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The New York Times Style Magazine last weekend (p. 84) included a recipe that claims wine corks can help tenderize octopus simmered in white wine. I'm not a food scientist (most of my knowledge comes from On Food and Cooking and The Curious Cook), but I'm skeptical to say the least. Is there any scientific theory that could support the assertion?

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I’ve looked into this, and found no indication in the scientific literature that cork contains anything that could tenderize muscle tissue, octopus or otherwise. I’ve also done the experiment a few times, and found that corks made no difference. In texture or cooking time. They are so light that they ride high on the surface—the contact with the liquid is probably just a few square millimeters per cork, which isn’t much.

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I’ve looked into this, and found no indication in the scientific literature that cork contains anything that could tenderize muscle tissue, octopus or otherwise. I’ve also done the experiment a few times, and found that corks made no difference. In texture or cooking time. They are so light that they ride high on the surface—the contact with the liquid is probably just a few square millimeters per cork, which isn’t much.

Thanks for confirming my suspicions. I've learned a lot from your first two books, I'm looking forward to getting the new version of On Food and Cooking. I once went on a date with a woman, and when we got back to her place, I noticed she had a softcover version of your original book. Mine is the hardcover version. Without going into detail, I can say it was very good date.

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