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Alton Brown Answers, At Last

Roblimo posted about 12 years ago | from the watch-out-for-trcihinosis-in-wild-bear-and-puma dept.

Television 521

We knew this was going to take a while -- it turned out to be just about one month since the question post -- due to some show-taping problems Alton had. He was kind enough to warn us about the delay, a warning regular Slashdot Interview readers picked up. Anyway, here we go. (Warning: Reading this interview may cause hunger.)

1) My question
by mofolotopo

Something I've found as a newbie chef is that a good 75.32% of good cooking is good shopping. What tips do you have for finding good, fresh ingredients? Where the heck do you get fresh herbs etc. in a smallish town?

Alton: First off, you need to decentralize your shopping. Don't try to get everything in one place. Even if you don't have a farmers market in the area, I'm willing to bet there's a co-op or health food store that will open up your options. Ditto a butcher. As for fresh herbs, if they're really a problem to find in your area, try growing your own when and where climate allows. The rest of the time, buy dry herbs and spices over the internet from someone like Penzeys or The Spice House. Above all, do not drive yourself crazy. Learn to work with what you have. Oh, and don't forget ethnic markets; they often have the best produce as well as meat.

2) Why are some people better Cooks?
by kallistiblue

I've noticed that some people seem to be naturally better cooks than others. I've know several people that follow a recipe very exactly. The food they create just doesn't turn out very good. Personally, I'll use a recipe as a guideline and use rough estimates. Most of the time, my meals turn out pretty well. It's as if an intuitive sense is needed.

How does someone learn/teach this skill?

Alton: First, you need to become a good recipe follower. Most people who think they can't cook aren't really taking time to properly read the recipes they're working from or they don't really understand what they're being asked to do. For instance, there are plenty of recipes out there that call for "searing" a piece of meat. If you don't know what "searing" really is, you're doomed. Unfortunately most recipes are written for people that already know how to cook. So start by really paying attention to a recipe and make sure you understand it. Then cook it a few times keeping detailed notes about the process and your feelings about the final dish. Keep notebooks?write down as much as you can and slowly you'll begin to learn what you're doing. As long as you're willing to think and taste as you go, you can become a cook?I promise.

3) Vegetarians
by sammy.lost-angel.com

As a vegetarian, I'm compelled to ask this: Have you seen a trend in recent years of more vegetarians, or more dishes made without meat? Time magazine had a recent cover story about this, and my feeling is it's becoming a more important part of everyone's lives, yet whenever I catch a cooking show on TV it lacks making many vegetarian dishes.

Alton: Americans don't eat near enough vegetables. I'm not a vegetarian, though I do respect anyone who makes a hard and fast decision about what he or she is going to live on. All you have to do is look at the health statistics from countries whose cuisines are lighter on meat and heavy on veggies and fish?They live, longer. It's as simple as that. What I would hate to see is a radical swing away from meat. I think we evolved as omnivores for a reason. And that's all I have to say about that.

4) Lower Fat and Cholesterol?
by cporter

Mr. Brown, I love your recipes. In the last few weeks, I've prepared Chocolate Mousse, Party Mayonnaise, Chimney Tuna, and Baba Ganoush from "Good Eats" and Chicken Piccata from "I'm Just Here for the Food." Not all at one meal, of course.

I applaud episodes like "Good Milk Gone Bad" and "The Other Red Meat" that focus on lower fat and cholesterol foods. But many of your recipes call for butter, oil, cream, and other less than healthful foods (even bacon grease!). What do you think about some of the substitutes out there, or using ingredients like applesauce to replace butter?

Alton: There are no bad foods, only bad food habits. I eat cream, butter, and bacon; I just don't eat pounds of it at a time. I use these things when they are needed in recipes and leave them out when they're not needed. As for substitutes, I only agree with them if they really don't change a person's response to a dish. Take mashed potatoes for instance. I recently saw a recipe that suggested that the fat we all know that mashers need could be replaced with vegetable broth. Hogwash. All that does is lead to dissatisfaction and I think that dissatisfaction results in overeating. We like fats because fats satisfy. They break down in the digestive track very slowly so they keep us fuller longer. Now if I find a way to replace a fatty ingredient without missing it (I do this a lot with yogurt) then you bet I'm going to do it. But I repeat: there are no bad foods

5) Art vs. Science
by Susskins

A lot of your show is dedicated to the Science of cooking, and to the underlying physics of food. Your Grandmother (in a really cool episode about biscuits) demonstrated a wicked amount of Artistic Skill, the "look and feel" of food preparation. Do you have any thoughts about the balance of Art and Science in cooking?

Alton: No matter how much creativity goes into it, cooking is an art?or perhaps I should say a craft. It abides by absolute rules, physics, chemistry, etc. and that means that unless you understand the science you cannot reach the art. We're not talking about painting here?cooking's more like engineering. I happen to think that there is great beauty in great engineering (the wing of a Boeing 777, a suspension bridge) but they are not works of art, they are works of science. To my mind art is a matter of personal expression and the exchange of ideas; food is in the end, fuel?a means to an end. Sorry for rambling.

6) Iron Chef
by FortKnox

Seeing that all geeks love Iron Chef, I have to ask, would you be willing to go against an Iron Chef? If so, which would you pick??

