Today’s Illustration: What Einstein Told His Cook

Foodology-Signage   Tomorrow Is The Dining Room

In his book,  “What Einstein Told His Cook,” Robert Wolke begins by musing about the possibility of having a scientist at hand to answer any questions which come up in the world of science and nature.  He imagines how nice it would be if when we had a question, we could turn to a scientist “at our elbow,” such as Einstein, who could provide scientific answers to some of the “how does that work” questions.

If someone, of the stature of Einstein, could give us a plain, no-nonsense explanation of “why” — Why is what is happening, actually happening? — scientifically.

How does that work?
Why does that work like it works?
What principles are at play to make that do what it does?
How come it is not working that way now?

However, the book isn’t really about Einstein, and I don’t know if Einstein had a cook. He probably did is my best guess.  I imagine that someone could answer that question as well.

Rather, Wolke introduces over a 100 questions and answers — all of which have been asked of him over the years “by real-life cooks, readers of my Food 101 column in the Washington Post and other newspapers.”

The book is about “Kitchen Science” — foodology (Don’t know if that is a word.  It probably is!  Nevertheless, it does illustrate a previous post on public speaking).

The book is not about food preparation.

It is not about the use of the various tools and hardware found in a kitchen.

It is not a book of recipes where you just follow the directions and steps to make this-or-that meal.

Rather, it answers the scientific “whys” of “foodology” — “the chemical and physical principles that determine the properties and behavior of our foods.”

What is the difference between refined and raw sugar?
How does salt work?
How does that happen when you . . . . . ?
Why does that work?
What should you do it you want the food to look or taste like . . . .?
Explain that process!
Why does that produce this reaction?
What is the difference between this and that?
What makes this-or-that gravy lumpy?
Should that be boiled or steamed?

The book’s title is really a hook to pull you into viewing and/or buying it.  The title is designed to create some initial interest.

The title alone is a lesson in communication.  It creates curiosity, something that preachers should be interested in doing themselves.  Unless curiosity is something biblically forbidden or rhetorically unethical and/or manipulative.  Creating interest is far better than beginning a message with . . . .

“Today we are in the book of . . . . ”
“Turn in your Bibles to . . . . . ”
“We are continuing our series on . . . . .”
“Let me review what we said last week . . . . “

That may work well in a seminary environment (culinary-theological arts class), but God’s people have just spent a week or so in the world and they have not come to hear about what takes place in the kitchen!  They are seated in the dining room and need a biblical meal that feeds them some real-life provisions for the wagon train journey “westward.”


Most people won’t purchase Wolke’s book.

I did

I bought it because . . . .

#1) it was only $2.99 (but I debated it — It was at the high end of my financial limits — Wished it was $1.99 instead)

#2) I love the thinking — the thought processes which go into “the kitchen side” — “the science side”  — “the theory behind” food.  I enjoy “foodology” — like Alton Brown did on the food network (I don’t think the program is still running — not enough interest! huh — wonder why?).

Likewise, I have purchased a lot, and am still buying yet more books — theological books and commentaries because I enjoy “the kitchen” side of preaching.

I also have and continue to buy books and read articles on preaching, homiletics, and rhetorical theory because I believe that effective preaching requires more than a solid grasp of “the kitchen” side — the theological side of biblical preaching.

Effective preaching requires a constantly challenged mind and heart which desires to better grasp how to communicate biblical truth.  AND we all know that!

The proof is found in . . . .

• the endless books on homiletics — new and reprinted classics
• seminars
• blogs
• magazine articles
• entire magazines
• online classes  (i.e., “The Art of Better Preaching” — for over $200.00 a person you too can become a better — a more effective preacher — I had better not comment any further on this!).
• personal preaching coaches
• conference themes
• denominational publications

These and other avenues are all devoted to the subject of becoming better preachers.


Having taught at various Christian colleges-universities, Bible colleges, state universities, seminaries for many years — before, while, and after 36 years of pastoring —  I have come to realize more than ever that “the kitchen is not the dining room — that an understanding of the “science of food” is far different from actually “serving the finished meal.”

An understanding of the
“science of food”

is far different from actually
“serving the finished meal.”


Knowing what the Bible passage teaches . . . .

biblical “exposition
exposing the truths of a text
ensuring that you are indeed saying what the Bible is saying
guaranteeing that you rightfully understand the truth taught in that passage
taking time in the study before you step into the pulpit

. . . . is necessary but not sufficient.


Diligent preparation
does not mean effective communication.



√  Did you know that through the olfactory and gustatory sensations our appetites are excited?

or that

√  The sense of smell can only detect molecules dissolved in the air.  In the case of taste, it can only be detected when a food is dissolved in water —  “whether in the food’s own liquid or in saliva.  (You can’t smell or taste a rock.)” 


Those are the kind of “theological facts,” which are learned when studying the science of food — when reading the words of “the kitchen theologian” Robert Wolfe.


most people do not know the science of food,
but most do know what a good meal is when they experienced it!




√  Did you know that there are ways to drive a quotation — to add weight to it?

or that

√  Analogical Illustrations are powerful?  That their construction can be learned.  That Tony Evans’ book of illustrations is replete with them.


Those are the kind of “rhetorical principles” which are learned when studying the science of communication through the words of “the classical kitchen theologians” — Aristotle-Cicero-Plato-Quintilian-et al.


most people don’t know what rhetorical theory teaches, but most do know what a good meal is when they experienced it!




Take time — a lot of time if you need to — in the theological kitchen!
Take time — more time than most do — in the rhetorical kitchen!
Both will serve you well.
Both will serve those who plan to spend their lives speaking!


Because . . . . .

An understanding of the
“science of food”

is far different from actually
“serving the finished meal.”



Diligent preparation
does not mean effective communication.



Most people don’t know what
theological or rhetorical theory teaches,
but most know what a good meal is when they experienced it!

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