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What Einstein Told His Cook 2: The Sequel: Further Adventures in Kitchen Science: The Sequel v. 2 [Kindle Edition]

Robert L. Wolke , Marlene Parrish
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The scientist in the kitchen tells us more about what makes our foods tick.

This sequel to the best-selling What Einstein Told His Cook continues Bob Wolke's investigations into the science behind our foods—from the farm or factory to the market, and through the kitchen to the table. In response to ongoing questions from the readers of his nationally syndicated Washington Post column, "Food 101," Wolke continues to debunk misconceptions with reliable, commonsense answers. He has also added a new feature for curious cooks and budding scientists, "Sidebar Science," which details the chemical processes that underlie food and cooking. In the same plain language that made the first book a hit with both techies and foodies, Wolke combines the authority, clarity, and wit of a renowned research scientist, writer, and teacher. All those who cook, or for that matter go to the market and eat, will become wiser consumers, better cooks, and happier gastronomes for understanding their food.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Food-science columnist Wolke returns with a further compilation of his ever-popular and instructive essays on the whys and wherefores of the foods we cook and eat. With verve and elan, he addresses a host of questions and issues that befuddle not just chefs but anyone who cares about the foods we ingest. How old are 1,000-year eggs? How can one cut onions without crying? What makes some mashed potatoes gluey? Why does split-pea soup turn into green cement? Are nitrites really harmful? Is buckwheat a type of wheat? How can I avoid buying adulterated scallops? What is miso? Wolke addresses all such questions with sound scientific information in his punning, idiosyncratic way, which is sure to provoke many a laugh. In sidebars he generates amusing definitions of food terms. Marlene Parrish offers recipes that complement the subjects of Wolke's essays. His too-brief disquisition on the accurate use of language in food writing ought to be required reading for both menu designers and aspiring food journalists. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Bob Wolke has a great talent...that makes this book equally useful for the chef or home cook. -- José Andrés

Infectious, informative, and even surprisingly useful. -- Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt and Cod

Teaches cooks about chemistry, and chemists about food. If you love cooking, chemistry, and puns, this is for you! -- Charles P. Casey, 2004 president of the American Chemical Society and professor of chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Who else can explain the science of braising or the mechanics of heat transfer and still make you chuckle?" -- Jack Bishop, Executive Editor, Cook's Illustrated

Wolke's explanations are so well-written that they read like a witty novel, except it is all true. -- Elinor Klivans author of Big Fat Cookies and Cupcakes!

Product Details

  • File Size: 1167 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (January 12, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004NNUWZ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #668,020 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Sucessor to the first book! April 5, 2005
As a big fan of the first book in this series, I was glad to see another one pop up and quickly put it on my wish list. I was also glad to see that it was even longer than volume 1, with an extra 110 pages. The style is great -- well paced, well laid out, with the 'harder' science very skimmable and yet approachable to non-chemists. I particularly like the way he challenges conventionally held assumptions by, in many cases, doing simple experiments that seem to answer things conclusively. The inlined recipes (by his wife, Marlene Parrish) look delicious and provide a nice break to the flow of questions. Some of my favorite answers:

Why does iced tea turn cloudy? Will coffee stay hotter if I put the cream in right away or only when I'm ready to drink it? Why are there sulfites in wine? How can I get a red wine stain out of a tablecloth? Why do onions really make me cry? Why are "sweet" onions sweet? When an banana ripes and gets sweeter, does it contain more calories? What is a free radical? What makes mashed potatoes gluey? How can I best match a pasta shape with a sauce? Does marinating work? (suprising!) What's the difference between browning and caramelizing? Why do we cook with wine?

And so on. If you like cooking and like knowing more about what's going on inside the pan and aren't afraid of a few polysyllabic words (mmmm, alpha-galactosidase... don't worry, they are defined in context) then grab this book. I couldn't put it down!
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
`What Einstein Told His Cook 2, The Sequel' by retired chemistry professor and columnist, Robert Wolke is in the same format as the first volume, of which I said:

"This book of what science can tell us about working with food. It is one answer to my wish that every TV chef who is attempting to teach cooking to us foodies take a two semester course in chemistry. The book is not a rigorous approach to the chemistry of sugars, salt, fats, chemical leavenings, heat, acids, bases, and the like. Rather, it is a collection of enhanced answers to questions posed to the author in a regular newspaper column. This makes the book more interesting to read, if a little less available as a resource to applying its teachings to new situations."

This statement is equally true of the second volume. And, I must believe Professor Wolke has read this comment in my review or elsewhere. In his introduction he recognizes that his little columns are all answers to specific questions; however, science, by its nature, is `all tied together' in theories which enable its predictive and explanatory powers. Thus, Wolke says that in order to explain the answer to two related questions, we may find him repeating himself now and then, as he does over and over when he invokes how proteins denature by unwinding themselves and wrapping themselves into tight knots, leading to, for example, cooked eggs or tough cooked meat. I have absolutely no problem with that within the context of his format of question and answer.

On the other hand, this format does not lend itself to be used as a source for looking up specific answers to questions that were not asked by the people writing into Dr. Wolke at the Washington Post.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, but not particularly useful. July 30, 2009
By Tara G.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found this book to be fun and interesting to read, but it wasn't very useful. I was hoping for something along the lines of "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee, but this book is actually more of an entertaining trivia book rather than having a lot of useful information that will help you become a better cook.

Yes, there is some useful information in the book. But it's not organized very well, so it's hard to find information about something specific. It's also not a comprehensive guide like "On Food and Cooking", it's just bits and pieces of trivia thrown together mostly haphazardly. The book is organized into sections, but the sections don't make it as easy to find specific information as they should.

I found this book to be relatively entertaining, but it wasn't what I hoped it would be at all. Buy this for purely entertainment value, but don't look at it as any type of culinary reference. You will learn some stuff, but probably not as much practical information as you would like.

I have both volumes of this set, and they are both similar in entertainment value versus usefulness.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read February 14, 2010
Wolke has put together a well organized reference work. I come back to it often. Dividing each essay into general and more in-depth makes this all the easier to do.

I expected the verbose writing and lame humor of a scientist and got it in spades, so read this book for the insights and nothing else. As the inner flap promises, this book will make you a better shopper and eater. More valuable yet is the level of nuance and complexity Wolke brings to readers in a relatively digestable way. I like how Wolke dissects a lot of faddish and inaccurate thinking.

A very satisfying read. I highly recommend it to those curious about the things they eat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely fascinating February 16, 2009
This book is fascinating and well-written. It is a combination of insightful questions, comprehensive answers, recipes illustrating the points, and humorous food-related false "definitions" like a made-up food dictionary. If you have ever wondered what or why or how about anything food-related, like why does this happen when I mix these ingredients, or what is this stuff the recipe calls for, or how does marinade work, this is the book for you. It literally answers questions you never thought to ask. The author is a chemist with an interest in food, so at least in his spare time focuses on the chemistry of food. So he is knowledgeable and his love of the subject is obvious. He also knows who his audience is--food lovers and cooks who may not be scientists. This book is substantial with lots of short chapters so you get a lot for your money, with short attention span reading that covers a wide spectrum of subjects. I'm glad I stumbled upon it in the bargain section, I learned a great deal by reading it.
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