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Secret Food Myths - Let the De-Bunking Begin!

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.

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  1. I vastly prefer my pasta water salted. I can really tell a difference.

    26 Replies
    1. re: themis

      me too:) I don't like a lot of sauce on my pasta, so I like to season the pasta itself. Except for old-school, midwestern style spaghetti. You know... tomatoes, green pepper, onion, dried herbs, lots o' cheese. Then I prefer more sauce than pasta, but i still salt the water.

      1. re: hollyeve

        i don't go for much sauce either so you want the macaroni's flavor there the bury it in sauce (gravy) is and american thing gotta make sure the pasta is dead so smother it in sauce to be sure

        1. re: foodperv

          Foodperv, you must be from the Northeast US of A. I have only ever heard of pasta sauce referred to as "gravy" in the NY/NJ area.

          1. re: MysticYoYo

            They call spaghetti sauce "red gravy" down here in New Orleans as well.

      2. re: themis

        absolutely. i just use kosher salt though. don't know why you'd use sea salt here.

        the greater amount of water allows the pasta to move around of its accord, so you don't have to stir more than once or twice.

        1. re: themis

          Yeah, me too. I don't think this one is a myth.

          1. re: JasmineG

            1 gal water per pound of macaroni salt optional

          2. re: themis

            Count me in on bying into the salt the pasta water. As well as lots of rolling boil water to boot.
            I used to use small pots and no salt. It was fine. Then I started using a large pot, lots of water and lots of salt. The pasta is much better.

            The myth is, adding oil will not keep you pasta from sticking. It helps keep boil overs from happening but only lots of water for the pasta to move around in will keep it from sticking.

            Sorry Nik.

            DT

              1. re: Davwud

                Harold McGee tested the oil-stopping-sticking theory and found it to be true.

                1. re: Fuffy

                  It is true, but it also keeps the sauce from sticking. I want my sauce sticking to the pasta.

                  1. re: Ellen

                    DO NOT RINSE the pasta
                    it will hold sauce
                    and if you use a touch of (i 'll use the words ) heavy strong olive oil it adds to the macaroni an added dimension of flavor

                    1. re: foodperv

                      Oil in the water can also keep the sauce from sticking. I avoid it.

                      1. re: chicgail

                        I don't find that. There isn't enough oil left over to keep it from sticking.
                        Besides, if you sauce you pasta, if either is hot, the sauce will be absorbed right into the pasta anyway.

                        DT

                  2. re: Fuffy

                    Alton Brown tested it and found it not to be true.

                    DT

                        1. re: budlit

                          *GASP* My world is breaking apart!!

                          1. re: Morganna

                            I know!!! No, not the Great Altonator!!! He CAN'T be wrong!!!

                          2. re: budlit

                            ALTON BROWN IS ALWAYS RIGHT. HE IS THE COOKING GOD.

                            YOU MUST NOW FLOG YOURSELF 100 TIMES TO REPENT

                          3. re: Davwud

                            Because Alton Brown and the folks on Mythbusters hold all pertinent knowledge in the world and thus - are always, always right .

                            1. re: aokoye

                              Oh, and don't forget America's Test Kitchen. They are right up there with Alton.

                            2. re: Davwud

                              Actually, Alton reversed himself on this. There is a newer episode where he flashes back and shows the earlier episode where he says adding olive oil is useless, and now states that it does in fact serve a great purpose.

                              Besides, I've spent a fair amount of my life around Italians, real Italians, and if they say salt and oil the pasta water I'm doing it.

                              1. re: kkak97

                                Lidia once said that you shouldn't add oil to the water because it keeps the sauce from sticking to the pasta. She said the key to avoid sticking was "abundant water".

                        2. re: themis

                          I can totally taste the difference and prefer my water salted, diamond kosher

                          1. re: themis

                            Salted water here, too. But I wouldn't use the expensive stuff. I keep plain table salt around for such jobs.

                            When I was a kid, I was told that the salt actually keeps the pasta from sticking. It seems to be true in my experience, but strangely, I've never heard anyone else say that!

                          2. Pasta does absorb water as it cooks, yes salted does make a difference. About every chef "worth his/er salt" will say salt/season as you go along...not as a final thing.

