Book Review: Cooking for Geeks

by Khalid Hosein on August 28, 2010

Cooking for Geeks - Book CoverLet me just start by saying this is an amazing book. You should just ignore the rest of this review and go buy it!

So you’ve decided to read the review, eh? Very well. Although the book’s title seems to indicate that it’s geared to a small niche of society, don’t dismiss it too quickly. What you will find is a superbly well-written guide that is filled to the brim with information for even the most non-technical reader and/or aspiring cook. In fact, strangely enough, I experienced the same desire to read the book as I think many people have that draws them to watch cooking shows, except that this is book has an order of magnitude more information than the typical show on the Food Network. Cooking or at least food is something everyone wants to know more about – see it, smell it, taste it and the process to get to the end result is just as appealing.

XKCDCooking for Geeks isn’t really a cookbook per se, although it is interspersed with recipes, and many of those recipes in turn have technical notes explaining some part of the process and/or a historical/factual tidbit. It is instead a fast-paced introduction to cooking that includes many technical answers to the question that frequently comes to the lips of engineers and science-minded persons – “why”. But fear not, it is not boring. Author Jeff Potter inserts a well-measured dash of humor throughout the book and the illustrations and interviews keep things from becoming monotonous.

Even if you have no intentions of ever trying to step foot inside your kitchen, yet alone cook, you may still thoroughly enjoy this book. It is accessible to anyone with even a whiff of a high-school, while still playing to a ‘geek’ audience with its programming metaphors and Internet/techie memes.

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Apart from the actual cooking, CfG guides you on getting your kitchen set up – what equipment (‘hardware’) and food ingredients (‘software’) you need. It even gets into what makes a good knife, the mechanics of baking, sous vide and cooking with liquid nitrogen and dry ice.

In case you think my review has been too lavish, there is one thing that I wish this book did have and that is color photos. While the grayscale and ‘bluescale’ illustrations are nice and clear, the photographs of the ingredients and dishes and even the interviewees could certainly have used some color. But honestly, other than that one minor probably economically-driven flaw, CfG is a fine piece of work and you’ll want to read it from cover to cover.

As a final note, as is common with many books published today of a technical nature, there is an accompanying blog. (Note to past self: buy that domain name!) Well done Mr. Potter – I look forward to your next book.

(Disclaimer: Gizmos for Geeks received a complimentary review copy of this product.)

Posted in: Recommended, Reviews

{ 2 comments }

Benjamin Aug 28, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Engineers and science-minded persons don't ask
WHY?
but
HOW?
Btw I just bought the book!

felthos Aug 28, 2010 at 6:54 PM

Heh, yeah, that too!
Enjoy!