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Secret Food Myths - Let the De-Bunking Begin!

n
niki rothman Sep 10, 2007 03:59 PM

Oh, I dunno...I'm just in one of those piss and vinegar moods. Can you relate? There are so many food myths that just drive me crazy. But I'm just going to start with my top pet peeve and YOU can list your own personal secret food myths that you deep down would love to shout to the world and DEBUNK. Don't be afraid...confession is good for the soul!

OK, here goes. My number one ripe-for-debunking myth is about pasta cookery. MYTH - In order to make good pasta you have to use about ten gallons of furiously boiling water and you MUST salt the water because the pasta will never absorb salt after cooking. Well...big surprise. The pasta comes out just great cooked in water that is just at a mere simmer when you add the pasta and you do not have to use a huge amount of water either. the pasta comes out just fine - al dente, delicious, wonderful - if you only use a couple of quarts of water for a half pound dry pasta - just stir it and all will be well. And finally, why waste all that kinda pricey sea salt salting the water - your pasta will be just as delicious (better, in fact!) if you salt the cooked pasta when it's fully cooked, or hey...don't salt it at all. Because, if your sauce is good, it's got all the salt you're going to need already, and if you HAD salted the water you might throw off the flavor profile of your oh so carefully prepared sauce and maybe wind up with an oversalted mess.

Myths - our cooking is littered with them. This is something I've been thinking about a very long time (I do cook a lot of pasta) and it took courage to share it, because many people are going to disagree. But it's a big time saver - and you'll never oversalt again. Asian noodles, to my knowledge, are not cooked in salted water, are they? And I bet a lot of other chowhounds have other secret little pet peeves about other received wisdom with which they secretly disagree. I'd love to hear them.

  1. linguafood Oct 23, 2007 12:44 PM

    Whoa. So let's see: over 450 replies to a topic that was titled 'secret food myths and their de-bunking.... and it turned into an endless regurgitation of how to or rather, how not to boil pasta... I had hoped for this to be waaaaaaay more interesting. cheeses!

    I have consumed raw beef, and raw pork, and even *gasp* both of them together as "Mett" (it's a traditional German spread, not unlike tartare, but with onions and sure to stick in your teeth :-D) -- yet if I dare to order a burger medium-rare in PA, I am told that the cook won't do it: it's illegal. I could only get it medium. (?????)

    I am not saying that eating raw meat is completely and/or always safe, but I find people to be a bit hysterical about the issue in the U.S. --

    1 Reply
    1. re: linguafood
      Farmgirl22 Oct 25, 2007 08:31 AM

      I don't know, I think if the meat is seasoned well and of good quality, you wouldn't need to eat it raw to get good flavor. I like my steaks medium rare, but I will eat them UP TO well done (I won't eat well done--YUCK!!) I think going below medium rare is gross more because your food is still cold...meat shouldn't be cold IMHO, but I'm not going to to refuse to serve you a raw steak if you so desire--but I WOULD make you sign a waiver saying that you can't/won't sue me if you get sick and that your family can't do it on your behalf either. That's probably why it's illegal in PA--they don't want to mess with the waiver.

      As for a medium rare burger, we've raised our own beef for YEARS, and I still wouldn't eat uncooked/undercooked hamburger if I was STARVING TO DEATH!! I DEFINITELY wouldn't do it if it were store-bought instead of home-grown!! Do you know what is in ground beef??? Do you know what kind of conditions the cattle that are in feed lots are in??? I do, and I also know what kinds of things go on in meat lockers, so no, bring me my steak/burger cooked. But again, to each their own.

    2. Chuckles the Clone Oct 23, 2007 02:49 AM

      Myth: A watched pot never boils.

      Bebunked. I tested it this evening. After about seven minutes of heating over a high flame, it boiled.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chuckles the Clone
        Farmgirl22 Oct 23, 2007 08:05 AM

        LOL! :-D

        I don't think it means that it LITERALLY won't boil--just that it seems to take an eternity if you sit there and watch it...;-)

      2. Farmgirl22 Oct 20, 2007 08:44 AM

        I, like you, don't believe in salting the water--however, I know that too much sodium intake is BAD and many of the processed food "shortcuts" used are OVERLOADED with salt!! Thankfully this is starting to become less predominate, but it's still there to a BIG degree (ever read the NI on Ramen Noodles?? :eek:) I just don't care for salt in general though, so there is that....anyway, sorry...I'm rambling again. :embarassed:

        Cooking peeves/myths: Turkey comes out just as good if cooked in one of those bags....WRONG!! If you know how to cook a turkey, instead of "just winging it" you won't need one of those bags, and your turkey will look as good as it tastes...it's so annoying to hear about those bags that make your turkey taste like plastic....YUCK!! I'm 23 and can cook a fabulous turkey, so if I can do it, you can too!!

        I'm sure there's more, but right now I can't think of them...

        4 Replies
        1. re: Farmgirl22
          n
          niki rothman Oct 21, 2007 08:43 AM

          The best joke on turkey is if you cook it at 500 degrees for three hours, or 300 degrees for 5 hours or whether you cook it for 3 hours or three days - it's still gonna taste pretty much the same.

          But, before you start howling, I'll add I wouldn't do it any other way now that I've purchased my little table top rotisserie that made the most tender, juicy, crusty, yummy little 8 pound petite turkey that the world has ever seen. The rotisserie at under $100 is the way to go - even for us low rent apartment dwellers.

          1. re: niki rothman
            a
            Avalondaughter Oct 23, 2007 05:43 AM

            My mother has tried every cooking method for turkey under the sun (bringing, wrapping it in butter and cheesecloth, bags, etc.) and she always says, "It still tastes like turkey."

            I want to try Alton Brown's bringing and roasting method for Thanksgiving this year. It's still going to taste like turkey, but since this is the first time I have ever done T-day dinner, I need some kind of method.

            1. re: Avalondaughter
              Farmgirl22 Oct 23, 2007 08:09 AM

              Have you guys considered that maybe you just don't really care for turkey?? I mean, it's not going to come out tasting like pot roast or grilled chicken no matter what you do. I've never tried it, but supposedly the deep fat fried turkeys are DELICIOUS!! Maybe you guys would like that?

              I know that my dad hates turkey, so I fix a lasagna on Thanksgiving to serve alongside my turkey (as an added bonus, I can buy a smaller turkey and save some $$). Everyone likes that, because many have already had a "turkey dinner" before they get to my house for our Thanksgiving....Hope it works out for you this year!!

              1. re: Avalondaughter
                m
                mtleahy Oct 23, 2007 09:03 AM

                I have made Alton Brown's brining method twice. Although the turkey still tastes like turkey (thank Goodness, and not like oh I don't know . . . frogs) it is deliciously moist and the meat is extremely flavorful. It makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE to brine, and I do not say this lightly. The last time I used fresh chicken broth as part of my brining method. The way I know it is not just my prejudiced taste, was my turkey was next to four other turkeys at our huge outdoor Thanksgiving dinner. I had not shared my preparation for fear of retaliation by my traditional "non-foodie" family and friends. Needless to say, without asking on my part they all noted a marked delicious difference and wanted more of "that turkey" next year. Brining is almost a full proof way to stave off those dried out turkey gods : )

          2. roma_girl Sep 27, 2007 06:41 PM

            I think the problem in your post lies in the title. You say to let the debunking of food "myths" begin, yet this whole salted water/pasta thing seems to be more of a personal preference for you rather than a "myth." It is certainly not a "myth" that the pasta becomes flavored by cooking in salted water--take a taste after cooking in salted water and this is apparent. Whether you prefer to salt your water or not or boil in lots of water or not is a personal preference and reflects your opinion. Just because you do not personally agree with the traditional method, does not make it a myth. I am not saying your way is right or wrong or better or worse, but declaring it a "MYTH" seems a little strong.

            2 Replies
            1. re: roma_girl
              vvvindaloo Sep 27, 2007 08:29 PM

              actually, i think it's safe to say that salting pasta water *is* the right way to make it. a person can do what they wish with it, for whatever reasons they choose, but if centuries of artisan and commercial pasta producers and Italian chefs alike teach and accept that pasta is intended to be cooked in water that is salted, then it is.

              1. re: vvvindaloo
                oakjoan Oct 18, 2007 04:50 PM

                Wow! Were there so many other vindaloos that you had to put 2 extra v's in front? Yikes.

            2. n
              niki rothman Sep 27, 2007 05:00 PM

              Well, after 400 or so posts - none of whom converted to cooking pasta without salt, in less water, for a little longer...well, you all don't scare me one bit. But, have any of you tried making pasta the way I advocate and only then discovered the truth of the matter? Or are you just making assumptions of the way you think it ought to turn out.

              This is how to do it - for the record, perfect pasta can and is achieved by using only 2 quarts of unsalted water for a half pound of dry pasta. Then cook it al dente, drain briefly and add to a pot of the proper amount of your best, well salted pasta sauce - which is on the boil, plus 2 T butter and stir well over the heat for about 2 - 3 more minutes, during which time the pasta will absorb the buttery salted sauce and taste absolutely fabulous. Wait a few minutes more for the heat to subside (to prevent cheesy rubberization) before adding parmesan. Will you be able to taste the difference at this point between my way and the salted water way...NO you will not.

              6 Replies
              1. re: niki rothman
                c
                curiousbaker Sep 27, 2007 07:31 PM

                No - because as I mentioned above, I did it your way for years, and THEN discovered the "truth of the matter" - or at least MY truth of the matter, which is a preference for salted water.

                You're free to like your pasta the way you like it, but I'll admit the whole "all of the gazillion posts of disagreement are just hidebound narrow-mindedness and not possibly because someone else might genuinely prefer another method after having tried both" thing is a little grating.

                1. re: curiousbaker
                  roma_girl Sep 27, 2007 08:27 PM

                  I agree. The point of this post seemed to have been food myths for people to bring up and has now turned into anyone who doesn't try cooking pasta your specific way is narrowminded. I also cooked pasta "your" way for years until an Italian friend boiled it with salt, which I had never even heard of back then! So I have tried it your way, and like curiousbaker I prefer cooking it in the traditional method. I stick by my post below as well, that this issue is NOT the debunking of a myth but the personal preference of individuals.

                2. re: niki rothman
                  vvvindaloo Sep 27, 2007 08:22 PM

                  Your statements regarding cooking pasta are only your opinion. My opinion is that your method is incorrect and ill-advised, and delivers results that are far inferior to the method that I use. Perhaps this is how you prefer to cook it, but that only means that it's right for you, not for those of us who already believe that the traditonal Italian method yields the best results when cooking Italian pasta dishes.

                  1. re: niki rothman
                    k
                    Kagey Sep 28, 2007 04:08 AM

                    I think a lot of people have already answered these questions. There was a whole series of responses by people who said 1. Yes, I've tried it both ways, 2. I prefer boiling pasta in salted water, and 3. Yes, I can tell the difference, even when I don't know beforehand that the water was salted/unsalted. However, it looks like the posts have been removed. Don't know why.

                    1. re: niki rothman
                      h
                      hungry_pangolin Sep 28, 2007 06:41 AM

                      So, 400 posts, and you're not convinced about salt in pasta water. For what evidence were you looking? People have provided explanations. People have provided comparative experience. For what sort of universal principal, formula, or doctrine were you looking? You have found a method that suits you. The fact that most people think that you're wrong is irrelevant, because you are happy with your method. Saying that someone will not taste the difference between the two methods, when people have said that they have is, well, unfortunate.

                      1. re: niki rothman
                        g
                        gourmanda Oct 12, 2007 06:07 AM

                        I don't get why this is such a novel approach. The directions on a package of spaghetti read: for 1 pound of pasta use 4 quarts of boiling water, salted or not to taste. And you use 2 quarts water per 1/2 pound of pasta. Just as the directions say; nothing new about it.

                      2. fayehess Sep 25, 2007 08:49 AM

                        Salt in the cooking water is critical to pasta tasting good. It's the difference between a blind date in a nice suit but nothing to say, and a man that moves you from the inside out.
                        Not too much, just enough to make the water taste like a soup that is properly seasoned is all it takes. fayefood.com

                        1. rockandroller1 Sep 25, 2007 08:34 AM

                          I too am one of the few who will admit I like my pasta DONE. I don't get this whole "al dente" thing. I don't want crunchy pasta. I think there's a difference between cooking it til it's gluey and mushy ala canned pasta or something, but I find that the time estimates on the box are actually either right on or are conservative for my tastes. I get pasta all the time in restaurants and it's not crunchy either. If I cook pasta less than the time indicated on the box, it's CRUNCHY in the middle. I don't get why this is supposed to be tasty, and I just don't cook it that way.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: rockandroller1
                            BarmyFotheringayPhipps Sep 25, 2007 10:59 AM

                            "al dente" does not equal "crunchy." There's your problem.

                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                              rockandroller1 Sep 25, 2007 11:21 AM

                              Perhaps I wasn't clear. The cooking times suggested by people on the site here, being less than what the box recommends, results in what they feel is "al dente" and what, to me, is crunchy. If I cooked angel hair for less than 2 minutes as was mentioned previously, it would be majorly crunchy. I don't get it is all I'm saying. I have to cook angel hair for like 7 or 8 minutes to get the crunch out of the middle. I buy Barilla pasta, which has been mentioned on here before so it's not like I have some weird kind. I just don't get the whole "al dente" thing, which to me must mean crunchy if you're taking it out that early.

                              1. re: rockandroller1
                                a
                                aurora50 Sep 25, 2007 02:34 PM

                                OMG, if I cooked angel hair that long, it would be so gummy, I could wad it up and throw it across the room and have it stick to the wall!!!
                                (And I use Barilla, also.)
                                (Maybe a difference in altitude, moisture, where people live?)

                                1. re: aurora50
                                  c
                                  curiousbaker Sep 26, 2007 07:44 AM

                                  I was wondering it there might also be a difference in what people mean by a "boil" - I've seen people put pasta in "boiling" water that was barely simmering. Obviously, that's going to slow down the cooking time, compared to a rolling boil. Also, if someone uses less water, the cooking time will be longer, because the pasta will bring down the temperature more.

                                  1. re: curiousbaker
                                    rockandroller1 Sep 26, 2007 05:36 PM

                                    this is a really good observation. I am guilty of not using as much water as I should as I'm impatient for it to come to the boil, and I tend to stick it in as soon as it's bubbling. I wonder if that's why my cooking times are longer.

                                    1. re: rockandroller1
                                      a
                                      aurora50 Sep 27, 2007 10:43 AM

                                      Makes a lot of sense to me!
                                      : )

                                      1. re: rockandroller1
                                        BarmyFotheringayPhipps Sep 27, 2007 01:42 PM

                                        Yeah, almost certainly. There's a big difference between a simmer (around 190) and a rolling boil (212) -- and as curiousbaker says, the addition of the room-temp pasta immediately lowers the temperature of the water, which takes you still further from a proper boil. (Me, I always put the lid sort of 3/4s of the way on, to trap some heat and bring the water back onto a boil, but so I can keep an eye on it and not have the starch bubbles boil over the sides of the pot.) Try it with both a little more water and a lot longer wait and I bet your results will be far more to your liking.

                            2. k
                              KateC. Sep 24, 2007 01:26 PM

                              What about the idea that you can't eat oysters in months with the letter "r"? Does this apply only to Gulf oysters that might get red tides at this time? I do not eat gulf oysters, but find that in general oysters are tastiest when the water is very, very cold. So not in the summer.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: KateC.
                                WildSwede Sep 24, 2007 01:32 PM

                                My mom lives by that one and I tend to believe her. We had oysters in Reno in July and it was rotten. Bleech! I spit it out. Definitely better when the water is icy cold!

                                1. re: KateC.
                                  o
                                  ozhead Sep 24, 2007 01:42 PM

                                  Finesse the problem by ordering only oysters from the U.S. Pacific Northwest and western Canada -- places where the water is always cold.

                                  1. re: ozhead
                                    s
                                    sea97horse Sep 25, 2007 10:33 AM

                                    Oysters are less good in the warmer months because that's when they spawn. You can eat them, they're just not as good. But in general I hold with the "the colder the water the better the oyster" rule -- but I vastly prefer northern Atlantic.

                                  2. re: KateC.
                                    g
                                    gourmanda Sep 27, 2007 06:07 AM

                                    I always heard not to eat them in the months withOUT the letter R.

                                  3. c
                                    crn Sep 21, 2007 09:00 AM

                                    I agree with you completely about pasta cooking. I NEVER salt my water (everything else has salt!)...and you're right...if you stir the pasta & don't neglect it, it's fine! I don't use a huge amount of water....just enough so that the pasta can move around when you stir it.

                                    1. bkhuna Sep 19, 2007 08:17 PM

                                      Worst food myth: Pork must be cooked to death to be safe.

                                      Fact: In the days when pigs were wallowing in, pooping in, and injesting garbage and other waste, you did indeed need to cook pork thoroughly in order to kill Trichinella. These days, commercially raised pork is just as free of parasites as beef. And since commercial pork has had most of the fat bred out of it in recent decades, cooking pork past medium (with a few notable exceptions) will only lead to dry, tough pork.

                                      The FDA recommended temperatures for pork are not to be trusted, unless you like chewing shoe leather.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: bkhuna
                                        k
                                        Kagey Sep 20, 2007 02:32 AM

                                        So it wasn't really a myth, was it? It's just something that's no longer true!

                                        1. re: Kagey
                                          f
                                          foodperv Sep 20, 2007 08:12 PM

                                          excuse my spelling of it but underdone pork would give you an illness called triccanosis we have not had a case of it in about 40 yrs in the usa

                                          1. re: foodperv
                                            k
                                            Kagey Sep 21, 2007 01:35 AM

                                            Actually, I'm quite sure that I saw a news program about 5 or 6 years ago where they investigated how well supermarkets clean their meat grinders between different types of meat and found that lots of ground beef contained pork. The reason for the investigation was that a guy died of trichinosis after eating a rare hamburger at a barbeque. Docs had a hard time diagnosing him because he didn't know he'd eaten pork, but the burger had been contaminated.

                                            1. re: foodperv
                                              b
                                              butterfly Sep 21, 2007 02:53 AM

                                              There were 20 cases of trichinosis from pork (12 from commercial pork) between 1997--2001:

                                              http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrh...

                                              1. re: butterfly
                                                k
                                                Kagey Sep 21, 2007 03:38 AM

                                                Interesting article. A little scary, too! You'd think that home-raised or "direct from farm" would be safer, but it accounted for 9 of those cases.

                                                1. re: Kagey
                                                  alanbarnes Sep 21, 2007 08:52 AM

                                                  Small-scale farmers are more likely to feed their pigs scraps, which might include uncooked meat, which in turn is the primary vehicle for infection.

