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Nov 28, 2001 09:59 AM

Is eating burnt foods carcinogenic?

  • s

This is something my mother told my when she saw me scarf down a leftover, charred (well, blackened) slice of pizza.

Is it true or just some Jewish-mother paranoia?

thanks, shane

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  1. VERY TRUE!!! Always eat your meat rare or medium, NEVER WELL DONE!!! Unless you don't care about your health.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Huey

      The food police say there is a link, especially if the food is actually carbonized (burnt black), and the best way to avoid the risk if you like well-done meat is to marinate it.

      On the other hand, they say happiness and smiling faces are life-extending, which I always factor into any health-related choice.

      1. re: lucia

        How overcooked DO you like your meats?

        1. re: Huey

          Not at all. I was speaking generally, as in I do not rule out butter or meat in favor of health. To me, the "right" way to cook red meat over a grill involves substantial heat, though the center should be almost as nature found it. My point was more a philosophical one than a recommendation to eat burnt food, i.e., if if makes you happy, it can't be that bad.

          1. re: lucia

            "Black and blue, just heat it thru", that is what I say when they have the gaul to ask. It's that or nothing.(that means it's USDA Prime or nothing too.)(Sorry Diners and coffee shops. Really sorry.)

        2. re: lucia

          "Food police" is one of those epithets that always make me wonder why people--including chowhounds--of good will can't have different attitudes toward risk-taking as well as different risk factors that influence their choices without calling each other names.

          Most of those I've known who took a high-handed approach to the riskier aspects of gourmetdom (raw/undercooked fish, shellfish, meat/poultry; burnt foods; certain oysters; saturated fat, etc.) had yet to go eye to eye with the Grim Reaper. As the saying goes, it concentrates the mind (and the tastebuds).

      2. A chef I once worked with told me that a piece of meat can be rare in the center, medium farther from the center and well-done on the outside. His opinion, and I agree, was that if the meat is of sufficient quality, all three areas will taste good.

        I say all that in prelude to my admission that I am extremely fond of carmelization. I like the taste of sugar cooked to 340 degrees. I particularly enjoy blackened ends of prime rib, the tops of muffins, the outside of bagels and anything that sticks to the bottom of the pan.

        As far as Jewish-mother paranoia, all I can say is that My Jewish mother would not allow me or my sister to eat the carmelized onions that were cooked during the chicken fat rendering process. She daid they were not good for me. The only thing that I was unable to understand was, howcome she could eat them

        5 Replies
        1. re: Chef Stefano

          The same way my wife tells me not to eat the grebenes...they are not good for you!! If I ever get executed, my last meal will be a plate of hot grebenes...too late to worry.

            1. re: Nikel

              Just the most delicious thing God created for the chosen people to make up for their misery...the fried remains of chicken fat and skin when you render for schmaltz. One of my well-guarded secrets is to grind grebenes into chopped chicken livers (God's second greatest gift).

              1. re: Jim H.
                Lynne Hodgman

                Can I come to your house for some gribenes and chopped liver? Haven't eaten gribenes for 30 years...oh, I can smell and taste them! My grandmother's were WONDERFUL (I think a bit of onion got fried in them too?)

                1. re: Lynne Hodgman

                  Poor baby! But...your cholesterol level is MUCH lower than mine. I intend to die from eating grebenes and chopped chicken liver with schmaltz...just not quite yet.

        2. There is some truth in high temps compounds called heterocyclic aromatic amines can form on foods...burning fat (like from meat drippings) can also form polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons...but the good news is that beer, especially dark beer, can counteract any damage (according to Japanese researchers).

          I have more details on one of my bbq pages...



          1 Reply
          1. While in college, I remember hearing that yes, burnt food can be carcinogenic. I was also surprised that peanuts - yes peanuts - can be carcinogenic. The professor ruined peanut butter for me!