How White Chocolate is Actually Chocolate and other Culinary Wonders

Some people I know (mom) are going to get their noses out of joint about this, but…white chocolate is actually chocolate.  Yes, I said it.  Attention chocoholics (mom), white chocolate  is the culinary application of cocoa butter, a product of the cocao tree, from the same fruit you get chocolate from.  Its the stuff you find the those slightly chocolaty-smelling, deep-moisturizing lotions.  Yeah, it’s food, sort of like avocados and oatmeal, which you also find in lotions.

That being said, the chances of finding actual white chocolate on the standard grocery store shelves is slim.  Most “white chocolate” chips are mostly sugar, hydrogenated oils and possibly milk fat.  I suspect that is because cocoa butter is more profitable in cosmetics, but I could be wrong.

Grenadine, the red syrup that makes tequila sunrises so pretty, is in very much the same situation.  The stuff you find in stores is usually sugar syrup and red 40, while grenadine is supposed to be pomegranate syrup.  I have no idea why this is, except maybe that it’s cheaper to mass produce.

There are other oddball things I’ve learned from all the time I’ve spent in the kitchen and with cookbooks.  Pork is done at 145 degrees instead of 160.  Iceberg lettuce and celery have no nutritional value.  Sugar neutralizes the metallic taste of canned tomatoes, but if you try to do the same thing with honey you get a subtle and slightly different flavor.  Cake flour is much easier to buy than make and, if you make as many cakes as I do, is very much worth it.  Pigeon was once a culinary standard and squirrel recipes were included in cookbooks.  Depending on the cookbook your using, rutabagas are called swedes and arugula is sometimes rocket.  Mayonnaise and peanut butter sandwiches were once a recommendation when preparing lunches.  White bread soaked in milk and sugar was considered good food for invalids (that was in 1901 – its remarkable anyone ever got better).  Jam has fruit puree, jelly is clear, preserves include bits of fruit and all of them only have three ingredients:sugar, fruit and pectin.  Regular bread shouldn’t include more that a tablespoon of sugar to help proof the yeast.  Icing and frosting are two completely different things.  And sub sandwiches should have the inside of the bread scraped out before the fillings get added.

In a world of gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, raw, low-fat, no-carb, no-sugar, high-antioxidant, super-fruit loaded, organic, cage-free, grass-fed diets, I’ve found very few people tells us the basics – i.e. what food is supposed to be, rather than how bad or good it is for you.  Perhaps we are thinking about our food too much, rather than the important thing, which is making it taste good.


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