Kenji is the previous culinary director for severe Eats and a present culinary consultant because that the site. He is likewise a brand-new York times food columnist and the writer of The Food Lab: better Home cooking Through Science.

You are watching: How to read a french fry


Author"s Note: ns recently constructed myself a new bookshelf in the kitchen, and also in the procedure of reorganizing mine ever-expanding book collection, I finished up blowing the dust off of more than a few majorly dog-eared pages. Old friend that brought me through college, my early days of faking it in fancy restaurants, my time as a check cook and writer, and also some more recent volumes together well. So, every weekday v the end of October, I"ll be composing a short short article featuring a food book that i really like. Every one of these publications had a major influence one of two people on my job or on mine day-to-day cooking. They aren"t necessarily the finest or most important cookbooks out there, however they space all worthy reads..

I strongly feel that there are certain times in life once the only reasonable thing to perform is to make mayonnaise. High increase on that list of times is best after finishing Russ Parsons"s How to review a French Fry. Review it and you"ll uncover that also if your mind protests, your legs will start carrying you come the kitchen, your arms already reaching toward the eggs and oil. You know that feeling, right?

Thus far, my publication picks have ranged from those around the sector (Kitchen Confidential and also The make of a Chef) to those about food science and background (On Food and Cooking and also The guy Who Ate Everything). This particular day I"m broadening that spectrum right into a third realm: house cooking.

How to read a French Fry is partially a book on food science and partly a cooking recipes book. Much more importantly, it showed me no what a food science publication can be, however what a food science publication doesn't need to be. For one thing, it's fairly short, at approximately 300 pages, over fifty percent of which are recipes. If you just sit under to check out the prose, friend can conveniently breeze v it in a day, and, to it is in frank, once you start analysis it, that's more than likely what you'll end up doing. Because that another, many of those recipes don't also have headnotes—they just accompany a long introductory section in each chapter. And also the book works simply fine prefer this.

Parsons's book doesn't shot to be whatever to everyone, and also it doesn't ~ pretend to it is in an encyclopedia the food science. Instead, it's a well-curated package of just the most useful and also interesting scientific tidbits, with a straightforward, "just the facts, ma'am" approach. Each of the six chapters is about a single simple concept of food science: just how frying works, exactly how vegetables ripen, how beans and also pasta soften, exactly how meat reaction to heat, just how eggs space the most helpful culinary device on the planet, and how fat, flour, and also water come together to form pastries and cookies. Every of those chapters starts with a prolonged essay covering the an easy scientific ethics involved, followed by a few pages the bulleted cooking tips and tricks, in addition to a handful of recipes (the book contains over 100 recipes in all).

Six subjects. That"s it. However the book doesn"t feeling incomplete or light. He"s smart about the topics the picks, choosing techniques that typically inspire are afraid in home cooks (deep-frying and pastry!) or ingredients that world cook with typically enough to have opinions ~ above (pasta, eggs, meat). It"s a method of attack and organization that I ended up making use of in my very own book, which, regardless of its length, is in reality pretty restricted in scope. (There"s no seafood, no baking, and no dried beans or grains, because that instance.)

When i finished analysis it, i did acquire a bit of the exact same "Wait, ns was city hall that!" emotion I obtained when Heroes was canceled, but that assumed was conveniently supplanted by think of mayonnaise. I just had to make some. That felt like it to be Christmas morning, I"d just obtained a brand-new nail gun, and I couldn"t wait come (bang!) begin nailing things. The book made me feeling empowered. Not only did I recognize the basics of emulsions and also how come stabilize them, I likewise knew what to perform if things began going wrong. Wobbly bowl? Pow! wet tea-towel ring come stabilize the base. Emulsion beginning to break? Boom! Mustard to the rescue. Finished up v oil-and-egg soup rather of mayonnaise? Ka-pow! break out the food processor and also drizzle it in.

See more: How To Get Rid Of Fleas In Home Without Chemicals, The Best Way To Get Rid Of Fleas Naturally

It rotate out ns didn't should actually use most of those tricks, however simply discovering I had them in my device kit make me realize that, often, the just thing lacking in our an easy cooking an abilities is confidence. This idea of giving readers thorough troubleshooting guides and tips to incrementally improve their recipes is a great I took to heart and also consistently try to implement in my own writing. It's the life time manufacturer's vouch of recipes: something you might never need to use, but are going come be cursed happy you have in your back pocket for those times as soon as you really require it.