How to Read a French Fry by Russ Parsons

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Synopsis

Why can you stick your hand into a 450-degree oven but not into 212-degree boiling water without burning it? Why does fish taste different from meat? Why do you cook pork differently from beef? Why should you always start cooking dried beans in cold water, not warm? Why should you never cook a Vidalia onion?
What's the only kind of marinade that's really an effective tenderizer? Why is strawberry-rhubarb a good combination, scientifically speaking? And why don't potatoes fried in fresh oil ever brown completely, no matter how long they're cooked?
"Cooking is full of questions that science can help you answer, questions that can make you a better cook," writes the award-winning Los Angeles Times food editor, Russ Parsons.
In this entertaining book packed with fascinating tidbits, Parsons explores the science behind such basic cooking methods as chopping, mixing, frying, roasting, boiling, and baking. You'll learn why soaking beans can't offset their gaseous effects, why green vegetables shouldn't be cooked under a lid for long, which fruits you can buy unripe and which you should buy fully ripened, which thickener to choose for your turkey gravy, which piecrust is foolproof for a beginner.
Along the way, Parsons slips in hundreds of cooking tips, provocative trivia, and touches of wit that make his scientific explanations go down smoothly. He also includes more than a hundred recipes that deliciously exemplify the principles he describes, from Tuscan Potato Chips and Crisp-Skinned Salmon on Creamy Leeks and Cabbage to Chocolate Pots de Creme and Ultimate Strawberry Shortcake.
 

About Russ Parsons

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RUSS PARSONS is the food and wine columnist of the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of the best-selling How to Read a French Fry, a winner of multiple James Beard Awards for his journalism, and the recipient of the IACP/Bert Greene Award for distinguished writing. He lives in California, which produces more than half of the fruits and vegetables grown in this country. He has been writing about food and agriculture for more than twenty years.
 
Published May 15, 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 364 pages
Genres: Cooking, Science & Math, Professional & Technical, Children's Books. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for How to Read a French Fry

Publishers Weekly

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In this unique book, Los Angeles Times food editor Parsons combines complex science (rendered accessible to lay readers), workable cooking techniques, and excellent recipes.

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NPR

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In How to Read a French Fry: And Other Stories of Intriguing Kitchen Science, Russ Parsons answers all sorts of food science questions, including why meat browns, why sauces emulsify and how frying is different from roasting.

Aug 31 2011 | Read Full Review of How to Read a French Fry

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