Monday, July 22, 2024
Food & Drink

Queer culinary experts with Spring inspiration

Here are some fun, queer food facts that will have you Springing into the kitchen.

We’re human. And so we need to eat. Food is a necessity, but the foods we love are a true joy. YouTube star (see her My Drunk Kitchen videos), author and out chef Hannah Hart may have said it best, “Love is love. Food is love.”

I do love food. Just ask my scale. But as a diabetic, I like to make sure I know what I’m getting in the foods I eat. For example, some fruits and vegetables are high in sugar content and so I try to avoid them. Oranges are high in sugar, but they’re also a good source of vitamin C. So how can I get vitamin C into my diet? After a bit of research, I found just the replacement. I also came across a number of unusual facts about foods and I’d like to share them with you. I’ve also included a quiz you can take just for fun. Bon appetit!

Peppers

Did you know that green, yellow, orange and red bell peppers are all the same vegetable? They’re basically different stages of the pepper’s development. A green pepper is unripe, a red one is ripe and yellow and orange are in between. As peppers age and change color their taste and health benefits change too. 

Quiz question 1: I’ll start off with an easy one. Bell peppers have about 3 times the amount of this compared to oranges. What is it? 

Pineapples

We have all heard the expression “money doesn’t grow on trees.” Well neither do pineapples. They actually grow on odd, leafy bushes that grow up to about 4.5 feet out of the ground. This highly acidic tropical fruit contains bromelain, an enzyme that not only breaks down protein but can “burn” the lips, cheeks and tongue when eaten. But don’t panic, the cells in our mouth regenerate quickly. For a fun take on the pineapple, check out this cool t-shirt.

Quiz question 2: How long does it take a pineapple to grow to full ripeness? 

Baby Carrots

Many of us grew up with carrots; whether they were cut into sticks and packed in our lunch boxes or we watched Bugs Bunny chomp on one while saying those immortal words, “What’s up doc?” Today we can buy bags of baby carrots to snack on, but are you aware that there’s no such vegetable? Baby carrots are simply made from imperfect carrots that have been sliced, peeled, and rounded into smaller pieces. 

Quiz question 3: Carrots weren’t always orange. What color were they originally?

White Chocolate 

Speaking of carrots, Israeli pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel has an amazing recipe for Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream. The former Food Network star is the executive chef and owner of Ron Ben-Israel Cakes in New York City where you can find specialty cakes with Ron’s signature sugar paste flowers.

I’m sure Ben-Israel’s white chocolate frosting is to die for, but it should be made clear that white chocolate isn’t really chocolate at all. To technically qualify as chocolate it would need to contain both cocoa butter AND chocolate liquor, which is what gives chocolate that intense chocolatey flavor and brown coloration. White chocolate contains only cocoa butter, part of the reason it doesn’t taste like actual chocolate. 

Quiz question 4: What well known chocolate company invented white chocolate?

Cilantro and Coriander

While these two ingredients are quite different in use, taste and color, they both come from the same plant. Cilantro is the leafy part, an herb used in dishes such as guacamole, and often as a garnish. Coriander comes from the seeds, usually ground into a spice commonly found in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. 

Quiz question 5: Which of these uses coriander in its processing:

  • Dill pickles
  • Belgian wheat beer
  • Both 

Honey

I grew up with honey as a staple in my home. If you made a cup of tea, it was almost a requirement to add honey, not sugar. We also used it to relieve a dry throat or raspy cough. But a little known fact about honey is that with the proper storage it never goes bad. Scientists have found that bacteria and microorganisms that spoil food need moisture to survive and honey contains very little. So a sealed jar or bottle kept in a dry place can easily outlast a human lifetime. 

Use honey in third-generation Chinese Australian celebrity chef Kylie Kwong’s tasty stir-fried chicken with honey and ginger.

Quiz question 6: Believe it or not, honey contains this ingredient, also used in bleaching and dying hair. What is it?

German Chocolate Cake

What goes better with a hot cup of tea than a delicious slice of chocolate cake? Germany, along with Switzerland, Belgium and the US, is one of the top 4 producers of chocolate. So you would expect German chocolate cake to be named for its use of German chocolate. Sadly, you’d be wrong. German chocolate cake is named after the creator, Samuel German, of a sweeter, darker baking chocolate back in 1852.

105 years later, a recipe arose using German’s sweet chocolate. Over time, the recipe which was originally called German’s Chocolate Cake became shortened to German Chocolate Cake.

Quiz question 7: German chocolate cake was created in what country?

Peaches and Nectarines

No beating around the bush here. Peaches and nectarines are genetically the same fruit. Some have a gene that is dominant for fuzziness (peaches) and others contain the recessive gene (nectarines). This is what determines whether the skin is fuzzy or smooth.

Quiz question 8: Peaches and nectarines are typically yellow or white inside, but peaches can also be this less common color. 

Bananas

I hope you’re sitting down for this one because it really blew my mind. In fact, I still have a hard time believing it: bananas are actually berries!

Yes, ask your friendly neighborhood botanist and they will tell you that for a fruit to be considered a berry its seeds must be on the inside and it must come from a single flower with only one ovary. Conversely, this means that fruit such as strawberries, which have their seeds on the outside, aren’t really berries at all! 

James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Kelly Fields has a great banana bread recipe in her cookbook, “The Good Book of Southern Baking.”

Don’t tell anyone, but her take on this tasty dessert bread includes sprinkling raw sugar in a buttered loaf pan, ensuring the edges will be deliciously caramelized.

Quiz question 9: True or False: The bananas we get from the supermarket are actually clones of one another.

Allspice

Even though it smells like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, Allspice contains none of those ingredients. It is actually a tree fruit which is most often dried and sold ground up into its own spice.

Appropriately named by the British in 1621, Allspice is a single seasoning with the flavor of all the spices mentioned above. 

Quiz question 10: Allspice goes by other names, one of which is the same as a cherry pepper. What is it?

Answers:

 1 – Vitamin C. A cup of chopped bell pepper contains nearly three times more vitamin C than an orange.

 2 – It takes from 14 – 18 months for a pineapple to ripen. 

 3 – Purple. It wasn’t until Dutch farmers in the late 16th century took mutant strains of the purple carrot and gradually developed them into the orange variety we have today. 

 4 – The Nestlé company in Switzerland created it with the first white chocolate bar debuting back in 1930.

 5 – Both. Coriander is used for pickling as well as in brewing beer.

 6 – Hydrogen peroxide. It is an extremely small amount that is created when bees expel the nectar they collect into the combs. An enzyme in the bees stomach mixes with the nectar, breaking it down into two by-products: gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide.

 7 – The first recipe for German Chocolate Cake was created in the US.

 8 – Red. Peaches that are red inside are fairly uncommon these days.

 9 – True. 99% of the bananas most of us eat today come about by vegetative propagation, where there is no pollination involved. So each banana plant is grown or cloned from another. 

10 – Pimento. Allspice, also known as pimento, is the dried unripe berry of Pimenta dioica, a tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico, and Central America, now cultivated in many warmer parts of the world.

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Geoff Peckman

Geoff Peckman is a Graphic Designer and Art Director for Queery. He’s over 40 (way over), gay and uses he/him/his pronouns. His creativity crosses from innovating distinct logos and artwork to writing entertaining and informative articles for the LGBTQ community.

Geoff Peckman has 17 posts and counting. See all posts by Geoff Peckman

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