Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jul 19, 2013 10:57 AM

When did we start calling ingredients "proteins"?

So in two separate posts today I noticed people calling the meat, fish or whatever-it-is the "proteins". Maybe I've been living under a rock (with the worm-based proteins) but where did this ridiculous affectation come from? Why can't we call it meat or fish or seafood or tofu or eggs like we used to do in the olden days? Am I the only one who think this sounds ludicrous? Should we all now be calling ingredients by their nutritional category? Is this some kind of chef-ism I don't know about?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Makes that particular food category sound rather sterile, doesn't it?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Perilagu Khan

      Why not just refer to "vertabrates/invertabrates" or "carbon-based lifeforms"? Much more appetizing, no?

    2. i refer to things based on my meal plan. during recovery from an eating disorder, i worked extensively with a dietician to develop a meal plan that i follow every day. for me, and this is just me, i operate on an "exchange" based system. foods are classified as fruits, vegetables, grains, milks/calciums, proteins, fats, and desserts (desserts can also be broken into their component pieces, i.e. 1 cookie = 1 dessert = 1 grain, 2 fats).

      any dish/recipe can be broken down this way. for example, 1 cup of spaghetti with 0.5 cup marinara sauce, 0.25 cup parmesan cheese, and 3oz of chicken would count as 2 grains, 1 vegetable, 1 milk/calcium, and 3 proteins.

      i don't know why others might refer to meats, eggs, tofu, etc as "proteins", but i call them that because that is how they count on my meal plan and how i track my daily intake. it's really helpful to me to think of things by their "category" to make sure i eat a balanced diet.

      1. It's part of the plot to suck every scintilla of pleasure out of our lives, imposed by the same people who refer to all beer, wine and cocktails as "alcohol". I don't care for the direction our modern society is taking.

        1. I think this started when home cooks discovered they could substitute hamburger for tuna in their Helper.

          Hip and in the know.

          This too shall pass.

          2 Replies
          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

            'This too shall pass'

            I hope sooner, rather than later!

            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              "This too shall pass."

              In more ways than one.

            2. It's what we called it in cooking school.
              It denotes the aspect of the meal that is protein, be it meat, fish, eggs, etc. Not all people eat red meat, nor poultry, nor fish. It's just that spot on the plate were one has a "protein."
              Nothing to get worked up over, and I don't understand the hostility.
              As another poster mentioned, it is used as a part of many meal plans, and with so many people on other types of diets, it's a label that indicates it's place in said plan.

              10 Replies
                1. re: wyogal

                  i completely agree with wyogal AND would like to add that many, many, recipes work equally well with any of several varieties of protein.

                  i am mystified at Nyleve's hostility to this very simple, obvious, easy, functional, approach. . . .

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    I don't detect a hint of hostility from the OP, exasperation maybe, but not hostility.

                  2. re: wyogal

                    I don't think anyone's worked up, really. My "outrage" is half in jest. It's fun playing the curmudgeon once in a while.

                    Nevertheless, the OP struck a chord with his comment. Reducing gustatory delights to generic terms such as "protein" and "alcohol" might be acceptable shorthand among food service industry professionals, but it sounds somewhat, I the customers on which the industry relies. It sounds like you're moving hog feed. In some cases that's probably true, but it's not beneficial to remind us of it.

                    1. re: flavrmeistr

                      It seems to be helpful for quite a few people outside "food service industry professionals."
                      and yes, it sure seems some are worked up over the use of the word.

                      1. re: wyogal

                        Yes. Dieticians, the healthcare industry and agribusiness. That's where it belongs. Bon apetit!

                      2. re: flavrmeistr

                        Is there an alternative to 'alcohol', one that covers beer, wine, and distilled spirits?

                        is 'alcoholic beverage' better?

                        1. re: paulj

                          Sure. The given name of those beverages in their various iterations. It's worked for centuries. Although, a friend of mine does refer to beer as "a refreshing beverage". I think it's code of some kind.

                        2. re: flavrmeistr

                          Yes, flavrmeistr. Pretty much exactly what I meant.

                          1. re: flavrmeistr

                            When I hear it used, especially by someone outside the industry, I just do an inside smirk at the affectation.