Alton: I don't care about the chefs I want a shot at the goofball in the Palomino Jacket. He needs to be taken down. And the judges, oh please let me at them!

7) Elements of cooking
by SWroclawski

Mr. Brown,

I think that the most interesting part of your show to this audience is your emphasis on the science of cooking, from discussion of protein (such as in your angel food cake episode and your recent soufflé episode).

But the other difference in Good Eats is the great emphasis you place on the parts of cooking, that is the elements at a more abstract level, such as use of heat, individual ingredients (which is the topic of many of the shows) and methods of cooking (such as the right way to mix and fold). This all makes Good Eats interesting for us geeks out there who want to understand the science, but also helps us non-cooking geeks become literate in the supermarket and kitchen.

What gave you the idea to present cooking in this way and do you have any suggestions for other resources that present food and food preparation in the same way?

Alton: I approach cooking from a science angle because I need to understand how things work. If I understand the egg, I can scramble it better?it's a simple as that. There are some great food science texts out there?well, a few. Check out the bibliography in my book. (If you don't want to buy it you can just copy stuff out at the bookstore.)

8) Technical questions
by TheJerkstoreCalled

Hello! I actually watched your very first show about steak here on PBS; it was the first thing in my life that made me interested in cooking. Every time I watch an episode of Good Eats, I always end it wanting to go cook something.

I had a technical question; we always see these shots coming out of refrigerators and ovens. Do you actually have little windows in the back of your appliances or are those props built up for the shows? I always assumed they were props but you never know. Also, is that really your house you shoot in? I love the Magritte hat with chicken painting.

Alton: No windows... We actually have cameras now that are small enough to rig inside appliances. It's not easy mind you, but it's doable. That is not my house, but it is a real house. The Magritte rip was commissioned especially for Good Eats.

9) Cooking In Lava
by MrIcee

Mr. Brown. First, thank you for a wonderful television show and an excellent book. I enjoy both continually and look forward to all your new work.

Now... on to, perhaps, one of the more unusual questions you might receive. This question deals directly with how heat affects food.

Specifically... I live on the slopes of an active volcano. One of the things we like to do for fun is cook game hen and pork loins in the hot lava itself. First, let me describe our process, and then our question.

To cook a game hen we first season and then wrap the hen in about 10 Ti (or banana) leaves. These protect the hen from actually burning.

Next we find an active surface breakout of lava. We use a shovel (we also are wearing kevlar gloves that can withstand 2000 degrees of heat) and get a good shovel full of red lava. We place this on the ground a distance from the flow. We then position the Ti-wrapped hen in the middle of the blob of lava and cover it with another shovel full of lava. We try to leave a small opening to the Ti leaves, for steam to escape (or we can potentially have a steam explosion).

Now, the question. The lava is initially at 2000 degrees when we start cooking. After about 15 minutes it has cooled to around 850 degrees (outside of the rock - we read this using an infrared pyrometer). After about 45 minutes the outside is about 450 degrees. At that point we hit the rock with the shovel to open it. Only a few of the Ti leaves will remain uncharred. We remove those and the hen is then very moist and delicious.

How is it possible, using a heat source at 2000 degrees (that granted, gets cooler over time) that it still takes 45 minutes to cook the game hen? We would have thought that the cooking would have been near instantaneous - but repeated experiments at various lengths of time reveal that it takes exactly as long in the lava, as in an oven.

Alton: It's not possible. I can cook a game hen under a broiler in 15 minutes. Tell me, are there any small brown mushrooms growing around your property, and if so have you been using them in salads or pasta dishes?

10) Safe Cooking Temps
by dmaxwell

The wife and I are huge fans of your show but there is one thing we notice from time to time that we've always wondered about. For instance, your country ham recipe specifies that the ham is done when the interior temp hits 140 degrees.

However, fsis.usda.gov/OA/pubs/ham.htm states that "cook-before-eating hams must reach 160 F to be safely cooked before serving." I know those bad boys have been salt cured but I would still be worried about trichinosis. Your "done" temperatures for meat are often lower than what the food safety people would have them be. This is a long winded way of asking "What is your approach to food safety?" You look pretty healthy to me so I'll assume you know something those government fussbudgets don't but I'd feel better about trying out some of your recipes if I knew what that was.

Alton: I do not always agree with the government and in this case I think they're way off base. For one thing, Trichinella spiralis die at 137 degrees. Of course in this case they would have had to survive the curing process which is highly doubtful. The water activity level of a country ham is simply too low to support that kind of life. Also, T spriralis have been nearly eradicated from the American hog population through the use of better feeds. As far as I know, the only instances of trichinosis in recent years involved wild game such as bear and puma.

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Alton Brown suckles my nuttz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245023)

at last@!

fp

Nothing on grits? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245025)

Then this interview is pointless. The only thing
that matters is hot grits!

And nothing on assfucking, either. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245172)

What's a young homosexual to do?

First post? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245034)

Who is this Alton Brown person?

Re:First post? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245043)

Google rocks, see [google.com] .

Re:First post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245177)

He is basically an uber geek of cooking. Watch food network for fook's sake.

And that's... (-1, Offtopic)

da3dAlus (20553) | about 12 years ago | (#4245041)

Good Eats.

