Official kitchen wisdom & other tidbits
Jun 2, 2012 / 5:00 am
I saw a news piece this week that spoke on the topic of urban myths, or what used to be called “old wives’ tales”. They were debunking all those things your mother told you when you were a kid - to get you to eat your veggies or brush your teeth. They were the kinds of things we wished were not true but we didn’t dare doubt our parents’ wisdom.
Nowadays it seems that doubting is a way of life, and everyone wants to know what is “behind the scenes” and have proof that something is true and effective. Mind you, the argument can be made too that many of those pearls of wisdom were actually gems of propaganda. I have even gotten some official kitchen wisdom from Chef Martin, so be prepared to dazzle your friends with these tidbits:
- Chocolate and oysters are not aphrodisiacs (not even if you eat them in the same sitting? What is it then that makes me think I would like to ravage the chef when he makes chocolate soufflé?) They contain trace elements of substances that can make you feel better or happier, but you would have to eat so much to get the effect that you would probably be sick before you got lucky. The good news is chocolate doesn’t cause acne either.
- Sitting close to the TV doesn’t ruin your eyes. This myth comes from the days when TVs emitted radiation and so the thought is that was the reason your parents cautioned you. (Or perhaps they were just jealous that you could still focus on the image when you were that close!) Now the technology is different and so you might turn your brain to mush but your eyes will still work fine.
- Eating carrots doesn’t improve your eyesight. They do contain vitamin A which is essential for healthy eyesight, but you can’t get more healthy if you stock up. This little gem comes from a World War II media campaign meant to fool the Germans. British intelligence didn’t want the word to get out that they had radar to detect bombing raids, so they “leaked” a story that the pilots were getting extra carrots to improve their eyesight, and the rest, as they say, is history. (At least now I know how my dog managed to go blind despite pilfering carrots out of the garden throughout her long and happy life!)
Never fear, though – if you are beginning to think there is nothing left to believe in, know there is one bit of wisdom that really does prove true (my father will be saying “I told you so” right about now…)
- Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. We have been “fasting” while we sleep and so when we awaken our brain needs fuel to work. Tests have actually shown higher test results in students that ate breakfast over those who didn’t (yes Dad, it’s true – you made me eat breakfast and it turned me into a geek. I love you for it, and I still love eating breakfast.) If you need further convincing, let me also inform you that if you miss breakfast you are more likely to eat a snack high in sugar and/or fat to make up for it.
So, you may ask, what is the moral of the story? Why am I bothering to shatter all those childhood truths?? I guess what I want to say to you this week, dear readers, is that I hope you all have common sense, but you should also still have faith. I know that chocolate will still have special powers in our house, even if the scientists can’t tell us why.
If you will pardon the pun, I will add that blind faith tends not to work quite as well, just like eating more carrots won’t help you improve your eyesight. That does not mean they won’t improve your outlook however, so if an extra carrot in your lunch makes you smile, then carry on! (And if you want the recipe for chocolate soufflé so you can do your own tests, just send me an e-mail!)
Chef Martin says:
There are lots of myths that exist in the kitchen, and I see them all the time. Here are a few you may or may not know of:
- Onions caramelize faster if you add salt while they cook. This is true. It has been tested by molecular scientists and will work every time. Maybe it is because salt draws the moisture out of foods…
- Milk will only boil if you stop staring at it. This of course is false, but time will pass faster if you do something else besides watching the milk! Perhaps this one came from some unlucky cook who forgot about the milk and didn’t notice it until it boiled over…
- You shouldn’t put warm food in the fridge. This is false – food should be cooled off as quickly as possible. If you are putting something warm in the fridge to cool it off, leave the lid off so that you don’t create too much condensation, or a vacuum. It can be dangerous to leave food out at room temperature, so don’t try it.
- The reflective side of aluminum foil should be kept in so that the heat is kept in the package and does not reflect off. This has been proven as at least close enough to false that unless you are running a lab at your house and testing with gauges, you will not see a difference in which side is where.
I have seen many odd things in my years in various kitchens, and superstitions are as common there as they are with professional athletes. My best advice on this topic is that if it works for you then keep it up! There is more than one way to do just about everything, so your way will probably work just fine. Just remember to be open to new ideas that might make you more efficient.
Read more Happy Gourmand articles
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- A day in the life of an Okanagan foodie May 4
- Slow and sweet Apr 27
- Do you have to eat dirt on Earth Day? Apr 20
- Recipes across the miles Apr 13
- Haggis, neeps & tatties Apr 6
- Foolish food Mar 30
- Good food, good friends Mar 23
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