                                                  But even trichinellosis-infected meat doesn't need to be overcooked; the parasites are killed at medium-rare temperatures (140 degrees for 5 minutes will do the trick). Cook your pork medium and you've got nothing to worry about.

                                          2. re: bkhuna
                                            o
                                            ozhead Sep 20, 2007 01:24 PM

                                            I made the same point above: cook pork PINK.

                                          3. sharonanne Sep 18, 2007 09:01 AM

                                            Salting meat before cooking draws out the water making it dry.

                                            Yes and no, salting right before cooking pulls fluid out and interferes with browning but salting at least 40 mins ahead allows the salt to penetrate and tenderize the meat. So, for pan searing, salting at least 40 mins ahead is best. Cooks Illustrated 2004.

                                            They also tested salting roasts and suggest 1 hour before roasting and chicken from 6 to 24 hours before.

                                            23 Replies
                                            1. re: sharonanne
                                              n
                                              niki rothman Sep 18, 2007 11:02 AM

                                              I just made another pasta lunch for myself and realized we can come to a happy medium here. I won't salt the pasta water, but I DO cook the al dente pasta a few more minutes in the perfectly salted sauce - long enough for it to absorb salt from that sauce. No chance of over or under - salting then. Hope that makes everybody happy.

                                              1. re: niki rothman
                                                c
                                                chefbeth Sep 18, 2007 11:34 AM

                                                Wow. I've really enjoyed reading all these posts. Good stuff here. Growing up, my mom never salted anything. There was a salt shaker on the table, of course, but the house rule was that you had to taste anything before adding salt. I still think that's a great rule.

                                                When I started cooking myself, I realized that Mom had made a terrible mistake in not adding salt while cooking -- really the only time I can honestly say that woman was wrong!

                                                As stated above, a pinch or so of salt while sweating vegetables for a sauce or stew makes a big difference by coaxing the moisture out of the veggies. Once the veggies have given up their juices, I usually add a splash of sherry or wine. The way I usually explain it is that I want to get the veggies thirsty, so they'll suck up the flavorful liquid.

                                                I'm also a big fan of salting meat before cooking it. In the case of red meats, I salt just before the meat hits the hot pan or grill. The absolute best fried chicken I've ever eated involves rubbing the chicken pieces with lots of kosher salt the day before you're going to fry it. I don't know why, but this makes a huge and delicious difference.

                                                I haven't seen anyone talking about blanching and shocking vegetables, but you absolutely need a big pot with briney water. The vegetables do not come out salty at all (surface salt is removed when you "shock" the vegetables in ice water -- it also sets the color of green vegetables). Their flavor is incredibly enhanced, but not salty-tasting. You need to have a big pot that is big enough so that the water comes back to a boil quickly after adding the veggies.

                                                As for the pasta water being salted/not salted, well, I salt mine, but not as much as I do for vegetables. Again, you're looking for flavor enhancement here, not saltiness. As for the big pot, you want to have enough water so the pasta can move around freely and the water won't get too starchy, AND the water comes back to a boil quickly. At the Italian restaurants where I did my appreticeship, anyone putting oil in the pasta water would have been fired immediately. It adds to the gumminess of the pasta and makes the sauce slide off of it.

                                                BTW, when I talk about salt, I mean kosher salt. I don't like iodized salt at all (I can detect a slight metallic tang to it which is unpleasant) and, although I've done a number of salt tasting, I've never been overly impressed with expensive sea salts. I also really like the texture of the kosher salt. Bigger flakes are easier to work with, and don't melt into the surface of, say a steak. They stay where I can taste'em.

                                                Love the subject. Sorry 'bout going on and on.

                                                1. re: chefbeth
                                                  WildSwede Sep 18, 2007 01:15 PM

                                                  My mom is the same. She still does not salt anything when cooking (and rarely, RARELY uses salt). I think she did all our tastebuds a disservice. She argues with me in regards to adding salt to any baked goods (she says she can taste the salt, where I say it enhances the flavors). There is no changing her mind. Therefore, whenever she cooks for me, out comes the salt shaker!! ;-)

                                                  1. re: WildSwede
                                                    n
                                                    niki rothman Sep 18, 2007 01:41 PM

                                                    Don't get me wrong, I too have been a victim of salt hating relatives who habitually accuse me, especially at restaurants of abusing the salt shaker. I actually love salt - but I'm very picky and have had too many dishes ruined by adding too much salt during the cooking process - there is just NO way to fix that either - you'll just dilute down the flavors you want by doing something like adding water to something that has been oversalted because you salted during cooking and then water evaporated leaving you with an over-salted irretreivable result.

                                                    300 posts and I don't think anybody has convinced anybody else to do anything differently. BUT...just do consider that Asians do not salt their pasta water. If not, and they are some of the best cooks in the world, and salting the pasta water is so darned important...well...WHY NOT?

                                                    1. re: niki rothman
                                                      c
                                                      chefbeth Sep 18, 2007 01:52 PM

                                                      I had actually addressed that up-thread, but I'm happy to take another shot at it. First of all, Asian noodles and Italian pasta are used, and in some cases, cooked, quite differently. For Pad Thai, for example, rice stick noodles are soaked in hot (unsalted) water for a few minutes to rehydrate them, and then cooked in the hot sauce where the noodles suck up the sauce, which is heavily seasoned with fish sauce and vinegar.

                                                      As for salt, it's not really used much in Asian cuisines during the preparation of a meal. Instead, they use soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar or some other very salty condiment to season their food. Salt as we know it just isn't a part of their tradition. That isn't to say that they don't use salt to preserve foods, just don't usually add it while cooking.

                                                      1. re: chefbeth
                                                        WildSwede Sep 18, 2007 03:19 PM

                                                        Agreed, again! ;-)

                                                      2. re: niki rothman
                                                        h
                                                        hungry_pangolin Sep 18, 2007 04:35 PM

                                                        As has been explained here, repeatedly, salt is not just about "salt" on the tongue. It's key to that marriage of art and biochemistry that we call "cooking". As to the irretrievability of a dish salted too much... DO NOT add water, for the reason you state, BUT add cubes of raw potato, as the add nothing but startch, but soak up the salt like you wouldn't believe. If potato shouldn't be part of the dish, remove it before serving. It's very unlikely that anyone will notice a "potato-y-ness" about the dish.

                                                        Honestly, niki, I think that you should rethink your antisaline prejudice. At one stage (health reasons of a roommate) I decided to forego salt in my cuisine, and the results were not pleasant.

                                                        1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                                          C. Hamster Sep 19, 2007 08:22 AM

                                                          The Potato Soaking Up Salt thing is a MYTH, too. Sorry to say. Been debunked over and over and over again.

                                                          http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-...

                                                          Potatoes soak up liquid -- they do not selectively soak up salt. You would achieve the same effect with a cut up potato, a cut up kitchen sponge, or just by ladeling some liquid out.

                                                          1. re: C. Hamster
                                                            h
                                                            hungry_pangolin Sep 19, 2007 09:00 AM

                                                            Interesting. I've never tried it, but a friend swore by it. Now you have me adding that to this weekend's experiments. I'll oversalt a small stew batch, and see what happens. (Better to experiment than rely on this in a crisis.)

                                                            1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                                              C. Hamster Sep 19, 2007 09:28 AM

                                                              Read Wolke's article.

                                                              Potatoes aren't that smart.

                                                        2. re: niki rothman
                                                          vvvindaloo Sep 19, 2007 08:14 PM

                                                          Asian noodles are for Asian cuisine and its philosophy. Italian pasta is for Italian cuisine and its philosophy.

                                                        3. re: WildSwede
                                                          C. Hamster Sep 18, 2007 02:46 PM

                                                          She'd love the bread baked in Tuscany without salt. You could taste right away that it was missing. Drove me batty. Bread needs salt.

                                                          1. re: C. Hamster
                                                            c
                                                            chefbeth Sep 18, 2007 02:51 PM

                                                            Loved the bread in Tuscany, but I agree that it would be even better with salt. It was explained to me that the bread was usually served with the cheeses, cured meats and olives that the region is famous for, and that since all of those are pretty salty, they leave the salt out of the bread.

                                                            1. re: chefbeth
                                                              C. Hamster Sep 18, 2007 02:52 PM

                                                              It looked, smelled and felt so wonderful but when you tasted it, there was something very important missing. Def prefer bread in Paris!

                                                              1. re: C. Hamster
                                                                c
                                                                chefbeth Sep 18, 2007 02:55 PM

                                                                Definitely agree with you there. There used to be a bakery up on Cape Cod that baked bread that tasted like they'd just flown it in from France. Don't know if they're still there -- it's been years.

                                                                1. re: C. Hamster
                                                                  k
                                                                  Kagey Sep 19, 2007 04:36 AM

                                                                  Oh don't write off Italian breads! The saltless Florentine bread is hardly representative of the variety available in Italy! And I agree, it doesn't taste right.

                                                                2. re: chefbeth
                                                                  missmasala Sep 18, 2007 05:34 PM

                                                                  that's funny, i was always told that the sensa sale bread (which i abhor) dates back to ancient times when the romans controlled the salt trade and the tuscans didn't want to pay them for it, so did without. Give me the bread in rome over the bread in tuscany anytime!

                                                            2. re: chefbeth
                                                              h
                                                              hungry_pangolin Sep 18, 2007 04:16 PM

                                                              chefbeth - no need to apologise about the length of the post - it was a good one. Just a note... I've never salted my ice bath for shocking, and things turn out pretty well. That said, I shall experiment next weekend.

                                                              Second note: I don't use kosher salt. I keep two boxes of sea salt ($CDN1.40/kg) in the cupboard: one coarse, one fine. Is there any real difference between this and kosher?

                                                              1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                                                alanbarnes Sep 18, 2007 04:22 PM

                                                                Sea salts--regardless of texture--will tend to have distinctive flavors from the trace minerals they contain. Many Hawai'ian salts have tons of impurities that give them their distinctive flavors and colors (red, black, etc.) and very unique flavor profiles. Kosher salt tends to be pretty pure.

                                                                For making brines, salting pasta water, etc., I like the old-fashioned fine-grained plain (non-iodized) salt. Cheaper than dirt, quick to dissolve, and almost completely pure.

                                                                1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                                                  c
                                                                  chefbeth Sep 18, 2007 04:26 PM

                                                                  I DO salt the water in the pot, but I DON'T salt the icewater. Don't recommend salting the icewater either. Shoulda 'splained it better.

                                                                  As alan pointed out, all sea salts are different. My only real objection to sea salt is that the coarse is too coarse and the fine is too fine. Kosher salt's texture is perfect. But don't put it in a salt shaker. I keep a small bowl next to my stove and use my fingers to season.

                                                                  1. re: chefbeth
                                                                    h
                                                                    hungry_pangolin Sep 18, 2007 06:22 PM

                                                                    Thank you beth and alan. I use a sea salt from Italy, but as you might guess from the price, it's pretty generic. Aside from a nice 'bite', it's usefully neutral.

                                                                    A note to missmasala... there is a tradition in Lithuania of welcoming guests with bread, salt, and hooch... I wonder whether the salt is to compensate for an absence of salt in the bread (aside from any symbolic value)... Anyone know? I know little of south Baltic bread making.

                                                                    1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                                                      Gio Sep 18, 2007 07:27 PM

                                                                      Bread and salt have been used as a greeting ritual for ages. The meanings and references vary in different cultures, but for the most part it was meant as a sign of hospitality. Bread, the staff of life, for friendship and salt, sometimes more precious than gold, for the endurance of that lifelong friendship. Another reference is that by offering bread and salt to visitors, you are praying that they should never go hungry.

                                                                      1. re: Gio
                                                                        h
                                                                        hungry_pangolin Sep 18, 2007 08:00 PM

                                                                        You'll note that I mentioned their respective symbolic values. I was curious whether there might be a synergy between the symbolism and the actual recipe for the bread. *That* was the question.

                                                          2. n
                                                            niki rothman Sep 17, 2007 04:08 PM

                                                            MMmmmmmmm...I just made the MOST delicious, perfect, wonderful liguini for 4 in about 2 quarts of water and NO salt. When nice and well done, which I admit none of the sophisticates will ever admit actually may often taste better than al dente - depending on what you're making, I tossed it in a pan in which I had fried up some garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes in butter and evoo. Fried that pasta for a few more minutes. Then after it cooled for a few minutes, so that the cheese wouldn't rubberize, I mixed in plenty of not fresh grated, not parmagiano reggiano, but rather Stella brand domestic parm, which I grate in the cuisinart once a week and keep refrigerated in a jar.

                                                            MORE myths debunked. Domestic parm is wonderful sometimes - maybe Mario has it wrong about what IS the UN-disputed king of cheeses. Parmagiano reggiano is sometimes too sharp - like up against my hot arabiatta - I preferred the mellow, softer, buttery Stella domestic parm. And of course, NO salt in the water. WHY? Because i wanted to get the salt action from as much parmesano as I pleased. Add salt to your water and add a lot of parmesan and you're in a nasty, oversalty place you don't want to go with your delicious pasta. Also, sometimes softer than al dente is WONDERFUL, soothing, comforting - I urge you to try it. NOT a mistake - BETTER!

                                                            26 Replies
                                                            1. re: niki rothman
                                                              amyzan Sep 17, 2007 04:22 PM

                                                              I bought the Stella domestic parmesan this past May while renting a beach house where there is a limited selection at the groceries. I can't say it was awful, but it really wasn't all that good, either. Kind of bland, IMO. Have you tried Vella aged jack or romano in the arrabiata? You might like them, though I don't know how they'd compare price wise to Stella domestic parmesan. Of course, if you like it, that's what matters, but I thought I'd mention those two. On the pasta, there's a fine line between al dente and mushy, but it sounds like you walk it! I'd rather cook the pasta in the sauce a little than have mushy pasta, personal preference. I'm sure many Italians would be aghast at these ideas. They're mostly traditional about pasta and sauces, very traditional.

                                                              1. re: amyzan
                                                                n
                                                                niki rothman Sep 17, 2007 04:39 PM

                                                                The last sentence about "very traditional" being all that is acceptable sounds like FEAR. Let go of that fear. When I eat a piece of Stella Parm my brain says, "buttery, creamy, rich - mmmm...me want to eat more right now" when i eat a piece of parmesano reggiano, my mind says, "sharp, complex, bitter...one piece is enough" - now that intensity is lovely sometimes - and I buy both kinds, and all i am trying to do is let in some much needed fresh air and light on the hermetically sealed vacuum of what is allowed into the pasta dialog. i also like the bel gioso brand of parm.

                                                                P.S.
                                                                If my pasta got to the point of mushy - I would toss it out.

                                                                P.P.S.
                                                                I also love the idea that cooking great pasta in ten gallons of furiosly boiling water is unnecessary. First, I'm impatient - love to get into the kitchen and outta the kitchen asap - but I do not use any convenience foods - it's all from scratch. Last year I posted a from-scratch Thanksgiving dinner largely made in the toaster oven in an hour. Great! My point is, being the great cook I like to flatter myself that I am - my arms and hands are always covered with small burns - I'm also getting fifty-ish and I just don't want to stumble on my arthritic way from the stove to the collander struggling to safely carry a ten gallon cauldron of boiling water - that's where my initial experiments with pasta cookery in 2 quarts of water came from - not laziness, or slovenliness. Another gratuitous myth I'll de-bunk in passing that cooking pasta in a smaller amount of water will actually help with is that idea that the ladlefull of water withdrawn from that ten gallons is going to contain enough starch to actually help thicken or enrich the sauce. How is that even possible? BUT IF you are boiling your half pound of pasta in 2 quarts of water - you DO get some nice starchy water clinging to the pasta and onto which your sauce can better adhere.

                                                                1. re: niki rothman
                                                                  amyzan Sep 17, 2007 05:13 PM

                                                                  I think Italians would argue with your assesment of their emotional state in regards to pasta. I respect their culture and traditions, even if I break their rules frequently. The Italian "hermetically sealed vacuum" of pasta tradition is a mighty tasty one, and also very regional, different in towns as close as 20 miles apart. I'm not saying we shouldn't break their rules, but it's good to know the ground they laid there's a solid basis for improvisation. Makes for less wasted food or bleh meals, IMO.

                                                                  I've tried the cheese you mentioned. I didn't like it. I'm not afraid to try different things, but I know what I like. (Have you tried Vella jack or romano?) I can eat parmigiano reggiano chipped off the hunk, especially with an apples when they are fresh. If others prefer Stella parm, fine. It's cheaper than parmigiano reggiano. You'll have more money for other things in the food budget.

                                                                  1. re: amyzan
                                                                    k
                                                                    Kagey Sep 18, 2007 07:17 AM

                                                                    amyzan, i agree with what you're saying. We run the risk of lumping all Italians together and generalizing about what they would or wouldn't approve of. You say tradition differs from town to town; in my experience it differs from household to household! I'm sure there are Italians who like their pasta "well done," and I'm sure nobody on this board actually boils 10 gallons of water to make pasta. I'm also skeptical about the theories of "better adherence" of sauce to pasta. Nice ideas, but has anyone actually done a comparison?

                                                                    In the end, we should all just eat what we like. Debunking actual myths is wonderful, but this is a matter of taste. I won't convince Niki to salt her pasta water, and she won't convince me that I'm just following the crowd because I do. It's probably time to let it lie!

                                                              2. re: niki rothman
                                                                Davwud Sep 17, 2007 05:49 PM

                                                                Hey Nik

                                                                Just think how much better it would have been if you HAD salted the water. Liberally!!!

                                                                LOL ;^{)

                                                                DT

                                                                1. re: Davwud
                                                                  n
                                                                  niki rothman Sep 17, 2007 07:22 PM

                                                                  Dav -
                                                                  Think of the pasta as a blank canvas on which Picasso can can paint with a great perfectly salted sauce. Not too much, just enough. If you are salting the water how in hades are you going to be able to calibrate the amount of salt to put into the water AND into the sauce - an entirely separate entity. Really - DO NOT SALT THE WATER because...If the sauce is clinging to the pasta, as it will if the pasta has been drained from highly starchy unsalted water - my method - using a much smaller/ergo much starchier amount of water, and the sauce is perfectly seasoned, WHERE is the reason to salt the pasta at all?

                                                                  1. re: niki rothman
                                                                    Davwud Sep 18, 2007 04:40 AM

                                                                    LOL

                                                                    Okay Nik, you win. You can not salt your pasta to your hearts content. I'll to the opposite and next time I'm in SF I'll look you up and make you my almost famous salted pasta.

                                                                    Deal??

                                                                    DT

                                                                    1. re: Davwud
                                                                      n
                                                                      niki rothman Sep 18, 2007 07:41 AM

                                                                      OK, but just don't try to make me watch any hockey...

