'Harold McGee' on Serious Eats

Is Ham the New Bacon?

"There are a number of seriously delicious artisanal hams being made all over this pig-happy country of ours." That is the porcine question of the day. It all started with Italian prosciutto di Parma, progressed to Serrano ham from Spain, and then of course moved to the ne plus ultra of European ham, the black-footed (patenegra in Spanish), called Jamon Iberico. But now American artisanal ham makers are getting in on the act. Herb and Kathy Eckhouse started making extraordinary La Quercia prosciutto in Des Moines, Iowa. How extraordinary? Italian chefs in America who worship at the feet of Parma ham like Mario Batali started taking notice. Now third generation curemaster Sam Edwards working with Heritage Foods USA and Newman... More

How to Skoal with Style and Grace

Alan Richman, "GQ" magazine food writer. Visiting Sweden? Hope to impress a Swede? Just want to appear worldly and stylish? The French Culinary Institute's Cooking Issues blog has been posting an ongoing series of photos it calls the Skål!/Skoal! Project that can school you in one small social custom. The series includes such food-world luminaries as Jeffrey Steingarten, Harold McGee, Wylie Dufresne, and Alan Richman (above), who has perhaps the most extreme skål to date. More pix after the jump.... More

Kitchen Science: Ask Harold McGee

Curious cook Harold McGree is spending the day answering interesting kitchen questions on the New York Times's Diner's Journal blog. So far, he's deemed carrot tops safe to eat but reserved judgment on cheese with the mold trimmed off. On a more pleasant note, he explains why salt and pepper are our "basic" spices. And in the realm of kitchen thermodynamics, McGee analyzes the effects of heat on oil in pans and rimmed baking sheets.... More

Harold McGee Ranks #143 on Time 100

Molecular gastronomist Harold McGee, author of the New York Times column "The Curious Cook," earned a #143 ranking on Time magazine's annual 100 most influential people list. Polling is entirely reader-generated, so the popularity contest has nothing to do with editorial opinions. Our food nerd hero beat out Oprah (#150), Steve Jobs (#174), Hillary Clinton (#183), Gawker overlord Nick Denton (#199), and the Dalai Lama (#207). McGee is the preeminent scholar of double-dipping, and the greater intersection of food and chemistry.... More

The Microwave Oven: Do You Actually Cook With Yours?

The Minimalist, Mark Bittman, and the Curious Cook, Harold McGee, pose all kinds of interesting questions and provide answers about the microwave oven, the kitchen appliance we all love to hate, in today's New York Times. Bittman's fundamental question: We all use a microwave, but can we make it cook? His conclusion, one he came to through trial and error and by interviewing Microwave Gourmet author Barbara Kafka, is that microwaves are great for steaming everything from vegetables to puddings both sweet and savory. What do Kafka and McGee have to say about microwaving?... More

Is Organic Tastier?

Yes, if you are a rat. Harold McGee shares the results of a 21-year study of organic wheat production: As an "integrative method" for assessing quality, they gave lab animals a choice of biscuits made from organic or conventional wheat. The rats ate significantly more of the former. The authors call this result remarkable, because they found the two wheats to be very similar in chemical composition and baking performance. Recent studies conducted with humans have shown that we can less reliably (if at all) discern a difference in taste between organic and non-organic foods. Assuming the rats are right and organic foods are tastier, what's to account for it? One hypothesis is that the higher levels of phytochemicals are... More

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