We had the good fortune to be invited to a reception at the American ambassador’s residence last night where Nathan Myhrvold was the guest of honor. Among other achievements, Myhrvold is the co-author of Modernist Cuisine, a six-volume book on the art and science of cooking. This is an amazing book, which shows in glorious photographs what happens when you apply heat to food. Though priced way too high for the average person who cooks at home and wants to understand the chemical and physical processes of food preparation (400€ on the Continent), it will undoubtedly help professional chefs who want to improve their cooking techniques. For those who are not professional cooks, if they can get a hold of a copy we are certain that they will spend many happy hours just browsing through the fantastic photographs.
Mr. Myhrvold is in Europe to promote the European editions of his book. It will soon be released in French, Spanish, and German. Myhrvold is hobnobbing with some of France’s greatest chefs as part of this effort—Pierre Hermé and Jacques Le Divellec were among the invitees for the Ambassador’s soirée on Saturday, and Myhrvold met with Alain Ducasse on Friday evening.
Ambassador Rivkin introduced Myhrvold—I do not remember his exact words—as being a modern-day Diderot. Denis Diderot was a major figure of the Enlightenment and co-founder and chief editor of an encyclopedia published in France between 1751 and 1772 that helped change the way people viewed the world. I do not think it an exaggeration to say—and this is probably what Ambassador Rivkin said—that Myhrvold’s book Modernist Cuisine will change the way that people view cooking and food.
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