The best books about aroma and flavor

Stan Hieronymus Author Of For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops
By Stan Hieronymus

Who am I?

When I began research on For the Love of Hops about 70 percent of the hops grown worldwide were valued simply for the bitterness they added to beer, but that was about to flip completely. Today, new varieties like Citra and Mosaic are powerful brands, with aromas and flavors that hops never exhibited in the past. That’s why the book begins with a deep dive into how and why we smell and taste what we do, something these books helped me better understand.

I wrote...

For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops

By Stan Hieronymus,

Book cover of For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops

What is my book about?

Thousands of brewers have used the technical information in For The Love of Hops to improve the quality of beers they make. But there is more to the story. As Sierra Nevada Brewing founder Ken Grossman wrote in the foreword, “This book is an amazing compendium on the hop, written at a level of detail that will captivate historians, chemists, and brewers alike.”  

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession

Why did I love this book?

Chandler Burr eases readers into the complex world of our most mysterious sense, smell, through the eyes of Luca Turin. Turin began collecting fragrances as a lark, wrote a book reviewing the world’s perfumes, and came up with a theory about how smell works. He thought he could win a Nobel Prize. That he didn’t hardly matters, because his quest whets my appetite for more books on the topic.

By Chandler Burr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Emperor of Scent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Emperor of Scent tells of the scientific maverick Luca Turin, a connoisseur and something of an aesthete who wrote a bestselling perfume guide and bandied about an outrageous new theory on the human sense of smell. Drawing on cutting-edge work in biology, chemistry, and physics, Turin used his obsession with perfume and his eerie gift for smell to turn the cloistered worlds of the smell business and science upside down, leading to a solution to the last great mystery of the senses: how the nose works.

Book cover of What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life

Why did I love this book?

This is also a book about what the nose doesn’t know, dispelling myths as well as digging into what scientists actually know in words non-scientists can understand. It is interesting to learn that blind people do not have enhanced powers of smell. It is positively illuminating to read, “Odors are perceptions, not things in the world. The fact that a molecule of phenylethyl alcohol smells like a rose is a function of our brain, not a property of the molecule.”

By Avery Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What the Nose Knows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everything about the sense of smell fascinates us, from its power to evoke memories to its ability to change our moods and influence our behavior. Yet because it is the least understood of the senses, myths abound. For example, contrary to popular belief, the human nose is almost as sensitive as the noses of many animals, including dogs; blind people do not have enhanced powers of smell; and perfumers excel at their jobs not because they have superior noses, but because they have perfected the art of thinking about scents.In this entertaining and enlightening journey through the world of aroma,…

Book cover of Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World's Smells

Why did I love this book?

Harold McGee, known for his books on cooking, brings molecules to life in Nose Dive. The book truly is a field guide, with tables throughout listing the source of aroma compounds, the components smell, and the responsible molecules. For instance, looking at molecules explains why Europeans might think American garden strawberries smell more like pineapple than strawberry. Nose Dive is also inspiring. “When we nose an intriguing flower or finger a leaf or sip a cola, and take the time to sniff repeatedly and searchingly for component smells, we experience their qualities more fully than when we smell with brain on autopilot,” McGee writes.

By Harold McGee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nose Dive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ultimate guide to the smells of the universe - the ambrosial to the malodorous, and everything in between - from the author of the acclaimed culinary guides On Food and Cooking and Keys to Good Cooking

From Harold McGee, James Beard Award-winning author and leading expert on the science of food and cooking, comes an extensive exploration of the long-overlooked world of smell. In Nose Dive, McGee takes us on a sensory adventure, from the sulfurous nascent earth more than four billion years ago, to the fruit-filled Tian Shan mountain range north of the Himalayas, to the keyboard of…

Book cover of Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters

Why did I love this book?

Gordon Shepherd gave the developing science of neurogastronomy – which studies how the human brain perceives food from the information processed through smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing – its name. A leading expert on olfaction, he is perfectly qualified to draw the link between aroma and flavor, and why Luca Turin would claim that smell provides 90 percent of what we taste. His description of the importance of retronasal smell, and the mechanics involved, turned a term that was fun to toss around tasting beer with friends into a revelation.

By Gordon M. Shepherd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Neurogastronomy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Leading neuroscientist Gordon M. Shepherd embarks on a paradigm-shifting trip through the "human brain flavor system," laying the foundations for a new scientific field: neurogastronomy. Challenging the belief that the sense of smell diminished during human evolution, Shepherd argues that this sense, which constitutes the main component of flavor, is far more powerful and essential than previously believed. Shepherd begins Neurogastronomy with the mechanics of smell, particularly the way it stimulates the nose from the back of the mouth. As we eat, the brain conceptualizes smells as spatial patterns, and from these and the other senses it constructs the perception…

Book cover of Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense

Why did I love this book?

In Neurogastronomy, Gordon Shepherd likens smells to human faces, writing that they are easy to recognize but hard to describe. In Flavor, Bob Holmes introduces readers to a small tribe of nomadic hunter-gatherers in Malaysia, the Jahai, who have more than a dozen words to describe smells, none of which relate to the smell of any particular object. Vocabulary, he writes, is something we can learn with little effort. His experiences with chefs, gastronomy experts, and food scientists may inspire readers to find personal vocabularies. In the end, he writes, “What’s important is that coming up with a description forces me to pay attention and paying attention enriches my flavor experience.”

By Bob Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flavor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can you describe how the flavor of halibut differs from that of red snapper? How the taste of a Fuji apple differs from a Spartan? For most of us, this is a difficult task: flavor remains a vague, undeveloped concept that we don't know enough about to describe-or appreciate-fully. In this delightful and compelling exploration of our most neglected sense, veteran science reporter Bob Holmes shows us just how much we're missing.

Considering every angle of flavor from our neurobiology to the science and practice of modern food production, Holmes takes readers on a journey to uncover the broad range…

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