Re:And that's... (-1, Flamebait)

da3dAlus (20553) | about 12 years ago | (#4245158)

-1:Offtopic?

WTF? Has the dumbass moderating this comment even watched the fucking show? Ever?

Now THIS is an offtopic post you ignorant bastards...

Re:And that's... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245234)

I thought Alton Brown was the name of a steamboat.

Volcano question (5, Informative)

Ratface (21117) | about 12 years ago | (#4245047)

Shame about the answer to the volcano question - the original poster should have sent the link to their site which has pictures showing this. I couldn't find the original site I have seen which describes this, but here's another which shows that it is indeed possible to cook a chicken atop molten lava!

http://juggle5.50megs.com/travel/Hawaii2000/Cookin g.html [50megs.com]

Re:Volcano question - found the right link! (5, Informative)

Ratface (21117) | about 12 years ago | (#4245071)

http://www.dolphinbayhilo.com/cook.html [dolphinbayhilo.com]

That was the one!

Re:Volcano question - found the right link! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245103)

So we've got a link showing that it is possible, and a quote from Alton saying that it's not.

"That recipe is purely theoretical..." -Alton Brown.

Slashdot, making the theoretical possible since 1998...

Re:Volcano question - found the right link! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245135)

So all it takes is an explaination and pictures to convince you?

You shouldn't be allowed to surf the net. Its a gullible persons paradise!

Lets see... trust the professional chef that has a specialty in the science of cooking, or some random guy on the net with pictures....

Re:Volcano question - found the right link! (2)

david duncan scott (206421) | about 12 years ago | (#4245364)

He didn't say that you couldn't cook with lava, he just questioned the time involved, which is, in fact, remarkable.

Re:Volcano question - found the right link! (5, Insightful)

Wanker (17907) | about 12 years ago | (#4245281)

From Alton's response, I think that he thought the poster was completely immersing the chicken in the Lava. Pouring hot lava over a leaf-coated chicken should work since:

a) The lava cools off fairly quickly, meaning that the bird isn't exposed to 2000degF for 45 minutes
b) All those leaves release a lot of steam which both moderates the temperature and steams the chicken. Boiling water to make steam, as any high-school chemist knows, takes a lot of extra heat energy.

The above link also explains that the lava cools to 450degF within a reasonable amount of time, which is a great temperature for cooking chicken. ;-) The original poster explained that it cooled to 850degF, still too hot for chicken.

So, in short, the poster presented an impossible situation, and Alton, like any good literalist, told them so. What he could have done was ask some counter-questions to get a better idea of what was going on before answering.

Re:Volcano question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245147)

http://www.dolphinbayhilo.com/cook.html

thats a better one.

Re:Volcano question (2)

StoryMan (130421) | about 12 years ago | (#4245173)

Is it possible to lavaify rock in a convection oven?

I like the idea of cooking with lava, but here in Iowa, there's not much lava. Can I make my own?

Re:Volcano question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245195)

No...

Re:Volcano question (4, Informative)

schon (31600) | about 12 years ago | (#4245264)

Is it possible to lavaify rock in a convection oven?

No. Convection ovens just don't get hot enough.

here in Iowa, there's not much lava. Can I make my own?

If this story [slashdot.org] is correct, then you just might be able to, using a microwave oven.

Re:Volcano question (1)

epfreed (238219) | about 12 years ago | (#4245217)

I am no physicis, but maybe the problem of cooking on molten lava is related to people walking over hot coals--that is the important physical quality is not temperature but the ability to transfer heat. Called specific heat, IIRC. If the lava has a low specific heat, then it cannot release the heat to the food fast enough before it cools. Of course on the other hand I could be barking up the wrong tree.

Re:Volcano question (5, Informative)

DJerman (12424) | about 12 years ago | (#4245249)

The real answer to the question is: because you're steaming it.

You may think you're roasting a chicken in lava but:
1) you wrapped it in leaves, which buffer the heat and provide moisture (for steam)
2) you've insulated it from the heat source (to prevent charring, yes)
3) the inside of the lava will cool much faster than the outside because it's in contact with water (212 degrees).

Yes you'll get some superheating at the beginning, but basically that's just searing the chicken and the leaves before the steaming process takes over. If it were continuously superheated, you'd be dodging the chicken-powered missile as it scoots around your lawn :) And the chicken would flash-fry as you expected.

BTW -- I wanna try that!

Re:Volcano question (1)

hanwen (8589) | about 12 years ago | (#4245259)

Given the fact that the chicken still contains water after it's done, the temperature inside the chicken can't have gone over 100 centigrade. I guess that the lava inside cools down upon first contact, and that it doesn't conduct heat all that well, which means that you're steaming the chicken.

A way cool steamer though.

Re:Volcano question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245298)

exccept for the fact that under higher pressures, the boiling point goes up. So if it was encased in the lava, it would be acting like a pressure cooker and the boiling point would be higher then 100C. Minor point, but that's my $0.02 worth...

Re:Volcano question (2)

Sodium Attack (194559) | about 12 years ago | (#4245333)

The lava question in the interview above was shortened a bit from the original question [slashdot.org] . In that, MrIcee notes that they leave holes for the steam to vent (because one time when they didn't, it exploded). Given that, hanwen's conclusion is correct.

