Here's your first look at Modernist Cuisine, the five volume megacookbook by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet that has been years in the making (preorder on Amazon). It is gorgeous, shiny, and good gracious is it heavy (43 pounds without the slip case). Check out our first impressions below, or just bask in the cookbook porn above.
There is nothing about this book that is not striking. The size of the box in which it arrives. The complex tangle of packaging one must claw through to access it (Myhrvold & co. should perhaps think about including directions). Certainly the weight of it. It takes more than a little consideration to figure out how to move the thing. The photographs at first glance are almost too perfect — the colors are brighter than most found in nature and the compositions more like those found in science magazines than most cookbooks. The amount of pure data in the book is intimidating.
But beyond all of these, perhaps the most surprising thing about Modernist Cuisine is how accessible it is. The book — which we've argued is a professional quality tome not intended for your average cookbook fiend — takes pains to draw the reader into the subject matter. The copy is instructional without being didactic. It is highly entertaining to read, especially an 80-page history section in the first volume that is a thorough primer on cuisine as it stands today.
In short: while we're sure it's not perfect, our first impression is to be utterly blown away. We'll dig deeper in the coming weeks: stay tuned.