The folks behind Modernist Cuisine, Nathan Myhrvold's $625 cookbook-to-end-all-cookbooks, have posted an introductory excerpt online. The intro states, "Rightly or wrongly, we have taken the no-compromise approach with this book, believing that if we create something we love and are proud of, at least some people will value it the way we do." That's pretty clear from these 20 pages, which are gorgeous and frankly a little intimidating.
Take, for example, the photograph above which depicts "Irradiating Food to Perfection" on a Weber grill, one of just many examples of cutaway photography included in the book. These photographs are designed to demonstrate exactly what happens to, say, a burger as it is grilled. What it doesn't show is that Myhrvold and company appear to have basically reinvented the whole concept of a hamburger, making their own cheese singles, sous-viding the lettuce with liquid smoke, and grinding the meat "to vertically align the grain."
Their concept of a hamburger is so detailed and complex and it seems impossible that it could be anything other than absolutely delicious. Also, time-consuming! Check it out, from the top down:
· Bun: Tender hamburger bun, made from scratch and toasted in beef suet.
· Sauce: Hamburger glaze of suet, pureed tomato confit, beef stock, and smoked salt.
· Mushroom: Maitake mushroom, sauteéd in beef suet.
· Lettuce: Romaine lettuce infused sous vide with liquid hickory smoke.
· Tomato: Vacuum-compressed heirloom tomato.
· Cheese: Cheese single made from aged Emmental, Comté, and wheat ale.
· Burger: Short-rib patty ground to vertically align the grain.
· Ketchup: Crimini mushroom ketchup with honey, horseradish, fish sauce, ginger, and allspice.
Such a burger would surely cost something like half your rent, but hey, it's nice to imagine.
The perfect hamburger? [Photo: Modernist Cuisine]