                                                                      1. re: niki rothman
                                                                        Davwud Sep 18, 2007 11:27 AM

                                                                        Well what fun would that be??

                                                                        DT

                                                                    2. re: niki rothman
                                                                      e
                                                                      ESNY Sep 18, 2007 06:41 AM

                                                                      Ok - so do you salt your steak or chicken before cooking? If so, then how could you possibly calibrate the amount of salt to add to any sauces you put on top. Or your burgers. Ketchup has salt in it, so you must not salt the ground beef before cooking it, otherwise you can't controls the amount of salt in the total dish.

                                                                      1. re: ESNY
                                                                        n
                                                                        niki rothman Sep 18, 2007 07:39 AM

                                                                        Frankly, that's another myth to de-bunk, why salt your food at all until right before serving - (but of course, giving it a few minutes for the crystals to dissolve)? Nope, actually I never salt meat that's in the process of cooking - it draws out the juices, and I want as much juice to stay in the meat as possible. Every recipe I've ever posted, and there have been hundreds, I'll bet in one of the last lines I say something like, "don't salt until the very end. Then you can make it exactly as salty as you want." Otherwise, adding salt as you go creates a host of potential pitfalls - like go ahead and salt - and it should be to taste, no? AND then over time, in the natural course of events - evaporation takes place and the food then becomes saltier than you intended, no? There is a tacit erroneous agreement that one should be salting at every stage of cooking. I would never do that. If I salt just right at the end it is not as if somehow the salt will not be absorbed, or just not dissolve, or something. No, it integrates itself just fine - you'd never guess the salting took place at the very end, AND you will never oversalt that way.

                                                                        And, and this is a biggie, did I miss something or did nobody in this whole - heading towards 300 posts - thread, the majority of which are vehemently defending the orthodox salting of pasta water it seems, did nobody take me on about my point/proof that all that delicious Asian pasta that has been boiled for thousands of years with nary a grain of salt in the water has been turning out just perfect without salting the water? Did anyone discuss this supposedly sacred law that pasta water be salted, in light of my contention in my original post that all Asian pastas are boiled in un-salted water? And yet nobody is complaining that Asian noodle dishes aren't properly seasoned or prepared, are they?

                                                                        Do any of you salted-pasta water addicted chowhounds ever go into a Thai restaurant and complain about the pad Thai being terrible because they forgot to salt the water for the noodles, or ask a Chinese restaurant waiter to please make sure to salt the water for your lo mein, or maybe in a Japanese restaurant - do you feel put out because your cold soba tastes unsalted? No. No. And no again. Hmmm...could the Japanese, who in my humble opinion, do everything better than anybody else because of their highly developed sensory aesthetics, realize that it's a GOOD thing that there is a high level of contrast between the noodle and the sauce?

                                                                        I rest my case.

                                                                        1. re: niki rothman
                                                                          C. Hamster Sep 18, 2007 08:33 AM

                                                                          It actually IS a MYTH that salting meat before cooking draws out any significant amount of liquid. This has been debunked by food scientists and is counter to the practice of most professional chefs. Case in point: dry brining, eg, Zuni Kitchen dry brined chicken.

                                                                          You should always salt meat before cooking it, not after. Rule of thumb = salt early. And taste and adjust seasoning throughout.

                                                                          You want the food to be properly seasoned. Salt and other seasonings ISN'T propoerly absorbed into many cooked foods.

                                                                          An interesting anecdote about salting meat before you cook in Tom Collichio's cookbook, Think Like A Chef. He was a teenager and cooked his first steak, with no salt. He tasted it and found it decidedly lacking. So he went into the fridge and grilled up several more steaks, slating before cooking with varying amounts of salt. All much better than the first until he used way too much. His experiment used up what his mother had planned for that night's dinner. But it was a "lightbulb" moment for him and one of his motivations to become a professional chef.

                                                                          1. re: niki rothman
                                                                            c
                                                                            curiousbaker Sep 18, 2007 08:48 AM

                                                                            Well, I used to not salt much of anything until the end. In the last few years, I've changed my mind about that - started salting the pasta water generously, started salting the components of dishes as I make each part. And I think my cooking has improved quite a bit as a result. You are very strong in your views, but I'm afraid I still can't agree.

                                                                            I don't eat a lot of Asian noodles, so I can't speak to that. I can say I often find Asian sauces too salty for me in general, so I am unlikely to want more salt in the noodles.

                                                                            1. re: niki rothman
                                                                              h
                                                                              hungry_pangolin Sep 18, 2007 08:53 AM

                                                                              Actually, Niki, you yourself are espousing a food myth. Salt *can* draw the moisture out of meat, but *not* necessarily. As an experiment, I suggest that next time you are making a steak, salt it with coarse sea salt and cracked pepper. I think that the salt actually promotes the Maillard reaction during the initial searing. As well, I think that were you to use a finely grained salt, you would get the opposite reaction, and draw out the juices from the meat. I suspect that this has to do with the difference in volume:surface area ratios between large and fine grains. And, my steaks have been praised.

                                                                              Another good reason to salt early in a cooking process is, for instance, during the initial stages of building a stew or similar thing: When sweating down a mirpoix, adding a bit of salt at that stage helps to release some of the moisture from the vegetation, which is exactly what you want to do. You mention that with evaporation the salt intensifies, and becomes too salty. Well, that's true, if you use too much salt, so the obvious answer is that you should be judicious in adding salt, and not necessarily add it all at once. Properly used, salt doesn't add "saltiness", but richness.

                                                                              Finally, on the vexatious noodle question... I wouldn't compare pasta and Asian noodles, even wheat noodles. They have a different flavour, even naked.

                                                                              1. re: niki rothman
                                                                                C. Hamster Sep 18, 2007 09:04 AM

                                                                                "Chefs Who Salt Early if Not Often" http://www.emilykaiser.com/text/00042...

                                                                                1. re: niki rothman
                                                                                  e
                                                                                  ESNY Sep 18, 2007 09:19 AM

                                                                                  Salting before cooking does NOT draw out juices and make your steak dry just like searing meat does not seal juices in. I actually think the salt promotes the Maillard reaction but bringing protein to the surface of the steak. If you still want to believe it, go ahead it doesn't appear that you believe anything anyone else posts. Maybe you want to test it yourself to see which you believe and take two equal piece of steak/chicken/etc. Salt one and leave one unsalted. Cook both exactly the same and then taste and let us know if you can detect a difference.

                                                                                  1. re: niki rothman
                                                                                    LNG212 Sep 18, 2007 11:39 AM

                                                                                    Actually, a couple of people have addressed the pasta vs. asian noodle thing -- see above (and below). With a few of the other posters, I agree that pasta and asian noodles are entirely different -- both in taste and texture, even when both are made from wheat.

                                                                                    1. re: LNG212
                                                                                      c
                                                                                      chefbeth Sep 18, 2007 11:43 AM

                                                                                      The argument that Asian noodles aren't cooked in salted water really doesn't, well hold water for me. By and large, in Thai, Chinese, Japanese and other cuisines, they don't use alot of actual salt. What they use instead is soy sauce, fish sauce or other salty ingredients like shrimp paste. Salt in the water wouldn't make sense in their cooking tradition.

                                                                                    2. re: niki rothman
                                                                                      MVNYC Sep 18, 2007 02:02 PM

                                                                                      Salting your food at the end makes your food taste like salt. Salting while or before it is cooking draws out the atural flavours

                                                                                      1. re: niki rothman
                                                                                        k
                                                                                        Kagey Sep 19, 2007 04:30 AM

                                                                                        That reminds me that the most succulent, juicy roast beef I ever had was cooked in a casing of salt. Far from drawing the moisture out of the beef, the salt seemed to hold it in. And the meat tasted wonderful, not too salty. The cook just cracked the casing after cooking and pulled the meat out.

                                                                                        1. re: niki rothman
                                                                                          fayehess Sep 27, 2007 06:10 AM

                                                                                          could be, or it might be apples and oranges.

                                                                                      2. re: niki rothman
                                                                                        StuCazzo Sep 26, 2007 04:26 PM

                                                                                        Niki,
                                                                                        Here's a thought about your statement:
                                                                                        "how in hades are you going to be able to calibrate the amount of salt to put into the water AND into the sauce - an entirely separate entity"

                                                                                        Try tasting the sauce. If it needs salt, add it. Works every time ;)

                                                                                        1. re: StuCazzo
                                                                                          maria lorraine Oct 23, 2007 11:37 PM

                                                                                          It's easy to calibrate -- how salty are the ingredients? Bacon in amatriciana sauce, black olives in puttanesca sauce, grated parm or romano in the sauce or as a topping? Salted canned tomatoes? Four salty ingredients right there. It's simple. If you use two or more of those ingredients, back off on the salt added to your pasta water accordingly.

                                                                                    3. re: niki rothman
                                                                                      jfood Sep 18, 2007 01:01 PM

                                                                                      do not think anyone is disputing that salt/saltless pasta can taste delicious in their own way. similar to some people liking salt on their steak and others do not.

                                                                                      so yes pasta can be wonderful, and usually is, when jfood does not use salt (hey variety is great) but can also be delicious with salt.

                                                                                      some tongues are more sensitive to salt and some to spice. jfood can only eat mild salsa and meium sends his tongue into shock. others find hot salsa too mild.

                                                                                      c'est la vie.

                                                                                      1. re: niki rothman
                                                                                        b
                                                                                        budlit Sep 18, 2007 02:43 PM

                                                                                        niki

                                                                                        1. re: niki rothman
                                                                                          vvvindaloo Sep 19, 2007 08:11 PM

                                                                                          while you might really like to cook pasta, you definitely don't like to cook Italian. And that's ok.

                                                                                        2. MeffaBabe Sep 17, 2007 08:32 AM

                                                                                          The other myth- you have to remove the skins when making potatoe salad, homemade fries, mashed or home fries- WHY I ASK???? My family and I have had this arguement for years now... WHy do I have to stand and peal the darn things when I use them??? I love my home fries with skins as I do my potatoe salad AND my mashed potatoes! I never knew there were Potato Police that would come get you for not pealing before use!

                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: MeffaBabe
                                                                                            John Manzo Sep 17, 2007 09:04 AM

                                                                                            You don't. Peeling potatoes is seen, now, as declasse and old-fashioned. So if you want to be a rebel, peel your potatoes.

                                                                                            1. re: MeffaBabe
                                                                                              C. Hamster Sep 17, 2007 09:33 AM

                                                                                              That's not a food myth but a food preference.

                                                                                              1. re: MeffaBabe
                                                                                                Davwud Sep 17, 2007 10:54 AM

                                                                                                How do you figure that's a myth??

                                                                                                DT

                                                                                                1. re: Davwud
                                                                                                  f
                                                                                                  FFood Sep 17, 2007 04:03 PM

                                                                                                  FFood's grandmother -- GrandmaFFood -- said when preparing fresh garden cucumbers to cut off the ends and rub them against the main cut of each end until it "foamed", thus removing any bitterness from the cucumbers.

                                                                                                  FFood, to this very day, does this. FFood misses GrandmaFFood very much, especially her cucumber, ham and lima bean goat cheese salad.

                                                                                                  1. re: FFood
                                                                                                    d
                                                                                                    Deanna H Sep 25, 2007 01:51 PM

                                                                                                    My grandmother did the same thing. I don't think it makes a difference, but I catch myself doing it all the time without even thinking.

                                                                                              2. sbritchky Sep 16, 2007 01:22 PM

                                                                                                The amount of salt that brings a sauce to good taste won't be enough to also take care of a salt-less pile of pasta. On the plate, the noodles will absorb little of the salt from the sauce, so you'd get (what to my taste would be) an unappealing diversity of salty and bland flavors, especially with thicker pastas.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: sbritchky
                                                                                                  Davwud Sep 16, 2007 05:49 PM

                                                                                                  My feeling on this is that those who say it makes no difference haven't added enough salt.
                                                                                                  Even my first try at the large pot, lots-o-salt method resulted in a bland pasta. Then the second one yeilded a pasta that we very, very salty. I thought I'd ruined it. But after saucing, it was quite good. A bit salty but good. Some fine tuning and I had it.

                                                                                                  DT

                                                                                                2. b
                                                                                                  BRIANTHEFOODUDE Sep 14, 2007 09:35 PM

                                                                                                  Does tomato juice really get rid of the smell of a skunk?

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: BRIANTHEFOODUDE
                                                                                                    alanbarnes Sep 14, 2007 09:49 PM

                                                                                                    Not really.

                                                                                                    Paul Krebaum is an industrial chemist who worked with thiolates (the stuff that makes skunk spray stinky) in his lab. In the interest of professional and domestic harmony, he had to figure out how to mitigate them, and he applied his findings to skunked pets. Here's his website: http://home.earthlink.net/~skunkremedy/home/

                                                                                                    The Mythbusters confirmed the recipe: http://kwc.org/mythbusters/2004/09/my...

                                                                                                    As the owner of a Jack Russell Terrier whose idea of a perfect evening involves killing a skunk, I can verify that the Krebaum recipe works. Over and over and over...

                                                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                      jillp Sep 15, 2007 11:56 AM

                                                                                                      The Krebaum deskunking method works quite well. Since I used it on a visiting dog, I've applied the idea to a few other things and found it worked well to get a variety of smells out.

                                                                                                      1. re: jillp
                                                                                                        oakjoan Oct 18, 2007 04:31 PM

                                                                                                        Unfortunately this comes too late for me. Our dog used to get skunked at least twice a year and we always used either tomato juice or beer. Beer seemed to work.

                                                                                                        I'd be afraid that the peroxide would smell worse than the skunk. I HATE the smell of that stuff.

                                                                                                    2. re: BRIANTHEFOODUDE
                                                                                                      tatertotsrock Sep 14, 2007 11:26 PM

                                                                                                      BRIANTHEFOODDUDE,
                                                                                                      Thanks for asking that cute question.
                                                                                                      I think people were getting way too serious about that salt/pasta/water thing.
                                                                                                      Just the fact that a skunk was mentioned in a food thread just makes me want to giggle, in fact, I giggled.

                                                                                                      1. re: BRIANTHEFOODUDE
                                                                                                        o
                                                                                                        odkaty Sep 15, 2007 06:19 AM

                                                                                                        No.

                                                                                                        In their own testing (skunk-loving chocolate lab) my parents have found the same results as MythBusters - hydrogen peroxide + baking soda + dish soap and a commercial "enzyme-neutralizer" both work. And in the interests of household harmony they normally use both solutions a few hours apart.

                                                                                                        Besides, who really wants to waste their summer tomatoes making juice for an icky dog? I'd leave the dog outside and indulge in the tomatoes myself!

                                                                                                        1. re: BRIANTHEFOODUDE
                                                                                                          jfood Sep 18, 2007 12:55 PM

                                                                                                          jfood has experience with tomato juice and skunk from 20 years ago. hit one night, went to the grocer for 10 cans of tomato juice. It was amazing how nice everyone was in letting me cut in front of them at the check-out. went home and soaked in tomato juice for an hour. A minor help but Peppe La Pue was still present. BTW - V8 no better.

                                                                                                          The thing that helps and excuse jfood is someone gets upset is a feminine hygiene product.

                                                                                                        2. c
                                                                                                          caliking Sep 13, 2007 01:05 PM

                                                                                                          The "salted pasta water" myth appears to be unresolved.

                                                                                                          I didn't see anyone mention the real reason why pasta water is salted - it is salted to raise the boiling temp of the water so that more heat can be delivered to the pasta while cooking (maybe cooking it faster?) Pure water boils at 100 deg celcius... and will get no hotter no matter how high you crank up the heat. Impurities raise the boiling point, thus salted boiling water is "hotter" than unsalted boiling water. It is possible that the salt reacts with the the starch from the pasta in a way that makes it more palatable to some folks.

                                                                                                          And of course, if you salt the water enough to make it "taste like the sea" then your pasta is bound to taste like the sea as well. If that's what you like and/or grew up with, then why bother what others have to say about salting the water or not? The pasta will cook, with ot without salt, in 4 or 40 quarts of water... what you like is what you'll make (and eat).

                                                                                                          23 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: caliking
                                                                                                            C. Hamster Sep 13, 2007 01:44 PM

                                                                                                            True, water with impurities boils at a higher temperature. But the amount of salt you'd typically use to salt pasta water is not enough to raise the boiling point of water in any significant way, though.

                                                                                                            Pasta water that "tastes like the sea" does not render pasta that tastes like the sea.

                                                                                                            1. re: caliking
                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                              Mr. Cookie Sep 13, 2007 02:45 PM

                                                                                                              Agree with C. Hamster: pasta water that "tastes like the sea" does not render pasta that tastes like the sea. It's not as if 100 percent of the salt in the water (or any percentage even close to that) is transferred to the pasta, as some "no-salt addicts" on this string seem to believe.

                                                                                                              1. re: Mr. Cookie
                                                                                                                alanbarnes Sep 13, 2007 03:38 PM

                                                                                                                Yep. Thanks to this thread, the kids had to wait on dinner while I weighed stuff last night. I cooked 16 ounces of dry spaghetti in 1 gallon of water salted with 2 tablespoons (32 grams) of kosher salt. Cooked weight was just over 32 ounces, so the pasta absorbed about 16 ounces--or one-eighth--of the water. Presumably it also absorbed one-eighth of the salt, or 4 grams. This means that the entire batch of pasta--which made four large servings--contained 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt.

                                                                                                                Looking at the federal nutritional guidelines, each serving contained 1 gram of table salt, which is 400 mg of sodium. (NaCl is 40% sodium by weight.) That's 17% of the USRDA. Not a lot by any measure.

                                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                  Mr. Cookie Sep 13, 2007 05:11 PM

                                                                                                                  wow, very scientific, and sounds definitive. thanks for sacrificing your time.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Mr. Cookie
                                                                                                                    alanbarnes Sep 13, 2007 07:55 PM

                                                                                                                    I want to grow up to be Alton Brown.

                                                                                                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/415948

                                                                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                                      Davwud Sep 14, 2007 06:09 AM

                                                                                                                      And the pasta didn't taste like the sea???
                                                                                                                      LOL

                                                                                                                      As I said above, I used to not salt my water. Now I do. Big difference.

                                                                                                                      DT

                                                                                                                      1. re: Davwud
                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                        curiousbaker Sep 14, 2007 06:25 AM

                                                                                                                        Me, too. Of course, as I get older, I find myself salting food more than I used to. Lost taste buds and all that. But I do think early salting is better.