                            The less water thingie...now that does depend...on what you do with it after you cook it. Immediately rinse and dump into sauce, probably no big deal...hold for a bit...well, glued, goozy mess.

                            BUt as always, your milage can vary..never say never. :)

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: Quine

                              rinsing pasta is a no-no too. all the starch goes down the sink and sauce won't cling as well.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                Same effect as using lots of water, methinks...

                              2. re: Quine

                                OK, you take a forkful of sauced pasta. You mean to say your tongue is sensitive enough to distinguish that the salt is IN the pasta and not just in the sauce. My mouth, when I take a bite of saucy pasta, immediately integrates the parts into one whole chewed up well integrated flavor. Like, you would never be chewing on some sauced up pasta and say, "Hmmmm...the sauce is fine, but I really should have put more salt into the pasta water and sadly, the pasta tastes flat, but the sauce all over it is really delicious - next time I better remember to put more salt into the pasta water." Ha.

                                1. re: niki rothman

                                  Absolutely my tongue is that sensitive--I am a supertaster though ;)

                                  1. re: niki rothman

                                    with a thicker pasta, even a penne, jfood can definitelytaste the taste in the pasta. mrs jfood actually mentioned once that the pasta itself was too salty.

                                    1. re: niki rothman

                                      Yup, sure can.

                                      It's the same way I can tell when fish wasn't salted before cooking, even if it's been smothered in a well-salted sauce.

                                      There's a distinct difference (for my tastebuds, anyways) between a dish where all elements were properly salted vs. one where only some were seasoned and are compensating for the unsalted parts.

                                      1. re: niki rothman

                                        Why bother salting the sauce, either? Just take a bite of unsalted pasta with unsalted sauce, toss a pinch of salt in your mouth, and chew.

                                        Oversalted sauce is does not adequately correct for undersalted pasta.

                                        1. re: niki rothman

                                          Of course I can taste whether the pasta has been salted or not, and if too much. There is a marked difference in flavor.

                                          1. re: niki rothman

                                            Yes, absolutely that's what we're saying. I think the disconnect is that you may prefer more sauce on your pasta than the folks who want their pasta salted. I like my pasta slightly undersauced the same way I like my salad slightly underdressed: I'm there for the pasta as much or more than I'm there for what's on top of it, and if the pasta is unsalted and bland, all the salt in the sauce isn't gonna make a fig's leaf worth of difference.

                                            1. re: niki rothman

                                              I absolutely can taste whether or not pasta has been cooked in salted water. (And yes, there are times where I have oversalted the water, but this is rare.)

                                              And I'm not a supertaster.

                                              1. re: niki rothman

                                                In Rome we used to say, "De gustibus non disputandum est," which probably best translates to "Everyone to his own taste." However, in Rome pasta was lightly sauced, compared with what we do to it America. The sauce was a foil to the flavor of the pasta and not a substitute for it. And the pasta al dente is chewed. You would clearly get the wheat flavor of the pasta and would be able to distinguish the salt or lack of it in the cooking water.

                                                1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                  Niki, I can see it's a minority opinion, but I am totally with you on this. It's a waste of salt. And you gotta stir the pasta anyway, so why heat up extra gallons of water, it's not ecological.

                                            2. Have fun with this one: Eels are poison. Don't eat 'em. (My husband, of course, eats an abundance of eel sushi, and he's still with us, hale and hearty as always.)

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: revsharkie

                                                I love the Eel sushi, have eaten a lot of it, and I'm still alive and kicking!!

                                                  1. re: revsharkie

                                                    All I can say is THANK GOD THE PASTA WATER POSTS ARE OVER!!!!!

                                                    ;+)

                                                    1. re: revsharkie

                                                      Hmmm I had never heard this. Perhaps eels from certain regions? I have heard you can't eat barracuda in many regions because they retain a high level of lead. You can eat it in Barbados and Bonaire though?

                                                      1. re: ktmoomau

                                                        I think with barracudas It's age and size that determine if they're toxic. Older barracudas have had more time to build up toxins (from poisonous prey?) and so are less safe to eat.

