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Wolke (What Einstein Told His Cook) again brings hard science and corny humor to bear on the most basic of human needs: food. Whether defining the chemical makeup of the artificial flavor in chocolate or exploring the vagaries of scallop farming, Wolke plunges into the science of gastronomy with ?lan. Using questions gathered from readers of his Washington Post column, he covers the gamut from why tea turns cloudy in the refrigerator (cooling precipitates tiny particles of tannins) to what "mechanically separated beef" is (meat that's been "forced at high pressure through a kind of sieve"). Each question serves as a springboard to a rigorous analysis of food and its preparation and to humorous and bitter ruminations on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation; explorations of the folk history of food cultivation; and expansive descriptions of various world cuisines. Interspersed throughout are mouth-watering recipes written by Wolke's wife, restaurant critic and culinary journalist Marlene Parrish. While at times Wolke's desire to entertain gets the best of himAhis overreliance on goofy puns, for example, is tiringAthe overall effect of this work is like any great family meal: the savory delights of consuming fine food outweigh whatever irritations come with uninvited guests. 20 illus. Agent, Ethan Ellenberg. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
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 2005 Booklist