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Cooking Myths


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I was reading Alice B Toklas's cookbook over the weekend + all her recipes state very firmly that sauces must be stirred in one direction only.  What's all that about then?

I wish I could remember the reason behind it, but somewhere on eG there's a thread that mentions mixing ground meat in one direction when making...meatballs? Meatloaf? I'll try to find it...

Andie, YOU WIN! :laugh:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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I was reading Alice B Toklas's cookbook over the weekend + all her recipes state very firmly that sauces must be stirred in one direction only.  What's all that about then?

I wish I could remember the reason behind it, but somewhere on eG there's a thread that mentions mixing ground meat in one direction when making...meatballs? Meatloaf? I'll try to find it...

Andie, YOU WIN! :laugh:

this thread?

PS: I am a guy.

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Yep . . . andie wins.

Here is one that an old dotty aunt used to totally believe in. If a toad hopped into the kitchen, you had to throw out all of the butter in the fridge. :blink: Now, why that should make any difference to the butter I haven't a clue. Not to mention why a toad would hop into a kitchen. I never found out if she ever had that happen or what the origin of the belief was. My Grandma used to say she was as nutty as a pet coon.

On the scalded milk, something does happen to the taste. I learned to drink coffee in the New Orleans area when I went to college. My MIL always scalded the milk and it does taste different. Another oddity of the area. If you go to Cafe Du Monde you will notice that they pour the coffee and the scalded milk into the mugs simultaneously. They swear it makes a difference. I dunno. Maybe it does.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Yep . . . andie wins.
By far.
On the scalded milk, something does happen to the taste. I learned to drink coffee in the New Orleans area when I went to college. My MIL always scalded the milk and it does taste different. Another oddity of the area. If you go to Cafe Du Monde you will notice that they pour the coffee and the scalded milk into the mugs simultaneously. They swear it makes a difference. I dunno. Maybe it does.

For the record, New Orleans is the one place in this country I'll drink coffee. It actually tastes good to me there. And when I have the pleasure of visiting, I must go to Cafe du Monde for my cup. The only other place I've ever drunk coffee is a small town in Zeeland, where for my chocoladekoffie they added a square of bittersweet chocolate. I can't help but think that with even regular old American coffee, a square of good chocolate and some scalded milk might make a difference for me.

To get back on topic: I seem to remember a blurb in Cook's Illustrated (I think) that discusses scalding milk for bread-baking, and I think they actually did the experiment. They discovered that scalding does make for a higher rise. I don't know what it means if a toad hops into your milk. :wink:

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Yep . . . andie wins.

Here is one that an old dotty aunt used to totally believe in. If a toad hopped into the kitchen, you had to throw out all of the butter in the fridge.  :blink:  Now, why that should make any difference to the butter I haven't a clue. Not to mention why a toad would hop into a kitchen. I never found out if she ever had that happen or what the origin of the belief was. My Grandma used to say she was as nutty as a pet coon.

On the scalded milk, something does happen to the taste. I learned to drink coffee in the New Orleans area when I went to college. My MIL always scalded the milk and it does taste different. Another oddity of the area. If you go to Cafe Du Monde you will notice that they pour the coffee and the scalded milk into the mugs simultaneously. They swear it makes a difference. I dunno. Maybe it does.

South Indian "by the yard" coffee also definitely uses boiled

(and boiling hot) milk. You pour the decoction, and the milk,

into your tumbler, and then go back and forth between the

tumbler and the "dubra" (don't know any English word for this)

with the stream growing longer and longer each time, until

you have a frothy well mixed drink; much sugared of course.

milagai

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An egg was roasted, chopped very fine and tossed out into the yard at the time of the new moon, for the "little people".

:smile: That's great. I'm convinced that my kitchen has kitchen gnomes (from eastern european folklore). "little people" who live behind the stove, and often steal things, cause mischief.

