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Quotes and Reviews for HOW TO READ A FRENCH FRY
“Fascinating to read and totally useful in the kitchen . . . Parson’s scientific explanations are very satisfying.” - Jeffrey Steingarten, author of THE MAN WHO ATE EVERYTHING
“If you want to know why onions make you cry, are terrified by hollandaise or curious to find out why good cooks add old oil to new, this is the book for you. The recipes not only tell you the what, but also the why. I learned a lot.” - Ruth Reichl, editor in chief, Gourmet
“Russ Parsons not only unravels some of the intrigue of the kitchen but, in entertaining fashion, shows us why this understanding matters. The great recipes are a bonus and make HOW TO READ A FRENCH FRY invaluable.” - Mark Bittman, New York Times columnist and author of HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING
“With passion and enthusiasm, Russ Parsons explains the science behind kitchen common sense, then illustrates it with recipes. His book makes me feel smarter and more in control. As if that’s not enough, the recipes are some of the most appealing ever.” - Deborah Madison, author of VEGETARIAN COOKING FOR EVERYONE
“Mouthwatering recipes, fascinating information and a charming commentary.” - Paula Wolfert, author of MEDITERRANEAN GRAINS AND GREENS
“Russ Parsons knows that the best cooking comes from a genuine understanding of basic techniques, and he illuminates them here with lively writing and smart recipes. This is an unlikely creation: a kitchen-science book that makes you hungry, and it’s also a cookbook that teaches, from an authority on food and cooking.” - Thomas Keller, chef and owner of the French Laundry and author of THE FRENCH LAUNDRY COOKBOOK
In this unique book, Los Angeles Times food editor Parsons combines complex science (rendered accessible to lay readers), workable cooking techniques, and excellent recipes. Each chapter addresses a specific culinary-scientific process (e.g., deep-frying, the secret post-harvest life of fruits and vegetables), provides a list of rules to follow therein, then offers a range of recipes that use the technique in question. In a chapter titled “From a Pebble to a Pillow,” for example, Parsons explains the various ways in which grains, beans and other starches cook. He clears up myths about cooking beans and explains what makes an apple “mealy” (it’s the pectin). The chapter ties up with some guidelines for preparing starch-thickened sauces, pasta, etc. Recipes include Smoky Cream of Corn Soup, a flour-thickened concoction, and a Gratin of Sweet Potatoes and Bourbon. The recipes are never gimmicky but are genuinely appealing, for instance Smoked Tuna Salad in Tomatoes and Lavender Fig Tart, and they are evidence of how a handful of techniques can turn out diverse results. Scientific information is handled in a light tone with plenty of examples. With his analyses of frying, roasting, and other processes, Parsons proves that the unexamined dish is far less rewarding than the meal we understand. (May 9) Forecasts: A truly valuable resource for the serious cook, with excellent recipes to boot, this deserves a wide audience, but its vague title may perplex potential readers.
-Publishers Weekly 4/2/01