“If you are not passionate, a 2640-page cookbook [Amazon cost: ~$500] is not for you…
…I ask Myhrvold for a simple example of how the knowledge of cooking he has developed might help ordinary home cooking.
‘If you have a steak that is twice as thick as the one you cooked the last time,’ he asks me, ‘how much longer is it going to take to cook?’
I say I don’t know exactly. Somewhat longer.
‘Most chefs can’t even tell you exactly,’ he says, ‘because even though it’s a really basic question nobody taught them. The answer is four times. Heating in a steak works by conduction, and conduction has a scaling law that goes by the square of the depth.’
So is there then no intuition or fingertip knowledge to cooking?
‘Sure there is! A Japanese chef cuts fish more quickly and deftly than I can. But if you talk to the guy at the local steak house, he may have an intuitive sense of how long it takes to cook a steak, but it’s from long experience.’
What’s wrong with that?
‘Three things,’ Myhrvold says. ‘First, learning from experience means that you’ve screwed up a lot. That guy has ruined a lot of steaks! Second, learning from experience doesn’t help teaching people. Why not speed things up by telling learners the principles? Third, sometimes the right way of doing something is counterintuitive, as it was with sous vide, and you’ll probably never find it from experience. Active research can uncover new things.'”
—Nathan Myhrvold, “The Physics of Bread.” Physics World. October 2017.
Modernist Cuisine at Home, at just over a $100, might be worth looking into for those folks with the means and lack a public library option.