                                                                                                                  2. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                                    Chuckles the Clone Oct 23, 2007 02:44 AM

                                                                                                                    >>" Presumably it also absorbed one-eighth of the salt, or 4 grams"

                                                                                                                    That's not necessarily true at all. You would need to recover the remaining salt from the water to be sure. Imagine that instead of salt, you added ping pong balls to the water. It doesn't follow that if the pasta absorbs 1/8 of the water that it's going to absorb 1/8 of the ping pong balls.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                                                                                      BarmyFotheringayPhipps Oct 23, 2007 06:43 AM

                                                                                                                      Since when do ping-pong balls dissolve in solution?

                                                                                                                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                                        Chuckles the Clone Oct 23, 2007 10:24 AM

                                                                                                                        They don't. And that's my point.

                                                                                                                        The experiment assumes a lot about the absorption of materials by the pasta. Perhaps the pasta pulls some of the salt out of solution and thus absorbs proportionally *more* salt than water. Perhaps less.

                                                                                                                        Isn't that the whole point of this thread: myths arise from not thinking the problem all the way through?

                                                                                                                      2. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                                                                                        alanbarnes Oct 23, 2007 12:41 PM

                                                                                                                        Rather than recovering the remaining salt, you can just test the salinity of the water before and after the pasta has been cooked. If the pasta is pulling salt out of solution, the leftover pasta water will be less saline than what you started with.

                                                                                                                        Based on taste, the concentration of salt in the water before cooking is about the same as after. Which means that the proportion of salt to water absorbed by the pasta is approximately the same as the proportion remaining in the pot.

                                                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                                          Chuckles the Clone Oct 23, 2007 06:16 PM

                                                                                                                          Good point! But testing the salinity assumes that the pasta is not adding anything to the solution. And if you've added more salt than the water can hold in solution, then you'd find the solution to be completely saturated before and after the boil whether or not salt was lost or gained. And taste might be a useful measure of salinity but you'd definitely need to calibrate your tongue and do some experiments to gauge its precision beforehand. And remember to do the taste test at the same temperature before and after. And what if the pasta was pulling sodium out of solution and leeching potassium?

                                                                                                                          All in all, I think it's a much more complex problem than some other people here are giving it credit for.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                                                                                            alanbarnes Oct 23, 2007 11:11 PM

                                                                                                                            Well, we know that we're nowhere near a saturated salt solution. And we know from nutritional info that dry pasta contains basically no sodium or potassium.

                                                                                                                            As for the precision of the palate, there's definitely some room for error. Hence the use of "about" and "approximately." But we're talking small differences, not orders of magnitude.

                                                                                                                            If there are explanations that are being overlooked, bring 'em on. But Occam's razor provides that the simplest explanation is probably correct. Pasta boiled in salted water tastes different (and, IMHO, better) than pasta boiled in plain water. Complexity is unnecessary. The salt improves the flavor of the pasta.

                                                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                                              maria lorraine Oct 23, 2007 11:33 PM

                                                                                                                              But it doesn't always improve the flavor of the pasta DISH. You must take into account how salty the sauce is, and then adjust the salinity of the water with that in mind. An amatriciana sauce, made with bacon, with a topping of grated reggiano, served with pasta cooked in salted water, can easily be too salty. And that's one of the best pasta sauces out there. I never salt the water in that case.

                                                                                                                              1. re: maria lorraine
                                                                                                                                alanbarnes Oct 24, 2007 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                If my sauce were too salty I'd fix the sauce, not undersalt the pasta. To use amatriciana sauce as an example, using unsalted tomatoes would be a good first step. If that's not enough, less-salty pork products might work (the traditional guanciale and pancetta can vary in the amount of salt they contain, as can American bacon). Failing all else, much of the salt can be removed from the cured meat by soaking in cold water.

                                                                                                                                Each serving--and each bite--is going to have a slightly different proportion of pasta to sauce. Having both ingredients salted to taste will ensure that the sauce-heavy bites aren't too salty, and the sauce-light bites are adequately seasoned.

                                                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                                                  maria lorraine Oct 24, 2007 11:19 AM

                                                                                                                                  The balance I've found works best for amatriciana is to use unsalted tomatoes, bacon (have tried guanciale and pancetta, though the flavor isn't as good), reggiano (doesn't taste as salty as some of the pre-ground brands) and unsalted pasta water. This is what works for my palate, and the robust hearty sauces I tend to make. I don't notice any "bite' variation. For other sauces with less salt, I'll partially or fully salt the water. These are easy adjustments to make depending on the sauce ingredients. Alan, you are free to use any method or philosophy to suit you, and since my way is well-thought out (and I've spent a great deal of time in Italy) and produces an outstanding flavor, I hope you'll allow me mine. Good luck with your cooking.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine
                                                                                                                                    alanbarnes Oct 24, 2007 11:36 AM

                                                                                                                                    Sounds like you've found a system that works for you. Good on ya. Not suggesting there's anything wrong with it, just that there's another approach as well.

                                                                                                                                    Cheers!

                                                                                                                  3. re: caliking
                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                    ESNY Sep 14, 2007 06:51 AM

                                                                                                                    The salt is for the flavor, not to raise the boiling point. The amount of salt used doesn't appreciably change the boiling point. Not to mention you put the salt in the water after it is already boiling (if you don't, it'll probably stick to the bottom of the pan).

                                                                                                                    1. re: ESNY
                                                                                                                      e
                                                                                                                      ExercisetoEat Sep 14, 2007 08:25 AM

                                                                                                                      Okay, so I tested out this whole salt thing last night. It is absolutely possible for the pasta to absorb salt, and even to oversalt the pasta. I cooked elbow macaroni in about 8 cups of water and added approximately 1/4 cup of kosher salt. When it was finished I rinsed off the pasta with cold water for about three minutes, swishing it around thoroughly to get any excess pasta water off of it. The final product of cold plain elbow pasta definitely tasted quite salty. In fact I was glad I had undersalted the minnestrone soup I added the cooked pasta to, because otherwise it would have been pretty much inedible.

                                                                                                                      1. re: ExercisetoEat
                                                                                                                        Megiac Sep 14, 2007 09:11 AM

                                                                                                                        Although I don't think anybody is suggesting using that much salt to pasta water. People are talking about adding 2-3 tablespoons to significantly more water than 8 cups. While the pasta may absorb some of the salt flavor, it is not enough to make the pasta "salty."

                                                                                                                        1. re: Megiac
                                                                                                                          C. Hamster Sep 14, 2007 09:54 AM

                                                                                                                          Yeah. That much salt is almost like brining the pasta! :-)

                                                                                                                          1. re: C. Hamster
                                                                                                                            WildSwede Sep 14, 2007 11:01 AM

                                                                                                                            What a concept...

                                                                                                                        2. re: ExercisetoEat
                                                                                                                          vvvindaloo Sep 14, 2007 09:20 PM

                                                                                                                          I appreciate your taking the time to experiment, but I think that a more appropriate ratio for 1lb. of pasta would be more like 6-8 quarts of water and 1/4 cup of salt. Long pasta, such as spaghetti, or large heavy pasta, such as ravioli, need even more water. Give it a try, if you're still curious.

                                                                                                                    2. o
                                                                                                                      ozhead Sep 13, 2007 10:47 AM

                                                                                                                      Food myth: To be safe, meat must be cooked until it reaches the internal temperatures recommended by the USDA.

                                                                                                                      This myth is particularly galling with respect to pork, which, if cooked to the internal temperature recommended by the USDA (160 degrees -- see, e.g., http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Is_It_Done_Y...) will yield dry, essentially inedible meat. 140 - 145 degrees is just fine, and -- more important -- tasty. Cook pork PINK, not gray.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: ozhead
                                                                                                                        oakjoan Oct 18, 2007 04:27 PM

                                                                                                                        This is BIG! How anybody can stand eating that dried-out stuff when they can have tasty, juicy and delicious medium, even medium-rarish pork is beyond me.

                                                                                                                        That myth is way too widespread.

                                                                                                                      2. e
                                                                                                                        Enso Sep 13, 2007 03:34 AM

                                                                                                                        Eggs have to be refrigerated. Actually the chance of salmonella is rather small and many people in (was it just England or most of Europe?) don't store them in the icebox.

                                                                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Enso
                                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                                          thinks too much Sep 13, 2007 05:13 AM

                                                                                                                          Question on this myth. I lived in Australia and Germany where we didn't buy eggs in the refrigerator section (In Germany we got them from the egg lady down the street) and we stored them at room temp. I have been told that once you start refrigerating them, the gas permeability of the eggs changes and they will spoil much faster if you now store them unrefrigerated. Anyone got opinions on this one?

                                                                                                                          1. re: thinks too much
                                                                                                                            MMRuth Sep 13, 2007 05:35 AM

                                                                                                                            I don't know about that, but at my mother-in-law's kitchen in the Dominican Republic - well airconditioned - the eggs are kept on the counter.

                                                                                                                            1. re: thinks too much
                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                              curiousbaker Sep 13, 2007 07:46 AM

                                                                                                                              I don't think that's right. You can certainly store eggs at room temp, but generally they last longer chilled.

                                                                                                                              1. re: curiousbaker
                                                                                                                                Candy Sep 13, 2007 08:25 AM

                                                                                                                                You are right. Eggs left at room temperature age much faster. In 1 day at room temp they will be as if they were a week old. Oh, and the way they come in cartons? If you'll turn them over so the large end is up they will last longer. You can use eggs that have been properly refrigerated for up to a month.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Candy
                                                                                                                                  q
                                                                                                                                  queencru Sep 13, 2007 08:47 AM

                                                                                                                                  I've used them for up to 2 months with no problems whatsoever. They probably aren't as fresh as they would be brand new but I've never had a spoiled egg. Like butterfly's later post points out, eggs can take a really long time to spoil.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: queencru
                                                                                                                                    WildSwede Sep 14, 2007 10:58 AM

                                                                                                                                    I was watching a show years ago on eggs and a scientist said that, properly stored, she would eat eggs ONE YEAR past the expiration date. Well, I sort-of tried her theory. I went away and came back and was hungry - my brother had some 2-month-past-the-due-date eggs in his fridge and I ate them - and got sick!! No more. I will use them about 2-3 weeks past the date (although I get them from the farmer's market) for baking but not for breakfast!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: WildSwede
                                                                                                                                      KaimukiMan Sep 14, 2007 01:01 PM

                                                                                                                                      cleaning out my fridge once I found some eggs that apparently a houseguest had left for me. I figure they must have been hiding in the back of the bottom shelf for about 8 or 9 months. The fridge had completely dehydrated them.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: WildSwede
                                                                                                                                        Morganna Sep 16, 2007 05:47 AM

                                                                                                                                        I always test old eggs to see how they're doing before using them. Just fill a deep bowl with water and place the eggs into the water. If they float to the top, toss them. Any that don't float should be fine for eating, well cooked.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Candy
                                                                                                                                      Caroline1 Nov 10, 2007 04:21 AM

                                                                                                                                      When ice boxes and (later) regrigerators made their way into farm kitchens, it was soon discovered that eggs WILL stay "good" longer when chilled. All of these things that are being touted as "egg myths" today came about way back then when all eggs were fertile, all flocks of chickens had at least one rooster, and eggs were *not* coated with oil or wax to seal the shell. Natural egg shells are quite porous because chicken embryos have to have oxygen too, you know, And so eggs at that time, when left at room temperature for more than a few days would start to turn into bona fide "rotten eggs," or if kept warm enough, bona fide baby chicks! Either way, you didn't want to crack them into your cast iron skillet for a go at "sunny side up." That "rotten egg" smell that kids still talk about in high school chemistry classes but have never actually smelled first hand, was no picnic!

                                                                                                                                      Todays "sterile" eggs with the sealed shells do eventually spoil at room temperature, but it takes a loooong time. And today's refrigerated eggs take a much much longer time to go bad.

                                                                                                                                      I have two cartons of eggs in my refrigerator, both with a "Best by" date of November 19th, yet I bought them at different stores (Albertson's and WalMart) at least two weeks apart. "Best" only means the yolk will stand tall and the whites won't spread much. With old eggs, all you have to do is let them sit in warm water a couple of minutes before you fry them and you'll get the same perky yolk and tight white (or better) than you get with eggs with a "best by" date well into the future..

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                        a
                                                                                                                                        aurora50 Nov 13, 2007 09:48 AM

                                                                                                                                        I've never heard that before!! How did you learn that "egg refreshing" trick?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: aurora50
                                                                                                                                          Caroline1 Nov 13, 2007 05:31 PM

                                                                                                                                          Now, that's a hard question! The honest answer is, "I can't remember." - I've used it for more years than I care to admit. I wouldn't swear to it, but I think Julia Child talked about it on one of her early French Chef shows. But the good thing about it, regardless of where I learned it, is that it works! If you have some eggs on hand that have been hanging around to the doubtful stage, warm one of them in water, then fry it sunny side up alongside one you haven't refreshed. I think you'll be pleasaantly surprised.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                            a
                                                                                                                                            aurora50 Nov 16, 2007 09:10 AM

                                                                                                                                            I will try that, Caroline! Thanks for the trick!

                                                                                                                                2. re: Enso
                                                                                                                                  b
                                                                                                                                  butterfly Sep 13, 2007 08:30 AM

                                                                                                                                  Eggs aren't refrigerated here in Spain, either. But people also tend to go grocery shopping a lot more frequently and don't stockpile as much. Also, the lag from henhouse to market is probably considerably shorter. Still, I've kept them unrefrigerated (unintentionally) for a really, really long time (weeks, probably even months) and have never had them spoil--though I'm sure they would have been better had I eaten them sooner. I like having them unrefrigerated, because I find that cold eggs behave strangely when you beat them and bake with them.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: butterfly
                                                                                                                                    Candy Sep 13, 2007 02:26 PM

                                                                                                                                    When I get ready to cook with them or bake I generally put them in a bowl of warm water for a bit to bring them up to room temperature. You will certainly get more volume in whipping whites if they are at room temperature.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Enso
                                                                                                                                    k
                                                                                                                                    Kagey Sep 15, 2007 02:55 AM

                                                                                                                                    I don't refrigerate eggs. Here in England I have a tiny fridge and wouldn't take up the space! Plus, I bake a lot and waiting for the eggs to come to room temp is a pain. The eggs aren't sold in the fridge section of the store.

                                                                                                                                    An egg won't catch salmonella sitting on your counter. If the hen it comes from isn't infected, it's fine. Not sure about "spoilage" though. I know the whites lose firmness with age, but don't know how much faster this happens at room temp.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Enso
                                                                                                                                      Father Kitchen Oct 21, 2007 11:04 AM

                                                                                                                                      Eggs in the U.S. are scrubbed before going to the market. The scrubbing removes a protective coating from the egg shell, making the shells more porous and and more liable to bacterial contamination. I think I read that in a Cooks Illustrated last year.

                                                                                                                                    2. m
                                                                                                                                      mpalmer6c Sep 11, 2007 09:55 PM

                                                                                                                                      -- That filet mignon is worth the extra bucks. It's not. For best flavor, get New York or ribeye. (Limited to 3 lines, so a two-part response.)

                                                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: mpalmer6c
                                                                                                                                        Davwud Sep 12, 2007 07:56 AM

                                                                                                                                        I use top sirloin for my steaks. Half the price, twice the taste.

                                                                                                                                        DT

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Davwud
                                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                                          MysticYoYo Sep 12, 2007 03:26 PM

                                                                                                                                          Makes sense that if a dry pasta absorbs salted water, it will retain the salt flavor.
                                                                                                                                          My Sicilian dad always salted the water. If you want to add more salt to your completed meal, fine! But we *always* salted the water.

                                                                                                                                          One food myth: You can cook dried pasta according for the time alluded to on the package directions. I always have to cook it 3+ minutes longer, and YES, I do like it al dente and not mushy. The package is always WRONG!

                                                                                                                                          Also: (just heard this one recently from two different people after apparently poisoning my pets for years) "Feeding pork to dogs will make them very ill/kill them".

                                                                                                                                          1. re: MysticYoYo
                                                                                                                                            MMRuth Sep 12, 2007 03:27 PM

                                                                                                                                            Interesting - because I find the opposite to be the case - I cook the pasta for less time than it says on the box.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                              JasmineG Sep 12, 2007 04:40 PM

                                                                                                                                              Agreed, I usually find that it takes about two or so minutes less than the package says. I start tasting pretty early on.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: JasmineG
                                                                                                                                                Davwud Sep 13, 2007 12:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                I get my pasta water, well salted of course, up to a good rolling boil. Then I add the pasta and turn the heat down just a bit. It's still a good rolling boil. I cook it for exactly what the package says and it's fantastic every time.

                                                                                                                                                DT

                                                                                                                                              2. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                                chef chicklet Sep 14, 2007 10:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                Me too always. It keeps on cookng while it is draining, and then if you put it in sauce, well it will cook some more.

                                                                                                                                              3. re: MysticYoYo
                                                                                                                                                w
                                                                                                                                                wawajb Sep 13, 2007 08:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                I hate the animal food myths. There are many things that are truly unsafe for dogs (chocolate or grapes for example) but I have an incredibly hard time believing that PORK is one of them. Perhaps bacon or other cured meats with assorted salts and nitrates are not such a hot idea for dogs, but need I point out that they aren't exactly health food for people either? I refuse to believe that my dog, who would happily eat trash pickings if I let her, and scarfs down cat poop with great abandon has such a sensitive digestive system that nothing but the all-natural organic food that costs more than my food will do. It's a fad, taken to ridiculous heights by the admittedly scary animal food contamination issues. She's a dog. Get over it.

                                                                                                                                                And, just to jump on the pasta water bandwagon...I do salt my pasta water, but only if I'm making a light sauce. If I'm craving a rich, creamy, salty sauce, I don't bother because I don't want to overload with salt. I think the OP's point was that pasta cooked in a pot that is just big enough without salt will not explode, turn to mush or otherwise ruin your day. It's one of those things where perhaps you *should* use a giant pot and lots of salt, but that doesn't mean you won't get a tasty end product if you don't. But as with a lot of food "rules", people have lost sight of the flexibility of cooking and take guidelines as hard and fast rules.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: MysticYoYo
                                                                                                                                                  The Chowhound Team Sep 14, 2007 06:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Pardon the interruption - but please keep the discussion focused on human food myths, not pet food issues - we've removed some posts that deal only with those. Important as such issues are to pet owners (including moderator pet owners), they are too far afield for Chowhound!

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MysticYoYo
                                                                                                                                                    p
                                                                                                                                                    Pampatz Sep 15, 2007 10:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Depends on what altitude your cooking at. We're at 7700' and it can take as much as 5 extra minutes to reach the al dente stage. Below 3500', package directions should work perfectly.

