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What's the Difference Between White, Baby Bella, and Portabella Mushrooms?

The difference between white mushrooms, baby Bella or cremini mushrooms, and portabellas may surprise you. In fact, these familiar varieties are actually are not different mushrooms, but different cultivars of the same mushroom. A cultivar is a plant, or in this case, mushroom, of a particular species that is selected and/or bred for certain desired characteristics. The white button, cremini (often called Baby Bella, and the Portabellas, all come from the most important and widely used genus...

Should You Rinse Chicken Before Cooking It?

I was watching the latest episode of The Profit with Marcus Leomonis last night and one of the segments spurred me to write about something I was not going to bother writing about because I thought it was thoroughly covered: Should you rinse raw chicken in the sink before preparing and cooking it? The episode featured a company called Southern Culture which makes pancake mixes, fried chicken mix, flavored grits, and other Southern-inspired products. This company had previously been seen on...

The Famous Aspartame Email by Nancy Markle: Source of Myths

This article is the fourth and final article in the series about the artificial sweetener, aspartame. For the previous articles, see: What Is Aspartame and How Was It Invented? Why is There a Warning About Phenylketonurics on Diet Soda Labels? Exaggerated Claims About the Harmful Effects of Aspartame One thing that has continually amazed me during my research for Culinary Lore is how often such seemingly diverse and widespread claims about a food or substance can be traced to one, at at most...

Exaggerated Claims About the Harmful Effects of Aspartame

This is the third article in a series of articles about the artificial sweetener aspartame. You may want to first read about how aspartame was invented and how it's made, as well as the warning on phenylketonurics regarding aspartame. As stated previously, aspartame is the subject of a protracted mythinformation campaign, causing many to unreasonably fear and malign this very common artificial sweetener. This article covers some of the specific health claims about aspartame. For more...

Why is There a Warning About Phenylketonurics on Diet Soda Labels?

Diet drinks and any other products which contain aspartame must bear the following health warning: Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine. This has led many to jump to the conclusion that phenylalanine is poisonous. Why else would they put a warning about it on a label? Well, because it is dangerous to some people who have a very rare disease known as phenylketonuria. What is Phenylketonuria (PKU)? Phenylketonuria, or PKU for short, is an inherited condition that affects about one in...

What Is Aspartame and How Was It Invented?

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in many sugar-free or diet food and beverage products, most famously in Diet Coke, which is also available with Splenda. This non-nutritive sugar substitute gets such a great deal of bad press and is the subject of a very intensive misinformation campaign. The myths about this non-nutritive sweetener are so ingrained that I doubt any amount of effort on my part would change many minds. Well, that's okay. Why should I care whether you avoid aspartame?...

Food Babe, et al. and the Goliath Effect

Ever since Upton Sinclair's The Jungle we've had constant examples of The Goliath Effect, referring to the biblical legend of David and Goliath. The term was originally coined by Gary Alan Fine who pointed out that more [American] urban legends than can be attributed to chance refer to the largest and most dominant corporations. 1 In fact, many food-related urban legends that at first refer to a less dominant product or company will be transferred to dominant brand or company in that...

Why Do We Say 'Take That With A Grain Of Salt?'

I am an expert on everything in the culinary world. You may want to take that with a grain of salt, because, if you believe it, I've got some ocean front property in Arizona you may like. In the previous sentence, you may understand the allusion in latter idiom without explanation. Arizona does not border any oceans; it's land-bound. Therefore, if you believe I have such property, you'd believe anything. But, why should you take the statement about my expertise with a 'grain of salt.' You may...

Are Earthworms Dangerous For Dogs To Eat?

Take a look at the little guy in the photo below. This little guy, a common earthworm, is completely safe to eat, as long as you cook it. An important question, however, came up in a Labrador retriever forum where the article referenced in the link above was shared for reference. What if your dog likes to eat earthworms? Is this dangerous? Yes, this can be dangerous for your dog. Why Eating Earthworms is Dangerous for Dogs When humans eat earthworms, they remove the soil from the intestinal...

Azodicarbonamide: A Yoga Mat Toxin In Bread?

There are thousands upon thousands of chemicals in the foods we eat. This sounds alarming until you realize that everything is made of chemicals, including yourself. Some chemicals are, however, added to foods for various effects. These are called food additives. It is very easy to incite an emotional response by highlighting one food additive while ignoring everything else and failing to actually understand the context in which a chemical is used. Few people understand that most fruits and...

