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Favourite Food Fallacies

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Grymm
222499.  Mon Oct 22, 2007 7:36 am Reply with quote

As the show and forum are about debunking 'accepted wisdom' how 'bout this one,often quoted? Medieval/Tudor food used a lot of spice to cover the taste of rancid meat...............discuss.

And here's my take, utter bummocks! Spices are imported from around the world(e.g. cassia from China, pepper from India, mace from ......er....Rum I think) and cost several limbs, cows, sheep and pigs come from the farm over the road and are relativly cheap so why waste rare and expensive spices try to cover bad meat, it won't stop it giving you a jippy tummy.
Also the recipes are usually high status so isn't it more likely that spices are being used to indicate wealth.

 
96aelw
223362.  Wed Oct 24, 2007 9:40 am Reply with quote

The Oxford Companion to Food agrees with you, citing an article entitled "Tainted Meat" by Gillian Riley, which apears, so it tells me in "Spicing up the Palate", edited by Harlan Walker. Other points mentioned, aside from yours, are that there are no references to this idea in contemporary sources (or indeed sauces), and that the theory, as generally expressed, presupposes a much heavier consumption of spices than was , in fact, the case. She concludes, apparently, that the theory essentially stems from a killjoy attitude that refuses to accept that medieval folks used spices because they liked the tastes.

Nice sig, incidentally, but I fear it should be ridebis.

 
Grymm
223493.  Wed Oct 24, 2007 6:01 pm Reply with quote

Thanks for the tip, duely ammended(To be honest I'm barely literate in English but fluent in Gibberish)

Next one, Did Wally Raleigh introduce the 'tater into England...... Bugger! There goes the boy and I'm on late night feed duty if I remember I'll put down what I think I know 'ron.

 
Flash
223576.  Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:34 am Reply with quote

This topic was covered in the recording for the Europe show, but didn't make the cut. Here's the note:
Quote:
Q12: Raleigh
Smoking. Raleigh was born around 1552. In 1498, one of Columbus's sailors was arrested in Barcelona for smoking in the street, and sentenced to ten years in prison for "consorting with the devil". The first report of a smoking Englishman is of a sailor in Bristol in 1556, seen "emitting smoke from his nostrils". Raleigh never personally visited Virginia or any other part of North America; it was a Frenchman named Jean Nicot, from whose name the word nicotine is derived, who introduced tobacco to France in 1560, and it was from France, not the New World, that tobacco reached England. However, it is true to say that Raleigh, a leader of fashion, was influential in popularising the tobacco habit after he was introduced to it by Francis Drake, and also that he had a pipe shortly before being executed - the prototype of the condemned man and his last smoke. The term "smoking" is a late 17th century coinage - until then it was referred to as "drinking smoke".

Potatoes were known in Spain by the middle of the 16th century, and probably reached the British Isles via Europe, rather than directly from America. As a member of the nightshade family the plant was assumed to be poisonous (as, indeed, the upper portions are), and when Raleigh planted one (which had been brought back from America by one of his followers) in his garden in Ireland his neighbours threatened to burn his house down. In parts of France their cultivation was banned because they were thought to cause leprosy, and some Presbyterians condemned them as unholy because they aren't mentioned in the Bible. The man who probably introduced potatoes to Europe was Hieronymous Cardan, an Italian polymath and expert on (amongst other things) mathematics, juggling, and unicorns. His book on algebra was called "Ars Magna".

The story of the cloak over the puddle is apocryphal as well. At his execution Raleigh said of the axe: "This is a sharp Medicine, but it is a Physician for all Diseases." His head was embalmed and presented to his wife, who carried it with her at all times in a velvet bag until she died 29 years later.

Raleigh was responsible for the establishment of the first English colony in the Americas, at Roanoke Island in North Carolina, in 1584. The fate of the colonists is unknown, and Roanoke became known as 'the lost colony'.

 
Screwtape
223834.  Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:07 pm Reply with quote

Is the reason behind salting water before bringing it to a boil a matter of confusion in the UK? Few people over here aside from those of us who actually listened in our high school chemistry classes seem to get it right.

 
Sheriff Fatman
223839.  Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:26 pm Reply with quote

Screwtape wrote:
Is the reason behind salting water before bringing it to a boil a matter of confusion in the UK? Few people over here aside from those of us who actually listened in our high school chemistry classes seem to get it right.


