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Book Title: The Fat Duck Cookbook|
The author of the book: Heston Blumenthal
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 610 KB
ISBN 13: 9780747597377
Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Date of issue: October 5th 2009
Read full description of the books:Here is a book for and of the alpha-fe/male; a clear statement of status, of pecking-order, a ‘how-to-cook-and-why-you-won’t-want-to’ book for the affluent; and an inspirational grounding for the aspirational trainee chef-patron.
Is this book about day to day nutritional survival, answering that thorny question. “What’s for dinner tonight?” Absolutely not! One thought: In the index to 526 large pages, there is no mention of that staple of the Western world: the humble pizza. Chameleon-like this book is something of a sorcerer’s chemistry set itself; (almost) anything goes, or may be half-expected to (excepting pizza, that is). With zealous conviction and zest, boys playing at being boys, Blumenthal entertainingly argues with, persuades and wins-over his reader who, card in hand (no-one in Britain carries cash or gold ingots nowadays), dares to open the door and enter Blumenthal’s magical world of compulsively highly addictive multisensory treats and rewards. Duck-out only if you dare!
Since publication, this book must inevitably have boosted the number of table bookings at Blumenthal’s restaurants, especially “The Fat Duck”. It’s a book which describes in some detail the creative processes of inspiration and production; thus justifying (yay or nay) to diners considering their next degustation. See http://www.thefatduck.co.uk/The-Menus... a website upon which a handful of the illustrations from the “The Fat Duck Cookbook” can also be viewed.
This book is well and truly fit for purpose: it essentially explains to the bemused as to what the “The Fat Duck’s” three tough, really no-doubt-about-it VERY hard-won Michelin stars were awarded for. At the time of writing this review, the final bill for lunch or dinner comprises a commitment from the diner of 4 ½ hrs of their time and and £220 pp excluding service, wines extra. For the first six months of 2015 air fares will also need budgeted for, as the restaurant will be operating out of Melbourne! http://www.thefatduck.co.uk/Australia/
This book is about eating for absolute, satiated, unquestioned pleasure; for total, overwhelming nerve-cell electrifying satisfaction through sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. Within these pages is found all-consuming overwhelming edible one-on-one on-the-edge adventure; teeth bared. Technicolor sights, olfactory ecstasy, salivary explorations, a texture of a ripple felt, a snap and the dish is unlocked. Pure hedonistic pleasure. Teetering on, and off the edge of a neuron a single daring shimmering descriptive word coalesces in the mind, perches on the tongue … until with a lizard’s flick that word is propelled with a sound sense of a senselessness ripping and rippling across more pathways than biological radar can track; striving to contain, to name, to surmount; with, Edvard Munch might, every bemused sense screaming, “Imposs ….ib …le!”; but utterly, indeed divinely desirable. Definition left temporarily speechless, each sense fibrillates until every sense and all sense interlocks in a stay-snapping heightened pirouetting spatial awareness of utter, utterly glorious pleasures of hope and expectations fulfilled. Such playful and sumptuous exploitation! Svengali-like Blumenthal-the-Great-Duck guides his reader, his diner, into a landscape of white-hot disciplinary absolutes teased from the applied sciences of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Other books on the subject of cookery pale and crumble into insignificance; excepting those authored by the Magi: Kurti, This, and/or McGee.
“The Fat Duck Cookbook” is a book of three parts for a well-muscled reader; by which I do not mean over the age of eighteen; but rather one with either very good wrist and arm muscle, or possessing a large and solidly constructed book-rest or lectern; because this large book, sized at 244mm (w) x 281mm (h) x 42mm (d), weighs over two-and-a-half kilogrammes! Heavy gloss paper accounts for much of that. Many full pages carry artful illustration; many are filled by the cameraman.
Struggling find the key, the cunningly well-concealed two page index is eventually revealed folded-in within the middle of the book (between pages 267 and 275), flanked by a couple of lollies: Carrot and Orange (2002) versus Candied Beetroot & Grapefruit (2006); the latter a proud result of experiments in mouth-feel, in sound, and in devising the unexpected: an ‘edible wrapper’.
The first part of this highly engaging book is autobiographical; essentially a how where and when the ringmaster Blumenthal amassed and assembled the individual ingredients of his success. Finance, cash-flow and budgets are not made explicit. Blumenthal rails against those ‘quick and easy’ recipes that leave out essential information on processes (p.86). Point justified. There are an awful lot of sub-standard, badly written and untested recipes and cookbooks out there on the open market; poised to sabotage the unwary purchaser.
