Review: Cooking For Geeks

What does cooking have to do with web design? To find out, come see Peter Bogaards give his talk at the Euro IA conference entitled “Gastronomy: A Source of Inspiration for User Experience Design.”

Otherwise, check out Cooking for Geeks (O’Reilly, 2010) by Jeff Potter.

Actually, there’s nothing in this book about web design, but the author is a programmer. So there are a lot of references and comparisons to computers and programming, but there’s nothing in here about any of that either. This is a serious cook book.

Wait–O’Reilly published a cook book? Yup. But it’s not your ordinary cook book.

The author explores the science of cooking, as well as the psychology of cooking, in detail. It’s not so technical that you need a degree in chemistry to understand it. Instead, the author explains things like how human taste senses work in plain terms. There’s also a bit on nutrition towards the beginning, and there are charts and tables now and then to illustrate the mechanics of food and cooking throughout.

There’s a whole chapter on tools and equipment in the kitchen (Chapter 2, “Initialize Your Kitchen”). I like the section on knives, being the knife freak that I am. Smell is so important to cooking, and the author reviews the chemistry of odor in the next chapter in some detail, among other aspects of a ingredients for cooking. He shows how the combination of ingredients works best.

Of course, there’s a whole bit on cooking. You’ll learn about how heat transfers to your food and how to control cooking. This book really is for geeks!

I like cooking with high heat–grilling, broiling, etc. So the section on high heat cooking was right up my alley. Traditional cook books often steer away from such topics because there’s a chance of burning your food or even getting injured. Not Potter. If fact, he shows to how unlock the oven during the hot cleaning cycles on some ovens to get the maximum heat from your oven. I’m particularly fond of the upside-down super-heated cast iron pan for making pizza. (I love cast iron, too).

What I like about the book is that it gives a lot of hacks. Usually, cook books are very prescriptive and give exact measurements and ways of doing things. Here, Potter encourages us to improvise, and he even gives great tips how to do so. My favorite idea is roasting peppers in a toaster.

Oh yeah–almost forgot: there are recipes in the book. Lot’s of them. Disclaimer: I haven’t tried any of them yet and can’t vouch for them. But with this book, it almost doesn’t matter: the rest of the content of the book is so good, it’s worth getting.

I have dozens of a cook books and love to cook. Cooking For Geeks has surpassed them all and is now my favorite one. Check it out yourself.

See the book website.

About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Experience at MURAL

One comment

  1. Thanks for your kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed the book. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Happy Cooking,
    Jeff Potter

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