                                                                                                                                              4. f
                                                                                                                                                Fuffy Sep 11, 2007 09:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                MYTH? Rascasse is essential for good bouillabaise, even Alan Davidson claims that rascasse does something wonderful for bouillabaise. I'm puzzled because rascasse is so bland and uninteresting on its own.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Fuffy
                                                                                                                                                  oakjoan Oct 18, 2007 04:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Maybe it's the firm texture and the blandness accepts the flavor from the broth better?

                                                                                                                                                2. g
                                                                                                                                                  GeoffD Sep 11, 2007 09:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Just as long as nobody debunks the statement that broken cookies have no calories, I'm OK with this thread. :)

                                                                                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GeoffD
                                                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                                                    Ellen Sep 12, 2007 12:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Don't worry. That is absolutely true and everyone I tell it to believes me.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ellen
                                                                                                                                                      Davwud Sep 12, 2007 07:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                      I may have to test this theory!!

                                                                                                                                                      DT

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: GeoffD
                                                                                                                                                      WildSwede Sep 14, 2007 10:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Hmm, I believe that if you eat cookies with your eyes closed, then they have no calories either!! ;-)

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: WildSwede
                                                                                                                                                        chef chicklet Sep 14, 2007 10:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Maybe so, but for sure, it is when you stand up and eat the cookie, that's when they don't have calories. And anyone that has ever worked in an office should vouch for this theory.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chef chicklet
                                                                                                                                                          vvvindaloo Sep 15, 2007 08:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                          oh definitely. i might talk myself out of walking into the bakery and buying a dozen cookies, but eat a dozen cookies standing up in the coffee area at aork? no-brainer. and they don't count because they are rarely even good.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: GeoffD
                                                                                                                                                        optimal forager Sep 15, 2007 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Free food also has no calories! Including treats brought into work, departmental office at school, etc.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: optimal forager
                                                                                                                                                          d
                                                                                                                                                          delaneymae Sep 15, 2007 04:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                          My boyfriend points out that the free Krispy Kreme doughnuts you get when the "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign is on must also fall into the no-calorie category. Plus you usually eat those standing up! Maybe that means free doughnuts are like celery: burning more calories than you take in!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: delaneymae
                                                                                                                                                            a
                                                                                                                                                            abowes Sep 16, 2007 11:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Since when does KK give away donuts when the Hot Doughnuts Now sign is lit? This is the first I've ever heard of it, and I've had my share of Hot Doughnuts Now!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: abowes
                                                                                                                                                              tatertotsrock Sep 16, 2007 02:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Oh yes they do!!! I would order a Maple Glazed and they would ask "would you like try one of our glazed donuts for free?"
                                                                                                                                                              Like, who the hell would say no to that!!?
                                                                                                                                                              YUMMY!!!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: abowes
                                                                                                                                                                Davwud Sep 16, 2007 05:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Any KK I've been to had an employee passing the goodies out to the people in line.

                                                                                                                                                                DT

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: GeoffD
                                                                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                                                                            Terrieltr Sep 16, 2007 02:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Place your cookies on a high shelf. The top of the fridge works well. Calories are afraid of heights, and will jump down to the floor, leaving the cookies behind.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GeoffD
                                                                                                                                                              Father Kitchen Oct 21, 2007 10:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                              No, but I've been told that if I bless them, the calories go away. Now that is a myth for sure!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GeoffD
                                                                                                                                                                Caroline1 Nov 10, 2007 03:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Actually, any time you kiss your elbow immediately after swallowing something, your body won't absorb the calories. I did it last week with a two pound box of Godivas and a big bowl of bread pudding and haven't gained an ounce! Try it! It works!

                                                                                                                                                              2. e
                                                                                                                                                                Enso Sep 11, 2007 07:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                MYTH: An egg will stand on end at an equinox and only then.

                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Enso
                                                                                                                                                                  t
                                                                                                                                                                  thinks too much Sep 13, 2007 05:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  An egg WILL stand on end at an equinox, and it will be considerably easier than at any other time. But it can be done at other times. You are right.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: thinks too much
                                                                                                                                                                    Chuckles the Clone Oct 23, 2007 02:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    Wait, what? Why will it be easier at an equinox?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                                                                                                                                      a
                                                                                                                                                                      adido Oct 23, 2007 08:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      We used to do this in elementary school and it works best at the exact time of the equinox. It has something to do with gravitational forces and where the yolk balances in the egg. (like the tidal/lunar pull) I'm not a scientist so I can't explain it well but I've seen it.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: adido
                                                                                                                                                                        Chuckles the Clone Oct 23, 2007 10:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        There are no special "gravitational forces" at the equinox.

                                                                                                                                                                        A scientist wouldn't necessarily be able to explain it either. What a scientist would so, and what your teacher should have done, was to come up with a careful, measurable, definition of "works best" and then measure it on various days of the year.

                                                                                                                                                                        It would also help to have a general understanding of what exactly an equinox is: it's the day during the earth's rotation when, for an instant, the sun is directly above the equator. If the supposed effect has anything to do with the sun being overhead, then if you're not on the equator you're probably worse off.

                                                                                                                                                                        Here's a guy who does a pretty thorough job of explaining how to debunk the myth for yourself:
                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/...

                                                                                                                                                                2. geminigirl Sep 11, 2007 06:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I don't know if this is true or not, but I heard not to refrigerate my eggplants as this is what makes them bitter. Since hearing this I have been trying it and so far no bitter eggplant. What do you all think?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. w
                                                                                                                                                                    wayne keyser Sep 11, 2007 06:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, you can cook pasta in much less water, but you then have to be much more careful about keeping it moving to avoid having it stick together in clumps.

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: wayne keyser
                                                                                                                                                                      Farmgirl22 Oct 20, 2007 08:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      I always put EVOO in my water with the pasta--doesn't affect the taste, and no clumpy pasta!! ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                    2. e
                                                                                                                                                                      Enso Sep 11, 2007 05:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      I agree 100%, niki. Waste of salt and water. Anyone that disagrees is welcome to come over for a blind taste test (unless you're talkin' several tablespoons of salt...) It's a matter of personal preference and what your buds are trained to but I believe few people's tasters are sensitive enough to pick up such a small of salt.

                                                                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Enso
                                                                                                                                                                        JasmineG Sep 11, 2007 05:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Well yeah, I think that most of us who say that salt makes a difference ARE talking several tablespoons of salt -- that is when it makes a difference to the taste of your pasta.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Enso
                                                                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                                                                          Ellen Sep 12, 2007 12:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, we're talking tablespoons of Kosher salt here. If you don't flavor the water, you won't flavor the pasta. The real issue is balance. You need to take care not to oversalt the sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Enso
                                                                                                                                                                            Megiac Sep 12, 2007 12:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            Also, what people are forgetting is that salt added early in the cooking process acts as a flavor enhancer. Even when food doesn't taste salty, the addition of salt can make all of the component flavors of s dish shine. Adding salt to the pasta water before adding the pasta (and, yes, I add several tablespoons), makes your pasta taste more pasta-y.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Megiac
                                                                                                                                                                              q
                                                                                                                                                                              queencru Sep 12, 2007 02:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              I think the big issue is that not everyone needs the salt as a flavor enhancer. Some people can taste fine without it. I really can't tell the difference when pasta is boiled in unsalted water, nor do I add salt to cooked food. Other people will eat the same dish as I'm eating and need to add the salt when to me the taste is just fine.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: queencru
                                                                                                                                                                                e
                                                                                                                                                                                Enso Sep 13, 2007 03:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, there's lots of salt addicts out there. That or their tastebuds are fried, or something. The posts describing several tablespoons of salt in water for pasta make me gag. Bleah!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Enso
                                                                                                                                                                                  Davwud Sep 13, 2007 12:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Don't knock it 'til you try it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DT

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Enso
                                                                                                                                                                                    vvvindaloo Sep 13, 2007 03:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    A large pot of water should be brought to a boil and salted generously. By generously, I mean a handful.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: vvvindaloo
                                                                                                                                                                                      chef chicklet Sep 14, 2007 09:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      There you go, and then taste it. It should taste like the sea, or so says Mario B.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: queencru
                                                                                                                                                                                    Megiac Sep 13, 2007 02:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Adding salt to cooked food wasn't my point though. Generally, adding salt to cooked food will make it taste salty, but if you add salt early in the cooking process it actually enhances the other tastes in the dish (unless you over salt and then it will also taste salty). That's why most recipes call for adding salt early and then, when the dish is done, adjusting to your own personal preference level.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Megiac
                                                                                                                                                                                    f
                                                                                                                                                                                    foiegras Sep 18, 2007 10:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Btw, it doesn't have to be added at the beginning. I do, and eyeball it as noted. Then when I start tasting the pasta for doneness, if it's not salted enough, I add more, and in the next 30-60 seconds, that extra salt makes a difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. chef chicklet Sep 11, 2007 05:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Nope, not a myth, my pasta takes on the salt, and it will stick if there isn't enough room to boil, sorry, can't agree with this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Asian noodles are different. And they also take special care and timing or they are a mess.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. t
                                                                                                                                                                                    tbrownex Sep 11, 2007 05:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Myth: risotto requires constant stirring while slowly adding stock. A friend served great risotto to me one night and freaked me out by saying it was covered tightly and baked. That is now the only way I make it.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Qualifier: there is a restaurant here in Chicago that makes a far better risotto than I can, and he does it the traditional way. Is it because of the technique or the ingredients, I'll never know...but my money is on the ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tbrownex
                                                                                                                                                                                      Maxmillion Sep 11, 2007 06:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      I once had it made in a pressure cooker. The guy who made it was an Italian friend (of an Italian friend) who lived on the other side of the walls of the Vatican. I wondered (aloud) how he could be so sacriligeous! I don't remember it being a superb risotto, but it certainly was fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Any clues on how long to bake it? I frequently make risotto and I'd like to try this baked method. I am skeptical that it'll be as good as the stirred method, though, but it's worth a try.

                                                                                                                                                                                      As you probably already know, the two essential ingredients are either arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano rice and an excellent and flavourful stock. I always make my own stock from the picked over carcass of a roasted chicken or some such simmered in a lot of water (even topped up) for most of the day.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Maxmillion
                                                                                                                                                                                        Davwud Sep 12, 2007 07:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyone ever tired making risotto in a crock pot??
                                                                                                                                                                                        Wonder how well it would work.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DT

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: tbrownex
                                                                                                                                                                                        adkim Sep 12, 2007 11:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        is there creaminess to the risotto? i am having a hard time digesting the risotto made in the oven is nothing more than a casserole, but i am always looking for shortcuts...mind sharing the recipe?

                                                                                                                                                                                      3. wino22 Sep 11, 2007 04:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Wow Niki! 24 hours and over 100 posts! Good topic.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. smittys Sep 11, 2007 03:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          The myth that really irks me is that avocado pits stuck in guacamole will keep it from turning brown. I've read this in cookbooks! What a load of crap. Oxygen turns avocado brown, so just eat it before that happens--and it never does for me unless I try to store it once it's been cut.

                                                                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: smittys
                                                                                                                                                                                            DanaB Sep 11, 2007 04:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Good one!

                                                                                                                                                                                            Actually, the only thing that WILL keep avocado from oxidizing and turning brown is to cover the cut part (or the top of the guacamole) tightly with plastic wrap -- literally with the plastic wrap touching the surface of the guac/cut avocado. It will stay green for a day or two this way and if you are like me (I love avocado but try not to eat more than a quarter of an avocado a day due to the fat), it was a fabulous trick to discover.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DanaB
                                                                                                                                                                                              Maxmillion Sep 11, 2007 06:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              But it's *good* fat... All those beneficial oils and avocado is so satisfying to eat, you're less likely to crave the bad stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                              You can also rub a cut lime or lemon over the exposed avocado before wrapping with plastic wrap. That helps a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Maxmillion
                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                jim1126 Sep 11, 2007 09:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Good fat may be kinder to the heart but it's no kinder to the waistline than the bad stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jim1126
                                                                                                                                                                                                  tatertotsrock Sep 13, 2007 12:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Actually jim1126, fat and the waistline..calories not expended wind up on the waistline...whether it's 100 calories from and avocado or 100 calories from a bunch of grapefruit it's gonna add up...our bodies require a "balanced diet" with all the goodies...a lot of people who eat fat free food look like sh!t because they'll eat a whole container of "fat free whatever" thinking it's better for them not taking into consideration the caloric content....they'd be better off eating a whole avocado and a few eggs-at least their bodies will have gotten some nutrients-just a bit more cholesterol-which they shouldn't worry as muchabout if they got off their tushies and worked up a sweat once in a while.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I eat at least 2 avocados a week and sometimes 5 whole eggs and I'm in rockin' shape!

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: DanaB
                                                                                                                                                                                                e
                                                                                                                                                                                                Egg Sep 11, 2007 09:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Acids will also inhibit the enzymes that cause the brownness.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. d
                                                                                                                                                                                              dalaimama Sep 11, 2007 03:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              In order to cook rice properly you have to measure everything out exactly and do this and do that and cover and steam, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Just make a big pot of boiling water with some oil or butter in it (prevents so much boiling over) and toss in a scoop of rice. Boil it like pasta and then drain. Turns out fluffy and wonderful every time and is very convenient for any time when you can't monitor the rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dalaimama
                                                                                                                                                                                                jfood Sep 18, 2007 12:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                the Galloping Gourmet in 1975 had on his show the theory that throw lots of water and rice together, put on the timer and when the timer goes off pour the whole thing in a strainer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                works every time for the last 30+ years

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                  WildSwede Sep 18, 2007 01:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  how long do you put the timer on for? also, do you add the rice when the water is cold or add it once it boils? i always have problems with my damn rice sticking to the pan, so if this works, I will definitely try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: WildSwede
                                                                                                                                                                                                    jfood Sep 18, 2007 01:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    bring water to boil, add some rice, look on box and set timer to that number.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    make sure you have enough water so that there is still water covering rice when its done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: dalaimama
                                                                                                                                                                                                  t
                                                                                                                                                                                                  tartiflette Sep 18, 2007 01:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Works great for long-grain and parboiled, since you want the grains to be nice and fluffy. It probably would make a goopy mess with medium- or short-grain rice, tho.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Better just to invest in a proper rice cooker and never have to worry again, no matter what kind of rice you're cooking. Mine does everything from Calrose to brown basmati perfectly every time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tartiflette
                                                                                                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                                                                                                    hollyeve Sep 19, 2007 09:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree! We never could make decent rice at home until we invested in a rice cooker. I *heart* my rice cooker!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hollyeve
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chuckles the Clone Oct 23, 2007 02:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pour desired amount of rice into pot. Place tip of index finger gently on top of rice. Add water to pot until it reaches first knuckle of index finger. Cover pot. Simmer until all water is absorbed. Not myth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                                                                                                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                                                                                                                        hungry_pangolin Oct 23, 2007 09:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Similar to what Ming Tsai calles the Mount Fuji method. He lays his palm on the rice, and adds water until it covers the highest knuckle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chuckles the Clone Oct 23, 2007 06:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hey, you're right! I tested it and they both measure the same depth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Advantage of Chuckles the Clone approach over Ming Tsai method: it doesn't get your whole hand wet. Damn, maybe I should become a famous tv chef!

                                                                                                                                                                                                3. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                  curiousbaker Sep 11, 2007 01:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Here's one I've only learned recently - you CAN put your bananas in the refrigerator. Can't believe I'm posting about this book for the second time, but Bananas: An American History claimed that the whole "Bananas come from south of the equator/so never put bananas in the re-frig-er-a-tor" was cooked up by ad folks to sell more bananas. Actually, bananas are shipped in refrigerated containers and, like so many other things, will keep better if refrigerated. The peels will turn darker, but the fruit inside will be fine. And I tested this, and lo! it is true. Lying marketing bastards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  But don't put tomatoes in the re-frig-er-a-tor - that's real.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: curiousbaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                    adkim Sep 11, 2007 03:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    why are you doing the "re-frig-er-a-tor" thing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: adkim
                                                                                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                                                                                      curiousbaker Sep 11, 2007 03:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, sorry - it's the Chiquita Banana song...

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: curiousbaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                      q
                                                                                                                                                                                                      queencru Sep 11, 2007 03:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Definitely true- although I learned by experience. I tend to be cheap with the AC and in the summer bananas get ripe way too fast for my liking. Even if the peel is pretty dark in the fridge, it will still be firmer in the center. Somehow I know this but never do it and end up with overripe bananas. :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: queencru
                                                                                                                                                                                                        m
                                                                                                                                                                                                        merrymc Sep 11, 2007 03:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, my boyfriend has successfully kept bananas in the fridge for much longer than I thought they would be edible (dark brown peel with darker spots), but they come out OK.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think he's stretching refrigerator out to show the rhyme rhythm from the ad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: curiousbaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pat Hammond Sep 11, 2007 03:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        That's a good trick to know. Recently, I was away for 5 days and before leaving I put a perfectly ripe banana into the fridge. When I got home, the peel was totally black, but the banana had ripened no further. I ate it sliced over my cereal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. b
                                                                                                                                                                                                        browniebaker Sep 11, 2007 12:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        How about the myth that MSG is bad for your health, causes headaches and other ailments, is not natural in food, and is found only in Chinese restaurant food (Chinese Restaurant Syndrome or CRS) and not in some of our favorite restaurant foods, processed foods, and snack foods in the "west."

