I Heart Indies

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Minor Confusions: Kitchen Division

Next time you're in a fine restaurant,
ask for ketchup to go with the pate
Allspice is just one spice.  It is not a mixture of all of them as the name suggests.

Curry Powder is a mixture of spices.  It does not come from the curry plant as I once assumed.

Canola Oil is named for the Canola Plant, not the nation of Canada.  The Canola plant itself, however, is grown exclusively in Canada.

Baking Soda is sodium bicarbonate.  Baking Powder is sodium bicarbonate plus cream of tartar and starch.  I do not know why some recipes call for both baking powder and baking soda since the powder already has soda in it.

Cream of Tartar is a powder, not a cream.  (See Baking Powder).

Ketchup is the same as Catsup, although I haven't seen a bottle of Catsup in ages.  It is made neither from Cats nor Kets.  The word comes from the Chinese ke-tsiap, which is a pickled fish sauce.  Ketchup is not made of fish either, but tomatoes.  Children who don't like tomatoes seem to love ketchup.  Ketchup is meant to be stored at room temperature, not refrigerated.  In the Martin household, we refrigerate it in deference to the tastes and preferences of Mrs. Martin, but this is not as it should be.  The next time you're in a fine restaurant, ask for a bottle of ketchup to go with the pate de foie gras.  Notice the bottle is at room temperature.  This is because restaurants store ketchup in the pantry, not the refrigerator.  Case closed.

Kosher Salt, Sea Salt, and Table Salt are all the same stuff.  Salt.  The principal difference is the size of the grains.  Sea Salt does not necessarily come from the sea.  Kosher Salt is no more Kosher than regular salt.  Iodized salt proudly says iodine is a necessary mineral, and at one time that would have been a big deal, but these days most Americans consume about twice as much iodine as their bodies need, so there aren't any particular health benefits either. 

Chili is named for the chili pepper - of which cayenne is one variety - and chili itself is a Native American word for pepper, so referring to chili pepper is a little like saying Rio Grande River.  The nation of Chile may be named for a vanished tribe or it may mean something like "land's end" or it may refer to seagulls.  Neither of these words are related to chilly.

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