The science parts are really great. The title refers to the five stages of frying oil and how one can tell the age of the oil used by examining the resulting french fry. Parsons also explains why fresh oil is not good for frying and why pouring in a bit of the old makes it better. His description of the chemical processes unleashed by cutting onions made me understand why I like them minced better than sliced. My main disappointment with the science is that I had hoped for more about baking since that's where most of my kitchen experience lies.
But what spoils How to Read a French Fry is the recipes. I would much rather read an entire book about kitchen science instead of so many pages devoted to recipes.* It's not just that I wouldn't cook these dishes; what's worse is that I wouldn't even eat most if someone set them in front of me. It's highfalutin** gourmet snob food. Someone out there must want these recipes, but I think they detract from a book with great potential.
* I didn't actually read the recipes (how boring would that be?), though I did read the introductory paragraph for each.
** For some reason I've encountered that word a lot recently and I've been dying to use it.