Neman: The food might be the best, but who cooks this stuff? | Food and cooking

Well, if you’re Thomas Keller or an employee at one of his restaurants, you grate them over a rod of vanilla ice cream encased in a sheath of essentially uncooked frozen cookie crumbs.

This goes well beyond gilding the lily. This gilds the lily and then grates cured egg yolks on top.

All of the other recipes — and I mean all of the other recipes — are much the same. A recipe for baked lamb neck, which is traditionally a simple, rustic meal, requires 40 ingredients including a sourdough starter, riz rouge (a red rice from the south of France), beet juice and a quart of mushroom essence.

Alaskan king crab is served with a sweet-and-sour kumquat glaze requiring apple pectin, yuzu juice and something called aji dulce chili paste. Even a humble fish and chips calls for a malt vinegar jam made with agar-agar and a batter made with split peas and gluten-free flour, and is finished with crushed freeze-dried peas (why? For all that is good and holy, why?).

I would submit that there is not a home cook in the world who would or even could make any of these recipes. Cooking doesn’t have to be this daunting. In fact, I have another Keller cookbook, “Bouchon,” that is more intricate than most but not frightening enough to keep me from making at least a few of its recipes.

All of which is enough to make me wonder whom this book is meant for. It’s clearly not for ordinary home cooks, or even extraordinary ones. I doubt it is even for run-of-the-mill chefs.

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