Occasionally, while I'm cooking, utensils or ingredients (small stuff, like spices) go missing. If I stand in the middle of the kitchen, close my eyes, and say out loud, "could you please return the salt?" it will usually re-appear by the time I open my eyes, often right where I left it.

s

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For instance, do you really need to scorch milk? No, it's probably a holdover from days before pasteurization. Today it's not really necessary, but it still lives on in many recipes.

Oddly enough, I've found this one useful when making bread - it seems to let the bread last longer - of course, waiting for it to cool down enough to add the yeast is a bit of a pain (unintentional pun, but I'll leave it anyway).

Apart from that - nice list andie, I don't think I can add anything!

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I liked them all but thinking about this in particular:
No man was allowed in the kitchen while cakes were baking.

Probably because they might open the oven and ruin the cake to taste it ... :rolleyes: or was it their personal magnetism? I forget now ... :hmmm:

I had a chance to question one of my aunts about Lily Pearl's varied and interesting superstitions and regarding this one she said that Lily Pearl always said,

"De mans be tromping too ha'ad on de floah so dey stay outta de kitchen when de cakes be in de ubben, lessen dey fall. Be dey cause de cakes to fall I be cussin' dem." ***

Apparently none of the men every had the nerve to incur one of Lily Pearl's "curses"......

My aunt also reminded me that Lily Pearl had a lot of "rules" about how and when vegetables and fruit were picked. And lord help the man that whistled as he carried the milk and cream from the barn to the kitchen. That would call the pixies that would make the milk sour and the cream refuse to "set".

***Lily Pearl was a Gullah woman from the Carolina lowcountry that my grandfather had lured away from her previous employment, with his cousin, by promising her that her family would do much better moving to Kentucky with him. It is my understanding that she was the first black woman in our part of the country to own her own car, of which she was extremely proud and insisted that the men in her family kept it perfectly polished.

If I had just one wish I could have granted, it would be to have Lily Pearl's recipe for Angel Food Cake. I have never seen one rise as high or be as light. It was like eating sea foam.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Does anyone remember the "Kitchen Witch?" It was usually a straw-haired, pointy-hat wearing doll-type thing that hung on your wall. She was supposed to keep things from burning, cakes from falling etc. I've never had one because I never burn anything, my cakes are perfect and really, why would I want competition for witch-of-the-house?! :raz:

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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Here is one that an old dotty aunt used to totally believe in. If a toad hopped into the kitchen, you had to throw out all of the butter in the fridge.  :blink:  Now, why that should make any difference to the butter I haven't a clue. Not to mention why a toad would hop into a kitchen. I never found out if she ever had that happen or what the origin of the belief was. My Grandma used to say she was as nutty as a pet coon.

Speaking of witches, this probably, ultimately, has something to do with them. For some reason, witches (in European superstition, anyway) always have a keen interest in dairy products... stealing your cream, sucking the milk out of your cows, turning your butter. And many of them will either send their familiars to do it, or do it themselves in animal shape (toad, rat, cat, hare).

My mother also has told me to stir only in one direction (clockwise) -- but only certain things, a cornstarch pudding, to be exact. Said they don't thicken if stirred in different directions -- which, as I have tested several times since, doesn't appear to be true.

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I waitressed in a Greek restaurant. The Greek cooks would refuse to hand you a knife directly.........it had to be placed on a surface, then picked up. Otherwise the "lack of grounding the iron" would cause a fight.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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I waitressed in a Greek restaurant.  The Greek cooks would refuse to hand you a knife directly.........it had to be placed on a surface, then picked up.  Otherwise the "lack of grounding the iron" would cause a fight.

:). Interesting! We say this in india as well. No one hands another family member a sharp object in their hand. It must be placed on a surface for the other person to pick up!

-w@w

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Another oddity of the area. If you go to Cafe Du Monde you will notice that they pour the coffee and the scalded milk into the mugs simultaneously. They swear it makes a difference. I dunno. Maybe it does.

I believe them. When I make a cappuccino I always pour the espresso into the cup before the steamed milk. I swear it tastes different if I pour the milk first into the cup and then the espresso. I'm not crazy...honestly.

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!"

