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Books that explain the science of cooking?

Hi there. I really like to cook, and I also like to experiment a bit with spices and ingredients, but I sometimes feel that the complexity of it all is overwhelming: How long and at what heat do I heat this? Which spice should be added at the beginning, which at the end? I feel that blindly experimenting will take ages to yield useful results.

What I don't like about most standard cook books is that they tell you step by step what you should do, but never explain why it is done. If they would tell, I could then start applying this knowledge in other places, I would understand which steps I could alter to achieve variations in taste and which steps are absolutely essential to avoid disaster.

Are there good resources that really teach and explain the art of cooking?

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