Re:Volcano question (1)

Sodium Attack (194559) | about 12 years ago | (#4245354)

Oops, the original question was in fact quoted in full, here. Didn't read it carefully enough. Mea culpa.

One thing not mentioned yet (1)

brokeninside (34168) | about 12 years ago | (#4245329)

Others have raised good points concerning the way the chicken actually cooks in the lava. I'd like to make one other point. Cooking a chicken "until it's done" is not necessarily the same thing as cooking a chicken until it first reaches a uniform internal temperature at which it can be consumed.

Consider roasting a chicken in a slow cooker. The chicken isn't done until many hours after it first reaches a uniform internal temperature at which it can be consumed.

My point being that the chicken cooked in lava could very well be ready to eat well before 45 minutes are up, but it may also taste better after cooking a full 45 minutes.

Re:Volcano question (1)

Captoo (103399) | about 12 years ago | (#4245372)

Now, I can't help but ask this. Where do you get a shovel that survives 2000 degree lava? What's it made of? Steel should melt almost immediately in lava.

I love Good Eats, but I am a bit disappointed. (5, Insightful)

veddermatic (143964) | about 12 years ago | (#4245075)

Maybe it was the questions, but I was really looking forward to a good, long read....

I'm being selfish, but damnit, I wanted PAGES of answers!!!! =)

Re:I love Good Eats, but I am a bit disappointed. (2)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | about 12 years ago | (#4245330)

I agree with you. And where Alton said he was rambling, I think he made something that barely passed as a minimum answer. I didn't like the volcano answer very much. I'm just guessing that he didn't give this a best effort. :(

Trichinosis (4, Informative)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | about 12 years ago | (#4245080)

Hog feed has little to do with it. Cooking the hog feed does. Societies where hogs are fed uncooked slop experience higher rates of trichinosis, while those that boil hog slop do not see trichinosis at all. Break a link in the parasite's path to a host and incidence of the parasite diminishes. Pretty simple and exactly what cooking the pork to at least 137F does.

Not Offtopic (1)

henben (578800) | about 12 years ago | (#4245110)

He's talking about a point raised in the interview.

Re:Trichinosis (1)

jcw2112 (147992) | about 12 years ago | (#4245142)

Hog feed has little to do with it. Cooking the hog feed does.


so cooking the hog feed has nothing to do with the quality of the hog feed? um...or hog feed has little to do with cooking the hog feed? wha?

Re:Trichinosis (1)

Darkfred (245270) | about 12 years ago | (#4245209)

Why the hell is this off topic? Did the moderator actually read the article?

Shame on you stupid pasty faced geek.

Question? (1, Funny)

jhunsake (81920) | about 12 years ago | (#4245088)

Really, that's all? very? interesting?.

*gasp* (5, Funny)

FortKnox (169099) | about 12 years ago | (#4245094)

Alton Brown vs. Chairman Kaga?

It'll be the battle of the century! STUFF THAT YELLOW PEPPER DOWN HIS THROAT!

LOL! Thanks for the reply Alton!

Re:*gasp* (2)

unicron (20286) | about 12 years ago | (#4245248)

I saw the "Futurama" the other where Bender went up against the Iron Chef, and at the end the Chairman goes "Domo Arigoto, Mr. Roboto"..easily one of the funniest scenes ever in that show.

Did anyone else hear Alton in their head? (5, Funny)

bgarland (10594) | about 12 years ago | (#4245096)

When reading this, I couldn't help but hear the voice of AB in my head, reciting the answers in the same way he delivers the little tidbits of info on "Good Eats"... weird.

Ben

Re:Did anyone else hear Alton in their head? (2)

schon (31600) | about 12 years ago | (#4245128)

When reading this, I couldn't help but hear the voice of AB in my head, reciting the answers in the same way he delivers the little tidbits of info on "Good Eats"

Yup.. me too.. (Course maybe it helped that I just watched the salad episode..)

Re:Did anyone else hear Alton in their head? (1)

matt4077 (581118) | about 12 years ago | (#4245251)

Maybe you should re-read the part where he talkes about little brown mushrooms...

But when can he cook me up... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245105)

a port of LINUX for my xbox? I'm told however, that the OPEN SOURCE MOVEMENT are working on this problem as we speak.

What a fucking arrogant asshole (-1, Flamebait)

f0dder (570496) | about 12 years ago | (#4245118)

I think the success of his show has gotten to his head. 6) Iron Chef by FortKnox Seeing that all geeks love Iron Chef, I have to ask, would you be willing to go against an Iron Chef? If so, which would you pick?? Alton: I don't care about the chefs I want a shot at the goofball in the Palomino Jacket. He needs to be taken down. And the judges, oh please let me at them!

Re:What a fucking arrogant asshole (0, Offtopic)

Snot Locker (252477) | about 12 years ago | (#4245189)

That would be a joke, son....

Re:What a fucking arrogant asshole (1)

Planetes (6649) | about 12 years ago | (#4245191)

I thought he was being funny. I didn't think he was being serious at all.

Re:What a fucking arrogant asshole (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245192)

Try growing a sense of humor. It was a joke. Sheesh...

