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Culinary Revelations: Unusual Food Facts

Culinary Revelations: Unusual Food Facts

Published Mar 28, 2024 Updated Mar 28, 2024 Gastronomy
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Culinary Revelations: Unusual Food Facts

Are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure that will leave you in awe and utterly fascinated? Let’s dive in and explore the mysteries that lie within the food on your plate!

Food is not only a source of nourishment, but it also holds a treasure trove of hidden secrets waiting to be unraveled. From strange and bizarre facts to mind-blowing revelations, the world of gastronomy is filled with unexpected discoveries that will challenge your taste buds and expand your culinary horizons.

All these questions about food came to me as a result of an initial interrogation…

What’s the difference between cucumber and pickles?

Cucumbers and pickles are the same species. Pickles are simply picked before they are fully developed to preserve them in vinegar. (Is that why they’re called them? Pickles because they were picked earlier?)

https://unsplash.com/fr/photos/lot-de-concombre-2GiRcLP_jkI

Planting generally occurs between April and May, either under cover or in the vegetable garden between May and July after the risk of frost has passed. Pickles, which are essentially baby cucumbers, are harvested as they ripen from June to September, with the peak season occurring between June and August, depending on the region.

Bananas are berries, while strawberries are not

According to botanical classification, a berry is a fleshy and pulpy fruit that develops from a single flower with a single ovary and contains seeds inside. Bananas fit this definition since they grow from a single ovary and have tiny, undeveloped seeds.

https://unsplash.com/fr/photos/photographie-selective-de-bananes-dechirees-lcrZgpLTNvU

Furthermore, a berry is defined by its three distinct layers. The outermost layer is called the exocarp, which is often the part we eat. It forms the first protective barrier and can vary in texture and taste depending on the type of berry. The mesocarp is the fleshy part of the berry that provides the characteristic texture and flavor. The endocarp is the innermost layer of the berry that surrounds the seeds. Therefore, bananas are berries.

On the other hand, strawberries are not berries but false fruits or pseudofruits. The actual fruits of the strawberry are the tiny seeds covering the surface of the berry, known as achenes, which are botanically classified as real fruits. What we see as the strawberry is a complex formed by a fleshy receptacle that surrounds and supports the actual fruits (achenes). Therefore, strawberries do not meet the botanical definition of berries.

Tomatoes were once considered poisonous in Europe.

 

In the 16th century, tomatoes were brought to Europe from the Americas and were initially admired for their beautiful colors and unique appearance. However, they were not commonly eaten and were instead considered ornamental plants. This was because they belong to the Solanaceae family, which includes the deadly belladonna. Consequently, tomatoes were sometimes used to decorate gardens and table ornaments.

https://unsplash.com/fr/photos/photo-en-gros-plan-de-tomate-rouge-sur-fond-noir-S-de8PboZmI

Tomatoes earned the nickname “poisoned apple” after some aristocrats fell ill and even died after eating them. However, the reality was different. Aristocrats used to eat tomatoes on tin plates that contained lead. The tomato’s acidity would extract the lead’s soluble constituents, causing lead poisoning. Therefore, the real reason for death was not the tomato but the lead.

In 1710, William Salmon published Botanologia, in which he mentioned that tomatoes were edible fruits in certain regions. This news spread slowly, and many people began to grow tomatoes. Cooks worldwide started experimenting with tomato-based recipes, including pizza, invented in 1880. Around the same time, Joseph Campbell created condensed tomato soup to preserve the tomato. All of these efforts helped to demystify tomatoes’ bad reputation.

Carrots weren’t always orange

Carrots have been cultivated in Europe since the 12th century but did not start out orange. Instead, the first carrots were yellow or purple, just like the wild species from Afghanistan, where they are thought to have originated. Over time, gardeners began cross-breeding carrots, selecting the fleshiest and smoothest varieties that had turned orange. Consumers preferred these new orange carrots, as they were sweeter, less fibrous, and more digestible than older varieties that tasted like parsnips or turnips. The first yellow or purple carrots also had the disadvantage of bleeding when cooked, which would color meat or fish and stain dishes. On the other hand, orange carrots do not change color when cooked.

https://pixabay.com/photos/carrots-veg-vegetables-colour-2608611/

The carrots’ color change is due to their genes. Orange carrots have three genes that are switched off, which allows them to produce more alpha-carotene and beta-carotene pigments belonging to the carotenoid pigment family. Since these pigments are often yellow, orange, or red, carrots turn orange when all three genes are switched off. Conversely, purple, yellow, or white carrots have at least one of these three genes activated.

Hot peppers can give you an adrenalin-like high

The ingestion of capsaicin-rich hot peppers can elicit a noteworthy physiological response in humans. Capsaicin triggers a burning sensation, which activates pain receptors and consequently stimulates the release of endorphins — analgesic hormones naturally synthesized by the brain.

https://unsplash.com/fr/photos/trois-piments-rouges-sur-une-surface-grise-rPPMQ-Z6jto

These endorphins can mitigate pain and induce a sensation of well-being and even euphoria, akin to what is experienced during extreme sports or an adrenaline rush. This phenomenon underscores the interplay between the pain and pleasure systems that operate within the human body. Significantly, the experience of masochistic pleasure, which is associated with the preference for pain without causing any physical harm, contributes to this unique and intriguing occurrence.

Strawberries contain more vitamin C than oranges

Many people assume that oranges are the primary source of vitamin C in our daily diet. However, it may come as a surprise that strawberries contain even more vitamin C than oranges. One portion of strawberries can provide up to 150% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake, higher than a typical orange. According to figures, strawberries contain around 54 mg of vitamin C per 100g, while oranges contain about 50 mg of vitamin C for the same amount.

https://unsplash.com/fr/photos/fraise-rouge-sur-feuilles-vertes-gkANpt2K2Hk

This difference in vitamin C content may be unexpected, but strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and other essential nutrients such as potassium, fiber, and folic acid. So, the next time you enjoy strawberries, remember that they’re delicious and incredibly nutritious, providing you with a dose of vitamin C.

Food is more than a biological necessity; it’s a field rich in discovery and surprises. From strawberries surpassing oranges in vitamin C to hot peppers’ amazing powers on our moods, each fact about food reveals a fascinating new facet of what we eat every day. By exploring these interesting facts, we enrich our understanding of food and reinforce our wonder at the countless wonders of the kitchen.

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