Alton Brown's Good Eats: The Early Years Selling Now (and Worth the $25)

Taste Test food week wouldn't have been complete without our fun Q&As with Alton Brown, but his hot-out-of-the-oven book Good Eats: The Early Years is the real news peg. (Book tour dates below!)

If you've read his I'm Just Here For the Food books, you know that they're more helpful for overall skills, only sporadically providing recipes and directions on particular dishes. They're great, but they leave you painfully aware that there is no Alton Brown Cookbook.

The new book really is that cookbook, but with no shortage of the explanation, advice and minutiae that make his other works great. You may think I'm biased (and you may be right), but anyone who's learned anything from his shows should read on:

It's a hyper-illustrated paper version of his first 80 episodes for which I am particularly grateful. I may have caught plenty of installments from this six-season block, but I have always worried that the DVDs weren't randomly accessible enough. For recall, I tend to rely instead on the bare-minimum recipes that appear on Food Network's website. Now most of my favorite episodes are within instant reach—from "Crustacean Nation" to "Squid Pro Quo," from "American Pickle" to "The Choke Is On You"—complete with the random factoids, weird science, campy costumes and all.

Of course that doesn't mean I wouldn't kill for an iPhone app version of this book—quite possibly even for $25—but in lieu of that, I'll take the book.

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Giz readers shouldn't fear that any kitchen gadgets and hacks fail to make the jump from video to paper. I still remember Alton's obsessive "How to Pack a Cooler" from the squid episode, and lo, there it is depicted with a nerd-friendly cross section. Practically every chapter has sketches of gadgets or cheats—facing each other on a page in "Silence of the Leg O' Lamb" are a surgeon's knot and a chimney charcoal starter.

The trouble with the book is that there's more Alton than it can contain, so fans who wish to replicate the master's waffles, sushi or Pork Wellington will still have to look them up online, or wait a good while before Good Eats Vol. 2 appears.

In the meantime, Alton leaves readers with plenty to chew on, literally and figuratively. There's even a wall poster of the cover, for you absolute Alton freaks. [Amazon]

Also, FYI, Alton's going on tour to promote the book, starting with appearances at the NY Wine and Food Festival. Here's the rough schedule:

NYC
Friday, October 9
Barnes & Noble - Union Square
7PM

NYC
Saturday, October 10
Food & Wine Festival
12:30PM

NYC
Sunday, October 11
Food & Wine Festival
12PM

Boston
Tuesday, October 13
Brookline Booksmith at Coolidge Corner Theatre
6PM

Arlington VA
Wednesday, October 14
Sur La Table - Pentagon Row
12PM

Washington DC
Wednesday, October 14
Smithsonian (not sure which, check altonbrown.com later for verification)
5PM

Chicago
Thursday, October 15
Borders - N. Michigan Ave
7PM

Seattle
Friday, October 16
Third Place Books - Lake Forest Park, WA
7PM
(Giz readers note: I plan to attend this one)

San Diego
Saturday, October 17
Costco - Fenton Pkwy
1PM

Austin
Sunday, October 18
Location TBD
12PM

Norcross GA
Saturday, December 5
"Lunchtime"
BJ's Wholesale Club - Norcross

Taste Test is our weeklong tribute to the leaps that occur when technology meets cuisine, spanning everything from the historic breakthroughs that made food tastier and safer to the Earl-Grey-friendly replicators we impatiently await in the future.