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What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  2,348 ratings  ·  286 reviews
Do you wish you understood the science of foods, but don't want to plow through dry technical books? "What Einstein Told His Cook" is like having a scientist at your side to answer your questions in plain, nontechnical terms. Chemistry professor and syndicated "Washington Post" food columnist Robert L. Wolke provides over 100 reliable and witty explanations, while debunkin ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2002)
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Apr 26, 2015 Carol. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of David Sedaris

Q: What book do you remember from your childhood as irritating?

When I was somewhere around seven years old, I was given Charlie Brown's Super Book of Questions and Answers about All Kinds of Animals ... from Snails to People!: Based on the Charles M. Schulz Characters.

Although I’ve never been a question-and-answer type of reader (the questions asked never seemed to be the ones I wanted to know more about), I eventually came to enjoy the book for its information bites and colorful pictures of f
❂ Jennifer (reviews on BookLikes)
4.5 stars. This one is an interesting, engaging and unique combination of reference, cookbook and almost an FAQ. I can definitely see myself coming back to this one again and again over time, and there are at least two recipes in here I'm eager to try (thank you to the author for including recipes that include a lot of egg-whites!).

Full review:
Strictly speaking, What Einstein Told His Cook is more of a reference book than anything else. Wolke divides the book into sections like "Sweet Talk" (all about sugar) and "Salt of the Earth" and goes on to answer common questions about the topic at large. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I'm all about a good food book. And this is one, so even though I probably should have used it as a reference, I read it like a novel, from cover to cover. It was entertaining, and I le ...more
Tali Autovino
I do believe I was hungry at the time of my choosing, because I picked What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained. I loved everything about this book except for that it ruined my appetite for various processed foods (not entirely a bad thing), however it was interesting to read about.

The author, Robert L. Wolke, is a chemistry professor who happens to take an interest in the molecular structures and production of foods, beverages, etc. He conducts experiments in his “laboratory,” als
HOLY FREAKING COW I LOVE THIS BOOK! This book took me about two months to read. Why? The reason it took so long to read is that each page or two has some interesting/truthful fact about cooking. I couldn't just read it in one setting. I would turn to the table of contents, scan a topic I was interested in at that very moment, then turn to the page, and read it. Each subject or fact was so fascinating and useful in my love for cooking, and wondering why certain things do certain things in the kit ...more
AJ McEvoy
Not much to say, except that this is a fascinating, fabulous fusion of science & cooking. All the basics of cooking are much easier to remember if one understands the reasons behind standard kitchen techniques.

The book What Einstein Told His Cook Kitchen Science Explained the author Robert L. Wolke talks about a lot of things from the differences of sugar to the tools that are used in the kitchen. The author investigates things from questions that people have about cooking, and certain things used around the kitchen, he talks about the science people don’t really know about. For example, one of the questions was, “To sweeten my iced tea quickly, I added powdered sugar. But it turned into gummy lumps.
This book is interesting and well written, quite a page turner actually.