                                                                                                                                                                                                        33 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                                                                                                                          jamesm Sep 11, 2007 12:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          MSG gives me terrible headaches and heart palpitations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jamesm
                                                                                                                                                                                                            WildSwede Sep 11, 2007 04:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I get horrible headaches from it too and tested it to make sure that is what it was and it most definitely was!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: WildSwede
                                                                                                                                                                                                              f
                                                                                                                                                                                                              fara Sep 11, 2007 09:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              MSG= monosodium glutamate.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              mono=1
                                                                                                                                                                                                              sodium, as in sodium chloride is 1/2 of the ions found in table salt
                                                                                                                                                                                                              glutamate=a natural amino acid found in many of your body's own proteins.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              people get sick from MSG because they're ingesting too much salt. just as they would from eating too much table salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fara
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Megiac Sep 12, 2007 12:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                You cannot analyze the effect of a chemical compound by breaking it into its component parts. I don't know if this is the case with MSG, but there are plenty of chemical compounds that have qualities that are very different from their component parts. Remember those high school physics and chemistry projects, where you would combine two clear liquids and they compound would change color, bubble, or heat up?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Megiac
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Egg Sep 12, 2007 03:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The process of digestion results in the degradation of proteins into their amino acid components--basically the digestion of any protein will result in some free glutamate in your body.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I haven't seen any studies addressing perceived allergies to MSG, but if someone was severely allergic to glutamate, they would have symptoms from more than MSG.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Egg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    maria lorraine Oct 24, 2007 12:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You cannot be allergic to MSG, nor is there any test for such an allergy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another myth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    MSG is the sodium salt of glutamates, and glutamates are naturally occuring in the human body and found in thousands of everyday foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tyramines in foods cause migraines in people who suffer from them, but they can cause a doozy of headache in anybody who eats them, especially a lot of them. What's more, they're in a ridiculous number of Asian foods: soy sauce, tofu/bean curd, miso, teriyaki, fish or shrimp paste, broth, anything aged, dried, fermented, salted, smoked or pickled. That includes beer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Any folks who think they get an MSG headache after eating Asian food are likely reacting to a large amounts of tyramines. (Or the loads of sodium in the MSG.) But not the MSG per se. Give that up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: fara
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  WildSwede Sep 14, 2007 10:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, but I am a salt-a-holic and do not get headaches when I eat it like the ones I get when I eat MSG.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What about allergies to sulpha products? I am fairly certain I am allergic to that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: WildSwede
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    maria lorraine Oct 24, 2007 12:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Do you mean sulfites? You can't be allergic to them either. That's a huge misconception, usually mentioned in connection to reactions after drinking wine. Sulfites don't have anything to do with wine reactions. If a person can eat dried fruit without a reaction, then they're not sensitive to sulfites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The only persons suffering from sulfites are those with existing asthma
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (about 5% of the population) and those with a deficiency in the enzyme to process sulfites, something called sulfite oxidase deficiency (1% of the populationi). Unless you suffer from either of those illnesses, you aren't sensitive to sulfites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    IIRC, a glass of wine contains about 30-40 mg of sulfites but the human body itself produces about 1000 mg/day of sulfites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And by the way, you can't be allergic to sulfites. An allergy is a reaction to a protein. You can have an allergy to milk (a reaction to the protein casein) but that's far different than lactose intolerance (a deficiency of the enzyme lactase that's needed to digest lactose). One's an allergy, the other's an enzyme deficiency.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    WildSwede, sounds like things other than MSG and sulfites are your causing your distress. Best to check it out with someone who knows rather than guess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: jamesm
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maxmillion Sep 11, 2007 05:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ditto, and I am twitchy almost all night long and cannot sleep. It's horrible. I now look for all those pseudonyms in the ingredients list, such as:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                hydrolysed protein etc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Additives that frequently contain MSG*:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Malt extract
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Malt Flavoring
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Bouillon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Broth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Stock
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Flavoring
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Natural Flavoring
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Seasoning - Spices

                                                                                                                                                                                                                [* Often have between 30% and 60% MSG when it is added.]
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Additives that may contain MSG or excitotoxins

                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Carrageenan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Enzymes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Soy Protein Concentrate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Soy Protein Isolate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Whey Protein Concentrate

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Maxmillion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  rookycooky Sep 12, 2007 02:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you. You're post explains why MSG does bother me. It has nothing to do with the sodium levels or any of the other mentioned things in it but with me it's the addition of Soy. Which I have an allergy to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rookycooky
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Father Kitchen Oct 21, 2007 10:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    MSG and aspartame are often described as excitotoxins. If they get through the blood brain barrier, they excite neurons to the point of killing some of them. Do they have something to do with dementia. I don't know, but I am not fooling with while others argue about their long-term effects?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Father Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Egg Oct 23, 2007 03:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Do you have any sources for the excitotoxins claim?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Maxmillion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    vorpal Sep 15, 2007 05:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You need to also add "autolyzed yeast extract" and "yeast extract" to your list, both of which, I believe, generally contain at least as much MSG as hydrolyzed proteins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, modified starches are generally not a good idea if you're sensitive, and they're everywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: vorpal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Egg Sep 18, 2007 12:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      MSG *is* hydrolyzed protein.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Egg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        vorpal Sep 19, 2007 08:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        MSG is the sodium salt of glutamate, which is an amino acid, and thus simpler than a protein, I believe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hydrolyzing proteins creates MSG, but to my understanding, it also creates many other byproducts, too; at least, I believe that hydrolyzed proteins are something like between 20-40% MSG. Hence, there is a technical difference between MSG and hydrolyzed proteins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: vorpal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Egg Sep 21, 2007 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If the proteins are completely hydrolyzed, the other products are other amino acids. The % glutamate depends on the specific proteins being hydrolyzed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Now I'm tempted to do a taste-test of amino acids...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  jsaimd Sep 11, 2007 01:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have to laugh because when I was an undergrad I took a class from Robert Sapolsky - a very intelligent neuroscientist who spend one entire lecture on nutrasweet, its molecular relationship to MSG, and why we should be more afraid of it than MSG. It was very amusing to see him so passionate about this issue. I still eat nutrasweet from time to time : ). MSG doesn't cross the blood brain barrier in most adults, but it does in children and there are plenty of reports of people getting headaches from it or being otherwise intolerant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    KaimukiMan Sep 11, 2007 01:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "traditional" asian cooking uses far less MSG than many processed foods that people commonly eat. Some people are MSG intolerant, just as some people can't deal with lactose, or gluten, or whatever. No doubt the higher the "dose" the more people that will be affected.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I lived in Seoul for 3 years, and never had an MSG headache. If i go to one of the cheap Korean BBQ chains here in Honolulu I can smell the MSG before I even bite in, and I do get a buzz and often a headache from it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      y
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      youngho Sep 11, 2007 02:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's not the same as lactose intolerance (which is an enzymatic deficiency, resulting in difficulty digesting lactose, which instead gets broken down by bacteria in the large intestine and can be associated with flatulence and diarrhea) or gluten sensitivity (usually meaning celiac disease, which is an autoimmune phenomena that increases risk for certain kinds of cancer if gluten-containing foods aren't avoided).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      MobyRichard Sep 11, 2007 02:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My mother's family tends to have MSG sensitivity. Several of my aunts do get headahcess after ingesting MSG. I've found as I get older that if I ingest it I am unable to sleep for at least 24 hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Davwud Sep 12, 2007 07:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And *sniff* Johnsonville Brats. It's why I don't buy 'em anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          vorpal Sep 15, 2007 05:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have Crohn's Disease, and if I eat significant quantities of MSG, I will spend 48 hours in pain with a fever of 103-104F.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            SuzyInChains Sep 15, 2007 07:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It may be a myth, but my eyes get itchy and have occasionally swollen almost shut after eating Chinese food not explicitly labeled 'no MSG', and have never done that any other times. I'm open to any suggestions of other causes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: SuzyInChains
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              n
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              noufismom Sep 18, 2007 09:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I would highly recommend keeping a food diary of these issues. MSG is naturally occuring and is found in large quantities in certain cheeses (parmesan especially) and mushrooms as well as a laundry list of other places. If your sensitivity is centered around MSG solely you made need to make huge dietary changes. A nutritionist can help immensely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: SuzyInChains
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                WildSwede Sep 18, 2007 11:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Also, keep in mind that even though a restaurant may advertise "No MSG", the pre-made sauces they use may already have it in them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                foiegras Sep 18, 2007 10:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                MSG gives my sister migraines, and she entertains us at family dinners by describing what she's found it in recently.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  jfood Sep 18, 2007 12:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  msg has the same effect on jfood as jamesm. good thing it also makes him pass out like a light so it does noteffect him all that much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lemon Curry Oct 18, 2007 03:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rigorous, double-blind studies suggest glutamate sensitivity is highly exaggerated and so-called "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" is in most cases caused by a placebo effect or by other sensitivities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you think you have it, and try to avoid glutamate, it is not enough to avoid MSG because glutamic acid is one of the major flavor components of anything that tastes umami: kelp, bonito, aged cheeses, mushrooms, etc. and indeed is a really common, basic amino acid you find in a wide, wide variety of proteins. I would highly suggest getting tested by a good allergy specialist to get tested because really avoiding glutamates is a serious undertaking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Lemon Curry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      alanbarnes Oct 18, 2007 03:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      LC,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Do you have any references to those studies? Enquiring minds want to know...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lemon Curry Oct 20, 2007 09:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The most I can give you right now is Jeffrey Stenigarten's "Why Doesn't Everyone in China Have a Headahce?" pp 91-99 of "It Must've Been Something I Ate" which I was paraphrasing from memory...I remember looking at a few articles a couple years ago for a project I ended up not doing, but sadly I no longer have the information on them

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If you wanted to learn more, you could try a search on web of science or google scholar: Some of the authors Steingarten cites:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tarasoff and Kelly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        William H. Yang
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Karl Folkers at UTexas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        also, having read this again, it appears that you may be able to get some reaction to glutamate if you are not actually allergic, but most of the time only if you consume a <large> amount of it, in solution, on an empty stomach.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Lemon Curry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Egg Oct 23, 2007 04:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jeffrey Steingarten points out that consumption of very salty foods on an empty stomach (especially when not well hydrated) may cause symptoms similar to those described by people who think that they are sensitive to MSG.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Caroline1 Nov 10, 2007 03:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There ae volumes of informaton on the web about the problems with MSG. I don't like it. I don't use it. But despite it causing me headaches and such, that is not the reason I don't use it and don't buy products (if at all humanly possible) that contain MSG. The reason MSG is used is to enhance (or revive) flavor in sub-premium food. Why on earth would I want to eat crappy quality food?. *NO* MSG!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lemon Curry Nov 18, 2007 10:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (This has nothing to do with the above's personal tastes, just a little PSA)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The internet is a risky and often TERRIBLE source for scientific/medical information - if you are looking to educate yourself, look for something peer-reviewed or written by a remotely credible expert. Much if not most of what you might find from a basic google search is likely to be mangled, poorly researched, or easy to misinterpret. Especially for things like food chemistry, well-researched books or journal articles are your best bet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      FrankJBN Sep 11, 2007 11:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So far very few "myths" that require debunking. Seems like there are more myths held that are the opposite of the truths that people believe to be myths.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        InmanSQ Girl Sep 11, 2007 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I believe everyone's comments on the salted, boiling pasta water are really an argument over semantics.....the question is whether the myth is A.)you "cannot" cook pasta without large amounts of salted, boiling, oiled water or is the myth that B.) you "should not" do it?! If the myth is A., then the original poster is correct you absolutely CAN cook pasta in smaller amounts of plain simmering water and salt it later to get the same general effect....it just requires more work (lots of stirring, checking temperature to watch for boil over, making more complex flavored sauces to carry the unflavored pasta, etc.). However, I would agree with the dissenters that you SHOULD NOT do it, because 1.) the more room the pasta has to float around, the less sticking together opportunities 2.) the rapid boil "self stirs" the pasta, again leading to less sticking and in the case of fresh pasta, causes it to cook faster on the outside giving it less of a chance to cook together into pasta globs 3.) the salt is absorbed by the pasta, thus giving it an inherent flavor of it's own vs post-salting, which will be washed off by whatever sauce you pour on 4.) oiled water cannot develop as much foam and thus allows for less watching / stirring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Can vs. Should is the root of many classic myths...especially when talking to children. "You said I "can't" ride my bicycle down the middle of a 2-way street, but look mommy, I kept my front wheel in the middle of the yellow lines and everything! Ha! Told Ya So!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My favorite food myth is that you can "steam" veggies in the microwave. Yes they will be partially cooked by the steam in your microwave safe container, but they are also being cooked directly by the microwaves themselves, boiling and exploding the water trapped in the plant cells, thus resulting in mushier cooked veggies than traditional steaming.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: InmanSQ Girl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ESNY Sep 11, 2007 11:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Come on. The myth isn't whether or not you "can" cook pasta without lots of salted boiling water. Of course you can cook pasta in just enough water to cover it. heck, you can cook pasta in small amounts of boiling paint too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Quine Sep 11, 2007 09:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Homemade Mayo will not set only curdle if made in a thunderstorm. Some asked me why that was so. I never heard of it. That strikes me a food myth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Quine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            diobahn Sep 11, 2007 09:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            However, it is true that pralines will not "set" properly on a cloudy, rainy day...........

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: diobahn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              GenevieveCa Sep 11, 2007 10:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Anything with melted sugar will have trouble setting with high levels of humidity.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The same way that when i made my bread in New Jersey i needed more flour, but here in Los Angeles, i don't need as much for it all to come together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Hoosierland Sep 11, 2007 08:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If you are used to only putting a pinch of salt in your pasta water, than removing it all together will not change it much, but if you put lots of salt in (as I have heard "as salty as the sea") then the pasta has a remarkably different and imo better flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I feel that the amount of water has to do with the type of pasta and on altitude. At higher altitude it is much harder to cook pasta without it becoming gluey. I like lots of rapidly boiling water there, but here at sea level I cook spaghetti in a skillet with just an inch or two of water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Hoosierland
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              WildSwede Sep 11, 2007 04:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I add so much salt to my pasta water that when some water splashes out onto the stove it dries white!! I definitely taste a difference when it is salted. Also, I notice that the pasta is definitely "free-er" (is this even a word??) when it is cooked in a larger pot of water and has room to move. And it comes out perfectly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: WildSwede
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Davwud Sep 12, 2007 07:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I heard somewhere where it should taste like the ocean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Davwud
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  WildSwede Sep 14, 2007 10:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Me too, and that is what I do and I use Kosher salt when I do it!! ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: WildSwede
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Davwud Sep 14, 2007 06:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Me too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Hoosierland
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kagey Sep 15, 2007 02:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Good point about the pinch of salt. That may go a long way toward explaining why some people don't miss it when they don't use it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Candy Sep 11, 2007 08:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                How about the old saw about not washing mushrooms because they will soak up too much water? Total nonsense. They are full of water to begin with so unless they were dehydrated they are not soaking up water. I have tested it on an electronic scale so I know it is not true. Also with Morels it is an absolute must soaking helps rid them of bugs and dirt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                22 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Candy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  jessi20 Sep 11, 2007 08:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  agree, i always wash mushrooms.........don't you know what those things are grown in!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jessi20
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    coney with everything Sep 11, 2007 09:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Alton Brown did a show on food myths, and this was one he tested. Similar methodology--weighing the mushrooms after a soak, and he also concluded they didn't soak up a significant amount of water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coney with everything
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      GenevieveCa Sep 11, 2007 10:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      yes, we also pray at the altar of Alton and his foodie science.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As long as you don't soak the mushrooms for a long time you are good. But like anything porous, if left in water, it will absorb it after a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: GenevieveCa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Davwud Sep 12, 2007 07:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Actually, what AB found was all the water it's gonna soak up, it soaks up immediately. Which ended up as something like 5% more weight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My feeling on this is, if you're gonna cook them, who cares, all that extra water will evaporate out anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: coney with everything
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ctscorp Sep 12, 2007 03:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was only told that washing button mushrooms darkens their skin... and the chef who told me that was such a nazi that I've never tried it. True? (Admittedly beside the point anyway if the mushies will be cooked.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: jessi20
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        bnemes3343 Sep 11, 2007 10:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Alton Brown did a really fun-to-watch show on cooking myths. This was one he de-bunked via electronic scales and various soaking times for mushrooms. Jacque Pepin also acknowledges that rinsing mushrooms will not cause the world to end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And unsalted/skimpy amounts of pasta water will give you edible pasta... just won't be nearly as good as pasta cooked with ample, salted water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bnemes3343
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Gio Sep 11, 2007 05:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh Lordy - I absolutely have to swish all mushrooms in water before cooking - and especially before eating them raw which I *love* to do. I remember that show with Jacque Pepin - my culinary hero.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: jessi20
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          amyzan Sep 11, 2007 12:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The manure that mushrooms are grown in is pasteurized. There is no more food safety concern with mushrooms than with any other vegetable. I wash them just like I do everything else, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: amyzan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            dalaimama Sep 11, 2007 03:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't care if it's sterile as a surgeon's knife, any food product that sheds large clumps of dirt when rinsed will be washed in my house. I don't care what they do anywhere else because I can't see it, but I always seem to get boxes of button mushrooms with lots of dirt in them and it skeeves me out not to wash them!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I figure that, since I cut them right after I wash them and immediately add them to my dish, it can't be that bad. If they really absorbed significant quantities of water, they'd swell up in stews and such rather than releasing all their liquid and shrinking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dalaimama
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              amyzan Sep 11, 2007 05:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I said I washed them, too. I was just making the point that mushrooms aren't grown in fresh dung, which is what the poster seemed to be implying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: amyzan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                dalaimama Sep 14, 2007 10:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry, should have put a smiley in there! I was being dramatic ;>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: amyzan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              fara Sep 11, 2007 09:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              mmm. pasteurized shit. anyway, I think the mushrooms do lose something if you soak them. i wipe off the dirt with a towel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fara
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                jessi20 Sep 12, 2007 08:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                yeah sounds delicious. pasturized or not........i'll pass on the manure and keep washing my schrooms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: amyzan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                jfood Sep 18, 2007 12:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                whew, boy that makes jfood feel better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                pasteurdized dung? OMG how can that adjective make dung any better to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                jfood will ALWAYS wash mushrooms. if they gain a little water at the expense of loosing pateurized dung, jfood will take that trade all day long.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  toodie jane Sep 18, 2007 09:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  it's called compost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: toodie jane
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    jfood Sep 19, 2007 09:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ok, let's getthe semantics under control. compost is the breaking down of stalk, skins and other former vegetation. Dung is the same BUT has the added process of passing through a living animal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    if mushroom are grown in organic compost that one thing, but dung is another word (in NJ at least) for animal sh&t.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      toodie jane Sep 25, 2007 10:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      heat kills bacteria in COMPOST

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: jessi20
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Caroline1 Nov 10, 2007 12:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cultured mushrooms are grown in sterile "manure," and it's perfectly safe (but may not taste great) to use them with little to no washing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The problem with washing mushrooms is not whether the mushrooms will become water logged but whether the water absorbed by the gills will dillute a sauce or greatly extend the cooking time if you're making something like a duxelle. If you're using button mushrooms and the "apron" is still tightly closed over the gills, there's no problem with washing as the gills aren't about to absorb water under these circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I saw the program where AB did the thing with whether washing increased the musroom weight and kept wondering why he was bothering. As I recall, he didn't use any mushrooms with really large gills such as portobellos, or morell with all their nooks and crannies. But hey, let's not blame AB. Let's blame the writers. They're all on strike anyway, and they won't care. They have other problems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. re: Candy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                JungMann Sep 11, 2007 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I thought that one doesn't wash mushrooms under water because it will make them tough. I've always used a brush or several paper towels to get rid of the gunk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Candy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  MVNYC Sep 11, 2007 11:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  there may be some truth to the weight thing but they do absorb moisture. Maybe they let out enough air(mushrooms are pretty airy) to make up the difference. Try making stuffed mushrooms with washed mushrooms. They leak enough liquid to steam the whole thing. non washed mushrooms do not do this

