Family father, neuroscientist, and non-fiction addict.
If you are like me, a person who loves to cook and loves science, then this book is for you. What happens, at the molecular level, when you make caramelized onions? What is the difference between mineral salt and sea salt really (there is none), and does it matter which one I chose (no)? What is the fastest way to thaw something? Can you fry an egg on the sidewalk?
Read this book and you shall find answers to these, and many other questions. You will also gain a much better understanding of what it is you are doing when you are cooking. What is a carbohydrate and what is the difference between carbohydrates and sugars? How can you measure the calories in food? Does it matter when you put the salt in the water when you boil pasta? Acquiring this knowledge comes at the expense of being called a nerd, but there is nothing wrong with being a nerd.
The author deserves special praise for his fearless criticism of some BS products that are being aggressively advertised. For example, salt is salt wherever it may come from. If you want to pay a hundred times more for Himalayan salt that has some dirt in it, then be my guest, but know that you will only get a negligible amount of minerals (or perhaps pollutants is more correct term). To ingest a significant amount of minerals by eating salt you would have to eat several kilos which, needless to say, would not be very healthy.
Overall a good and funny book with a good mix of anecdotes and science to back up the different points made. Recommend it.
This story was designed for a science geek like me. Every one of the explanations was informative and entertaining.
His humorous edge made the book enjoyable.
What you always thought you knew about food.
Tell us about yourself!
This book tackles some of the questions about why and how things happen to the food we cook and other goings on in our kitchens. Told in a light and easy to understand style, this book was well paced and didnt drag along. I enjoyed listening to this book as it was a good change of pace selection.
Very good content that explains a lot of why things work the way they do in the kitchen presented in a clear and concise manner for those of us who aren't chemical scientists.
Wolke puts to rest several myths by describing experiments he's conducted.
At first this seamed an odd book, but it didn't long to hook me. The author knows a lot about food and science, and in this compendium he make learning fun, fun, fun! Maybe I'll have to try cooking some day :-)
No. I don't mind listening to the book because I'm not willing to spend my limited print reading time on it, but I think that being able to refer back to certain parts and facts would be quite useful.
The explanations about different types of sugars was quite interesting. Scientific and detailed enough, but not boring and PhD Chemist level...
Sean Runnette is a competent reader who enunciates well, but I find his voice to lack character and inflection. I couldn't listen to this performance for hours on end, but snippets here and there are fine.
This book lends itself to short, bursts of listening rather than long hours all at once. It would be a great commute book for a half hour a day or so. Probably not so great for a long roadtrip.
I found this to be an extremely interesting. I learned so much about the science behind the food we eat. I've recommended this book to many people.
He definitely showed the rye sense of humor needed to make a book about food science extremely interesting.
In listening to this book, I discovered I must be more of a foodie than I realized, because there was not much in this book I did not already know, or at least have some idea about. I didn't have any problem understanding the technical aspects as some have noted in previous reviews, perhaps due to excessive Food Network consumption.
I did appreciate the actual scientific testing the author performed regarding some kitchen myths, such as the best way to get juice our of a lemon or lime. Now I know the two-step method. The background on salt, sugar and fat was interesting. And now I know I can't tell my kids automatically "the alcohol cooks out" when they question my liberal use of wine in a few of my dishes.
The performer did fine and read the chemical names etc. without difficulty. However, nothing about the performance really stands out to me either.
Bottom line, this was an ok book. I don't regret purchasing it and listening, but not a whole lot stands out to me either.
This book should have been one of my favorites, but it really lacked substance. I realize this is a huge topic, but there was so much missing from this book. I felt that the author simply neglected so many important areas of fun food trivia & science. Much time was wasted with "fluff" - stuff that I really did not care so much about, while vast areas of everyday food science was passed over. If the author wants to confirm or deny wheather or not potatoes absorb salt, just do so. I did not need 15 minutes on his potato-in-the-soup experiment. The various antidotes & stories throughout the book wasted time without adding content. Over one-half hour on how a microwave oven works......please. There were a few interesting tid-bits in the first half of the book, (although some out-dated information regarding the FDA's Trans Fat labeling guidlines - I thought this book was newer than 2003) but I struggled to get through the second half. It was like that bad movie you rent. You keep watching it because you paid for it & you hope it will turn for the better. I can not recomment this book.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Award winning chemistry professor Robert Wolke answers myriad questions on the subject of food and food preparation, all from the point of view of the science of where food comes from, how to best store it, how to cook it, etc. etc. His explanations are so good, they will more than pay back the price of buying this audiobook. For example, you will never again spend more for sea salt or a salt grinder than you will for a box of regular table salt, and you will understand why from a simple scientific point of view.
As you might expect from a non-fiction book that doesn't have a defined narrative flow (each section stands on its own), the best comes first. The opening sections on sugar, salt, and fat -- basic ingredients with significant health factors -- are outstanding. The middle sections on proteins, chemicals, and drinks are still excellent, but a bit scattershot in terms of relevance (do I really care if light cream is technically heavier than heavy cream or whether an egg can really fry on a hot sidewalk?).
The penultimate chapter on microwaves is essential and will change the way you use yours -- understanding how microwaves defrost frozen food vs. the alternatives will, once again, save you lots of money, or at least improve your culinary results. But the closing section seriously starts to sag, which is a shame since it focuses on kitchen tools -- still, it could save you serious bucks when it comes to buying tools since you will be that much more knowledgeable about what they do and what they can't do for you.
The lively narration helps. I look forward to reading the follow-up, although I worry that, like the last chapter of this volume, there will be a natural downtrend in interest level. My only other caveat is that, unlike another science book I recently listened to (Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Great Courses lectures on physics), it does seriously help to have a foundational understanding of some scientific principles in order to understand this book -- nothing more than high school level, though, which is the highest level of science I ever studied.