However, the structure of the work is to answer questions on various topics. For example, I read the Salt of the Earth Chapter, which features answers to questions such as:
- What are all those special salts and meat tenderizers in the supermarket?
- What are salt substitutes?
- Why add salt to the water when boiling pasta?
- Whats so special about sea salt? Kosher salt? Freshly ground salt?
- Can a potato remove the excess s
If I wasn't a food engineer, and knew nothing about (food) chemistry, I'd probably enjoy the book, but I couldn't stand to read more than a chapter - not only because of impatience with the lack of new information, but mainly because of technical errors, such as when the author explaif I wasn't a food engineer, and knew nothing about (food) chemistry, I'd probably enjoy the book, but I couldn't stand to read more a chapter - not only because of impatience with the lack of new information, but ma ...more
Not very clear from the title... this is a science book :D
Honestly I thought I will learn how to cook in a scientific way, but this book went much deeper into the science behind what takes place in that part of our houses. I recommend this to anyone, even those who are not at all interested in cooking but would be intrigued to learn some everyday basic science.
Jan 07, 2009 Madhuri marked it as to-read
Mr. Wolke, a chemistry professor at the University of Pittsburgh, presents his topics in sort of a question / answer format. The articles themselves are short – easily consumed in one sitting (if you catch my drift) – but are topically consolidated into larger and more complete chapters. Wolke answers the posed questions in a very thorough and straightforward manner. He describes his topic in layman's terms, including scientific terminology in “techspeak” notes. For example:
“The most common use
Although the author sounds like a bit of a pretentious douchbag once or twice, I enjoyed this book a lot. It's divided into very short sections, so it's great for the bathroom or very quick spurts. (Oh, no pun intended, yet I leave that in.) It's also nice as a second book by the bedside. For example, while I was trying to read "The Rest is Noise," which taxed my attention and brain too much, I would end the night with a few pages of this much lighter book.

It wasn't anything earth-shattering, b
I'm considering buying a copy of this to keep around for reference, because it explains so many common kitchen questions. I read it cover-to-cover like a novel, though, because that's what it felt like it was trying to be. A decent straddling of those two genres, but only great as the former.
Great book! It does an outstanding job of debunking a lot of food myths by giving a solid foundation of food science.
I picked this book up on a whim, it seemed like something I could listen to while I drove around town picking up or dropping off the kids. I enjoy being in the kitchen and loved Good Eats for teaching me why I was supposed to do certain things certain ways. In terms of being able to listen to in snippets, it worked brilliantly though I did wish at times I could see what was happening as I didn't pick up on the question and answer format of the book for a while. With regards to learning things, I ...more
Food columnist Robert Wolke puts forth this combination of questions he's fielded over the years about kitchen science. They're conveniently organized by common subject (all the microwave related questions together, all the alcohol questions together, etc.). Interesting book, if you care for knowing why certain things happen with your food or have always wondered just what the difference is between baking power and baking soda.
This will appeal to exactly the sort of person who loves Good Eats. Of course, if you're a faithful viewer of Good Eats, Alton Brown has already explained much of what is in this book to you already. But there's always more to learn, and there is indeed plenty in here that AB hasn't covered yet. And Wolke's tone is very similar to AB's tone on Good Eats. I mean all these comparisons as the absolute highest of praise, of course.
Steve Schardein
Frequently entertaining, especially for an ADHD-riddled adult like myself with a chronic case of curiosity across the board. The author explores a great number of interesting subjects related to food, cooking, and kitchen technology, with a consistent foundational attention to the chemistry of everything it involves (after all, he's a chemist). Stupid title notwithstanding, I found several sections of this book delightfully enlightening--most specifically those where a commonly-held belief or nu ...more
Heather Lei
I've been trying to learn more about food science to hopefully improve my baking. My thought being, if I understand how it works I might be able to figure out what I'm doing wrong and why I can cook well but turn out mediocre baked goods.