Victorinox Fibrox Chef's Knife Versus Swiss Classic

Although Victoronix offers professional cutlery at price ranges over $100, when it comes to chef's knives under $50, this popular brand is one of the most highly recommended. If you are not familiar with this company, they invented the Swiss Army Knife, perhaps the most well-known knife in the world. Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8 Inch Chef's Knife Victorinox 8 Inch Swiss Classic Chef's Knife Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8 Inch Chef's Knife Victorinox 8 Inch Swiss Classic Chef's Knife Victoronix...

Can You Use an Instant Pot or Other Cooker for Home Canning?

I recently saw an infomercial (or part of one) for an Instant cooker appliance similar to the very popular Instant Pot™. Such cookers have settings and lids which allow them to be used as a pressure cooker. In the infomercial, the hosts claimed that the instant cooker being demonstrated could be used for home canning. They also claimed the product met USDA standards for canning. This perked my ears up because such claims could be very dangerous. You may be thinking, it's just home canning. My...

Shoplifter Faints From Frozen Food Under Hat

Did you hear the story about the shoplifter who tried to steal a frozen chicken? He hid the chicken under his hat and then went to wait in the checkout line to buy something cheap. Not sure what he was trying to buy. Maybe it was a pack of gum. Unfortunately, he didn't take the extreme cold into account. The frozen chicken gave him a whole new type of brain-freeze. He ended up fainting from the cold bird on top of his head. Maybe you didn't hear that one. But, did you hear about the other time...

Flesh-Eating Bananas From Costa Rica?

There have been many fearful claims concerning bananas. In fact, bananas, due to their exotic origin, had a rocky reception in the U.S., stoking fears and myths, not the least of which was that bananas are hard to digest or undigestable. But perhaps the scariest rumor about bananas was much more recent, that they could give you necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating bacteria. Beginning in 1999 via chain-emails, a warning claiming to have come from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began...

How Do They Get the Salt into the Shell of Roasted Peanuts?

If you wanted to roast some fresh in-the-shell peanuts at home, and you threw them in the oven, you'd be missing one crucial ingredient: salt. Yet, salting shelled peanuts before roasting would surely be futile. The salt would not even stick to the shells, let alone get inside to the actual peanuts. A clever cook might think of wetting down the peanuts before salting them. This would work if you wanted a salty shell but still would not affect the taste of the peas (yes, peas) inside. Yet,...

How Did Refried Beans Get Their Name?

Refried Beans are Not Actually Fried Twice, So Why are They Called Refried? I love refried beans. I do not like the day-old glop they throw on every plate at assembly-line Mexican restaurants. I especially do not appreciate it when my tacos are plunked on top of this glop. But a good refried bean, as a side dish or part of a burrito, taco, or what have you, to me, that is pure comfort food. But I love beans in general. I will eat a big plate of southern-style pinto beans for supper. Since I've...

Can Eating Too Many Bananas Cause A Potassium Overdose?

According to the claim Eating nine bananas in a row can kill you by giving you a lethal overdose of potassium Potassium is a good thing. It is also a bad thing. It is an essential element in the human body and a crucial part, along with sodium, of maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. It is the principal cation inside the body's cells and helps to maintain their integrity. It is a part of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and adrenal gland function. Too little potassium,...

Best Coffee Creamers That Are Truly Dairy Free

Those with severe milk allergies may need to avoid any and all dairy products. This is because milk allergies are usually allergies to milk proteins, and it is possible for traces of milk protein to be found in many dairy products that would seem to be protein free like butter and cream. This can be a problem for those who like cream or milk in their coffee. I revealed already that many nondairy coffee creamers are not dairy free and should be avoided by those with allergies to milk products....

Origin Of The Word Condiment

Tracing the origin of the word condiment is, perplexingly, easier than determining the exact meaning of the word as used today. Even professional chefs can't seem to pin down the definition. Anything added to food to enhance its flavor after it has been prepared might be considered a condiment, based on the loose and plastic way the term is used. Ketchup is a condiment, but sometimes chopped onions or even salt have also been called condiments. Webster's defines a condiment as something used...

Experiments to Test Food and Cooking Myths?

I often receive a standard response when I write about cooking myths or food myths here on Culinary Lore. So and so performed an experiment on this which proves you're wrong (or correct, as the case may be). I don't often include a comment field in my articles, but some readers are passionate enough about the subject to take the time to email me their thoughts. Responding, however, presents a problem. First, the reader is assuming I was not aware of the experiment. They are usually aware of...

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