The Accidental Scientist: Science of Cooking
Candy Bread Eggs Pickles Meat Seasoning

One-fourth of the world’s spice trade involves pepper.

Pepper is included in the first cookbook, written by the Roman Apicius.

The essential oils in herbs and spices are denatured by heat. Because these seasonings derive their flavor from their oils, they should be added at the end of cooking.

It's best to use Kosher salt on prepared foods like corn-on-the-cob, or for drawing bitter juices out of vegetables like eggplant. Its more jagged edges help it stick to foods better.

Temperature covers up bitter flavors. That’s why coffee tastes better hot than cold.

Eating hot peppers boosts your adrenalin level as much as activities like bungee jumping and white-water rafting. Peppers, though, are much less hazardous!

Most of the flavor you detect comes through your nose, not your tongue. The olfactory system is 10,000 times more sensitive than your taste buds.

The flavor of any food is a complex mixture of many molecules. Strawberries, for example, contain 350 different flavor compounds.

If you’ve put too much salt in a casserole, stew or soup, a small amount of sugar will take the salty edge off.

The flavors of herbs and spices come largely from their essential oils. Herbs have much less oil than spices, and so are more subtle.

Sweet Hungarian paprika is the least strong among the spices. Chilis are the strongest.

The quest for pepper was the driving factor behind Europe’s search for trade routes to the east.

A woman's sense of taste and smell is keenest in the middle of her 28-day cycle. A pregnant woman is tuned into her senses most strongly during the first three months of pregnancy.

Bitter, sour and salty tastes mask the sweetness of sugar. Processed foods that don't taste sweet may contain more sugar than you think.

There is no evidence to support the "Chinese restaurant syndrome" some people believe is caused by MSG. In fact, consumers are as likely to find MSG in fast food, prepared supermarket foods or budget eateries as they are at Chinese restaurants.

Hot chili perks up one's appetite.

Hot chili causes a person to sweat, which cools them off. In this way, by eating chili, a person becomes a sort of "walking refrigerator," warmer on the outside, but cooler on the inside.

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