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MVNYC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    adkim Sep 11, 2007 03:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    try drying the mushrooms after rinsing...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i rinse my mushrooms right when i get home form the grocery store, damp them dry, and then store them in a paper bag. i like my mushrooms ready-to-go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MVNYC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Indy 67 Sep 18, 2007 06:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An easy enough problem to fix. Simply keep the heat on high until the mushrooms have both leaked all the water they're going to leak, and the leaked-water has evaporated. The mushrooms then saute just fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    jessi20 Sep 11, 2007 08:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    oops..one more. "never lift the lid of the crockpot while cooking"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    not true............i have, on occaision, lifted the the lid.....just to see what will happen. nothing happens! it doesn't slow down the cooking time, nor does it make any difference in flavour or texture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jessi20
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      foodperv Sep 19, 2007 03:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      right all it does is spread the wonderful aroma of what your cooking around the house
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      and even if it did add 5 min to the cooking time the aroma around the house would still be worth it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      jessi20 Sep 11, 2007 08:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      what about washing meat first?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      maybe its just me.......but my family never washed their meat before cooking. i feel cooking to the proper temperture kills any bacteria. my MIL? she freaks if i cook anything before washing, she feels that by not doing so will result in food poisoning. i dunno if its cultural or an age thing........maybe its even just her, or maybe its me?! but i don't wash meat....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jessi20
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        MollyGee Sep 11, 2007 09:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The new thinking on washing meat before cooking is that it actually puts folks at an *increased* risk of food poisoning. Splashing raw meat tainted water all over leads to a better chance of cross-contamination.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        OK, don't take it from me, a vegetarian, how about from the USDA:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MollyGee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Caroline1 Nov 10, 2007 12:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Makes sense, but... Am I the only one who uses surgical gloves when handling/dicing,repackaging meats and poultry? It's a LOT easier than trying to figure out whether you've suds your hands long enough to kill bacteria. Just throw the little suckers in the trash with the gloves!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            oakjoan Nov 10, 2007 02:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Once again (only partially kidding here) I subscribe to the George Carlin theory of food contamination: Eat anything that drops on the floor. You need to keep your immune system in shape and good workouts like this will do just that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Farmgirl22 Nov 21, 2007 11:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              LOL! Yeah, I'm not so great with the "overly cautious" handling of food either. Won't eat it off of the floor though...:-) I've never been sick from food poisoning though. *shrugs* Maybe it was all that rotten food that we ate growing up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. C. Hamster Sep 11, 2007 08:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, there are thousands of myths but yours is not one of them. Sorry. Pasta does cook much better in lots of water and salted water does impart a savory flavor to the pasta.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: C. Hamster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          MVNYC Sep 11, 2007 11:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Exactly. I am sure you can do fine with less water if you sit there stirring the entire time, but if not less water =more pasta to past contact. so like a junior prom you need more water to act as chaperone

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. southernitalian Sep 11, 2007 08:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm with you Niki. We're in the midst of a terrible drought down here and I've been subconsciously cutting back on the amount of water I fill my pasta pot with all summer long. No difference. I always put a pinch of salt in but I'm starting to think it's all in my head. The only thing that effects the quality of my pasta is the amount of time I let it boil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: southernitalian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Lemonii Sep 11, 2007 10:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just as a note for the drought conditions.... If it's not too much trouble for you, and if you have a double sink, you should keep a big bowl on one side. Keep your drained water and water plants with it. It's amazing how many trips outside with that bowl you'll have... rinsing fruits and veggies over the bowl, quick rinsing of your hands (no soap), rinsing my coffee pot... There's so much water with nothing more than organic matter going down the drain. That water can be used twice!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lemonii
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              n
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              NE_Elaine Sep 13, 2007 04:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think that if you have salted the water, you may not want to water tender plants with it. I may be wrong, but I seem to remember a natural way to kill weeds was spray them with salted water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. popcorn_denver Sep 11, 2007 07:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Any food myth having to do with chocolate...especially, "chocolate makes you break out".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: popcorn_denver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              foodperv Sep 19, 2007 10:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              it is true too much chocolate makes you break out........ of your pants lol

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. JungMann Sep 11, 2007 07:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was taught that if you add vinegar to a stew or anything already cooking, you cannot stir it otherwise you will have the strong taste of vinegar. That just smacks of mythology right there (though I've never tested my hypothesis).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JungMann
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Megiac Sep 11, 2007 08:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have unintentionally tested it. When I make a belgian carbonadde, I do add a little bit of red wine vinegar after it has cooked for a bit. I stir it after, and it has never tasted vinegary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JungMann
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  oakjoan Sep 14, 2007 11:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Since I never add vinegar to any dish that I don't want to have a taste of vinegar, I don't know if this is correct or a myth. One of my favorite dishes is a daube made with chicken, tarragon, vinegar and wine....the vinegar is added while dish is cooking and the taste is great. Not too strong, but some folks might not like the vinegar taste at all and it'd therefore be too strong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  cutipie721 Sep 11, 2007 07:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Spinach and tofu cannot be eaten together (or in the same meal), because apparently there's some acidic substance in spinach which coagulates with the calcium in tofu to form some kind of bits that may potentially stay in your kidney (kidney stones).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cutipie721
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sophia. Sep 11, 2007 10:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    is this a myth or a truth? sorry for being so daft, but it jeopardizes my new favorite Blockheads meal, the spinach-and-tofu quesadilla...I'm rather concerned here...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cutipie721
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lemonii Sep 11, 2007 10:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So this is a myth? Good because i love my spinach / tofu phyllo pie....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Lemonii
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        KaimukiMan Sep 11, 2007 01:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        so does this mean we should be avoiding creamed spinach for the same reason? there has to be calcium in a cream sauce.......

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        as far as kidney stones go, my mom, dad, brother, and I ate pretty much the same diet as each other. My dad and brother have both had kidney stones, my mom and I not. Go figure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          q
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Querencia Sep 16, 2007 12:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It depends on what your kidney stones are made of. If you pass one they can analyze it and tell you. Oxylate is a common constituent of kidney stones, and spinach is very high in oxylate. Maybe that's where the myth came from. Calcium isn't the only bad guy re kidney stones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: cutipie721
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        toodie jane Sep 18, 2007 09:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I believe its the oxalic acid in spinach, swiss chard, and other foods that locks up the calcium and keeps it from being absorbed by the body.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Coagulation"? not so sure about that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Sam Fujisaka Sep 11, 2007 07:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Myth: searing meat seals in the juices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          bnemes3343 Sep 11, 2007 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You are absolutely correct! Searing meats actually reduces the juices (somewhat), but can add a great deal of flavor from the browning. So, sear, but don't think the meat will be 'juicier'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            xena Sep 11, 2007 10:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh! I believed this one and have even passed it on to the young ones. Good to know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              LNG212 Sep 11, 2007 02:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think it was America's Test Kitchen that recently did a show on this. They weighed the 2 pieces of meat prior to cooking, cooked one by popping in the oven and the other by searing on the stove top and then in the oven, and then they weighed the finished product. Both weighed the same after cooking. They said this showed that no juices were lost in the cooking of the first piece of meat. I think that's the way the argument went. I was totally surprised since I had learned this apparent-canard as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Gio Sep 11, 2007 05:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Alrighty then - how to proceed? Hot pan, service side up, cook for a few minutes, turn, repeat? What>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sam Fujisaka Sep 11, 2007 05:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sure. The searing induces the Maillard reaction, giving you flavor. Then, for very thick pieces, the oven to get the meat cooked as you like without burning the outer parts. The internal liquids are not affected by searing or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We have an Argentianian cook on one of our elgourmet.com TV programs who is always going on about, "Vamos a sejjar (sellar) la carne." Fortuantely, we've also had a Catalonian (Borja) who really knows his stuff and who de-bunked the myth. Kind of our Alton Brown.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    SweetPea914 Sep 11, 2007 06:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have to "weigh in" terrible pun intended on the fact that I have a pork tenderloin recipe that my husband and I love. It can be found on epicurious. However, I have tried it, skipping the whole pan searing and just baking it. The taste was totally different, and not nearly as good. I will continue to pan sear regardless of the other conclusions!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SweetPea914
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sam Fujisaka Sep 11, 2007 09:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Again, yes, searing will induce the Maillard reaction, giving you what is akin to caramelization and much better flavor. But you will not be "sealing in" the juices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Father Kitchen Oct 21, 2007 10:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yup. I made a beef daube last night for ten people and took time to brown every cube of chuck. It was a simple dish, but much more time consuming than some "gourmet" entrees, but what a difference that Maillard reaction makes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: SweetPea914
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Davwud Sep 12, 2007 07:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sam is right. It will taste better but tasting better and actually sealing in juices are two separate things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    budlit Sep 12, 2007 03:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sam, yes, that is a good myth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Eatin in Woostah Sep 11, 2007 05:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My biggest pet-peeve (sort of food) myth is one that was actually promulgated by a friend's science teacher. This brain-dead woman actually told her class that warm water will freeze faster than cold water. I've heard this in different circles over the past several years, and it is absolutely not true. I've also heard the flip-side myth - that cold water boils faster than hot. Completely ridiculous. Who starts these things?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      JungMann Sep 11, 2007 06:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Actually warmer water can freeze faster than cold water under certain conditions. It's called the Mpemba effect. As I learnt it, it is an effect of evaporation (which is endothermic) in the hot water sample and supercooling in the cold water sample, but reviewing the research shows that there's no single unifying theory as to why the effect is observed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JungMann
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        SweetPea914 Sep 11, 2007 07:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, I learned this in a high school physics class too. It's really not worth using warm water to make ice cubes though, and there are some very set temperature limitations...for example, near boiling water will not freeze faster than luke warm, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: SweetPea914
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Davwud Sep 11, 2007 08:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've seen this on a science show. There is a situation out there where it will freeze faster. The thing is, the circumstances are so minute, you'd be hard pressed to replicate it. It also wasn't like the warm water was much warmer and it didn't freeze appreciably faster.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Davwud
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            fara Sep 11, 2007 09:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            my ex-step-father told me this once. i remembered it and just thought he was a science-idiot!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fara
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Eatin in Woostah Sep 18, 2007 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, under special conditions the Mpemba effect works. However under normal kitchen conditions, you're better off putting cold water in your ice cube tray. Warm water doesn't freeze faster, though maybe very, very hot water does (due to evaporation.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.straightdope.com/classics/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Eatin in Woostah
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        kiwijen Sep 11, 2007 09:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've also heard that one reason for this is that hot water has more dissolved "stuff" in it (from pipes, etc.) than cold. Those grains of "whatever" form the nucleus for the ice, thus hot water freezes faster than cold.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kiwijen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          oakjoan Sep 14, 2007 11:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Aha! This is what my husband claims and will never use hot water to make coffee, etc. It actually sounds right. Not the part about the freezing, the part about the "stuff" in the pipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Eatin in Woostah Sep 18, 2007 04:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I seem to remember Alton Brown's show on coffee explaining why it's better to use cold water to brew coffee, but I can't recall the reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cold water does have less "stuff" in it from the pipes, so is better for cooking as it doesn't impart as many icky flavors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              gourmanda Sep 20, 2007 06:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The residue in hot water pipes is from many, many generations ago, prior to more modern pipe materials. No difference in today's homes. Now, maybe if you still have piping from 100 years ago. . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gourmanda
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                butterfly Sep 20, 2007 07:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Many, many homes (most?) still have lead soldered pipe joints. Lead content in solder (and faucets, etc.) was only regulated post 1986. For this reason (among others) it is still recommended that you flush the line with cold water before drinking it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For heating water, I use an electric kettle anytime I need to boil water. I can get a whole gallon boiling in just a few minutes or so and it doesn't heat my kitchen up in the summer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gourmanda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  WildSwede Sep 20, 2007 03:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hehe, MY piping is that old! I always start with cold water when cooking since they are so ancient!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gourmanda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Caroline1 Nov 10, 2007 12:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's not from the "pipes." It's from the sediment in the hot water heater! But if you have one of those "on demand" energy efficient hot water heaters they've been using in Europe for fifty years, then no problem with sediment from the hot water tank. Or you can have one of those "instant hot water" taps added to your sink.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Damned if I'll have hot water piped to my icemaker though!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      butterfly Nov 10, 2007 01:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the case of our house in the US it WAS the pipes. Our pipes were copper, but the city pipes in the street and leading from the street to our building are lead. And it did cause us to have dangerously high levels of lead in our water. According to the tests that the water authority and EPA did, after flushing the line, the levels were still too high, but much less so than before running the water a few minutes. When in doubt, ask your water authority to test.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: butterfly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Caroline1 Nov 10, 2007 02:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And the water company to change your water lines! Didn't the EPA step in? On YOUR side!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          oakjoan Nov 10, 2007 02:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, they'll get right on it....after they clean up all the super fund sites they haven't started on yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the info about the hot water sediment. My husband has always made a big point about this and finally converted me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            butterfly Nov 11, 2007 04:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Because we had an infant in our house, the water authority gave us a Brita water filter with a few free filters...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I no longer live in this house (we're renting it out), but the problem was apparently exacerbated by the fact that the city (DC) changed to a new form of chlorination after 9/11 to avoid the possibility of terrorist attacks on big chlorine tanks (I think, going on memory here). This new method caused the old lead pipes to lose the coating of calcification that formed a barrier between the lead and the water. I remember having little white flakes in our water for several months when they did this (which I reported several times, never getting any explanation). After the high lead levels were exposed months later, the EPA got involved and the city eventually did something else to (supposedly) coat the pipes again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This was about three years ago--around the time when we left. The city still hasn't replaced all of the lead pipes in the street. They have committed to do so by 2015. We're still waiting for them to do this on our street so that we can change the little pipe that goes from the street to our house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You can read more about it here:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.citizen.org/cmep/Water/us/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: butterfly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Caroline1 Nov 11, 2007 08:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In this day and age, I think in-home water filtration is critical. For a couple of decades now I've used a Pur filter at my kitchen sink, then when I bought a new fridge, it requires new filters on a regular basis. Now I'm in the throes of a kitchen remodel (will I be able to cook Thanksgiving dinner? Stay tuned!) and I stupidly (or wisely) chose a new single hole faucet with a pull-out hose, which means I can no longer use the kitchen tap filter. So I'm going to finally break down and do the smart thing by installing a whole house filter. Drinkable water everywhere, even in the toilets if I had a dog! <g> Overall, I don't think i'ts going to be that expensive when I take into consideration 4 filters a year for the fridge at $17 each, and the same for the tap filter, and I'm restricted to drawing water for drinking from only two taps. Think of being able to brush your teeth AND drink without a pitcher of water from the kitchen! .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The city keeps sending me test results on how potable city water is, but the reports are always on last month's water. Last week they put in a new water main. How clean is my water after that? I think I'm going to be very happy with the whole house filter!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                butterfly Nov 11, 2007 09:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree with you. If I were still in our old house, I would do the same and get a whole-house filter. The thing is that the city's tests don't test the water coming out of your faucet. In DC the water authority's tests always came back fine, too. That's because the water was tested before it went through the old lead pipes in the street.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm not terribly prone to paranoia, but after seeing the response (or lack thereof) I have lost trust in the EPA's ability to ensure that Americans have clean drinking water. The infrastructure is in much worse shape than anyone is letting on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. PBSF Sep 11, 2007 12:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cooking pasta in plenty of salted water is not a myth. Pasta cooked in unsalted water tastes flat no matter what the sauce is like. Cooking pasta in plenty of water prevents it from being gummy and starchy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              29 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PBSF
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                browniebaker Sep 11, 2007 01:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's a matter of preference. The Chinese people have boiled noodles in unsalted water for centuries; we don't think our noodles taste "flat."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  vvvindaloo Sep 11, 2007 08:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't consider Chinese noodles served in a Chinese style and Italian pasta served Italian style to be the same thing at all. Not even close.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: vvvindaloo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    h
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    hungry_pangolin Sep 18, 2007 07:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Agreed. The naked noodles (Chinese vs Italian) taste completely differently, even if based on wheat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      foodperv Sep 19, 2007 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i agree there, asian cultures use alot more diff kinds of grains for their noodles, and even the wheat based use diff formulas and diff types of wheat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i never met an asian noodle i did not like

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: PBSF
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  browniebaker Sep 11, 2007 01:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, I boil my noodles in half the recommended amount of water and find there is no difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    geminigirl Sep 11, 2007 05:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have no idea how much water I use, I fill the pasta pot, add salt (not measured either) boil, cook pasta, drain and eat...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    the only problem I have is with angel hair, which I should make it's own post, no matter how I cook it it comes out gummy and in a big lump....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: geminigirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gio Sep 11, 2007 05:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Try stirring the angel hair every few minutes as it cooks with a long for, especially right after you throw the pasta in the pot. In the *old* days, that's how all pasta was cooked. Thrown into rapidly boiling, salted water, and stirred every now and then till it was al dente....in an uncovered pan. Nowadays, we do let the water reach the boil, sometimes we add salt, but we now cover the pan, stirring every once in a while during the cooking process.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gio Sep 11, 2007 07:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Errr,,,,,, Try stirring with a long *fork*. That'll do it. : )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Megiac Sep 11, 2007 08:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Do most people really cover the pan while cooking pasta? I keep the lid on to facilitate it boiling faster, but once the water is boiling and the pasta is in, I've always kept the lid off and stirred frequently.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Megiac
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            MMRuth Sep 11, 2007 08:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I put the lid on to bring it back to a boil after adding the pasta, and then often leave the lid partially covering the pot - maybe it is my stove, but often the water goes down to a simmer, and this way it keeps aboil, so to speak

