CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A set of "Modernist Cuisine" cookbooks weighs 40 pounds. It takes 15 minutes to unpack if you are ruthless. I had to wrestle it out on the floor with a butcher knife and scared the baby.
You should wear steel-toe shoes.
You couldn't get it until August and you must preorder. Right now, you can preorder from Barnes & Noble for $473.12.
The second shipment of the first edition is not available yet, and the few that remain from the first shipment are selling for $800 to $1,900 on eBay, Abe Books and other collectors' sites.
Don't be fooled into desiring only a first edition.
People who are paying a premium for "Modernist Cuisine" want it right now, says Nach Waxman, the owner of Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York City, a book dealer for 30 years. "A handful of people want first editions, but people buying "Modernist Cuisine" intend to use it, not possess it as a collectible object itself."
There is, however, an entire section of the blog dedicated to how people intend to display it in their homes and kitchens because it is a truly remarkable object in and of itself.
Waxman has a waiting list with new people being added each day, and he is selling the sets as they become available for $525.
"People are frantic to have it now," he adds, "which is why they are paying above the necessary price."
To give the price context, let's paraphrase "Modernist Cuisine" co-creator Nathan Myhrvold's remarks: If you have ever eaten in a fine restaurant, you already know you are looking at $800 for two people -- before wine.
So the set, if you get it, not only entertains and educates you, but also gives you the power to have the kind of food it talks about at home for which you will pay through the nose at the world's finest restaurants.
That sort of brings the price of "Modernist Cuisine" into some perspective.
"Given the scope and magnitude of the books," Waxman says, "it's not a bad price at all. It's worth every penny."
Never overcook another egg
There are entire sections of "Modernist Cuisine" devoted to how heat transfers and how cooking occurs, and even how political shenanigans and fear-mongering influence the foods you are served in American restaurants -- and even irrationally dictate the kind of food that is available to you in this country.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules regarding pork are in a particularly overcooked and irrational state of affairs.