Food science beach reads: learn about food and cooking while you work on your tan

My Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week is a summer reading list of books about food  and cooking. It turns out that most people really don’t understand what they are eating or the processes that went into cooking their food. Knowing how food is prepared can help you make healthier eating choices, whether you are doing the cooking yourself or if you are eating prepared meals.

Here are three books about food science you can take to the beach (and one you can’t):

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

This is the most recent of Pollan’s excellent books, all of which should be required reading for anyone who eats. You can hear a nice interview with him about Cooked here and one about a previous book here (both are from Science Friday on NPR).

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee

Harold McGee also contributed to an excellent series about coffee on Science Friday on NPR. It turns out we can learn a few things about the first thing many of us consume each day.

McGee also has/had a column in the New York Times called the Curious Cook. It doesn’t appear to have been updated recently, but the older posts are still worth a read.

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained and What Einstein Told His Cook 2, The Sequel: Further Adventures in Kitchen Science by Robert Wolke

Robert Wolke also used to write a column called Food 101 in the Washington Post. The old articles are still available and worth checking out.

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking by Nathan Myhrvold

This one is a workout both to read (it is a collection of six books) and to carry to the beach (it weighs over 50 lbs)! Even if you don’t buy it (it costs over $500) it is worth a look—the pictures of the cooking processes are amazing. In fact, a book of photos called The Photography of Modernist Cuisine is available for pre-order now.

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