How Much Is Inside Mustard? "A staple of summertime living, French's classic yellow mustard is the only suitable companion to hot dogs. However, while other websites delve into the buns 8-pack vs. frank 10-pack controversy, here at How Much is Inside, we wondered, how many hot dogs can you dress with one bottle of Mustard? On Friday night, we decided to find out." I heart you Rob Cockerham, you man of science, you.
Ready for dinner on Mars? Alain Ducasse's company was one of two tasked by the European Space Agency to develop delicious recipes for astronauts to prepare on long duration space missions. "The menus were all based on nine main ingredients that ESA envisions could be grown in greenhouses of future colonies on Mars or other planets. The nine must comprise at least 40% of the final diet, while the remaining (up to) 60% could be additional vegetables, herbs, oil, butter, salt, pepper, sugar and other seasoning brought from Earth." Guess this means I won't be going into space till the science of fake meat has advanced a considerable deal.
Glee Gum's Make Your Own Chewing Gum kit. "And it's really easy: Soften the chicle gum base, either in the microwave or on the stove. Then you add the sugar, corn syrup, and the flavor packets, knead it a little, and WOW! You've made your own gum!" $10 gets you enough to make 50 pieces, refills are $6. [via kottke.org]
One of my most traumatic eating moments ever came a few years ago, when a vegan friend lured me to a vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown by saying something like, "You have to try the fake kung pao chicken! It tastes just like the real thing!"
I'll spare you the unpleasant details, but let's just say that since then I've become exceedingly wary of meat substitutes—tofu is great but when it's tofu, not dressed up trying to be something else. (And don't even get me started on the abomination that is seitan, may it never cross my lips or the lips of anyone I care about again.)
Anyway, Slate's Dahlia Lithwick did a fake meat roundup way back in 2001, subjecting herself and her friends to all sorts of pork, beef and turkey substitutes. Some products did well (Lightlife's Steak Style Strips had testers saying things like "close to steak," "beefy," "wow I'm converted."), while others tested the limits of friendship (Worthington's Savory Slices was the worst of show, with comments like "tastes like eating suede," "something removed in a doctor show," "oh, my God," and "you've got to be kidding."). Lithwick closes her piece with this:
"One hates to be a reactionary, but sometimes absolute relativism is an evil unto itself. Plunging neck deep into the world of meat alternatives made it clear that the good Lord may have put cows and soybeans on different ends of his great classification system for good reason. Pigs rarely aspire to be asparagus. And wheat should not strive to be meat. With enough sauces, and marinades, and spices, a filament of gluten can pass for a strip of steak. But no one should be forced to eat three full courses of products that are all, as one of the artists among us observed, shaped either in circles or blobs. And no one should have to choke down stringy, tasteless, or chewy morsels just because they are coated in a sauce that might once have coated something at McDonald's. Call me a food fundamentalist, but the land in which meat and tofus collide is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there."
It's been four years since she wrote that, people. Four years! Has food science advanced any since then? Are there any new fake meat products that won't make dedicated carnivores like myself ill? Tell me about them, or share your tales of bad fake meat experiences in the comments.
Two hours north of Barcelona and only open six months out of the year, Ferran Adrià's experimental flagship El Bulli is widely considered to be the best restaurant in the world. So, as you might well imagine, it's rather hard to get reservations and even if you can get them you'll have considerable travelling costs, but for a few hundred dollars each you can get Adrià's El Bulli cookbooks off of Amazon and have fun in your own kitchen. Each hardcover book is "filled with full color photographs, presents not only El Bulli's unparalleled recipes, but also an analysis of their development, philosophy, and technique" and is "presented as a boxed set that includes the main volume, along with a detailed Users Guide and an interactive CD that contains each recipe, numbered and catalogued by year."
El Bulli: 1983-1993, the first volume, is only available special order and at its list price: a whopping $492. Most expensive cookbook ever? I sure think (hope?) so, but if you know differently please let me know.
El Bulli: 1994-1997 is slightly cheaper than its predecessor but still also going for its list price of $450. Third volume El Bulli: 1998-2002 is currently deeply discounted from $350 to $220.50, so if you're an Adrià fan or know someone who is, that probably makes it the El Bulli cookbook to pick up this season.
(Free Super Saver Shipping, if that helps!)
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream. "If you are anything like me, then you love ice cream. There is nothing like making your own, but the problem is, it just takes too long to freeze and some things just don't like to freeze. A while ago Scientific American [April, 1994 pgs. 66-71] had an article call Cooking with Chemistry or something along those lines. One of the recipes was one for using Liquid Nitrogen to make Ice Cream. Great!" This site is circa 1996 but still going strong. Make sure to watch the video!
Wonder Pizza vending machines. "The innovative machine holds, cooks and serves 9” whole pizza pies in just 2 minutes. There are 3 different pizzas available in each machine at one time. Delicious Connie’s Pizza of Chicago is featured in all WonderPizza Kiosks." Imported from Italy, I wonder if they'll be successful in the US? I want to say they won't appear in New York given the pizza joints on every other corner, but then again against all logic Domino's seems to be doing well here, so. [via Linklog]