About a year ago I wrote THIS POST in which I debunked 10 popular kitchen myths. But I think one can never have too much debunking, so I'm going to debunk some MORE, y'all. I still just love that word...debunked. Makes me giggle. Don't know why.
So here we go again...
1. The eye of the potato is poisonous.
Not reeeeaaallly. But they are kinda poisonous.
I'm afraid that my dear Mama, though a brilliant homemaker, was a somewhat poor housekeeper. She often kept what I always thought of as "science projects" in her kitchen. Opening Tupperware containers that had been shoved to the back of the fridge was often a frightening and sometimes traumatizing experience. She always kept her potatoes in a bag under the sink, and being sent under there to fetch a potato for her was often a scary task - potatoes would have crazy roots growing out of them, little buds sprouting out of their eyes and sometimes they were sort of green and mushy. Mama would then make me peel the dang things, and cut out the eyes, but I'm afraid that we weren't particularly careful about this, and we ate them anyway.
The truth is, that potatoes are, in fact, part of the nightshade, also known as belladonna, family. Which is, of course, what the evil Locusta used to kill the Emperor Claudius. And all nightshades contain a bit of a naturally occurring chemical called solanine, which is toxic. And the eye contains a higher concentration of this solanine stuff. If potatoes age and/or are exposed to too much light, they turn all green and mushy and the amount of solamine they contain increases.
But apparently, a 200-lb person would have to eat 2 pounds of potato eyes/roots/green bits in a single day to receive a toxic dose. Which would be not only gross, but possibly psychotic. And I feel that my very existence, after a childhood of eating Mama's green and eye-ridden potatoes proves my point.
Bottom line - You should cut the eyes out because they're nasty and taste bitter, but if you leave one in, you won't kill anybody.
2. If you soak the chicken in a little lemon juice it kills the bacteria.
This is a...Mommyism. You know, I should probably write another post and title it "Mommy Debunked", because my precious mother-in-law Mommy has some wacky notions. She is also, as I have mentioned many times before, a germ freak. I suspect that if she thought it would taste okay, she would soak the chicken in Lysol. But since that's insane, she always insists on soaking chicken in a bowl of cold water and a little lemon juice.
Now, while lemon juice is, in fact, a great disinfectant, and will kill some bacteria, something called COOKING is an even better disinfectant, and will kill even more bacteria. So the soak is a bit...redundant. And lemon juice isn't a powerful enough disinfectant to kill salmonella.
On the other hand, lemon does work as a tenderizer, and it tastes damned good so...what the hell. I'll let Mommy continue with her soaking.
And while I'm talking Mommyisms...
3. Garlic lasts longer if you store it in the refrigerator.
While this is, technically, true, the cold temperature also spoils the taste and the texture of the garlic. It also makes it about 100 times harder to peel, which I tell Mommy every time I have to cook at her house, but she never listens to me. Even though the woman goes through garlic so quickly, there's no way in hell it would ever rot before she got to it no matter where she kept it. And even though the head of garlic costs all of about $.28, and God forbid she would ever have throw 3 cents of garlic away...I'm sorry, was I ranting?
The best place to store garlic is in a cool, dry place. Like the pantry.
4. You should crack an egg on the edge of a bowl or countertop.
This was Cooking 101 in my house growing up. Mama cracked every egg she ever cracked in her life against the edge of her bowl.
But apparently, if you crack them on a flat surface, your chances for a clean break are much better, and you'll be less likely to get little bits of shell in the bowl. I have been experimenting with this life-changing theory for the last couple of days and I believe it to be true.
I know! The axis of my world has shifted slightly. Live and learn.
5. The only alcohol that is good for your heart is red wine.
Oh my, this one makes me so happy I could spit.
Red wine, white wine, pink wine, beer and hard liquor all have the SAME health benefits!
Apparently, this confusion was brought about by something called the French Paradox - researchers believed that it was the antioxidants in red wine which protected all those butter and cheese loving French people from heart disease.
But more recent research has shown that antioxidants aren't the reason at all. It's the alcohol itself - ethanol - that raises the levels of HDL (good cholesterol), which helps protect arteries from plaque buildup which leads to heart attacks and strokes. So any alcohol will do the trick.
6. The microwave will give you cancer.
Okay, here's the deal. The radio waves produced by a microwave, which are absorbed by the food, do produce a type of radiation. But there are two main types of radiation - ionizing and non-ionizing.
Ionizing radiation is the kind of radiation that's used in...oh...nuclear power plants. This type of radiation can be dangerous if you receive large doses of it because it has the ability to change your DNA and cause cancer. Which is bad.
That's not to say you shouldn't be careful with microwaves. You don't want to be sticking your face in there when it's going. And you don't want to be using an old, leaky microwave either. And you especially don't want your kids messing with the microwave, since their bodies absorb radiation more easily than adults’.
So...don't microwave your head, do microwave your potato.
7. You should add a little olive oil to the water when you boil pasta so the pasta won't stick together.
I must admit, I did this for about the first half of my life. But all of my many years surrounded by Jimmy's Italian-American family have taught me that this is a poor idea. A little oil in the pot will probably keep the pot from boiling over. And tossing some oil on the pasta after you've drained it will keep the strands from sticking. But it also keeps everything else from sticking to the pasta - things like...sauce.
Every Italian cook I've met just tosses a spoonful or two of sauce into the pasta (or the "macaroni" as Mommy calls it) and stirs it up - that's all you need to keep it from sticking.
And while I'm defending Mommy...
8. If you boil your vegetables too long they lose all their nutrients.
Please, PLEASE don't tell Mommy this. This has been my argument with her for years in my attempt to keep her from boiling the vegetables until they dissolve into mush and lose all resemblance to their original selves.
But the truth is that yes, the broccoli boiled until it dissolves into a puree may have lost many of it's nutrients - mostly vitamins, which are water soluble. But important minerals like iron and potassium don’t break down that easily in water. So...DON'T TELL MOMMY!
9. Eating turkey makes you drowsy.
While tryptophan, an amino acid present in turkey, is a mild sedative, tryptophan doesn't act on the brain unless it is taken on an empty stomach and no protein is present. And since turkey is a source of protein, and most of us believe this to be true on Thanksgiving ...
That sleepy, lethargic feeling one feels after eating Thanksgiving dinner is more likely due to overeating a massive amount of carbohydrates and drinking a bunch of booze. That, and the fact that a tremendous amount of your blood has rushed away from your brain and into your abdomen to aid with digestion.
Bring on that football game.
10. A watched pot never boils.
As hard believe as it is, this is not true. The pot will eventually boil, though if you watch it long enough, your time perception may skew, and it will seem to be a very, very long time.
Okay, this one is just silly, but I couldn't think of a tenth myth and I like nice even numbers.
Well there you have it. Lots more debunking. Don't ever say I never taught you anything.
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