The Cake Torah—An Old Testament approach to baking: More severe and wrathful than The Cake Bible, more suited to traditional American kitchens than The Cake Koran. The recipes include such favorites as Exodus-Inspired Unleavened Flatbread for a Crowd, Eve’s Apple Surprise, and Joshua’s Jericho Wall Crumble.
Techniques and ingredients are in strict accordance with the 613 mitzvot (“commandments”) of the Pentateuch (e.g., “Using a damp cloth, cover dough in bowl and leave in a warm place for 24 hours. During this time, go forth and slay the Amalekites. Tip: Remember to utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”). Kosher kitchen, and great army of hosts, helpful but not necessary.
The Quito Diet – A variety of South American recipes that enable you to lose weight—somehow—by pretending you live in the capital of Ecuador. Ability to speak Spanish is optional.
Discoveries of the Food Lab – Not so much a cookbook as a memoir about Rex, an irrepressible Labrador retriever, who had the sometimes exasperating habit of jumping onto the dining table and eating everything.
Basics of Quantum Gastronomy for Advanced Beginners – Molecular gastronomy (with its foams, liquid nitrogen, and edible paper) once seemed to be the ultimate in science-based cooking. And if, as with all innovations, its faddishness has declined over the years, its methods have become so entrenched in our daily cooking practice as to have become invisible. Nowadays we make agar-agar-based arugula spaghetti for children’s lunch boxes as a matter of routine.
Which raises the question: Has anything arrived to take the place of molecular gastronomy at the leading edge of cuisine, where science, technology, and artistry meet?
Happily, yes. Thanks to pioneering work in kitchens and laboratories around the world, most especially in the break room at the Large Hadron Collider at the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland, we are now able to confirm that molecular gastronomy (a term its pioneers largely rejected) is actually an emergent technique based on something far more fundamental.
We are about to enter the Age of Quantum Gastronomy.
While, at the molecular and atomic levels, food obeys Newtonian laws of locality, temporality, and thermodynamics, at the quantum level these principles break down. Thyme can no longer be measured. Olive oil can be both extra-virgin and pregnant. If you know where an avocado is, you cannot know if it is ripe; if you know it is ripe, you cannot know where it is.
These profoundly counterintuitive realities lead to the creation of a great many fascinating, if often confusing, recipes, including:
Entangled Chicken Piccata—Take a single boneless, skinless chicken breast. Split it lengthwise and, with a “quantum hammer,” pound the two pieces into identical paillards. Saute and prepare like a normal piccata. The result? The two servings are said to be “entangled.” When you cut your piece, the other piece immediately “cuts itself.” No one as yet understands why this happens—only that it is fascinating and terrifying and weird. Serves 2 whether you want it to or not.
Wave Function Souffle–An enticing but often frustrating combination of eggs, sugar, and high-energy particle beams, in the oven it is in every possible state of completion but, as soon as you open the oven and look at it, it collapses.
Tapioca Paradox Pudding—What is tapioca? Is it a liquid that, when manipulated, behaves as a wave? Or is it an agglomeration of individual kernels that behave as particles? It seems to be both.
While it is preferable, when following these dishes, to prepare them in a pair of identical kitchens three million light years (approx. 18 trillion miles) apart, it’s not necessary. As always in home cooking, we make do with the equipment and the ingredients we have.
How Not to Cook Anything – A work in (perpetual) progress, this is a list of everything in the world to do except cooking. So far I’ve made it to the middle of the B’s (“Bleaching Your Teeth”).