Smell is such a powerful and revealing sense because it detects actual little pieces of things in the world. Text and 200 tables cover this topic, in a book by an expert on the chemistry and history of food science and cooking.
You’ll never look at a charcuterie plate the same way after his breakdown of how the discarded skin proteins, foot bacteria and sweat inside your socks essentially recapitulate the transformation of milk and brine into prized aromatic cheeses. Still, fans of Mr. McGee’s culinary writing won’t be disappointed—there are several hundred pages devoted to scrumptious foods, both raw and cooked ... It’s important to note that Mr. McGee isn’t blustering here ... 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. I especially enjoyed his discussion explaining how many compounds we think of as floral and fruity actually evolved first in animals ... his enthusiasm is contagious.
... exhaustive ... [McGee] often makes interesting connections between odors that exist in widely different and unexpected places. The reader may wish to dip in and out of this exceedingly thorough book, following their fancy ... Perfect for foodies, those interested in science, and the innately curious. Engagingly written, this would be a wonderful ready reference to have on hand.
McGee elegantly explains olfaction ... Numerous tables summarize the molecular composition and source of odors of selected entities. Even with helpings of organic chemistry, this is a delightful outing across the olfactory world.