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Thrift Store Reads June 11, 2009

Posted by Jim Berkin in Books, Cooking, Food, Movies.

coyote1On a recent safari to some local thrift stores in search of a getting-harder-to-find VHS storage cabinet of some kind, I came across a couple of books worth having, that is, if you happen to be me.

Even if you’re not me (and I assume you’re not, unless you’re Parallel Universe Wagstaff™, complete with beard and evil personality, or then again, perhaps just a beard because you’re a Rabbi), you’d probably enjoy What Einstein Told His Cook by Robert Wolke, a nice & highly readable tour of kitchen science a la Alton Brown, complete with some simple recipes but mostly heavy on the chemical behavior of food and the physical behavior of cooking and cooking equipment. Understanding the science of what’s going on as recipes come together (and to paraphrase Hannibal Smith, I love it when a good recipe comes together) remains invaluable to any good cook, especially whenever you feel like a little improvisation. After all, what WILL happen if you decide to switch a few ingredients around?

Ever substitute cod liver oil for confectioner’s sugar? The results will surprise you.

Or perhaps they won’t. They’ll certainly make you regular, however.

The other book I found was a companion to Donald Spoto’s The Art Of Alfred Hitchcock, something I’d come across some time back – this time I found Donald Spoto’s other book on Hitchcock, the biography – The Dark Side Of Genius. I’ve only browsed through the bio so far, and while it seems to accentuate the negative, I liked Spoto’s book on the films themselves, so I’m looking forward to the same level of analysis even if it takes on a tad too much psychobabble to explain Hitchcock’s motivations and so forth.

I tend to like entertainment bios that go in that direction – it’s why I liked Ed Sikov’s book on Peter Sellers or Mark Lewisohn’s book on Benny Hill – 2 guys who always made me laugh but were somewhat damaged individuals in their private lives (though Sellers clearly wins the heartless bastard sweepstakes whereas Hill was merely a workaholic loner), so despite some of the negative reviews on Amazon, I’m guessing the Spoto book will be a winner.

Oh – and I found a very nice little mini-bookcase for five bucks that holds my excess VHS very nicely! Room rearranged & HDTV in place – on with the sports & old movies!


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