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What Einstein Kept Under His Hat: Secrets of Science in the Kitchen

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  142 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Have you ever wondered why onions make us cry? Do you believe bananas contain more calories as they ripen and get sweeter? This sequel to the best-selling What Einstein Told His Cook continues Robert L. Wolke’s investigations into the science behind our foods. In response to ongoing questions from readers of his nationally syndicated Washington Post column, “Food 101,” Wol ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published May 7th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Brian Clegg
First things first – this book has nothing to do with Einstein, for which I ought to dock it several stars for gratuitous use of the great man’s name, but I can’t because it’s such a good book. And it’s about the chemistry of food.

The format is simple. Robert Wolke gives us a series of questions about food that have a chemistry-based answer and… he answers them. Interspersed there are a fair number of recipes, vaguely relevant to the question. And that’s about it. But it’s the way he tells them.
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Annie
The book is a fun read for cooks and foodies. The topics are based on curious food questions that the author answered in his "Food 101" column in the Washington Post. It is about food chemistry with food facts and a wry sense of humor thrown in. If you enjoyed the first book "What Einstein Told His Cook," you'll like this one (also called "What Einstein Told His Cook 2"). Whether you use the tips or not, they're interesting to know (such as chilling an onion first and using a sharp knife to mini ...more
Judy
Robert L. Wolke writes a nationally syndicated column, "Food 101", for the Washington Post and in this book he explains the science and the chemical relationships and reactions involved with cooking and our food. For those who want to delve deeper into the chemistry of cooking, he offers "Sidebar Science". Wolke's knowledge and humor leap from the pages, but his puns are too numerous and outrageous for my taste. Warning: this book has nothing to do with Albert Einstein.
Michal
While Wolke is firmly in the "better living through chemistry" camp (and hence I don't always agree with his views), I loved his scientific explanations and quirky humor for everyday things. This is definitely the sort of book you might keep on hand for reference during cooking - or just for enjoyment at random moments.
Timothy
This is very much just an extension of Wolke's previous book. I enjoyed it just as much, it contains just the kind of stuff that I love to know. Lots of it, I'm sure, will have actually application in my cooking. Wolke's humorous writing style makes what could, in the wrong hands, be a fairly dry subject, very funny.
Alice
I loved this book! There's a delightful blend of so-called hard science and popular science so that non-scientists like myself are not scared off. I found I could skip the more technical parts and read the final one or two paragraphs in a particular essay to get the gist of the answer to the posed question. More technical readers will want to read the entire answer. Dr. Wolke's humor is infectious; his puns are outrageous. He is no-nonsense and not afraid to challenge widely held assumptions abo ...more
Sarah
I like this series. Nice chunks (since it's based on newspaper columns), gentle humor, and great science.
Daniel Noventa
Nice tips on what to eat. Satire is appreciated.
Stef
good read, lots of interesting facts on food and cooking.
Amanda
As a scientist, I was really looking forward to this book being a fun scientific way to look at food and cooking. To me, it was a little too advanced in terms of science but it was still interesting to read. I feel like this book will be lost on anyone who doesn't remember what osmosis and chemical reactions are from science class. The recipes look good though and are pretty much the only reason I am keeping this book.
Thomas
A potpourri of food/food industry trivia explained from a chemist's point of view.
Pirate Nurse
It was interesting, and I learned some helpful things, but overall, the author is kind of an asshole. He writes very condescendingly to the reader and uses enormous words when a simple one would get the same point across. I read a chapter to my husband last night, and he was asleep almost immediately.
Kathie
This book describes the chemistry of food and cooking with wry humor.
Nancy
I have put this one on my holiday wish list. I want to own it.
Mark Wilder
Fine. Nothing special, and somewhat repetitive.
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Robert L. Wolke is professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and a food columnist for The Washington Post. As an educator and lecturer, he enjoys a national reputation for his ability to make science understandable and enjoyable.
He is the author of Impact: Science on Society and Chemistry Explained, as well as dozens of scientific research papers. His latest book, the fourth
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More about Robert L. Wolke...
What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained What Einstein Told His Barber: More Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions What Einstein Told His Cook 2: The Sequel: Further Adventures in Kitchen Science What Einstein Didn't Know: Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions Chemistry Explained

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“If it says méthode champenoise on the label, it has been clarified by dégorgement—a process in which all sediment is allowed to settle down into the neck of the inverted bottle, after which the neck is frozen and the ice plug, along with the trapped sediment, is removed. Beers are rarely clarified” 0 likes
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