Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Five things you didn't know about food

Five Things You Didn't Know About Food
By: Chef Cristian Feher

Nothing is more entertaining at a social gathering than paying close attention while someone divulges previously unknown facts about a certain subject. We've all gathered around in a circle to listen to that certain person tell us what our suit jacket has in common with the space station, and how the shoes you're wearing can help provide energy for a small town in Africa. And although I don't plan on sharing those particular tidbits with you, here are five things about food that you can enlighten your friends with at your next gathering!

Why is beef tenderloin so soft? Any butcher will tell you that the muscles that are most used turn into the toughest cuts of beef. By that same token, the muscles least used in the animal will yield the softest cut. Both, cows and bulls, have tenderloin muscles. The purpose for that muscle in a bull is to mount the cow during mating. However, the cow is female and therefore does not mount anything, so that muscle remains virtually unused by the cow, making it the softest muscle and providing you with delicious, tender steaks!

What does 'No MSG' really mean? By now most of us are aware that a preservative and flavour enhancer called MSG (Mono sodium Glutamate) is not very good for you. And many people try to avoid it by purchasing food products labeled "NO MSG". But did you know that MSG has many different names? MSG can be made many different ways and, chemically speaking, is made from hydrolyzed vegetable protein. So the next time you buy a 'No MSG' product, read the ingredients carefully, because you are most likely to find that it does contain MSG in it. It's just named something different, such as: "Hydrolyzed corn protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, spice, or hydrolyzed (ANYTHING) protein. And it's how those sneaky food manufacturers have been getting away with it up until now.

How can people in hot climates eat such spicy foods? It seems that the closer to the equator you go, the spicier the food gets! Take countries like India, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Thailand. Not only does the weather get extremely hot, but so does the food! As a tourist, you may wonder why people would do that to themselves. You can see them sniffling and sweating while they eat, and it's 100 degrees out! But the truth is that hot peppers containing substances like capsicum cause the body to sweat, which actually cools you as you eat. And many hot spices will also thin out your blood, lowering your body's core temperature.

What did people do before refrigerators? There are many other ways of preserving food. Many cultures used strong mixtures of spices to preserve meats and grains. The spice mixture we know today as "curry" was used in the past by people to preserve meats, and even to cover up the unsavoury taste and smell of slightly rancid food. Spices such as garlic, cinnamon, mustard, cloves and oregano have such high concentrations of anti-microbial (germ killers) that they have been clinically proven to kill the salmonella bacteria.

The "all natural" claim is not so fresh! Marketing companies are constantly throwing you catchy words in order to convince you that something is good for you, when in fact, it's vaguely true at most. Did you know that the marketing term "all natural" really doesn't mean anything? It certainly doesn't mean that what you're eating is good for you. Here are some things that are "all natural": Arsenic, Opium, Snake Venom, Mercury, Death Cap Mushrooms, Atropine, Tetanus, and Strychnine.

Now that you have learned some juicy morsels of moderately important information, go out there and show your friends how smart you really are!