Food facts Is FroYo Faux Yo?

With new fro-yo joints spreading like a plague around the city, proclaiming health superiority, probiotic power and “live & active cultures,” I got to thinking back to junior high biology… could frozen yogurt really could support active bacterial cultures? I mean, isn’t freezing one of those things we do to food to stop the growth of bacteria? So I wrote to food science writer Harold McGee for the, er, scoop:

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Rocambole Garlic: Arguably the Best…
Food facts Rocambole Garlic: Arguably the Best…

Initially, I assumed Rocambole was strain of garlic. As it turns out, I was wrong. It’s a variety. What does that mean? Think back to Biology 101. Rocambole just indicates a particular type of hardneck garlic. Porcelain and Purple Stripe are the other hardnecks. The softneck garlic varieties are Artichoke or Silverskin. So there are five varieties: Porcelain, Purple Stripe, Rocambole, Artichoke and Silverskin and then there are more than 300 different garlic strains that vary in color, shape, size, scent and flavor.

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Make Your Own Maraschino Cherries
Food facts Make Your Own Maraschino Cherries

Now that cherry season is in full swing, let’s take a gander at this fruit’s twisted doppleganger… the unnaturally red, uniformly flavored maraschino cherry. Like tiny Stepford Wives, maraschino cherries begin life as juicy tree fruits but are turned soulless through a process of bleaching, dying and sweetening. A bit creepy, right? A little background: “Maraschino cherries, the kind most often used in drinks and on ice cream sundaes, are made from sweet cherries.

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Food facts Dear Miss Ginsu: Why All the Different Salts?

Dear Miss Ginsu, I’m confused. What’s the difference between sea salt, kosher salt and iodized salt? Are any of these salts better for a salt-reduced diet? And why do some recipes have unsalted butter? — Brine on the Brain Dear Briny, That’s a lot of questions! Let’s number them as we go along… What’s the difference between all the salts on the market? All three are variations on the same compound: sodium chloride.

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Avocados, Lawyers and A Delicious, Chunky Guacamole
Food facts Recipes Avocados, Lawyers and A Delicious, Chunky Guacamole

Testicles, avocados and lawyers. This is why I’m in love with etymology: “The history of avocado takes us back to the Aztecs and their language, Nahuatl, which contained the word ahuacatl meaning both ‘fruit of the avocado tree’ and ‘testicle.’ The word ahuacatl was compounded with others, as in ahuacamolli, meaning ‘avocado soup or sauce,’ from which the Spanish-Mexican word guacamole derives. “In trying to pronounce ahuacatl, the Spanish who found the fruit and its Nahuatl name in Mexico came up with aguacate, but other Spanish speakers substituted the form avocado for the Nahuatl word because ahuacatl sounded like the early Spanish word avocado (now abogado), meaning ‘lawyer.

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About Me

Miss Ginsu is a nom-nom-nom de plume of Leitha Matz, who worked at Tabla and FreshDirect in NYC, wrote about the food scene from 2004 to 2009 in Brooklyn and presently lives in Berlin. Occasionally seen on TV cooking segments, Leitha has also written for FreshDirect, contributed to Cee Cee Berlin, The Food52 Cookbook and has been interviewed/quoted in The Food Keeper as well as The Washington Times and Salon.

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