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When Fundamentals Go Wrong

I am a fan of Michael Ruhlman. I mean what’s not to admire about a man who combined his skills of average cook and good writer into seemingly overnight celebrity in the food world? No sarcasm.

I have a few of his books, the most notable is the one on every foodie’s coffee table – The French Laundry Cookbook. Recently, I ordered a copy of Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking direct from Ruhlman’s blog (it was retail price but he signed it and I am a sucker for these things).

The book is all about learning basic ratios which make up much of the recipes we create. Cooking is clearly a science as Alton Brown and the molecular gastronomy movement have demonstrated. Ruhlman takes it a step further and really drills it into our brains. To make cookies, you use 1 part sugar; 2 parts fat; 3 parts flour. That simple. From there you can develop any recipe you want.

This is great and all, but recently Ruhlman added some corrections to his blog. This happens all the time with instructional books but to me, there’s something ironic about a book that is teaching people about the fundamentals of cooking making mistakes. That’s like Addison Wesley telling 8th grade students they got the formula for the Pythagorean Theorem mixed up.

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