Anyone care for some laboratory grade peanut butter?

Monday, 23 February, 2015

If you’re a scientist running tests and experiments on peanut butter – and after all the cake and watermelon, it is really just another chemical compound – you might find yourself paying top dollar to obtain the laboratory grade stuff… as in US $671, for a jar similar in size to what you see on supermarket shelves.

This peanut butter isn’t actually intended for your mouth (rude, I know), but to be fed into laboratory gadgets like gas chromatographs and mass spectrometers. Smart people then use it to establish an industry-wide standard to which similar food products can be compared. The high price has nothing to do with taste or quality, but simply reflects all the scientist-hours that went into its making.

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A bar to sit at is best, whether you’re drinking or eating

Friday, 20 February, 2015

When I go to a bar, I prefer to sit at the bar, if possible… that’s where it’s all happening. It’s interaction central. The same bar action would also seem to apply to restaurants that offer an option to dine at a bar, rather than at a table. I’m up for finding out one way or the other.

When everyone’s so close, it changes the dining experience. Out on the floor, you’re a dickhead if you overhear a conversation and chime in. Not at the bar. You connect, trade stories, then trade bites. I’ve never shared as much food with strangers as I have at the bar. You meet great people that way – you’re part of this band of outsiders within the restaurant. And for me, that’s the best possible dining experience of all.

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An illustrated history of sushi

Wednesday, 18 February, 2015

An illustrated history of sushi… it’s a dish that has been around for centuries, although not quite in the format that we’re familiar with.

In the case of Nare sushi, which was being consumed some five thousand years ago in southern China, preparation took about a year, on account of the pickling process, and while rice was an ingredient, it was more of a stuffing, and usually not eaten when the dish was eventually served.

Dozens of rice-stuffed fish would be packed in a wooden barrel and then weighed down with a heavy stone. The fish would sit for a year before being cracked open for consumption. “No one ate the rice back then. It was just the fish.” This practice spread to Japan but eventually went out of vogue in China after northern nomadic tribes invaded and ruled the area. “Even today, this style can still be found in some parts of Yunnan and northern Thailand,” Isassi says.

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You can’t unboil an egg’s yoke, but can unboil an egg’s white

Friday, 6 February, 2015

An egg cannot be unboiled. I’d always thought that was an immutable law of the universe. Not anymore it seems, a way has been found to uncook a boiled egg, but not the yoke, so far at least, only the white, or albumen or glair, to use the, I guess, scientific name.

In fact, they boiled the heck out them for 20 minutes at 90 degrees C (194 degrees F), so they were very hard indeed. They then set out to reverse the process and turn the hard whites into a clear protein called lysozyme by adding urea, which breaks down the chemical bonds that cause the coagulated chains to misfold on one another. The rather unpalatable liquid mass was then run through a vortex fluid device designed by Professor Colin Raston at South Australia’s Flinders University. This set up shear stresses that caused the chains to untangle into their previous uncooked form.

Would not then a… breakthrough like this be akin to stumbling upon some sort of holy grail of pyhsics or science? No, apparently not, the space-time continuum appears to be intact, its fabric undisturbed, as it was always was.

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Crickets and grasshoppers, let’s talk about their taste differences

Wednesday, 14 January, 2015

Future possible shortages of the sorts of foods we’re presently used to consuming may result in insects becoming part of our diet. A sobering thought, to say the least. Mind you, insect based dishes, prepared in a certain way, may look rather appetising.

But what of the taste? What might meals, made up of the bugs we more usually see in our gardens, be like on the palate? Louis Sorkin, of the American Museum of Natural History, offers his thoughts.

Via Nautilus.

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Economists on breakfast cereal boxes, who deserves a spot?

Wednesday, 3 December, 2014

I have a thing with breakfast cereal boxes. Having said that, I don’t collect, or, for that matter, hoard them, even those that are full, but they have a certain significance that I may, or may not, say more about at a later time. Cryptic I know, but there you have it.

On the subject of breakfast cereal boxes though, if you had to, just for the sake of it, match an economist with a certain breakfast cereal box, such as “Special K” for instance, who might that be? If you think you can match one with the other, then the Marginal Revolution University is the place to be.

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We may be eating our way into a chocolate deficit…

Tuesday, 25 November, 2014

I can’t help but notice chocolate everywhere I turn, but if this report is to believed, that may not be the case for much longer

Cocoa use will top output by about 70,000 metric tons in the 12 months started Oct. 1 and deficits will persist through 2018, a six-year stretch that would be the longest since the data began in 1960, said Laurent Pipitone, head of statistics at the International Cocoa Organization in London. Prices may rally 15 percent to $3,200 a ton by the end of 2014, according to the median of 14 trader estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

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I can stomach the artwork of Banksy, can you?

Wednesday, 12 November, 2014

Artwork by Harley Langberg

Art and dining become one… using fruit, vegetables, and other food stuffs, New York City based artist Harley LangbergHarley Langberg re-creates the works of British street artist Banksy, and others, including Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.

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Now we’re cooking with… blood

Thursday, 30 October, 2014

I’ve heard of animal blood being used as a cooking ingredient before – blood sausages spring to mind, not that I’ve ever tried them – but didn’t realise its culinary applications were quite so extensive

Yet from Scotland to Italy, Spain to Russia, and Tanzania to China, many traditional dishes still use blood. A few modern chefs have dared, in recent years, to whip up dishes like blood tarts with fig soaked in grappa and espresso, blood custard with rosemary topped with pickled pears, and blood-chocolate pudding with bing cherries.

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This chef sure can chop onions, many, many, onions

Wednesday, 1 October, 2014

How quickly can you chop an onion? How about a sack of onions? I can’t imagine there’d be too many people who’d be faster than this chef in India is at the task

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