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Megiac
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gio Sep 11, 2007 05:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My mother would *never* leave the lid on after throwing the macaroni....said it would cause the water to boil over. But for the last several years we have put the lid on with no adverse effects. No boiling over, seems to be quicker cooking as well. I read it somewhere.....can't remember where, of course.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We still stir every now and then, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                maria lorraine Oct 24, 2007 12:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Putting on the lid after adding the pasta helps the water to quickly retun to a boil. You can take the lid off again once it does.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: geminigirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            foiegras Sep 11, 2007 08:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Maybe you need better pasta? Because my angel hair cooks itself in 2 minutes. I use de Cecco.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Here's my contribution to the pasta "myth" ... I do believe in boiling, do believe in salting (I use regular iodized salt from the canister, fleur de sel is for finishing but I don't use it on pasta). It can be overdone ... I eyeball it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I just realized that I match the size of the pot to the size of the pasta. I'll use a little sauce pan to cook a single serving of baby pasta (like farfalline), and it comes out just fine. But if I'm cooking big corkscrews (proper name??), then that requires a bigger pot and lots of water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: foiegras
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              geminigirl Sep 11, 2007 06:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              hmmm, maybe i'll try another brand, I think the last couple of batches have been barilla? I do stir it a lot so I know that is not the problem...I've even tossed with a bit of evoo right after draining and that didnt' work either...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: geminigirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                alanbarnes Sep 11, 2007 06:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe you're overcooking? A pasta as thin as cappellini is especially susceptible to heat carry-over; if you drain at al dente, it may be a soggy mass by the time it hits the table. "Done in the pan is overdone on the plate."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Try draining very fine pasta when extremely al dente, then stir into the sauce over low heat. The sauce penetrates the pasta very nicely, and sticking is largely eliminated. But remember to pull it off the heat before it's fully cooked and let the thermal mass of the dish take care of the rest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: geminigirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              aurora50 Sep 13, 2007 12:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Me, too!! I also have trouble with gummy angel hair, and I always am careful not to overcook.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But I wonder if we're actually slightly overcooking it anyway - you know how they say to take it off the heat and drain about a minute before it's done?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Maybe it's even more sensitive time-wise with angel hair.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Anyone know?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh, ok, I see the other reply posts. I'm going to try just cooking my angel hair about 2 minutes and see if that works.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: aurora50
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                JennS Sep 17, 2007 12:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, 2 minutes tops for angel hair. That's what the instructions on the box say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JennS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  foodperv Sep 19, 2007 09:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  kinda like just threaten the angel hair that you are going to throw it in water it whimps and limps out

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodperv
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    janethepain Sep 19, 2007 10:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    HAHA. I'm having it for lunch today. I'll try that next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: browniebaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Romanmk Sep 13, 2007 11:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cooking dried fettuccine and keeping it from sticking is very difficult if there isn't enough water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4. re: PBSF
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              erns53 Sep 11, 2007 05:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In my experience, the water amount has to do with fresh vs dry pasta. I don't notice any trouble with cooking dry pasta in a bit of simmering water (as long as I give it a couple of stirs when it's first getting started) but fresh pasta needs a bunch of water and a rapid boil to avoid the whole gummy mess scenario.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: erns53
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                MMRuth Sep 11, 2007 05:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also put a little bit of oil in the water when I cook fresh pasta - which I did read about in some Italian cook book. I think it makes a big difference, especially with ravioli - so they don't stick together and then break apart letting the cheese ooze out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4Snisl Sep 11, 2007 08:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's interesting.....I was told that oil preventing pasta sticking is a myth because the oil just floats on the top and can't really get between the pasta strands to prevent sticking. However, oil is supposed to help prevent boiling over of pasta water because it increases the surface tension of a pot of water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If it works for you, though, I say do it! I rarely cook fresh pasta, so I'm wondering if there's something that makes oil in cooking water more useful for preventing sticking if using fresh pasta vs. dried pasta.....?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: 4Snisl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Megiac Sep 11, 2007 08:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was told not to use oil because the oil will coat the pasta, preventing your sauce from adhering as you'd like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Megiac
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      MMRuth Sep 11, 2007 08:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Right - that is my understanding as well - but with fresh pasta - and really, all I cook occasionally is cheese ravioli to which I add a brown butter and sage sauce - I've had the sticking problem and this seems to work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Megiac Sep 11, 2007 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Have you tried lightly dusting your ravioli with flour? It makes your water a littly gloppy, but I don't find that I have a sticking problem with fresh ravioli and I tend to do this (not intentionally, but the sides of my pasta sheets that are on the counter are dusted with flour to prevent sticking to the counter; those sides end up being the outside of the raviolis).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          vvvindaloo Sep 11, 2007 09:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I know that many people aren't fans of the flavors, but we are entering serious pumpkin, sweet potato, and butternut squash ravioli season... I think brown butter and sage sauce was made for these combos. If you can find good fresh ravioli with these fillings, give it a try. Traditionally, I like some black pepper and parmiggiano with it, but sometimes I sprinke the dish with amaretti crumbs. It's good.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          EDIT- I mean "sprinkle"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: vvvindaloo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mother of four Sep 11, 2007 09:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Brown butter and sage sauce is one of my very favorites. I forget about these wonderful things, but now I am going to go to our wonderful Italian store and pick up their delicious wild mushroon ravioli and have a perfect dinner. Their pumpkin ravioli is also great. Thanks for the reminder!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: vvvindaloo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tomself Sep 11, 2007 05:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sounds fabulous. Do you have a recipe you can share?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. luckyfatima Sep 11, 2007 12:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Here is a myth: Curry is an Indian dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In India there is no such thing as a dish paralling what the rest of the world thinks of as "curry." There is a curry plant that produces a leaf used as a seasoning in S. Asian cooking (called curry leaf) and there is a N. Indian/Indo-Pak dish called karee which is a sour yoghurt and chick pea flour based gravy that has a few karee leaves in it, and usually it has pakoras in it (karee pakora) but I have heard some places in India have varieties w/out the pakoras. What the rest of the world calls curry, S. Asians call "gravy" in their respective languages and gravy dishes are opposite to dry dishes that don't have a liquidy gravy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Curry powders, such as the turmeric based spice mixes (that don't even contain karee leaves!) used widely in Western and also East Asian cuisine (I have had versions from American to Japanese to Vietnamese) are adaptations, I presume spead around the world after the British raj. Interestingly, these spice mixes have found their way on to S. Asian shelves. I own a box of the famed Pakistani Shaan Masala brand Curry spice mix and use it in a tomato based gravy dish that I casually call chicken curry, but it should probably really be called masala chicken or something! There are many British born "curries" that have become part of national cuisine and are Asian inspired or served in Anglicized Indian restaurants...so while I would say that curry is a linguistic misnomer, in the modern world there is a genre of world-Indian cuisine that has dishes labled "curry" and I would have my head in the sand if I stuck to my linguistic purism here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But in India there is no true dish called "curry" at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: luckyfatima
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    oakjoan Sep 14, 2007 11:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Interesting post, Luckyf!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What's funny is that all my Indian cookbooks (Sahni, Jaffrey, Merchant, Devi) have recipes for "curry powder"....probably because their readers would be puzzled if there were no such recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also we have the chicken tikka masala that is said to have been invented in London when somebody put a sauce over the tikka. It's said that there's no such dish in India....although it has probably traveled there by now!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2peasinapod Sep 18, 2007 08:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I to have heard that chicken tikka masala is from London. The story goes (taken from Cooks Illustrated a month or so ago), that someone in an India resturant in London did not like his dish and sent it back, the cook made some quick sause up and reserved the meal, thus inventing the tikka masala.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: 2peasinapod
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Father Kitchen Oct 21, 2007 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What about the claim of a friend of mine from New Jersey that the pizza was invented there and taken back to Italy?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    MobyRichard Sep 10, 2007 07:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Some years ago I read that a test kitchen did comparison testing, and for most pastry, preheating the oven vs. putting a cake/pie/cookie into a cold oven showed no difference in the result. Prolly not true for souffles, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    37 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MobyRichard
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      d
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      diva360 Sep 10, 2007 08:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      How about the myth that certain shellfish (shrimp and lobster) are high in cholesterol, recently promulgated by judges on Top Chef. These items actually have less cholesterol than boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: diva360
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        hotoynoodle Sep 10, 2007 10:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        that's the good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol confusion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Morganna Sep 11, 2007 03:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There is no "good cholesterol" or "bad cholesterol" there is only cholesterol. There are "good fats" and "bad fats", and it is actually fat in the diet that impacts your cholesterol levels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are "good" fats, saturated fats are "bad fats". Meats tend to contain saturated fats more than unsaturated while plant sources of fats (nuts, avocados, olive oil) tend to be monounsaturated fats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Morganna
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4Snisl Sep 11, 2007 08:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Right- there's good vs. bad cholesterol when it comes to reading your bloodwork. LDL = bad, HDL = good. But in terms of what affects that cholesterol, it mainly comes down to "good" vs. "bad" fats as Morganna explained. (Though researchers are trying to tease out the distinction between the different kinds of "bad" fats, like saturated fat coming from coconuts vs. animal sources....)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Morganna
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Enso Sep 11, 2007 05:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And let's mention the role of genetics and metabolism. I know someone who went on a very, very strict diet with regard to fats and the effect on their cholesterol levels was negligible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Enso
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Morganna Sep 13, 2007 01:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This happened to me. Nothing would budge my cholesterol level though I was making a very serious and successful effort to eat low/no fats. I don't think my doctor believed me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Morganna
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  WildSwede Sep 14, 2007 10:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I used to take the slow-release garlic tablets (odorless) from Trader Joe's and it really did lower my cholesterol.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, a friend of mine has an uncle who swears his cholesterol went down drastically by juicing celery (he would add other veggies to make it taste better) and drinking it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Morganna
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                KateC. Sep 19, 2007 08:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well, speaking of myths! The October 2007 Elle magazine claims that carbohydrates, not fats, raise the bad cholesterol and cause heart attacks. But they don't clearly explain how this supposedly works. They also say carbs cause cancer. And make you fat. I agree with some of this, but regardless of their veracity, I am just thrilled with the outrageousness of these claims.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KateC.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  amyzan Sep 20, 2007 10:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  All carbs, even whole grains? That's outrageous, yes. I have read that excessive intake of simple carbs, the refined ones, can up the production of LDL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: amyzan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    KateC. Sep 20, 2007 11:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    He seemed to be saying that refined carbs, sugar, and high-index starchy vegetables such as potatoes are the worst for you, whole grains are medium bad, and low-index carbs such as berries are best, but the article was vague.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: KateC.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    SteveG Sep 27, 2007 01:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Must be simple carbs. My friend's otherwise healthy mom with good cholesterol had a heart attack after downing a big jamba juince--it was just loaded with simple carbs and an excess of their energy additive. The doctor apparently said they're seeing more and more of this type of thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SteveG
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      fara Nov 10, 2007 08:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i believe that. the amount of sugar in some drinks is disgusting, probably much more in the jamba juice than in the equivalent soda.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: KateC.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      itmeansgod Oct 23, 2007 11:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Highlights:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "The evidence that dietary fat correlates with heart disease ''does not stand up to critical examination,'' the American Heart Association concluded in 1957."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "With skeptical scientists ostracized, the public debate and research agenda became dominated by the fat-is-bad school. Later the National Institutes of Health would hold a ''consensus conference'' that concluded there was ''no doubt'' that low-fat diets ''will afford significant protection against coronary heart disease'' for every American over the age of 2. The American Cancer Society and the surgeon general recommended a low-fat diet to prevent cancer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But when the theories were tested in clinical trials, the evidence kept turning up negative. As Mr. Taubes notes, the most rigorous meta-analysis of the clinical trials of low-fat diets, published in 2001 by the Cochrane Collaboration, concluded that they had no significant effect on mortality."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "Mr. Taubes argues that the low-fat recommendations, besides being unjustified, may well have harmed Americans by encouraging them to switch to carbohydrates, which he believes cause obesity and disease."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: diva360
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  julesrules Sep 11, 2007 06:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for posting this. It made me do a little research, as my husband has a family history of heart disease and loves shrimp. While shrimp do have cholesterol, at least one study says it does not seem to have a bad effect on our cholesterol levels.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.scienceblog.com/community/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: diva360
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Enso Sep 11, 2007 05:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Do you have a reference for this handy?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Enso
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Morganna Sep 13, 2007 01:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is a very good and completely sensible question. I don't have any handy citations for this because the research I did in this area was a good ten to twelve years ago when I was first having cholesterol problems. I was just researching with medical journals and reading studies about the impact of dietary fats on cholesterol levels. There is a great resource for tracking down medical journal articles called pubmed. It's free, and I've had great success using it to find information about a wide variety of medical research topics. My stated opinion isn't worth much so I'd ask you to look into it further by doing a bit more googling or looking at pubmed. Sorry I didn't have a citation handy for you! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Morganna
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        WildSwede Sep 14, 2007 10:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My mom is tiny and eats very healthy and exercises all the time and her cholesterol is over 300! Ours is definitely hereditary!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: WildSwede
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          curiousbaker Sep 14, 2007 05:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm the opposite - I love a good steak, eat eggs nearly daily (I have to eat at least 10 eggs a week), and my cholesterol is, as my doctor likes to say, picture-perfect. All my grandparents lived to be over 85, and I figure that's got to have something to do with it (one used to eat an entire pound of bacon at breakfast...)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: curiousbaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            vorpal Sep 15, 2007 05:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Absolutely! My grandmother on my dad's side has one way of preparing meat which she learned from her mother: she heats up about 1.5 inches of lard or shortening in an electric frying pan and then fries the crud out of whatever meat she's serving. Apparently, her many sisters and brothers all cook their meat the same way. She also loves lathering huge amounts of margarine on everything she eats. All of her siblings are alive and she's the youngest of them at 89. I think just recently her cholesterol measured as slightly high for the first time ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I frequently eat insane amounts of butter and bacon, and my cholesterol is excellent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: vorpal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              therealbigtasty Sep 18, 2007 11:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'M JEALOUS! I can watch what I eat and it stays right up there...soon to take little pill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: vorpal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                fara Nov 10, 2007 08:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                'I think just recently her cholesterol measured as slightly high for the first time ever.'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                well she better start cutting down on the bad fats -:)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: curiousbaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                foodperv Sep 19, 2007 09:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                my old man ate for as long as i can remember 2 doz eggs a week his level was under 200 all the time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodperv
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  KateC. Sep 19, 2007 08:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Famously, eggs contain high amounts of cholesterol, but this does not mean that they raise the cholesterol in your blood. That's a totally different matter. Eggs have recently been declared healthy again by mainstream nutritionists. And some people now claim that red meat is just fine for you, but it's carbs that cause heart attacks -- either by scaring tissue when blood sugar levels rise or by raising triglyceride levels in the blood or both. Actually, that's pretty mainstream too. But the idea that red meat is harmless is still considered fringe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KateC.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    vorpal Sep 20, 2007 05:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In three years, they'll have all new theories on everything and will have debunked most of the current notions we have about food nutrition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Moderation always seems to be the one constant, but it appears to be difficult for people to understand and follow. I know that as soon as the declarations that green tea is good for you was made, many people in my workplace started drinking heroic quantities of it through the day. I'm sure that green tea *is* good for you, but I'm hesitant to accept that 12 cups of it aren't without danger. Anyone else remember the soy craze, too? *headdesk*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: vorpal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Davwud Sep 20, 2007 07:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Actually, further to moderation is a "Balanced diet." Not one loaded up on one thing or another.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Of course, if you want to lose weight and avoid a heart attack, start exercising. That, as much as anything, is what's wrong with NA people nowadays.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: diva360
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          bullygirl Oct 17, 2007 08:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That is actually not true - at least according to Calorie King.com. According to their database, Shrimp has 55 mg of cholesterol in 1 ounce and boneless, skinless chicken breast has 15 per ounce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: MobyRichard
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          FrankJBN Sep 11, 2007 11:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Preheating is absolutely not a myth. If you are going to cook something for 10 minutes and it takes the oven 7 minutes to come to temperature - you do the math.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: FrankJBN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            MobyRichard Sep 11, 2007 12:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You may have to leave the item in the oven longer, but I think the point of the testing was that you get the same results (i.e., cake rose the same height, etc.) once it was at the desired state of doneness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MobyRichard
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mr. Cookie Sep 11, 2007 02:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah but it would be a lot harder to gauge when the item is done. And opening the oven to check is a no-no for many baked items.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Starting the baking at a specific temperature just makes it easier (and quicker) to get to the desired state of doneness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr. Cookie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                MobyRichard Sep 11, 2007 02:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The point of the thread is food myths. The myth is that you must pre-heat your oven in order to have your baked goods turn out correctly is not true. Since oven temps vary anyway, you have to test for doneness before removing your cake/pie/tart in most cases anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: MobyRichard
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                amyzan Sep 11, 2007 05:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Preheating is not a myth. Most baked goods use either yeast or chemical leavening, and both get "spring" from a hot oven. I'd like to know what test kitchen came up with preheating as a myth, MR. I doubt they're reputable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: amyzan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  MobyRichard Sep 12, 2007 07:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was more than 10 years ago that I read this, so I can't recall, but I'll see if I can find reference to it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MobyRichard
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mr. Cookie Sep 12, 2007 11:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Whoever made this argument seems to have made some sort of intellectual point that is a) not practical for baking, and b) just plain wrong for more delicate baked items such as cakes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The leavening issue raised by amyzan is legit, and in addition it seems to me that any mixture with whipped egg whites or double-acting baking powder in it could well lose some of its initial bulk (i.e. air bubbles) as its sits in an oven waiting for the heat to reach the desired temperature. You generally want to get these mixtures into a hot oven as quickly as possible after mixing them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: MobyRichard
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  oakjoan Sep 14, 2007 11:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, but how hard is it to pre-heat the oven? A lot easier than figuring out how much longer your cake has to bake to compensate for putting it into a cold oven and then turning on the heat. Why would you ever want to?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: FrankJBN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Father Kitchen Oct 21, 2007 10:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And preheating an oven before putting bread, which needs that initial heat for oven spring, is a must.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                4. re: MobyRichard
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  irishnyc Sep 11, 2007 08:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That can't be true. My oven takes about 15 minutes to come to temp. You cannot tell me that won't have an effect on a cake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MobyRichard
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Furgs Sep 18, 2007 11:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have a hard time with this one. I can't imagine a cookie turning out the same when placed in a cold oven as opposed to a preheated one. Wouldn't the shortening begin melting before the surface firmed up, causing the cookie to spread all over the sheet? My intuition tells me so, but I supposed I could try it and find out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. SweetPea914 Sep 10, 2007 06:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    How about the sushi related myth that if you sprinkle lemon juice on your sushi parasites come "running" out. When I first heard this I tried it a few times and nothing happened. Thank God, because I lveo sushi!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SweetPea914
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      brendastarlet Sep 10, 2007 06:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Food myth: yogurt is only good for a week beyond the expiration date. Especially if it's kept cold, my experience is that you can eat it for up to a month after. BUT obviously you should take a small bite before you dig in, since everyone's fridge is different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: brendastarlet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        sixelagogo Sep 11, 2007 03:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'll add to that...If you keep the container upside down, it stays fresher longer, as oxygen is limited...I've done a side-by-side comparisson and found the one right side up moldy, and the one upside down, fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sixelagogo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cheflambo Sep 13, 2007 08:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This works for cottage cheese too. If you have opened the container and dished some out, close it up again, turn it upside down, and give it a firm "bam" on the counter before putting it back in the 'fridge. The cottage cheese will form its own seal and stay fresher a LOT longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: brendastarlet
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SomeRandomIdiot Sep 11, 2007 07:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've had some about 5-6 weeks past the expiration date and they've been fine.