Why is red meat red? How do they decaffeinate coffee? Do you wish you understood the science of food but don't want to plough through dry, technical books? In What Einstein Told His Cook, University of Pittsburgh chemistry professor emeritus and award-winning Washington Post food columnist Robert L. Wolke provides reliable and witty explanations for your most burning food questions, while debunking misconceptions and helping you interpret confusing advertising and labelling. A finalist for both the James Beard Foundation and IACP Awards for best food reference, What Einstein Told His Cook engages cooks and chemists alike.
©2002 Robert L. Wolke (P)2012 Audible Ltd
"With its zest for the truth, this book will help cooks learn how to make more intelligent choices." (Publishers Weekly)
"Wolke...is one of the great demystifiers of scientific information." (BusinessWeek)
Wolke's chatty style works well as an audio book, possibly better than the text version, because the 'padding' gives time to digest the content when driving for example. Runnette's accent wasn't the easiest for me to 'tune into', and it took nearly an hour before I ceased to find his voice intrusive, but in fairness this probably says more about me. The book is aimed at the American reader so no SI units are used. Quick mental transpositions are required as units are given in Farenheight, ounces (liquid measures), and cups - it would have been nice both Imperial and SI units were used throughout.
The text is interspersed with technical notes which do not get in the way of the story, but rather allow the more technically minded listener to be reminded of their previous learning, or to go off and do their own research. Much of the value of the book lies in these comments.
The chapter explaining the difference between different fats and different fatty acids was particularly well handled, as was the one on leavening agents.
The accompanying recipes, hardly mentioned in the text, allow for practical experimentation should you wish to try out his teaching, and are certainly worth downloading.
Judith Corstjens Author of: Xtensity, Why 5% of Dieters Succeed; Storewars: The Battle for Mindspace and Shelfspace; Strategic Advertising
Terrific little book, structured around a question and answer format, written with a whimsical humour that leavens the whole thing. It kneaded my A level chemistry back into life and answered dozens of questions I never knew I wanted answered from my years of toil in the kitchen. How do Micro-wave ovens work? What exactly is the Omega-3 I take every morning? How do fatty acids relate to Tri-glycerides and fats? Does irradiating food reduce its nutritional value?
One criticism. Wolke praises the SI system of weights and measures at one point, but he systematically uses the crazy American imperial measures - Fahrenheit, ounces, thermal units, pints and others even more obscure. I do feel he could have offered standard scientific equivalents to his teaspoons and cupfuls for his European auditors.
Another point: I used this as my swimming book, which means I listened to it in 30 minute bites. I suspect that stuffed in all at one sitting I might have enjoyed it less, so I would advise this sort of 'snacking' approach.
Narration. Absolutely perfect voice for a witty and erudite American Professor. Musical, gentle and wry.
This was an incredibly interesting book. Right up there with "a short history of nearly everything". Worth listening to, although probably hard going to read.
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