Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Culinary Intelligence

Title:  Culinary Intelligence
Author:  Peter Kaminsky
Publication Information: Alfred A. Knopf, Random House. 2012. 208 pages

Book Source:  I picked this book based on the description while browsing the library catalog.

Favorite Quote:  "Looking at nutrients in isolation - which is what so many studies and diets do - is like removing all the notes from a musical score, putting them in a box, shaking the box, pouring the notes on a table, and hoping that they land in exactly the same order as Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 28 in A Major."

The subtitle to Culinary Intelligence - the art of eating healthy and really well - describes its purpose. Peter Kaminsky is a long time food writer. Over time, his career in food led to unhealthy eating habits and health concerns. This book culls his experience and lessons learned in his journey back to health. In that sense, it is another diet book.

As far as diet books go, this one mirrors the ideas of many that have come before. Eat for quality not quantity. Buy the best ingredients and then cook them well. When you eat flavorful, satisfying food, you are satisfied with smaller portions.

The author coins the concept of "flavor per calorie" or FPC. The goal of his diet becomes to maximize FPC. Some of the ways in which he does this stem from his worldwide experiences in the food industry. As such, I did not find some of the ideas or examples applicable to my life.

My favorite part of this book was the focus on the idea summarized in the quote above. These days, so much of the food literature focuses on nutrients - calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, macronutrients, antioxidants and so on. I liked that this book highlights that food is not simply the sum total of its parts, but it can be something more. While focus on nutrition is key to a healthy body, we need to keep in mind more than that to evolve an overall healthy lifestyle.

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