Tag Archives: Mary Roach

Of Food & Science.


I tend to improvise a lot when I cook. After mastering a few beloved recipes from favorite cookbooks, and learning that just about anything tastes good with a solid base of fried onions and garlic, I’ve found that I rarely need to measure ingredients while cooking. Sometimes though, it’s fun to take a closer look at what I’m preparing and think about what might be happening on a molecular level.

eggs Luckily, the library has many fine books on not only cooking, but the science of cooking. A recent interview on NPR’s Splendid Table turned me onto the new book Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient. If you’ve ever wondered not only how to make the perfect scrambled or poached egg, but also why cooking it a certain way yields varying results, then this is the book for you. Consider for a moment all of the wonderful joys the egg brings us—pasta, custards, cakes, quiches, cookies. If you are interested in learning more about all the wonderful foods that are dependent on the humble egg, then this is the book for you.

keys  Of course, if you are interested in the science behind cooking, you have to check out one of Harold McGee’s books. Both Keys to Good Cooking and On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen should give you plenty “molecular gastronomy” to ponder while working in the kitchen.



cheese And for those cheese enthusiasts out there (of which I’m one) there is a new book just for you, titled simply The Science of Cheese. If you are not content to simply eat cheese, this book will teach you everything from the history of cheese to how new cheeses are created.



gulpIf you would like to move beyond the science happening in your kitchen to the science happening in your belly, then by all means check out Mary Roach’s latest book Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal about that most taboo of topics: digestion. Like her other great reads, Ms. Roach is able to take a somewhat unsavory subject and spin it into a series of fascinating, informative, and often very funny reads.


So how about you? What books on cooking (or science) are you savoring right now?



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No Fiction, I Cry

A couple of nights ago, I found myself in a very scary position: I had no fiction in my apartment to read. Yes, I had books in my own small personal library, but those were books I had already read and I don’t reread books. (So why I own them is a mystery.) I had just finished reading a book for a book discussion and wanted something just for fun. I went to my stack of library books and was dumbfounded to see absolutely no fiction. I had quite a few non-fiction titles on subjects like writing, eating healthier, creative thinking, and other self-improvement topics, but no fiction. I double-checked. Triple-checked. And then sat on the floor in disbelief at what I had done. I had no fiction.

But, I work in a library so only had to get through one night before I unleashed myself upon the shelves to see fiction what I could find! Here’s what I picked up:

Clearly     Gulp     SourceofLife     SweetTooth

Clearly, I Didn’t Think This Through: The Story of One Tall Girl’s Impulsive, Ill-conceived, and Borderline Irresponsible Life Decisions by Anna Goldfarb. Okay, so I broke my “MUST GET FICTION!” rule right out of the gate. This is not fiction, but it sounds like something I could have written so I had to grab it.

Gulp by Mary Roach. Again, not fiction, but it’s Mary Roach!

The Source of Life and Other Stories by Beth Bosworth. It’s a collection of short stories; I am me, so, of course.

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. I’ve never read any McEwan (Gasp! But I have seen movies based on his books). I just really like the cover and the concept. I hope it lives up to my vague expectations.

Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan. This is actually for a book club, but I already started reading it and am in love with it so don’t mind one bit.

I hope I learn a lesson from this and keep a closer eye on what books I have at home. I don’t ever want to be caught without a fiction title in my apartment again.



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