How many times have you automatically added a spoonful of olive oil and some salt to your boiling pasta pot or wondered why you heat the oil in a pan before adding that pile of minced garlic and string beans? There are many rituals we practice in our kitchens that were either handed down when we learned to cook or we read about in an article or heard on the tube.
A couple days ago Kenneth Chang of the New York Times delved into the reasons we do these things in an article. Yes, science. That's what all these actions break down to. There are reasons to add the salt, sugar or oil.
Chang interviewed a few writers, such as biochemist Shirley O. Corriher, author of Cookwise and Bakewise, two books that look into the science of how food cooks and how it can improve your skills; and Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, who talks about how cooking beans with sugar actually changes the beans' chemistry.
Not noted in the article is the 2002 book What Einstein Told His Cook by Robert L. Wolke, which outlines this subject in great detail.
Are there any scientific food rituals you find yourself doing?
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