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Posts by Harold McGee

My thanks to all of you, for your interest and for all those good questions! And for the many kind things you’ve said along the way. Yours is a wonderful profession, and I feel privileged to to have been able to make any kind of contribution to it. My best wishes to all of you, and please email me with questions any time! Harold
No need to worry about releasing vitamins from corn or other foods in the mixed diet most of us eat—nixtamalization was important because many people were trying to survive on corn and little else. Harold
A hollandaise sauce is an emulsion of butter droplets in water (which is the main substance in vinegar, wine, lemon juice, egg yolk, etc.), and when it breaks, the separate butter droplets have pooled together again and formed a separate layer from the water. So whisking a broken hollandaise into vinegar is essentially re-forming the emulsion, breaking the butter layer into little droplets suspended in the vinegar. It can also be a good idea to include another egg yolk...
Good point. Pasteurized eggs are “raw” only in the sense that they are minimally heated to kill bacteria, and are still capable of being further transformed—coagulated—by higher temperatures. Harold
Yes, I do want to revise The Curious Cook, but that may happen after one or two other projects. Harold
That’s right, pasteurized eggs have been heated so as to eliminate any salmonella or other disease bacteria. They can be used ‘raw.’ Harold
“Supertaster” is a term that was first applied to people who are very sensitive to a standard bitter taste test. They turned out to be sensitive to other tastes as well, and to have a larger number of taste buds on the tongue. However, this is very different from what you might call expert tasters, the people who can dissect wine flavors and food flavors into their component flavors. They are especially good at discriminating odors in the nose, not tastes on the tongue;...
Let's start with some definitions. The sense of taste is what is mainly experienced in the mouth, and includes a small number of sensations: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami or savory (the taste of MSG), pungency (peppers, mustard). The sense of smell is experienced in the nose through our odor receptors, and they can detect thousands of different substances. When we talk about the “taste” of a food, we’re usually talking about the combination of taste and smell. I...
Yes, I’m afraid that wonderfully aromatic hardwood smoke itself does contain carcinogens, so the more heavily smoked a food, the more carcinogens it carries. Fat falling into the fire will generate even more. The studies that I have found on taste and smell in smokers are inconclusive—many say that smoking decreases sensitivity, but some find that it has no effect. Harold
Of course this is a big and complicated issue. In brief, I would say that genetic engineering is in some ways an extension of traditional breeding, but is importantly different in allowing the transfer of genes among very different organisms, and even the construction of entirely artificial genes. It holds the potential to do good things, and to cause problems. And it’s here whether we like it or not, not just in the US, but in Asia and elsewhere. Most processed foods now...
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