Pepper lovers know that the active ingredient, capsaicin, is what gives peppers their kick. One thing I didn't know is this: How many plants have capsaicin?
Just peppers! It comes in no other plant or animal matter. Other hot foods, like mustard and horseradish, rely on other fiery molecules.
It occurs mainly in the membranes that hold the seeds but not in the seeds. The spiciest pepper used to be the jabanero (100,000-300,000 "Scoville" units) but a new pepper, Naga Jolokia, recently discovered in remote regions of India tops 1,000,000. Jalapenos score around 4,000, cayenne starts at 30,000. Pepper sprays are about 2,000,000 and the sprays used to repel bears are at up to 5,000,000.
The antidote? Water and beer do no good: You want dairy. The milk protein casein attracts capsaicin molecules and washes the irritant away.
One of the things that made humans successful is our ability to eat anything. I'm fascinated by what people will — and won't — eat.
Maybe you have see the "Beijing Fast Food" e-mail that's been floating around. If not, here it is.
Well, I would eat any of it. Once at least.
It's funny how whether something is delicious or disgusting is entirely cultural. We eat cows but not horses, rabbits but not rats, lobsters but not roaches. Goat, enjoyed everywhere but here, is healthy and flavorful. We'll eat pigeons and doves but only if they're called squab. The whole bug and worm kingdom is off limits to us, which is too bad, really. We eat okra and lima beans and eggplant — go figure.
Until early in the 20th century, lobster was considered poor people food, sold in the streets of New York. A friend and I were talking about "po folk" food. Give me a shoulder or belly cut any day, where can I get some jowls? Filet mignon is tender but flavor-deprived.
You want a real eye-opener, visit the Asian markets and especially the candy and snack aisles. Shrimp-flavored candy, anyone?
I have been meaning to write for some time about TCHO, a chocolate from a company founded by high-tech types. They consider their product in "beta" right now. It comes in a brown wrapper and they invite you to comment via their website.
The FoodGal (whom I happen to know is a chocaholic and whose tastes in chocolate match mine) posted a really good article on TCHO.
The only one I have tried is their “Chocolatey” bar. As I read, I was thinking, “I’ll bet FoodGal gives this a 9!” And she did. My comments are that the balance is perfect. The aftertastes keep coming — for many minutes.
At $10 for two 50 g bars, plus $5 shipping, they're a little pricey but this is super-premium quality. FoodGal says there is a third variety, "Nutty," but their website only shows Chocolatey and Fruity. Purchase at the TCHO website.
My buddy John, saw this and knew I had to have it:
Thank you, thank you, John!
I tried it today. It's weird but good.
The bacon is good -- you can tell it's real and has a full, bacon flavor. But the chocolate is weaker. I think there is some potential here but if I were formulating this, I would have used dark chocolate, which I think would better stand up to the bacon.
Still, a gourmet experience is not so much the point. Bacon. Chocolate. Good, and pretty good together!
This is very easy to make and delicious cold or hot. Cumin and carrots are a natural pairing and this recipe is beautifully balanced.
3 carrots 1 onion 1 potato, medium, white or yellow 1 can chicken broth, low-salt 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 2 cloves garlic 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (see note) ½ teaspoon fresh thyme ½ cup carrot juice (optional) 2-4 tablespoons cream chives parsley
If using cumin seed, place in a heavy stock pot and toast in the dry pan over medium-high heat until fragrant, shaking frequently to prevent burning. Watch carefully once the seeds begin to darken or fragrance begins to rise, as the seeds burn very quickly. Allow to cool and grind seeds in spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
Peel carrots and onions. You can leave the potato unpeeled. Cut vegetables into chunks, about 1-2 inches. Add to pot with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and cook until the vegetables soften slightly and onions begin to become transparent. Do not brown. Meanwhile, peel and finely chop garlic. Add garlic to pan and cook for a few minutes more. Add all ingredients and bring to boil. Allow to simmer about 25 minutes, until all vegetables have softened. Do not overcook. They need to be mashable but if you cook too long, the flavors will dull.
Use a hand blender, food processor, or blender to blend until smooth (but leave some texture). Stir in cream. Add water if it's too thick and add salt (probably about 1/2 teaspoon) if necessary. Add a splash of fresh carrot juice for a bright, fresh flavor.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with minced chive and a sprig of parsley.
Note: You can use ground cumin instead of seeds, but freshly toasted and ground seeds add a great deal more flavor.
Microsoft knows they have a reputation issue with Vista. Buggy, crashy, bloated, slow.
But what if Vista is really good and all of this is just perception?
In a high-tech version of the old Folgers commercial, Microsoft showed people who were critical of Vista a next-generation version of Windows called Mojave. They later reveal that it was really good old Folgers Crystals — I mean, Vista.
If Microsoft really believes that people will like Vista, if they would only try it, how about a money-back guarantee? (Of course, if you don't like it, you them have to figure out how to uninstall it and go back to your old system.)
Leo Laporte says Vista has had a bum rap, that it's actually quite good, and way more secure than previous versions of Windows. But you do need recent hardware — don't run it on your old 800 MHz Pentium.
And by the way, I admire the polish and skill of this campaign but worry not: I still hate Microsoft. None of those reasons have changed.
Serious Eats Serious Eats is another blog which plants its stake, and its steak, in the fertile land where food meets science. There is lots of great material here, much of it by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, or Kenji. If you like FeedMe, you will like Serious Eats.
Cooking for Engineers What do you get when you apply the engineer's mind to the kitchen? Straightforward, practical recipes and tips and a passion for simplifying without sacrificing quality.