What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained by Robert L. Wolke, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained

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by Robert L. Wolke
     
 

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"Wolke is Martha Stewart with a PhD." —American Scientist

"Wolke, longtime professor of chemistry and author of the Washington Post column Food 101, turns his hand to a Cecil Adams style compendium of questions and answers on food chemistry. Is there really a difference between supermarket and sea salt How is sugar made? Should cooks

Overview

"Wolke is Martha Stewart with a PhD." —American Scientist

"Wolke, longtime professor of chemistry and author of the Washington Post column Food 101, turns his hand to a Cecil Adams style compendium of questions and answers on food chemistry. Is there really a difference between supermarket and sea salt How is sugar made? Should cooks avoid aluminum pans? Interspersed throughout Wolke's accessible and humorous answers to these and other mysteries are recipes demonstrating scientific principles. There is gravy that avoids lumps and grease; Portuguese Poached Meringue that demonstrates cream of tartar at work; and juicy Salt-Seared Burgers.... With its zest for the truth, this book will help cooks learn how to make more intelligent choices." —Publishers Weekly

Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
Does it ever really get hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk? What's the best way of preventing soda from going flat? Does belching contribute to global warming? You've got questions; Robert Wolke has answers.

Wolke, a chemistry professor emeritus and winner of several food journalism awards, dishes out funny and scientific answers to common questions in this collection of his best "Food 101" columns in The Washington Post. Who says food science can't be fun?

Here's a sample of Wolke's approach:

  • Do microwaves change the molecular structure of foods? Answer: "Yes, of course they do. The process is called cooking."
  • If corn is a low-fat food, how do they get all that corn oil out of it? Answer: "They use a lot of corn."
  • Why do recipes tell us to marinate dishes overnight? Answer: "I'm with you. Why overnight? Are we to believe that daylight somehow interferes with the marinating process? Generally, 'overnight' is intended to mean eight to ten hours."
Wolke tackles many common food mysteries -- why brown sugar hardens (and what to do about it), what's the best way to cook a lobster, and how to boil water the quickest way. He does a great job of debunking common kitchen myths and proves conclusively that you can and should wash mushrooms before cooking them. There's an entire chapter devoted to providing scientific facts about microwaves and other appliances like pressure cookers and induction-heating cooktops. (Ginger Curwen)
Publishers Weekly
Wolke, longtime professor of chemistry and author of the Washington Post column Food 101, turns his hand to a Cecil Adams style compendium of questions and answers on food chemistry. Is there really a difference between supermarket and sea salt? How is sugar made? Should cooks avoid aluminum pans? Interspersed throughout Wolke's accessible and humorous answers to these and other mysteries are recipes demonstrating scientific principles. There is gravy that avoids lumps and grease; Portuguese Poached Meringue that demonstrates cream of tartar at work; and juicy Salt-Seared Burgers. Wolke is good at demystifying advertisers' half-truths, showing, for example, that sea salt is not necessarily better than regular salt for those watching sodium intake. While the book isn't encyclopedic, Wolke's topics run the gamut: one chapter tackles Those Mysterious Microwaves; elsewhere readers learn about the burning of alcohol and are privy to a rant on the U.S. measuring system. Sometimes the tone is hokey (The green color [in potatoes] is Mother Nature's Mr. Yuk sticker, warning us of poison) and parenthetical Techspeak explanations may seem condescending to those who remember high school science. However, Wolke tells it like it is. What does clarifying butter do, chemically? Answer: gets rid of everything but that delicious, artery-clogging, highly saturated butterfat. With its zest for the truth, this book will help cooks learn how to make more intelligent choices. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
BusinessWeek
“Wolke…is one of the great demystifiers of science information…wonderful at answering those vexing food questions you always wondered about but never got around to investigating yourself.”
Chicago Tribune
“The author…breathes fun and fact into his work, making this book a good choice for any cook.”
Christopher Kimball
“Bob Wolke is that rare mix of lab-coat scientist and raconteur, as if Albert Einstein's mother had married Rodney Dangerfield's father. He's informed, amusing, and delivers clear answers as well as good, in-depth science.”
Mark Bittman
“I have enjoyed Bob Wolke's column in the 'Post' for years, and his book is as good a read on the science of cooking as there is. Bob is not only well educated, he is a wit and a wonderful, gifted writer who can make anyone understand what's behind the 'magic' that happens in the kitchen. His sound, clever recipes are a welcome bonus.”
SauteWednesday.com
“Robert Wolke's book is so full of useful information that you'll find yourself referring to it again and again.... Not only does he have the penetrating mind of a chemistry professor, but Robert Wolke also has a tremendous sense of humor. Besides being packed with all kinds of interesting food science tidbits, this book is just plain funny.”
Paula Wolfert
“Robert Wolke's terrific book will be invaluable and accessible to every cook. The style is clear, the text is honest, and perhaps best of all the book is fun to read, filled with the 'why's and 'how's of the kitchen.”
Elliot Ketley - Restaurant [UK]
“The occasional recipe adds diversity but facts are the book's strong point 'What Einstein Told His Cook' is a scientifically accurate but witty and entertaining study of the chemistry of food and cooking.”
From the Publisher
"With its zest for the truth, this book will help cooks learn how to make more intelligent choices." —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393339871
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
06/21/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
582,447
File size:
489 KB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"With its zest for the truth, this book will help cooks learn how to make more intelligent choices." —-Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

Robert L. Wolke, a professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, received his doctorate in chemistry from Cornell University. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife, noted food writer Marlene Parrish.

