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Odd Measures


Fat Guy
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The No. 9 Chicken thread got me thinking: there sure are a lot of strange ways we measure foodstuffs. Instead of using the simple objective measures of ounces and grams, inches and centimeters, we are treated to "Super-Colossal" "Jumbo" "No. 9" and other systems that require conversion and translation.

Let's pull together the best of the best: odd measures from around the food world.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Archaic British systems do seem to be the most arbitary, and often the most fun. It's only tangentially related to food ( I hope), but, I remember reading once, while I was studying Maxwell equations in physics, Maxwell's note on [something or another, the memory of which has long since been washed away by beer] in which he explained that the amount of electicity he'd used was enough "to cook a cat." :blink::unsure:

A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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Here's one I used to lose a lot of sleep over - "1 1inch piece of fresh ginger, minced" First, I've seen ginger as slender as my finger and ginger almost as thick as my wrist - that means a considerable difference in the amount of minced ginger - further, if you try to mince a 1 inch chunk of ginger you are likely to get as much finger as ginger. Since I like ginger, I no longer worry about it but it used to drive me nuts! Why can't they specify 2 tablespoons (or whatever is called for) of minced ginger? I know, I should get a life!!! (outside of egullet that is) Anna N

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Here's a fun explanation of olive sizes from http://www.midamericasales.com/parthenon_main_page.htm :

Sizes of olives are rated by the quantity of units per kg, with a tolerance of 10, 20 or 30 units.  For instance, when we say 181/200, it means that one kilo of olives contains approximately 190 olives

1. Super Mammouth  91/100   

2. Mammouth  101/100   

3. Super Colossal  111/120 

4. Colossal  121/140 

5. Giants  141/160 

6. Extra Jumbo  161/180 

7. Jumbo  181/200

8.  Extra Large 201/230

9.  Large  231/260 

10.  Superior  261/290

11.  Brilliant  291/320

12.  Fine  321/350

13.  Bullets  351/380

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Scallops, at least in the US, are sized as "U-8," "U-10," etc. to indicate that there are fewer than (aka under) 8 per pound, 10 per pound, etc.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Owing to their colonial heritage, some African recipes call for "1 Prince Albert can of sugar" or "1 Bass bottle of oil."

A restaurant I used to work in had recipes calling for so many "crab" of something. This was the container that our crabmeat came in.

Finally: in my family, instead of a sprinkle or a pinch of salt, we give a "shit" -- a variation on the Yiddish "schutt" so I was told.

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
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Can sizes. Arg.

#1 is 10.5 ounces

#300 is 15 ounces

#1 1/2 is 16 ounces

#303 is 17 ounces

#10 is 106 ounces

Source: Cook's Book of Essential Information: A Kitchen Handbook page 87.

Where is the logic in this? :wacko:

Who does this make sense to? :blink:

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Does anyone know what a gill is?

An old cookbook (1859) calls for a gill of wine or a gill of yeast.

They also specify either a coffee cup full or a tea cup full, I drink my coffee and tea in the same cup! :blink:

The current day one i have a problem with is a handful, is it a handful with them sticking out of the sides or all enclosed in a fist. Isn't there a really great variation in hand sizes as well?

The 1 inch thing of ginger really bothers me too, why can't they say 2 Tablespoons of ginger about a 1 inch piece.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Even seemingly safe measures can be difficult:

The humble tablespoon is 15ml in many places, while the Australian metric tbsp is 20ml... yet my mum's old old pre-metric tablespoon is 30ml. And it's lucky that the US and UK don't often cook with gallons of anything, 'cos their respective gallons differ by about 700ml...

Maybe eGulleteers could contribute any culture-specific measures... like how much is that Italian 'wine glass' or a German 'Tasse' or an old-fashioned coffee-cup vs tea-cup...

--lamington

-- lamington a.k.a. Duncan Markham

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - collaborative book reviews about all things food and wine

Syrup & Tang - candid commentary and flavourful fancies

"It's healthy. It's cake. It's chocolate cake."

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Does anyone know what a gill is?

An old cookbook (1859) calls for a gill of wine or a gill of yeast...

A gill is 1/2 cup.

From FunWithWine.com:

Champagne:

Magnum (1.5 litres) 2 bottles

Jeroboam (3 litres) 4 bottles

Rehoboam (4.5 litres) 6 bottles

Methuselah (6 litres) 8 bottles

Salmanazar (9 litres) 12 bottles

Balthazar (12 litres) 16 bottles

Nebuchadnezzar (15 litres) 20 bottles

Champagne Bollinger:

Magnum (1.5 litres) 2 bottles

Jereboam (3 litres) 4 bottles

Methusalem (6 litres) 8 bottles

Salmanazar (9 litres) 12 bottles

Balthazar (12 litres) 16 bottles

Nabuchodonozor (15 litres) 20 bottles

Bordeaux:

Magnum (1.5 litres) 2 bottles

Marie-Jeanne (2.25 litres) 3 bottles

Double Magnum (3 litres) 4 bottles

Jeroboam (4.5 litres) 6 bottles

Impériale (6 litres) 8 bottles

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Does the Scoville scale for rating the hotness of peppers fit under this heading, or is it a different species?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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My all time favorite from my grandmother and great-aunt...

"'til it looks right"

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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