                                                        1. re: Moosemeat

                                                          Ahh I googled and kind of figured it out. Small ones sometimes ok in the Atlantic, but can be questionable, large ones bad, but apparently on the west coast the species there doesn't have the same problem? Ciguatera disease I guess comes from toxins from tropical waters. Hmm, I guess it occurs so often people just don't take a lot of chance with it on the Atlantic coast, but I have had it in Bonaire and Barbados, good thing they must have been young ones.

                                                      2. re: revsharkie

                                                        thats because you don't feed him the right mushrooms to go with it lol lol

                                                        you do know i am kidding

                                                      3. Celery has "negative calories". As in, celery contains less calories than calories required to chew and digest it, apparently. According to the NY Times, it may be possible to expend a few more calories than you absorb eating something like celery, but in the end the deficit is negligible. But hey, if it makes you feel virtuous, go crazy and eat a ton.

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: TheGloaming

                                                          Works great as a diet. Celery stuffed with peanut butter, celery stuffed with cheese, celery stuffed with devilled eggs, etc. Negative calories, but you still feel like you've eaten!

                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                            That's because you HAVE eaten peanut butter, cheese, and mayonaise-y eggs! Guess that puts it back on the positive side...

                                                            1. re: saticoy

                                                              I vote we just have the peanut butter, cheese, and egg goo, and feed the celery to the rabbits. I'd lose a ton of weight on any diet that requires me to eat raw celery, because I won't eat it. Don't care what you stuff it with.

                                                              1. re: revsharkie

                                                                Favorite story. Decided to riff on the traditional Thanksgiving dinner for extended family. (For example, the main dish was a partially deboned and butterflied turkey, broil-roasted and re-formed around a core of stuffing to look like a bird that had never been cut.) One side dish was a take on pimiento-cheese-stuffed celery (double Gloucester, homemade mayo, fire-roasted red cherry peppers). My (now-ex) sister-in-law had nothing to say about the rest of the meal, but commented that it was the "best Cheez-Whiz she'd ever had."

                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                  I'm eating celery sticks for lunch right now (thank heavens, I also had other stuff!) and let me tell you, definitely not as satisfying as a pizza. for weight-loss wonder foods, I think cabbage trumps celery any day.

                                                                  1. re: Sophia.

                                                                    I can't deal with the strings. And the flavor's just too strong. Cook it, fine. But don't make me eat it raw.

                                                                    1. re: Sophia.

                                                                      Please do your co-workers a favorite--do not eat cabbage for lunch. Not unless you have a pint of beano to go with it.

                                                            2. re: TheGloaming

                                                              I learned the same thing about hard boiled eggs - but only hard boiled. Wonder how long you would have to eat celery and hard boiled eggs before you actually lost weight. I wonder if snopes covers this?

                                                              they do discuss celery, so I guess it's not a myth
                                                              http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient...

                                                              1. re: TheGloaming

                                                                So "Celery has "negative calories" is not a myth. Even if the "deficit is negligible" it is still a deficit.

                                                                1. re: TheGloaming

                                                                  while not 100% on the mark it is fairly close close enough to help fill you without adding any serious amt of cal

                                                                2. 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!

                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                  1. re: SweetPea914

                                                                    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

                                                                      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

                                                                        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

                                                                        I've had some about 5-6 weeks past the expiration date and they've been fine.

                                                                        1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                                                          ditto as long as it ain't mouldy it (seems ok)

                                                                        2. re: brendastarlet

                                                                          I don't know that it's so much that it's only "good" for a week, but the live cultures are more effective the sooner you eat it.

                                                                          http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/col...
                                                                          http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/CONSUME...

                                                                          1. re: brendastarlet

                                                                            Hmmmnnn...my brother unwittingly bought a ~10-days-past-due yogurt drink at a grocery store and drank it in the car on his way home for the holidays last year. It was most definitely NOT ok - he was mighty sick for about 12 hours. Granted, you can't know if the grocery stored it properly, but I've taken to throwing out yogurt on the date on the package ever since, as the risk is not worth $2 for me .

                                                                            1. re: jvozoff

                                                                              What do those yogurt drinks add to make them drink-consistency? My guess would be that *that's* what went bad and made your brother sick. But, I'm certainly no expert.

