You’ve heard of urban legends. Those believable yet false stories that travel widely, such as the $250 Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe or putting pop rocks in your coke will kill you. (Coca-cola, I mean. I imagine that snorting pop rocks with your coke WOULD kill you. If the drug didn’t kill you first, that is.)
Over the Christmas vacation, I learned a few things about kitchen myths from my family, boyfriend, and various websites. Why should you believe me, you ask? I don’t know. And to cover my ass here…I don’t even KNOW for sure that I am correct. These are just my findings.
Myth Number One:
Pork is the other white meat.
The Boyfriend! does not eat red meat. For my family, he may as well have walked through our front door announcing he was visiting from Zyforgh in faux human skin sewn together from the popular, velvety mogblorf flower found on his planet and that he would need to be leaving soon so to make it back to his planet in time for their spring. In fact, this story probably would have been better received than telling my parents that he didn’t eat red meat. But I gave them a head’s up a couple of weeks before so that my dad did not buy any nice steaks for him or anything. My parents took these two weeks to plot carefully thought out meals of chicken and pasta and eggplant and pork.
Uh oh. The Boyfriend! does not eat pork. It is red meat, he claims.
Me: Dad! I told you Sean doesn’t eat red meat!
Dad: Pork’s not red meat. It’s white meat. Hello, the other white meat.
Sean: It’s still red meat.
Dad: No it’s not. Look (he cuts the pork down the middle). See? White.
Me: They do say it’s the “other white meat”
Sean: That’s advertising! What about bacon? That’s obviously not white meat.
Dad: I grew up on a farm. My father was a butcher. I know white meat better than you, boy.
Mom: Sean, they couldn’t advertise it if it wasn’t true. That’d be false advertising.
After about an hour of debating the topic, Sean pulled out the computer to do some research. And we finally found a website with conclusive reports:
PORK IS RED MEAT. All hoven animals and actually, all mammals are considered red meat. Humans are red meat. Bison is red meat. Lamb is red meat.
White meat is poultry. All birds are considered white meat.
The Boyfriend! was right. And I hate admitting that.
Myth Number Two:
Baking Soda in the Fridge eliminates odors.
This seems like it would be true right? I mean, what ELSE do you use Baking Soda for? NOTHING. It’s probably the main appeal for buying it in the first place. However, about a year ago, I tested this. I had opened chicken and forgot about it. All of a sudden, my fridge smelled putrid. Like rancid meat…because guess what was in there? I spotted the source of the problem and after throwing away the rotted meat, ran to the store for baking soda. After several days, the odor dissipated. Then, a few days later, I ordered Chinese food and had leftovers. Chinese food meals usually last me several days because I pick at them over the course of 6 or 7 meals. But more often than not, I end up throwing the leftovers out because the smell of it is so strong that it begins to gross me out. I got excited, thinking the baking soda had solved all of my leftover problems! Not the case. By Day 2, my fridge smelled like a greasy kitchen and just as before, I had to toss my leftovers.
According to Matthew Jabs:
This is simply a very clever and successful marketing ploy by the baking soda people, but the fact is that baking soda is very poor at absorbing odors. Activated charcoal would work much better but is expensive.
Guess I’ll have to stop being lazy and actually wrap my food. Or better yet–clean the fridge once in a while.
Myth Number Three:
Sushi means raw fish
Almost every member of my immediate family is in the medical field one way or another. Every last one of them frowns upon my eating sushi. Raw fish carries mercury, it’s bad for you, blah, blah, blah. Now, whether or not their theories on raw fish are true, I don’t know. That’s not what I am arguing here. What I AM arguing is that my family all seem to think that sushi is synonymous with “raw fish”. Not so -the term actually refers to the vinegar rice used. This is made by dissolving sugar in vinegar (usually rice vinegar) and tossing with the hot, just-cooked rice. Sushi therefore refers to vinegared rice served with other ingredients, which may or may not include fish (which in turn may be raw or may be cooked). The rice itself is referred to as shari. Raw fish served by itself without the rice is called sashimi.
So put that in your seaweed and eat it, mom!
Myth Number Four:
Lobsters scream with pain when boiled
I freaking love lobster. I love the bibs they give you before you start eating. I love the first crack of the shell when you pull out that long, sweet juicy meat. I love the butter you dip it in that always manages to dribble down my chin and land on my shirt. However, I do not like seeing the lobster happily swimming around before its demise. I do not like the restaurants that ask you to PICK your specific lobster. I do not want to see it happy and living and then know that the crustacean is dead because I made that choice. Do I look like God to you?! It’s too much power. No, no, I much prefer to think that it was found dead of natural causes, washed up on the beach and the seafood restaurant’s owner found it. Yes, the restaurant business probably has a whole staff of people who simply peruse the shores of Maine looking for dead lobsters suitable for cooking.
Of course I don’t want to inflict pain on animals! I had trouble exposing of the mouse that was in my apartment last year. But this one is false on two accounts. First of all, pain doesn’t just happen automatically - it is the result of specific receptors, nerve pathways, and brain regions all cooperating to convert certain physical stimuli into the perception of pain. This has all been thoroughly worked out in humans and other vertebrates. But guess what - lobsters and other crustaceans are not vertebrates and do not have these nerve pathways and brain regions (they don’t have a real brain at all, for that matter). In other words, no brain, no pain.
What about the “scream” that lobsters sometime emit when submerged in the boiling water? Well, lobsters have no throat, no vocal cords, and no lungs. That awful high pitched noise you hear is actually caused by air trapped in the shell. When heated it expands and forces itself out through small gaps, causing the sound.
More interesting dispelled myths to come…