It might make the water boil at a very slightly higher temperature, but it is pointless in any other respect. It does not really help prevent pasta from sticking together (a teaspoon of olive oil is much more effective), it has no effect on potatoes in the slightest and is very unhealthy.

 
gerontius grumpus
223872.  Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:07 pm Reply with quote

Referring back up thread, my Grandad used to claim that Indian food was highly spiced because meat quickly becomes rancid in the hot climate. I never agreed with this and now I think it's wrong because real Indian food contains very little meat but the spices help to make a diet dominated by bland bread and rice.

 
Screwtape
223876.  Thu Oct 25, 2007 9:03 pm Reply with quote

Sheriff Fatman wrote:
Screwtape wrote:
Is the reason behind salting water before bringing it to a boil a matter of confusion in the UK? Few people over here aside from those of us who actually listened in our high school chemistry classes seem to get it right.


It might make the water boil at a very slightly higher temperature, but it is pointless in any other respect. It does not really help prevent pasta from sticking together (a teaspoon of olive oil is much more effective), it has no effect on potatoes in the slightest and is very unhealthy.


I mean, it *does* make the water boil at a higher temperature, though its a very small difference. As you said, I use olive oil.


Alton Brown's Good Eats would be a great source of info for this thread.

 
Flash
223898.  Fri Oct 26, 2007 2:43 am Reply with quote

Sheriff Fatman wrote:
salting water ... is very unhealthy

Maybe ...
Quote:

If you tell people to eat less salt, do they get healthier as a result? If you lecture them, do they profit?

It turns out that they really don't. The average blood pressure drop in the 3,500 people enrolled in the 11 published proper trials was vanishingly close to none at all. One millimetre of mercury. "Not enough to expect an important health benefit," said the review. Not enough to bother with.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1601220,00.html

 
dr.bob
223958.  Fri Oct 26, 2007 5:48 am Reply with quote

Sheriff Fatman wrote:
it has no effect on potatoes in the slightest and is very unhealthy.


Very unhealthy? How can adding a relatively small amount of salt into a large pan of water, most of which gets chucked down the drain anyway, be very unhealthy? The amount of that salt that you actually ingest must be tiny.

Screwtape wrote:
I mean, it *does* make the water boil at a higher temperature, though its a very small difference.


So, in other words, it's not worth bothering with.

 
Sheriff Fatman
223979.  Fri Oct 26, 2007 6:31 am Reply with quote

[quote="dr.bobVery unhealthy? How can adding a relatively small amount of salt into a large pan of water, most of which gets chucked down the drain anyway, be very unhealthy? The amount of that salt that you actually ingest must be tiny.[/quote]

Unfortunately, in my time as a chef, the amount of salt I saw being used when boiling vegetables or pasta was not a small amount. It was being put in by the handful.

Salt in food is one of my biggest bugbears. There is more than enough salt occurring naturally in most foods. Using small amounts of salt to bring out flavours is fine, but when you start adding it by the spadeful you are destroying flavours.

 
Tas
223990.  Fri Oct 26, 2007 6:42 am Reply with quote

Well, that is just bad practise in the kitchen. Most sane* people use salt in cooking fairly sparingly. I'll put a pinch of salt and a splash of olive oil into the pasta I am cooking. If it is really cheap pasta that comes in Industrial-Size packs from the local supermarket, I will add a knob of butter to it once I have drained it, and possibly a quick shake of garlic salt (again, fairly minimal amounts).

That's about as far as I go with adding salt** (aside from the pinch of salt for flavouring used in general in most recipes).

*ie anyone with an iq over 80.
** Salt and Vinegar on Chips is a must, but again, I am subtle with the salt. I prefer the taste of the vinegar.

:-)

Tas

 
Flash
223999.  Fri Oct 26, 2007 7:10 am Reply with quote

Sheriff Fatman wrote:
you are destroying flavours

... which is a different issue from health, of course.

 
Sheriff Fatman
224001.  Fri Oct 26, 2007 7:14 am Reply with quote

Industrial pasta cookers require handfuls of salt to work, it's the way they are designed. I does nothing for the taste or to stop the pasta sticking, it is purely for the slightly higher boiling temperature.

Salt and vinegar on chips, pah. Salt and brown chippy sauce for me.

The only food I like to add salt to to really enhance the flavour is tomatoes.

 
Sheriff Fatman
224002.  Fri Oct 26, 2007 7:18 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Sheriff Fatman wrote:
you are destroying flavours

... which is a different issue from health, of course.


Aye, but the amount of people who add salt to their food without tasting it first is ridiculous. It is bad for the flavour of the dish, it is bad for your health and it can be insulting to the chef.

 

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