Whimsical, charming, engaging – not words I would have expected to use about a book by Heston Blumenthal. Being more of a heart-led cook than a scientist, I’ve previously been put off by the lab-coated boffin, expecting it to be too complicated, sterile and joyless. But with this book I couldn’t be more wrong. I nearly stumbled in the first few pages with a discussion on quantum dualities but, if I have got this right, all he’s saying is that things can be more than one thing at a time. So quantum gastronomy, then? Cooking requires measuring, timing and rules: at the same time it offers sensory and physical pleasure, triggers memory and emotions. These exist alongside one another – why not enjoy them all? So, this book presents both: on the left- hand page is the recipe, the what, how much and how; on the right-hand page is a peep into Heston’s remarkable inner dialogue, a portal to his imagination and culinary creativity, with tips, comments, history, encouragement to taste, try and wonder ‘what if?’. There’s a bit of weirdness (Cricket Ketchup), much fascination (Tomato & Coffee Muffins or (R)ice Cream), there’s simplicity (a Bacon Butty, though with a twist I’m not going to spoil) and a charming aside about the movie Ratatouille (the most accurate gastronomic movie Heston has ever seen!). I would buy this book for Dave McKean’s illustrations alone: presented scrapbook-style, some are exquisitely detailed drawings (my favourites are the mushroom temple and the gorgeously gowned Japanese princess (is that a chicken peeping out of her kimono?), others reminiscent of Da Vinci-style doodles, tiny sketches in the margins. Is this a cookbook? Well, it’s intriguing, made me laugh, made me think and it has some damn good recipes. You decide. TRACY WHITMEY