmark, unparalleled, a cookbook to end all cookbooks. After trying to lift it if from the floor onto the table, just by weight alone I’d agree.
This definitive kitchen manual’s full name is Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. It was created by Nathan Myhrvold (the first chief technology officer at Microsoft who now has lots of money and a passion for food), Chris Young, Maxime Bilet and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab. The first 5 volumes are really the coffee table books, assuming you have a coffee table strong enough and big enough to showcase them. The workhorse volume 6 is called Kitchen Manual, and is spiral-bound and printed on waterproof, tear-resistant synthetic paper.
Think of it as Betty Crocker on steroids or the Joy of Cooking with the volume turned up extra, extra loud. Why splurge on such a piece of publishing? I love food. I love to cook. I love science. And, I love photography. This set is designed specifically to account for all of that. And yes, it is gloriously and meticulously designed. As I’ve said before, design at its best, permeates almost everything in our lives. The better our designs, hopefully the better out lives can be. And for those who’ve worked on the design of this set of books, it shows the dedication and passion for making something that is truly functional and exquisitely beautiful.
As it might take me years to read through the thousands of pages, I’ll postpone my review for now (FYI the review in the NY Times is a good read). But at least now I’ll never have an excuse for being bored.
For more information or to make Christmas come early for yourself go to modernistcuisine.com
For the NYT review: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/dining/09modernist.html