-Presiden Muffley, Dr. Strangelove

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I waitressed in a Greek restaurant.  The Greek cooks would refuse to hand you a knife directly.........it had to be placed on a surface, then picked up.  Otherwise the "lack of grounding the iron" would cause a fight.

:). Interesting! We say this in india as well. No one hands another family member a sharp object in their hand. It must be placed on a surface for the other person to pick up!

-w@w

Russia, too :blink::smile:.

Trying to remember what other cooking-related superstitions there were when I was growing up, but as my mom did not like to cook, not much time was spend in the kitchen by the family :biggrin:.

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Another oddity of the area. If you go to Cafe Du Monde you will notice that they pour the coffee and the scalded milk into the mugs simultaneously. They swear it makes a difference. I dunno. Maybe it does.

I believe them. When I make a cappuccino I always pour the espresso into the cup before the steamed milk. I swear it tastes different if I pour the milk first into the cup and then the espresso. I'm not crazy...honestly.

No, you're not crazy. For proof, check out The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century, by David Salsburg.

Believe it or not, the question of what difference it made whether tea was added to milk or milk added to tea very briefly occupied one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, Ronald Fisher. A woman at a tea party Fisher attended said she could tell the difference between tea made by adding milk to tea, and tea made by adding tea to milk. Fisher said that was nonsense, and designed a blind tasting experiment to test for this ability. To Fisher's suprise, the woman accurately identified each of eight cups as being tea+milk or milk+tea.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

/Quote

That sounds like my paternal grandmother, who was Lithuanian (she passed away a few years ago). She had all kinds of superstitions like that. Whenever she gave me something like a kitchen knife or a pair of quilting scissors, but made me give her a nickel so it wasn't a gift but a "sale". She told me that giving sharp objects as gift to a loved one would cut your love.

/Quote

In Canada (maybe only Western Canada) if you give knives or other sharp items as a wedding present you need to tape money to the knives or scissors. This cancels out the bad luck of giving a weapon to a newly married couple. I'm not sure which of our many mixed cultures brought this to us but I would guess English, Welsh, Scotish or German as I've seen people of those decents do this.

Vanderb (ever hungry)

Amateur with dreams of grandeur

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My paternal grandparents, of Tennessee and Oklahoma descent (Scots, Irish, English, Welsh) also would not give sharp objects as gifts because the sharp edge would cut the love or friendship. My father remembered to his dying day how disappointed he was when his father gave him his very first pocket knife as a birthday present - and then demanded some money (a dime? a nickel?) in return. OTOH, Dad and his father loved each other deeply, all their lives, so it must have worked. :wink: I confess, I've defied the tradition a few times but never been comfortable doing so, even though MY parents gave me wonderful cutlery and it has never cut the love.

I suppose the business about cutting off the end of the ham before roasting it falls more into funny stories than into old wives' tales? I'll tell it anyway. Somebody wrote the Reader's Digest long ago that her husband asked her why she always cut the end off the ham before putting it in the roasting pan. The answer was "that's how Mom taught me," and she'd never wondered why. She called her mother to find out why, and her mother said, "that's how Mom taught me." Fortunately the grandmother was still around. When they called her to ask why, she hooted with laughter and said, "Because I never had a pan big enough to fit a whole ham!" :laugh:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I ran across a good one in a French movie I saw yesterday,

"La Vie est un Long Fleuve Tranquille "(1988), directed By Étienne Chatiliez

The context was an dinner table admoniition directed at the children in a bourgeois househeld. It went something like this:

"Don't drink cold water right after eating a spoonful of soup; it will crack the enamel on your teeth."

(I have no idea if this is rooted in any real sayings or if it was dreamt up by the screenwriters... :smile:

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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  • 2 years later...

I have heard everyone claim that one should make tea starting with cold water. Most of the time they claim it is because of the oxygen content of the water. However, once you heat up the water, you'll lose the oxygen anyway.

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Is this a myth: put a wine cork in with your cooking octopus and it will be more tender?

I keep hearing this (well, twice this month) but nobody seems to have any proof, or even a proposed mechanism to explain the claim.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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