I bought Heston Blumenthal’s humonongous confoundingus cookbook a few months back, when it first came out before I went home to SG for a bit. I was with some friends and we just happened to be in Chef’s Warehouse when I saw it, opened to a page with something amazing looking. I flip and flip and everything’s amazing. So I had to have it. So I did. I swear I don’t hang out at Chef’s Warehouse.

Anyway, I dunno why I haven’t mentioned the book yet. It’s awesome. I think mostly, it’s because I haven’t finished reading the entire thing yet. It’s an amazing insight into the world of one of the the planet’s most celebrated chefs. You get to see his thinking and methodology, his childish playfulness and penchant for the wacky. At the heart of his cooking, is fun.

You get the mad scientist and you think, oh it’s just a show, an act, or hype or whatever. But seriously, he’s the real deal. This guy is insane when you talk about details. He will go to the ends of the earth, beyond the point of dimishing returns simply to do what he thinks is perfect.

The food’s awesomely inspiring too and just a touch bewildering/daunting. Most home cooks will never be able to approach this. It’s way too massive anyway, physically speaking, to have on your coffee table. This is a book for mad foodies or chefs. The information is split into roughly 3 sections. The first regards Blumenthal’s history and the method behind the madness. The second goes into the recipes proper, sometimes only offering anecdotes or a story rather than ingredient lists and instructions. The final chapter is the science and equipment, which is pretty detailed as well.

The photography is awesome, as is the food styling. The book really gives a magic atmosphere and whimsically English feel to things. All the famous dishes are here. Snail Porridge, Bacon & Egg Ice Cream… But I particularly love a few dishes.

Eel “Nichi” from 2007 is based on a 1967 comedy, Barefoot In The Park by Neil Simon. In there, is a scene where a dish of Nichi is brought to the table and the guests are told to wait a half minute before eating and that they need to pop it in the mouth and consume within 5 minutes or it turns bitter. Blumenthal’s version uses methylcellulose to make a gel that melts and really releases quinine in 5 minutes. This he uses as part of the eel “skin” which also composed of olives. To achieve a satisfactory aesthetic appeal, the skin also makes use of titanium dioxide and edible silver paint to emulate a real eel. This is all plated with some fried shirasu, poached eel, a black olive puree, a leek gel, dried olives and a myoga, udo & leek julienne. In case someone really waits 5 minutes before eating, a salty lapsang souchong infusion is also sent out to save the day.

Salmon Poached In Liquorice Gel from 2003 also looks amazing. It’s a shiny black coated piece of fish that comes with a balsamic reduction, vanilla mayo, asparagus and grapefruit. This one came about through a touch of molecular analysis, realising that asparagus and liquorice had a similar compound, asparagine. 2 interesting ingredients were in search of other components to make a dish. A combination of situation and novelty led to the two being used in a fish dish, with salmon’s meaty oiliness tempering the typically sweet, medicinal quality that liquorice tends to have.

You can see there’s a lot of depth behind the cooking just from my cursory explanations. Inside the mind of the great chef is someone who is curious and looking for wonderment. All that awaits me is a seat at one of his tables.