I don’t have ten for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. When the Broke and the Bookish devised Top Ten Books I’d Ask Santa For as a subject, I knew this would be difficult. First of all, I’ve moved a significant amount of my reading to ebooks and, though I certainly wouldn’t say no to new files to download, my second problem gets in the way. The other, and bigger, problem is I’m a primarily impulsive book buyer. I have a difficult time holding off on purchasing books. If I have the money and the opportunity, I’ll buy the book.
So, for me, what I’d ask for as a gift is something I wouldn’t purchase myself. There are numerous art books that fit this criteria, but while I love looking at those occasionally, I really don’t buy them because I also can’t justify the shelf space they take up, considering how infrequently I open them. That leaves one category of book I won’t normally buy myself but would want to own and would want to take off the shelf regularly; cookbooks.
Even here I have a problem, because most cookbooks I have don’t come off the shelf as often as I think they will. I’ve either memorized the recipe, or don’t prepare the other dishes often enough to memorize them. What I would want, therefore, is a cookbook that’s as much a challenge as it is functional. Something that contains recipes I’ll actually make, but presents the steps and techniques in a way that makes me try new ways of working in kitchen. And it just so happens one has recently been published. So this week, I have a Top One list, the only item on my list for Santa this year, Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine at Home.
I don’t watch very much TV. There are only a handfull of dramatic shows that hold my interest. The list is so short I’m not even planning on drawing up a list of Top Ten TV Shows for this year, as I wouldn’t hit Ten. But what I do drop in on are cooking shows. I find it relaxing to watch a perfect combination of artistic and practical skill, and sometimes will even see if I can replicate the techniques. Sometimes I’m even successful. So any book that helps me continue to expand my skill in the kitchen is a welcome thing.
Myhrvold’s book begins with the culinary arts and veers into the science lab. He breaks down the how’s and why’s of developing taste and making the food you cook the best it can possibly be. Add to that the book is as beautiful to look at as it is instructive. The images alone will send you to the kitchen, and the clear instructions will help you get from raw ingredients to masterful, delicious, meals. I first stumbled over the earlier iteration, simply called Modernist Cuisine. I’m opting for this version, however, as the other pretty much requires professional grade equipment. For this edition, Myhrvold has adapted many recipes for the home kitchen. So they’re still going to be a challenge, but an attainable challenge rather than a series of impossible missions.
Even as I keep flipping back to the Modernist Cuisine webpage, salivating over the food, I know I’ll keep talking myself out of this magnificent book, but perhaps, if I’ve been good, I’ll find it under my tree?