Re:What a fucking arrogant asshole (0, Redundant)

Squarewav (241189) | about 12 years ago | (#4245223)

Im pritty sure that was a joke

it's funny laugh

Re:What a fucking arrogant asshole (3, Informative)

schon (31600) | about 12 years ago | (#4245226)

all geeks love Iron Chef

Are you talking about Alton, or FortKnox?

I *hate* Iron Chef. Next to Emeril, it's the worst show on Food Network.

Seems to me that speaking on behalf of "all geeks" would be MUCH more arrogant than Alton making a joke of the answer (and it was a joke - perhaps you need to check the permissions on your /dev/senseofhumor )

Re:What a fucking arrogant asshole (2)

jdreed1024 (443938) | about 12 years ago | (#4245328)

Is this Iron Chef (the Japanese show), or Iron Chef USA that we're talking about? The latter is pretty damn funny, if for no other reason than to see William Shatner pretend like he knows what he's talking about, and the comments on food that he delivers in his classic melodramatic style. It's great!

Re:What a fucking arrogant asshole (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245247)

f0dder smells like poop, loser.

Food Network anyone? (1)

lorenlal (164133) | about 12 years ago | (#4245260)

Hey, at least he wouldn't stand on his cutting board, or throw it into the aduience.....

Re:Food Network anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245312)

Oh, But Bobby Flay looked marvelous coming back and winning when no one thought he would.

9) Cooking In Lava (5, Insightful)

scaramush (472955) | about 12 years ago | (#4245120)

I thought this guy's claim to cooking fame was that he used a scientific approach? What's wrong with this picture?

Scientist 1: I have a phenomenon I don't understand and I want your opinion on it.

Scientist 2: Your data doesn't match up with mine. Therefore I will discredit you by suggesting you take drugs.

Scientist 1: But I have reproducible results!

Scientist 2: Nope, sorry. Talk to the hand, crack smoker.

I understand a lot of /.'ers respect this guy, but I'm not too impressed with this answer.

Re:9) Cooking In Lava (1)

Wiseazz (267052) | about 12 years ago | (#4245228)

I have to admit that I, too, was intellectually blue-balled by his answer.

Re:9) Cooking In Lava (5, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 12 years ago | (#4245291)

Well, while the answer was a bit abrupt, but I think it was like a physicist trying to answer: "Why is it I can hold a hot steel ball that is 2000 degrees without getting burned?" The answer is "You can't".

In other words, the problem isn't with the laws of physics, the problem is with the questioner's data. Obviously the internal temperature of his make-shift oven isn't 2000 degrees.

Re:9) Cooking In Lava (2)

GlassUser (190787) | about 12 years ago | (#4245353)

I think that's the key. The actual heating element in your conventional oven is probably about 2000 degrees (note I have never tested this), though the ambient temperature is more like a few hundred. Same thing with chicken and lava.

Re:9) Cooking In Lava (1)

_Neurotic (39687) | about 12 years ago | (#4245349)

I'm a bit miffed by his answer as well but I can understand how it went wrong. Alton is probably pretty busy (like most celebrity types) and frankly couldn't spend the time researchiing a proper answer to the poster's question.

Where he went wrong, IMHO, is that he simply dismissed the poster instead of just saying, "Wow, I have no freaking idea how that could be done and I would love to see it in action."

Re:9) Cooking In Lava (1)

blank (1140) | about 12 years ago | (#4245359)

some guy on slashdot says "hi, i have cooked chickens in lava. here are my facts." and it's suppose to be taken as fact at face value? i can agree that he could have given a more diplomatic answer but in real life i think i would have used harsher words.

Thanks! (1)

xy (49954) | about 12 years ago | (#4245123)

Thanks Alton! I'm a big fan of your show, and the interview was fun to read. Also, I think you should really have a go at that Iron Chef thing ;-)

Wise Words (5, Insightful)

Copperhead (187748) | about 12 years ago | (#4245124)

"All [replacing of fat] does is lead to dissatisfaction and I think that dissatisfaction results in overeating."

Very wise words. I remember hearing Julia Child saying that the reason obesity is becoming such a problem is because of fat has become taboo in cooking. It's the fat in foods that make us feel full and keep us full longer. Generally, people who eat excusively low fat foods at their main meals are those who have the most trouble keeping from snacking between meals.

I've gone from eating low fat meals and snacks to eating "sensibly", and I really am a lot less hungry, even though I'm eating less.

My rules to live by... if you're hungry, drink a glass of water, avoid eating after dinner, and never, ever eat before bed.

Obesity (1)

mirnav (572204) | about 12 years ago | (#4245240)

I remember hearing Julia Child saying that the reason obesity is becoming such a problem is because of fat has become taboo in cooking.

This is such crap. Obesity has become a problem in the US (65% fat or obese, right?) because you guys eat A LOT. I was astonished by the portions in the US that could feed 2-3 people with normal (unstretched) stomachs. (And don't even get me started on all the junk food most Americans munch on at various hours of the day.)

Go to a restaurant in Europe, and the portions are about a third of what they would be in America. What you eat is also very important, much more so possibly than the amount of oil you put in your food. Come to South of Europe and look around for a while. The normal everyday meal is a huge salad with a big chunk of meat or a bowl of pasta, fast food is a dying species, junk food consumption is very low, and obesity is so rare as to be statistically insignificant and would attract as many stares as a guy with two heads.