The plump second section of “The Fat Duck Cookbook”. book sings a veritable May dawn chorus of the restaurant’s recipes from 1998 to 2007; an expedition of wonder from Crab Biscuit in 1998 through 1999: Jelly of Quail, Langoustine Cream, Parfait of Foie Gras, with Truffle and Oak Toast, Scented Moss (p.154-161); 2003’s Snail Porridge (p.162-170); 2005’s Sole Véronique with triple-cooked chips (pp 350-355); to, eventually, 2007’s Beef Royale (1723 – the year, not the herd mark!) (pp. 382-385). Each dish pirouettes in a series of images to salivate over. All in all a real pleasure of glorious technical detail sufficient to taste convincingly delicious and very desirable within the reader’s imagination.
It doesn’t take much to conclude that this book screamingly points towards patentable food products as intellectual property. Technical equipment, chemistry and processes applied by Blumenthal are not that dissimilar from those of the manufacture of pharmacologically active drugs. After reading this book, who amongst us would NOT want to volunteer for Blumenthal Edible Phase One (First In Man(kind)) trials? Where exactly does the boundary lie between the definition between a pharmacological drug product and a nutritional substance, deemed nutritionally fit for human consumption? Blumenthal’s Tasting Menu is a mind-bending feel-great experience of the highest order!
Meanwhile, on the side, just reach out for the scientific equipment catalogues. Write nicely to Father Christmas this year, politely suggesting your requirements for a rotary evaporator. A vacuum chamber would be handy too; how else to remove bubbles from one’s caramel? (p.289). Stock-up too on skimmed milk powder, tartaric acid, and cryogenically frozen foie gras. Add also to the order (sorry, ‘request’) spray-dried apple granules and gellan F.
Not everything is high-faluting ‘scientific’ here. There is helpful information for even the most basic of cooks who bothers to carefully read this book. At the bottom-right of page 321, in a discussion of a langoustine dish, Blumenthal advises a ratio of 1:10:100 for the cooking of pasta; summarised as 100g pasta to 10g of salt to 1kg of boiling water. The point is to ensure that starch released during cooking is of insufficient a concentration to yield gluey cooked pasta. There’s also a helpful discussion on the properties of different types of rice used to make risotto (p.324).
The third and final section of this by now highly addictive book does expands on the science of it all, through a number of technical papers. Frustratingly, the font size is so reduced that a magnifier now becomes an essential, but imperfect accessory. Uncomfortable reading does nothing for the practical application of scientific intelligence to improve even so much as one’s own humble home-cooking. Did the Great Duck himself find the spine of his copy of this book, front and back, breaking in the same manner as mine? Was that why he shrank the text? For that heinous crime of the inconsiderate, and that alone, I deduct a star from my rating of this book. Verily, as the Great Duck himself has expounded to us, style may reach, but should never exceed, practicability. The name of the game is, after all, Potter-like to make the impossible appear truly, wonderfully and believably possible, the inedible become edible, the unthinkable become achievable, the unbelievable given form exquisite; all-in-all and overall as far as one could possibly, possibly, possibly get away from the well-intentioned theatrical antics of inedibility produced by Fanny and Johnny Cradock.
Read information about the authorHeston Blumenthal is chef-patron of The Fat Duck in Bray, a three Michelin-starred restaurant known for its whimsical, scientific and creative style of cookery and famed for being named World’s Best Restaurant more than once.
At the age of 16, Heston travelled to France with his family for the first time and became fascinated with the world of food. He spent the next decade learning the basics of French cuisine from books and working as everything from a photocopier salesman to a debt collector to fund annual research trips to France. One of the books that most influenced him was On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, which questioned the fundamental rules of the kitchen and explored the science of cooking.
Heston opened The Fat Duck in 1995 with no financial backing. On the second day of opening the oven exploded, and Heston spent the rest of service with a bag of frozen peas on his head. Gradually, the restaurant eventually moved from serving simple French bistro food to the innovative, rule-breaking, multi-sensory tasting menu it serves today. Perhaps what is most extraordinary about the success of The Fat Duck is that Heston is entirely self-taught, save for three weeks spent in a few professional kitchens.
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