Before there was Alton Brown, there was Harold McGee. This is a smart, dazzling, fabulously eclectic collection of information about what we eat. From Plato's views on cooking to electron micrographs of cheese to a description of how eggs form in a chicken's body to the history of beer and chocolate, this book offers an intoxicating wealth of food information, trivia, and science. Did you know that the cell walls of mushrooms aren't made up of cellulose, like plants, but rather of chitin, the carbohydrate-amine complex that makes up the outer skeletons of insects Or that raw lima beans contain sugar-cyanide complexes that can shut down your respiratory system Or that a strawberry is a "false" fruit If you want to know which vegetables were available at the court of Richard II, why fish is white, or the chemical composition of a saturated fat, then this is the book for you. Practical information, like how to tell stale eggs from fresh, is liberally sprinkled amid the science and anecdotes. Even if you don't cook and only rarely eat, this is a fascinating book.