Re:Obesity (3)

daeley (126313) | about 12 years ago | (#4245332)

Erm, I think that's what he was saying, echoing Brown's comments about there being no bad food. Portions are too big, but what's in them isn't necessarily bad in moderation.

Re:Obesity (2)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 12 years ago | (#4245337)

Go to a restaurant in Europe, and the portions are about a third of what they would be in America.

That's because the food is so expensive. When I've travelled to Europe, I was appalled at how expensive everything was. Drinks were particularly expensive. In one place, it was like $8 for a small glass of coke! I would say that food on the average was twice as expensive as the US, and in some places (Switzerland) it was three times.

obesity is so rare as to be statistically insignificant and would attract as many stares as a guy with two heads.

What the hell are you talking about? Clearly you've never been to Germany or Italy. Maybe France, where the portions are so small that you're forced to look like a death-camp victim.

Re:Wise Words (2)

Lumpish Scholar (17107) | about 12 years ago | (#4245310)

I remember hearing Julia Child saying that the reason obesity is becoming such a problem is because of fat has become taboo in cooking.

And never use the "m-word"* to her. She's been known to say, "You don't have to use butter in this dish ... [wink] you can use cream instead."

Generally, people who eat excusively low fat foods at their main meals are those who have the most trouble keeping from snacking between meals

I agree with Ms. Child and Mr. Brown that "fats satisfy.... they keep us fuller longer"; but I think the extent to which people "snack" has a lot to do with how they're wired, above the neck and below. It's not so much a matter of having enough will power, but more a matter of how much or how little will power you need to have in order to deal with what your body does.

*Margarine.

Re:Wise Words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245323)

It's not that simple. It really depends on who you are. Some people gets big, others don't. I always eat between meals, and I eat fat.
Hey, I even eat before bed every day.

I weight 65 kg for 1,80m.

The thing is, we aren't born to weight the same. Eat good food (yes, you're right, fat food), do some exercise, and don't eat when you're not hungry, even if that chocolat looks good. You'll eventually be at your weigth, whatever it is. Maybe it'll be 60kg, maybe 100kg. We aren't all born to be slim.

Eat what your hunger says, and don't confuse hunger with stress, excitment, or what else. You body knows what it needs, you just need to learn to listen to it. A lot of people eats more when they are stressed. It's not that they're more hungry, it's just that they confuse hunger and stress. Same with people stopping cigarets.

Learn to listen to your hunger, to not confuse it, and, eventually, you'll be at the right weight. And the right weight is YOUR weigth, and it'll be different from the guy next door.

A lot of people get fat because they don't know how to eat, and begin seeing food as something to be careful about. It's wrong. Food is something you need when your body tells you so, and don't need when it tells you to stop. Simple as that.

Re:Wise Words (3, Insightful)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | about 12 years ago | (#4245344)

I've found it's better to eat 6 (or more) small meals throughout the day- each meal totalling 300 to 600 calories. I eat a little something every 2 or 3 hours throughout the day and never get hungry- of course, it annoys my cubicle neighbors, who think I eat all the time and wonder why I am not the size of a whale :)

I think that your quote from Julia Child is right on track. I remember when low fat "snack foods" became really really popular in the early 90's- snackwells, baked potato chips, etc People would think that because it was low fat, they could eat all they wanted... I remember a friend of mine holding up a bag of Baked Tostito's Tortilla chips and exclaiming gleefully that there was only "1.5 grams of fat in the whoooooole" bag... then she promptly proceeded to eat the entire bag- completely ignoring the fact that it still contained about 1,000 (or more) calories.

It's ok to include a little fat in your diet, but as long as you don't over do it, you'll be just fine.

I eat a lot of low fat meals, but the majority of the fat I consume comes from olive oil or "fatty" fish like salmon.... the so-called "good fats".

European Faggots (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245127)

What enrages European assholes so much is the fact that Americans just don't give a fuck or care about the fact they hate us. In American eyes French, German, Dutch and English pussies are mere insects we could crush whenever we wanted to. Their hatred grows from a deep sense of envy and fear of our power. So just get over it European jerkoffs, you are insignificant and not even worthy of Americans scorn. You pukes are just gutless cowards. I tired of America saving you goddamn pigs.

American Homosexuals (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245197)

Too many of you are in denial, and it comes out like this. You secretly want to suck Jerry Falwell's cock, don't you?

Re:American Homosexuals (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245231)

No actually I'd like to get a video of Tony Blair licking Prince Charles' balls

Re:American Homosexuals (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245242)

Mmmmm... damnit, I gotta jack off now.

HOMOSEXUALITY IS WRONG (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245263)

So please fuck me in the ass.

Yours, with love,

Anonymous Coward.

Queen Mum takes it up the ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245338)

with her walking cane. That wrinkles old broad is ugly.

Thank Goodness -- now I know... (5, Funny)

metacosm (45796) | about 12 years ago | (#4245130)

I used to think I could cook my bear and puma dishes to a mere 136 degrees -- but now I know that there have been outbreaks of trichinosis in the bear and puma populations, so I will put in the little extra effort to get the temp all the way to up 140... Alton Brown might have saved my life!

