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Nose Dive


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About the Author

Harold McGee writes about the science of food and cooking. He is the author of the award-winning classic On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen and Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes, and a former columnist for The New York Times. He has been named food writer of the year by Bon Appetit magazine and to the Time 100, an annual list of the world's most influential people. Since 2010, he has been a visiting lecturer for Harvard University's course Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science. McGee lives in San Francisco.


"A tour-de-force . . . a superbly written odyssey around an underrated sense." --Financial Times

"The reference book that will make everything you eat seem more interesting. There is fascination and delight on every page." --The Sunday Times (UK) "Fabulous . . . brought me a great deal of pleasure." --The Telegraph (UK) "Every page of 'Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World's Smells' is crammed with the olfactory equivalent of onomatopoeia...Fans of Mr. McGee's culinary writing won't be disappointed--there are several hundred pages devoted to scrumptious foods, both raw and cooked. He articulates the secrets of truffles and peaty whisky. He seems especially obsessed with the echoes and slant rhymes of food--why pineapples can smell like Parmesan, oysters like cucumbers, sherry like soy sauce, even "the prized 'kerosene' note of well-aged Rieslings."... Like an analytical chemist, he catalogs the exact molecules that each food or substance emits, and how they combine like musical notes to produce a scent chord. He offers some general rules for correlating molecular structure with aromatic sensation--that sulfur is generally pungent, and large molecules are more pleasant than small ones. It's fascinating stuff... [McGee's] enthusiasm is contagious."--Sam Kean, Wall Street Journal "A deeply researched guide to the world's smells, down to their volatile molecules." -Tejal Rao, The New York Times "An exhaustive compendium on odors and their chemical makeup... Perfect for foodies, those interested in science, and the innately curious. Engagingly written, this would be a wonderful ready reference to have on hand" --Library Journal "The ultimate obsessive's guide to all things olfactory. If you've ever been curious as to why cat urine is so potent, why feet stink, or, more pleasantly, why flowers smell so lovely, then this is the tome for you... McGee dives deep into the science and taxonomy of smells, and he augments the text with plentiful charts that provide visual demonstration of his discussions... McGee has a genial way with words that makes the hard science accessible to motivated general readers...This is a unique project executed meticulously from beginning to end...Equips readers with all the science necessary for a life of heightened smell perception." --Kirkus "In his detailed survey of scents, food writer and cooking scientist McGee elegantly explains olfaction... His exploration of our smelly world includes the odors of flora and fauna, soil and smoke, food and fragrances, but also the unexpected: primordial earth, rain, and the whiff of old books. Pungent and even rancid smells--skunk spray, ammonia, manure--are as respected as such delectable aromas as lemon, coffee, and rosemary. Odiferous facts abound... A delightful outing across the olfactory world." --Booklist

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