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Posts by Harold McGee

Peter, since you mention (in your marinade post) that you use my book for the food science course you've put together, it might be best if you could take a look at pages 155-56 for an explanation of brining, which does get a bit complicated. As Phil points out, there’s a difference between dry salting and brining (a marinade with salt is essentially a flavored brine), and brining does carry water and flavorings into the meat. Harold
It’s true that nickel is a very common cause of dermatitis, and its effects seem to be increased if nickel is also ingested in food. There have been studies of stainless steel pans and appliances, since stainless is an alloy of iron, chromium, and nickel. The general conclusion has been that the nickel released into food is negligible compared to the natural nickel content of the foods themselves. However, I can’t find any comparable study of this nickel-plated pan, which...
Yes, the fumes from smoking oil are unhealthful, as you can tell from the fact that they irritate the eyes and respiratory system. Depending on the oil and temperature, they can include carcinogens. So avoid them one way or another! Harold
There is a discipline known as food science in which you can get university degrees, and it has a number of professional associations (Institute of Food Technlogists, etc). I use the term kitchen science to mean any kind of science, food or otherwise, applied to activities of home and restaurant cooks. It’s informal and decentralized, and really defined by what cooks are doing and want to understand. So the hot topics right now are all the things you read about—sous vide...
I don’t really have a favorite cuisine—what fascinates me is the diversity of foods and cuisines, so I’m always trying new things. That said, my mother was born and raised in India, and I lived for six months in the southwest of France, so I go back to those traditions often, as well as to Mexican (Thanksgiving was a turkey mole). And I like to bake breads. Harold
In 1990 I devoted a chapter of "The Curious Cook" to that and other kinds of experiments. And home economists did much the same thing back in the 1930s!
Mundane . . . I started writing about the science of food because I couldn't manage to land a good teaching job. I had always loved science, and wanted to write about the science of everyday life--and the more I thought and read about food and cooking, the more I thought they would make a great subject. Harold
Thank you, Mark. No, even making the oil can cause problems: botulism bacteria can multiply and produce toxin in a matter of hours, if the conditions are right (warm temperature, nutritious material under oil). Harold
Think about cured hams, or salt cod--salt does penetrate all the way to the center, though as I say it takes time. Not all chemical changes cause a visible change in meat structure.
It can’t hurt and may well give you a dough that’s much easier to handle and bake properly, but if the recipe comes from a reputable source, I’d try following its directions exactly for at least one batch and see what happens. There may be a reason that it doesn’t call for chilling. Harold
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