Re:Thank Goodness -- now I know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245331)

You joke, yet it's a problem in some areas... Just not for a very large % of the population.

Buffalo Milk Mozzarella Cheese (2)

cscx (541332) | about 12 years ago | (#4245132)

Mmm mmm good. Nuff said.

Re:Buffalo Milk Mozzarella Cheese (2)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | about 12 years ago | (#4245322)

Redundant. Mozzarella cheese is made from Buffalo milk as a rule. Anything else is just Farmer's Cheese pretending.

Uh oh (5, Funny)

jayhawk88 (160512) | about 12 years ago | (#4245137)

I don't care about the chefs I want a shot at the goofball in the Palomino Jacket. He needs to be taken down. And the judges, oh please let me at them!

Right, no way Morimoto tolerates that grave dishonor, let alone Kenichi. By my fallen ancestors, there will be Fois Gras spilled tonight!

The judges you can have, especially that fortune teller turned food critic bitch.

No windows . . . (2, Funny)

a_timid_mouse (607237) | about 12 years ago | (#4245140)

I'm glad to hear that he doesn't use windows. Heh :-)

Alton: No windows...

Re:No windows . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245288)

Actually, he's a HUGE mac-head.

Another humorous technical cooking place (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245145)

Not to put down Alton Brown, but I just wanted to point out a web site that also features technically-described cooking in a humorous way. You can see it at www.8legged.com [8legged.com] (Shockwave Flash required).

(Posted anonomusly since I already have "Excellent" karma, but since all anonymous cowards really have "Excellent" karma, you already knew that, didn't you? ;)

Mmmm...lard (5, Funny)

Bazzargh (39195) | about 12 years ago | (#4245151)

Alton: There are no bad foods, only bad food habits. I eat cream, butter, and bacon; I just don't eat pounds of it at a time...We like fats because fats satisfy.

Hmmm... reminds me of someone...

Next morning, the family tries to pry the bucket off Homer's noggin.

Bart: [tries to pull the bucket off, but fails] Sorry Dad, it just won't budge.
Marge: I tried greasing the bucket with bacon fat, but your father kept eating it.
Homer: Couldn't you try a non-delicious fat? [breaks down] Oh, there's no such thing!


Simpsons: Faith Off [snpp.com]

Vegetarian... (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 12 years ago | (#4245162)

Inspired somewhat by the poll and Q #3 (which I feel he kinda weaseled on) I'll pass along a tid-bit of wisdom gleaned from experience:

If you are a vegetarian and participating in a potluck/buffet with non-vegetarians (this particularly if you are one of one or two) plan for more. As much as I've got a few views on eating animals, it's been exasperating to bring the only vegetarian dish and have non-veg people suddenly decide to try them and take all before you get a chance (or just keep a private stash in a container for yourself to guarrantee you eat!)

If you want to sell people on virtues of vegetarian dining, make good dishes to share. Beats the heck out of getting into debates. :o)

Re:Vegetarian... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245316)

Not to get into a religious war, but some of us meatatarians don't actually eat meat in every dish. For example, I frequently eat vegetarian salad, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese (it's cheese powder) and celery sticks. Sometimes, I put a huge piece of raw ground beef on a celery stick and eat it like a lollipop, but that's only once in a while.

There is only one rule in good cooking... (3, Informative)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | about 12 years ago | (#4245171)

Use the timings on the instructions as a guide only.

THE PERFORMANCE OF MICROWAVE OVENS REALLY DOES VARY.

Learn how your equipment compares to the average. I have a 750 WATT microwave oven, but I know that it packs a punch like an 850 WATT microwave oven, so I follow the instructions for category "E", even though my oven is a category "D".

To many cooks, bless them, will cook something at gas mark whatever it says, for as long as it says, and not a minute less, not a minute more. They will not learn (accumulate over time / through experience) how the performance of their oven compares to the "average" (i.e. that on which the recipient was based).

Re:There is only one rule in good cooking... (2)

schon (31600) | about 12 years ago | (#4245356)

Use the timings on the instructions as a guide only.

THE PERFORMANCE OF MICROWAVE OVENS REALLY DOES VARY.


Actually, it not just microwaves, but almost all (consumer) convection ovens aren't exact.

In my old apartment, my wife kept wondering why everything she baked/roasted never turned out properly - so after watching the good eats pork ribs episode, I put a reliable thermometer in the oven - turns out it was out by almost 60 degrees!

An interesting aside - we just bought a house, and I wanted to see how far out the oven temperature was (it's an old oven, probably 20 or 30 years old), and (amazingly enough) it was almost exact!

The Other Other Other White Meat (5, Funny)

jeffersonebell (248978) | about 12 years ago | (#4245183)

Mmmm.... Puma

IMHO (1)

byron150 (124304) | about 12 years ago | (#4245204)

I think that perhaps the Ti leaves have something to do with the cook time of said goose. I don't know what kind of constitution these leaves have....but if after being surrounded by molten lava and allowed to sit for 45 minutes(admittedly while the lava is consistently cooling around it), some of those leaves are still uncharred, I imagine they are acting as an excellent insulator against the external heat. I would recommend a thermometer or something to measure the internal temp of said bird while cooking which, if wired(are there wireless thermometers or ones that will record temperature's over periods of time independantly????)could be run out the steam vent. If you monitor the internal temperature I expect you'll find it isn't nearly as hot as the external lava surrounding it. I want to insulate my house with Ti leaves.