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What Einstein Told His Cook 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert L. Wolke's book, "What Einstein Told His Cook", is much better that those previous views listed on this site let on. I am a medical doctor with an extended education in biology, chemistry and physics, who is by no means insulted by Wolke's casual writing style. His book is not intended as a boring postgraduate text book. It is a fun to read book directed to everyday people with common understanding of the basics of science. I also have read Alton Brown's books. They also are to be recommended, but the topics covered are different-apples vs oranges in fact. Look again at "What Einstein Told His Cook" it was a pleasure to read and covered many interesting questions most people do not know the answer to; including arrogant professional cooks and medical doctors.
WordsofTruth More than 1 year ago
I asked my culinary-interested teenager what he thought of this book and whether or not he would like to have it in his library. His reply was, "Sure, the information is interesting, and the recipes are great too." The book really is an entertaining read. One of the most humorous sections is the "primer on crackerpuncture", i.e., - Why crackers have holes in them. Professor Wolke's book should be viewed more as a scientific "appe-teaser" that stimulates a thirst for more knowledge, but also satisfying to the hungry who diet on smaller portions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
OK, so I'm not a professional chef, nor an arrogant biochemist, but I think Robert Wolke's style of writing in this book adds some fun to what could be a real boring read. He doesn't just answer the questions, he explains why it is so. I don't want to become an expert in the field - I just want to know quick answers, so I think this book is terrific!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of those aggravating tomes that uses a lot of pages to say very little. The writing is way too precious a lot of the time. I was interested in the subject matter going in, but I found the author's cutesy style to be extremely distracting. The author has some expertise, but he lets his smug prose ruin what could have been a very engaging, informative book. What a waste of time. Buy Alton Brown's book instead--he treats his reader with respect.
Anonymous 7 months ago
The author of this book is Robert L. Wolke. This book is called What Einstein Told his Cook. Throughout the book, the author answers common cooking questions while providing a thorough explanation. The author is currently a chemistry professor at the University of Pittsburgh. I am writing this review for my chemistry class. The purpose of this book is to answer common cooking questions and teach a little about food science. I believe that this book is very interesting as well as extremely informative. This book is broken down into chapters about broad topics, each with answers to many selected questions. Chapters include topics such as sweet foods, salt, fat, meat, seafood, liquids, and microwaves. The questions are submitted by real people, and the answers range from opinions to complicated concepts about chemistry. I believe that this book provides a lot of information that is useful in real chemistry and is learned in actual chemistry classes. For example, to answer one question, the author explains that aluminum is an active metal and is easily damaged by acids. Even the tomato sauce from lasagne can eat holes in aluminum if they are exposed to each other. Furthermore, the author also explains why you shouldn’t put metal in the microwave. He says that metal reflects microwaves, and this can cause damage to the inside of the microwave. He adds that there must also be something inside to absorb the microwaves. I also believe that this author is very experienced and helps people become better cooks with this book. One example is when the author talks about adding flavor to a stock. He explains that if you add bones to a stock, collagen, water, fibers, and marrow can be absorbed, adding additional flavor. A second example is that one question asks if you should boil or steam a lobster. The author explains that boiling is a good way to cook the lobster, but some people believe that it extracts too much flavor. The author explains in the end that they are equally good, and it is mostly up to the cook. This book is extremely helpful, both for cooks and for chemists. The author dives deep into the mysteries of cooking, and he gives informed, credible answers. Whether you’re a cook or a chemist, and whether you’re a beginner or a professional, this book will greatly expand your knowledge.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a great idea poorly executed. If you have a college education and a sense of humor that transcends pop culture, I suggest you look elsewhere for good reading. The book is written in the all-too-common short-section format, popular with the attention-span impaired, and the ideas are wedged between Wolke's loquacious commentary (which, by the way, teaches you nothing). However, there are some interesting tidbits, if you are willing to mine a ton of ore to get the ounce of gold. Furthermore, although the author is clearly not condescending, he is informal to a fault, leaving the reader with rhetorical questions where there should be answers-raising the question: was this book even edited? Take more than a cursory look in the bookstore before paying the exorbitant price for this pedestrian work, and, if you have curiosities about science and food, look to Alton Brown of 'Good Eats' fame-he gets it right where Wolke just gets clueless.