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Relæ: A Book of Ideas by Christian F.…

Relæ: A Book of Ideas

by Christian F. Puglisi

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This is not a cookbook, although there are lots of recipes, some of which are very strange. It is a cooking theory book and a biography of a restaurant in Copenhagen, and, as with any biography, the reader must be in tune with the writer and the subject. Mr. Puglisi, Italian by birth, credits the editors at Ten Speed with making the text flow, but he is an effective narrator, drawing us into his developing relationship with his restaurant and its food. He works hard to state clearly his thinking on food and flavour that shapes the Relæ dining experience.

This thickly cross-referenced book really does not work as an ebook. Mr. Puglisi has formatted Relæ to read with your finger in one place and your eyes another. Each chapter and subchapter contain page number links to other text in the book – links to recipes that illustrate the concept being explained or backward links to the theory underlying each recipe, and some links that go both directions. The linearity of the ebook form, and the impossibility of matching a hard page number with an ebook location, force the reader to abandon the approach to Relæ that Mr. Puglisi intends, and this is a great loss.

There is a great disconnect between what modern "concept" restaurants like Relæ do and how we cook at home, and many of the recent spate of books about restaurants are aimed at budding super-star chefs or wannabes. I think that in Relæ, much more than some similar books I have read recently, the clarity of the writing and the presentation of a real food theory spark ideas and debate in the mind of the reader, even as we know we will never undertake a multi-step preparation using three different specialty machines just to make a garnish.

I received an advance review copy of "Relæ: A Book of Ideas" by Christian F. Puglisi (Ten Speed Press) through NetGalley.com. ( )
  Dokfintong | Nov 14, 2014 |
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