Here in almost 500 pages is a descriptive compendium of just about everything we eat and how we cook it. Arranged alphabetically, from Abalone to Zampone, the majority of entries in the book deal with the ingredients and processes used in cooking. Tom Stobart says in his Introduction, Ingredients are the fundamentals of cookery and every cook who hopes to excel should know about them... Likewise with methods and science in the kitchen, Stobart explains all the common processes from bottling brewing, brining, curing, smoking and vacuuming. Hundreds of ingredients are described, with English and foreign synonyms and scientific names; recipes are given in many cases to illustrate the use of the foodstuff in question. Cooking processes are explained in great and illuminating detail. The aim is both to entertain and to instruct in particular, to give a sense of the essence and individuality of each ingredient. Tom Stobart travelled widely, both as an explorer and a film maker, and his book was informed by an eye for telling details. Many fans say they would be lost without this book, which segues effortlessly between exhaustive reference work and handy recipe book, and back again. It explains the world of the kitchen, whether you're a beginner or an old hand, revealing the facts behind foods, equipment and techniques. Stobart describes how baking powder works, for instance, the temperature at which bacteria grow, and how to make your own tomato ketchup, so every time you dip into this book, you'll be better equipped to return to the stove.