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Food myths--or are they?

I find some generally held beliefs about food and cooking not to be true ("food myths"), but some people swear that they are true. Please comment on your agreement or disagreement with any of the ones listed below OR can you provide some of your own food myths?

I find the following not to be true:

1. Tomatoes taste better if they are not refrigerated: Well, if they are cold when you serve them, they don't have as much flavor, but if you let them return to room temperature, I don't see a difference between tomatoes kept at room temperature and those stored at cooler temperatures.

2. Steep your tea for at least two minutes because it will taste better: The longer I steep my tea, the more bitter it gets. With a black tea, about a 30 second dunk is all the tea needs.

3. Parsley improves everything: I don't get parsley. If you eat it by itself, it has almost no flavor, unlike, for example, basil or mint. So why bother putting it in a recipe? I keep doing so because all the the recipes tell me to, but can you really discern any difference in the flavor of a dish, if it is left out? I can't.

4. Hard plastic cutting boards won't harm your knife because they are made to deal with your knife: Nothing makes your knife go duller faster.

5. Long, slow cooking of Italian tomato sauce (for example, for spaghetti) improves the flavor of the sauce because the ingredients (garlic, basil, oregano, etc.) meld together: I find just the opposite. The sauce becomes flat tasting, which I think is the result of the acidity of the tomatoes disappearing. A tomato sauce cooked briefly has much more zing and fresh flavor.

6. Using a garlic press alters the flavor of the garlic: I've never noticed any difference.

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  1. gfr1111 - this is gonna be a fun one!
    I don't get the parsley thing either, except as a garnish. I've heard it mellows garlic, but I don't want my garlic mellowed. I agree with the tomato one with this caveat - I put them in the fridge only when I'm afraid they'll go bad if I don't, then bring to room temp. I make a spaghetti sauce (one of 5) that demands long cooking (it has a roast in it). I just freshen the herbs and spices near the end.

    I was hoping for an interesting new topic!

    1. >>>
      2. Steep your tea for at least two minutes because it will taste better: The longer I steep my tea, the more bitter it gets. With a black tea, about a 30 second dunk is all the tea needs.
      <<<

      I usually leave the bag in the cup the whole time, until I am almost done drinking it, which drives Mom nuts. I only pull the bag out when it would in fall in my face drinking the last drops. Never experienced any bitter taste when doing this.

      >>>
      3. Parsley improves everything: I don't get parsley. ,,,
      <<<

      I don't get parsley, either.

      >>>
      4. Hard plastic cutting boards won't harm your knife because they are made to deal with your knife: Nothing makes your knife go duller faster.
      <<<

      My knives don't go dull from the white poly boards in my kitchen, and they go right into the dishwasher for sanitizing. I can also store 2 or 3 in the same space as one good wooden board, a real consideration in my kitchen.

      1. In my opinion:

        1. Tomatoes taste better hot from the sun, or at least at room temp. Here, they go into the fridge if they're over ripe.

        2. Fresh tea leaves should be steeped in a teapot with water that has barely begun to boil for 2 - 3 minutes only. That gives the leaves time to infuse fully. They are then strained into a teacup that's been pre-heated with hot water.....

        3. The only parsley I've ever eaten that actually has a nice herby flavor is parsley fresh from the garden, or farm. The leaves at the tip of each sprig have more flavor than the bottom leaves. The stuff bought at a supermarket is tasteless. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, some curly leafed parsley is actually Very flavorful.

        4. I have a couple of dedicated plastic boards for poultry, raw meat, etc. which are used frequently and I've never noticed any dullness problem.

        5. Since I hardly ever make a "meat" sauce, here's my usual Maranara, with variations, sauce:
        Put the water on to boil.,
        Start sauteing chopped garlic, and any other veggies I care to use.
        Add tinned tomatoes, RPF, G & P, basil and/or oregano. Stir.
        Turn down heat and simmer stirring occasionaly.
        When the salted water boils throw the macaroni into the pot.
        When the macaroni is done - al dente - drain and toss into the sauce.
        Easy Peasy.

        6. The garlic press I've had since forever is used when I need raw garlic in a finished dish but don't want the difficult to digest minced cloves.

        4 Replies
          1. re: phofiend

            Red pepper flakes
            Salt and pepper

            :)

            1. re: phofiend

              Sorry for the typo...I meant S & P. Those who know me like yamalam know I mean and can translate......thankfully.

              1. re: Gio

                Thanks. Sounds like my non-recipe, but I add the RPF when I saute the garlic (and onion) to bring out more pepper aroma. Also finish with any fresh herbs that are around.

          2. >>1. Tomatoes taste better if they are not refrigerated: Well, if they are cold when you serve them, they don't have as much flavor, but if you let them return to room temperature, I don't see a difference between tomatoes kept at room temperature and those stored at cooler temperatures.<<

            I think I heard Alton Brown say that there is a chemical reaction in tomatoes once they hit below 50 degrees. Once you refrigerate them, the chemical process takes place, and it does not reverse itself once the temp is raised. You will not see a difference in flavor between cold tomatoes served cold, and tomatoes brought back to room temp. Neither tomato has been kept at room temp. You will see the difference in flavore between a tomato that has been kept at room temp, and a tomatoa that has ever been chilled below 50 degrees. Your findings do not support your original thought which was "Tomatoes taste better if they are not refrigerated." You refrigerated the tomatoes in both trials, and then claimed essentially that refrigerated tomatoes taste the same as refrigerated tomatoes that have been brought to temp.

            >>5. Long, slow cooking of Italian tomato sauce (for example, for spaghetti) improves the flavor of the sauce because the ingredients (garlic, basil, oregano, etc.) meld together: I find just the opposite. The sauce becomes flat tasting, which I think is the result of the acidity of the tomatoes disappearing. A tomato sauce cooked briefly has much more zing and fresh flavor.<<

            I think this is supposed to be true for sauces using canned tomatoes only.

            I don't really know if either of these things is true, but I might experiment with fresh tomatoes now. I'll have quite a few in August like everyone else!

            2 Replies
            1. re: gordeaux

              Tomatoes that have been exposed to cold lose flavor even if the exposure is while they are still on the vine. I live fairly close to Lake Michigan in Chicago, so we often have our first killing frost weeks after other parts of the metropolitan area. Tomatoes picked in late October or early November have been exposed to refrigerator-like temperatures even though there has not been frost and very definitely lack flavor compared to tomatoes that mature earlier.

              1. re: gordeaux

                well, since almost any supermarket tomato has definitely been kept below 50 degrees I'm willing to bet there are a lot of people who might just as well keep the tomatoes at home in the fridge.

              2. 1. To me, refrigerating tomatoes dulls their flavor, but my main issue with it is the mealy texture that the flesh of the tomato gets when it has been refrigerated.

                2. I'm another one who leaves their tea bag in the whole time i'm drinking it pretty much, and have never had it be bitter.

                3. Parsley can brighten up the flavor of a dish, but i think mainly its used for color.... so it can be for presentation value.

                4. i use a plastic board for meats and a bamboo one for vegs, and i agree, it doesn't dull it any faster.

                5. I like long slow cooked sauces if i'm using canned tomatoes, but quick roasted, raw, or lightly sauteed if i'm using fresh tomatoes.

                6. I've never used a garlic press. I either mince the cloves or make them into a paste with salt depending on the texture I'm looking for.