                                                                              1. re: abowes

                                                                                I think that the addition to yogurts to make them drink consistency is actually less of the stuff that makes yogurt as solid as most yogurt we are used to. My senior year in college I boarded with a couple who had a friend who made his own yogurt (at the university where he worked, as I recall). It was thinner in consistency that the drinkable yogurt I bought at my co-op earlier this year.

                                                                                As for the yogurt that was about 10 past its sell-by date, was it ever positively determined that the yogurt was really the cause of his gastric distress?

                                                                                1. re: Timowitz

                                                                                  guys this isn't rocket science, they add water to make yogurt drinks a drinkable consistency. Yogurt drink is a classic Armenian/Near Eastern drink, we just take some yogurt, mix it up with some water, salt it, and add maybe mint or parsely. Of course it will separate over time so in the commercial drinks they use a stabilizer. Then again the commercial drinks could be made from a mix of yogurt AND whey and other dairy products - check the ingredients list.

                                                                        3. 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

                                                                            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

                                                                              that's the good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol confusion.

                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                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

                                                                                  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

                                                                                    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

                                                                                      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

                                                                                        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

                                                                                      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.

                                                                                        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

                                                                                          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.

                                                                                          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

                                                                                            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.

                                                                                            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

                                                                                        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

                                                                                          Do you have a reference for this handy?

                                                                                          1. re: Enso

                                                                                            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

                                                                                              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

                                                                                                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

                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                    I'M JEALOUS! I can watch what I eat and it stays right up there...soon to take little pill.

                                                                                                    Sad.

                                                                                                    1. re: vorpal

                                                                                                      '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

                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                        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.

                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                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

                                                                                                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

                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                        And preheating an oven before putting bread, which needs that initial heat for oven spring, is a must.

                                                                                                      4. re: MobyRichard

                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                          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. 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

                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                What about the claim of a friend of mine from New Jersey that the pizza was invented there and taken back to Italy?

                                                                                                          2. 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

                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                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

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

                                                                                                                  1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                                                                                                    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

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

                                                                                                                1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                      Errr,,,,,, Try stirring with a long *fork*. That'll do it. : )

                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                              Yeah, 2 minutes tops for angel hair. That's what the instructions on the box say.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JennS

                                                                                                                                kinda like just threaten the angel hair that you are going to throw it in water it whimps and limps out

                                                                                                                                1. re: foodperv

                                                                                                                                  HAHA. I'm having it for lunch today. I'll try that next time.

                                                                                                                          3. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                            Cooking dried fettuccine and keeping it from sticking is very difficult if there isn't enough water.

                                                                                                                          4. re: PBSF

                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                            Sounds fabulous. Do you have a recipe you can share?

                                                                                                                              2. 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

                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                      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

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

                                                                                                                                        1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                            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

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

                                                                                                                                              1. re: gourmanda

                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                  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

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

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                            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. Myth: searing meat seals in the juices.

                                                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                            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

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

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                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

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

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                          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

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

                                                                                                                                                          DT

                                                                                                                                                    2. 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

                                                                                                                                                        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

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

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lemonii

                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                            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. 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

                                                                                                                                                              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

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

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: popcorn_denver

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

                                                                                                                                                                2. 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

                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                      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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                      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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                              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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                          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. 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

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

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jessi20

                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                        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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                                                                                        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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                                                                                          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: toodie jane

                                                                                                                                                                                              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.

                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: jessi20

                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I heard somewhere where it should taste like the ocean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Davwud

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Hoosierland

                                                                                                                                                                                                  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. 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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: diobahn

                                                                                                                                                                                                      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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                      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. 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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                          MSG gives me terrible headaches and heart palpitations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jamesm

                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Do you have any sources for the excitotoxins claim?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Maxmillion

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      MSG *is* hydrolyzed protein.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Egg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: browniebaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      LC,

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (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. 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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: adkim

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: curiousbaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jim1126

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Acids will also inhibit the enzymes that cause the brownness.

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: tbrownex

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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. 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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Don't knock it 'til you try it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Enso

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: vvvindaloo

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: queencru

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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. 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

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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Enso

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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. 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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ellen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I may have to test this theory!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: GeoffD

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: optimal forager

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: GeoffD

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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. 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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. -- 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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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. 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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: curiousbaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: aurora50

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Enso

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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. 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.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ozhead

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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. 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).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: caliking

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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.