This book had plenty of good information and was written in an entertaining style. I hovered between giving it four or five stars. If I found a copy second hand I would likely buy it. I really couldn't say what would make it a five star book. At some point I wil
The Q&A format and entertaining prose make this book great! For those into nutrition and food chemistry, some sections will be a review. But if you're a beginning cook, interested in science in the kitchen, or find yourself wondering about things like, "Why does vanilla extract smell so good and make food taste so good, yet taste so awful from the bottle?" - then this book is for you!
If you've cooked for a decade or more, especially if yòùre in habit of reading cookbooks, you likeły know mòst of thîs. While well expłained, The science is largely high-schooł level. Did nòt enjòy "witty„ style. Best parts fòr me: microwave ovens, añd fòod irradiation.
Jason Gehring
while i learned most of this information in culinary school, this book was a nice refresher course, and offered some more in-depth knowledge about the chemistry behind cooking.
an excellent book written in a simplified, yet intelligent, and sometimes hilarious way.
This book has a poor title. It should be "What Pasteur Told His Cook" or "What Nobel Told His Cook." Don't be fooled by the title. There is no physics in this book. It's all chemistry. And quite frankly, chemistry bores me.
This is similar in format to many of the books that I have given high rating, essentially a collection of random bits of interesting knowledge about a particular topic. Where this book differs is that the author doesn't try to have a unifying theme or a direction, but rather
Oh, I loved this book. I had borrowed this from my sister and I realized I did not want to give it back, so I have now ordered my own copy. There are things I want to highlight and pages I want to put markers on. As a cook I was enthralled and from a scientific aspect I was spellbound. I loved the witty and even smart-aleck humor: Q -- " 'After I roast a chicken, there are all these ooky drippings in the pan. Can I use them for anything?' Answer -- 'No. If you have to ask, you don't deserve them ...more
Online Eccentric Librarian
What Einstein Told His Cook is a very fun and fascinating discussion of various cooking/kitchen myths, wives tales, trivia, science, and more. From adding salt to pasta to using various kitchen implements, we have interesting information presented in a friendly and easy to digest manner. This isn't a cookbook or a science book - it is science that is entertaining and informative.

We listened to the Audible/Tantor Audio (they do the best audio books!) version on a car trip with my 12 year old and
I rather enjoyed this. I'm a bit of a science geek and, of course, always looking for connections from the stuff I teach to the real world--keepin' it real, so to speak. So, it was nice to recognize a number of concepts I've taughts, in both junior high and high school. The science was well explained, but not over explained. It was easy to understand, though someone without a science background might have to work a little harder at it. I like how he 'myth-busted' certain culinary legends, and we ...more
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What Einstein Told His Cook is one of my dad's books that he loves it and has purchased several copies for friends. I enjoyed flipping through the sections and reading random entries.

What Einstein Told His Cook is set up like a reference book, and while you could read it straight through, I had a good time flipping around and reading different odds and ends. This was a surprisingly engaging book, not tedious or boring at all. I chuckled at almost every entry. And
I hate to be so negative over this book but I found it rather painful. Part of that is just because of who I am. See, I like cooking - sort of. I enjoy watching Master Chef. I like making soups and trying a new sauce but I also like Kraft Dinner and often find cooking to be just too much of a pain. Baking, I save it for Christmas because it just isn't worth it. I also am not really into Chemistry. So why I picked up this book, I really don't know. It just looked really interesting in the Amazon ...more
Carrie Smith
Aug 07, 2013 Carrie Smith rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cookbook lovers, Elem Science teachers, People who need something unique to drop into conversation
Shelves: audiobooks
What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained by Robert L. Wolke
Reader Sean Runnette
Audiobook Running Time 9 hrs 12 min.

I have never met Prof. Robert Wolke* but I imagine him as a grandfatherly type who enthralls his students with experiments and life learning experiences. On the other hand he may in fact be the nutty professor of Jerry Lewis fame. Whatever the case, he has written an informative book that delves in the everyday chemistry behind kitchen practices in an educational manne
Kevin Keith

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained is one of a series of What Einstein . . . volumes by chemist/author Robert L. Wolke. Each is a reader-friendly introductory-level explanatory volume on the science of everyday phenomena, presented in Q&A format. Wolke began with two books on general science topics, What Einstein Didn't Know: Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions and What Einstein Told His Barber: More Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions. Also a food columnist who

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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
More about Robert L. Wolke...
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 What Einstein Kept Under His Hat: Secrets of Science in the Kitchen Chemistry Explained

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“When the combined taste, smell, and textural stimuli reach the brain, they remain to be interpreted. Whether the overall sensation will be pleasant, repulsive, or somewhere in between will depend on individual physiological differences, on previous experience (“just like my mother used to make”), and on cultural habituation (haggis, anyone?).” 0 likes
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