Thanks Alton! (1)

jkerman (74317) | about 12 years ago | (#4245208)

I NEVER miss your show since I heard about it. Thanks for getting me interested in cooking again!

(well... your show is mostly a science show anyways) that is so cool!

Puma? (2)

smoondog (85133) | about 12 years ago | (#4245233)

I've never heard of someone eating puma. Does it taste like chicken. (Or tabby?) I wonder where I could find some recipes....

-Sean

Recipes and Rosetta Stones (5, Insightful)

fetta (141344) | about 12 years ago | (#4245235)

"Unfortunately most recipes are written for people that already know how to cook."

A good resource to deal with this is to keep a copy of "The Joy of Cooking" handy. I think the recipes in there are just okay, but it's the Rosetta Stone [ba.dlr.de] for cooking recipes.

Unfortunately, his statement is true of a lot of computer "recipes" as well. I always try to identify a "Rosetta Stone" book for every technology I dive into. For example, I was lost in the Linux Documentation Project until after I read Mark Sobell's A Practical Guide to Linux [sobell.com] .

There are SO bad foods! (1, Interesting)

Schlemphfer (556732) | about 12 years ago | (#4245239)

Excerpt from response to question 4:

There are no bad foods, only bad food habits. I eat cream, butter, and bacon; I just don't eat pounds of it at a time.

This kind of thinking gets people in loads of trouble. Sure, a sip a cream or a pat of butter or a piece of bacon once a month wouldn't do anybody any harm. But once these foods are included in the diet, it's easy for them to become habits. When I go to a Safeway or Wegman's and see every tenth person over 300 pounds and pushing a shopping cart loaded with milk, cheeses, beef, etc. it makes me wince when I hear this "no bad foods" kind of thinking.

The main problem is that when cookbook authors like Brown create recipes that emphasize these nasty foods, at least some people end up including tremendously unhealthy amounts of these foods in their diets. You want incredibly tasty food where none of the ingredients cause health problems? Check out this one [amazon.com] by Lorna Sass.

Disclaimer: I have no financial connection to this book, and have refrained from embedding my Amazon Associates code in this link.

Re:There are SO bad foods! (4, Funny)

wiredog (43288) | about 12 years ago | (#4245304)

Sure, a sip a cream or a pat of butter or a piece of bacon once a month wouldn't do anybody any harm.

Amounts that small will do no harm if taken daily. (Assuming you get a decent amount of exercise.) Alcohol is an industrial solvent and attacks almost every system in the body if overindulged in. Does that mean it should be completely avoided? (Well, yes if you're alcoholic.)

I bet you cook with dihydrogen monoxide, which has been found to be used by everyone who has ever developed cancer.

Re:There are SO bad foods! (1)

PsionicMan (74653) | about 12 years ago | (#4245321)

You want incredibly tasty food where none of the ingredients cause health problems?

Absolutely impossible (unless you consider crushed ice, with water sauce, and a nice tall glass of water an incredibly tasty meal). Alton's point is that overeating and such is the problem. Any food that is capable of nourishing you is able to cause health problems if you eat too much.

Now, I can't speak for everyone, but I can honestly say that I am much less likely to eat "too much" if the food is heavy and fatty than if it is not.

Exactly Alton's point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245336)

But once these foods are included in the diet, it's easy for them to become habits.

But, as Alton said (in the quote you included!): "There are no bad foods, only bad food habits." The food itself is not inherently terrible; it's how much you eat of it that causes problems. So, in essence, you agree with Alton.

Be careful what you put your blame on. Remember, the food isn't telling everyone to eat badly. People have to make that decision.

Re:There are SO bad foods! (2)

nomadic (141991) | about 12 years ago | (#4245370)

But you're assuming the dubious research compiled about high-fat foods causing obesity is true. Not sure why you'd "wince".

Cooking at 2000 C (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245241)

I think the problem with the person asking about cooking with Lava is that just because you've encased the game hen in 2000 C lava doesn't mean that's the same as putting something in a 2000 C oven. In an oven, the temperature of the air is what cooks the food. In the lava oven, it's the lava. I don't know how well lava transfers heat (it's probably better than air), but I bet that the lava touching the hen cooled off a great deal quicker than the rest of lava, which caused the hen to cook slower. With air, there's always enough circulation that cooled air gets quickly replaced with hot air. Thus the food is cooked at a constant temperature. This wouldn't happen with the lava oven.

Either way, I doubt the poster actually did what he said, rather he copied it from a website and claimed to have done it. I hate it when people take stories from other people and claim to have done it themselves. That's why so many urban legends keep getting circulated.

Vegetarians live longer? (1)

clion999 (565741) | about 12 years ago | (#4245255)

I'm not sure about vegetarians living longer in the United States, but I'm sure that people living countries with substandard sources of meat protein do not have longer lifespans. The US may not keep people alive as long as places like Japan, but folks do live much longer than in places like Africa. Come on.

Most of the vegetarians I know have a kind of wan and lifeless glow. They're often fairly passive. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the vegan population is dying sooner than people with a balanced diet.

The real question is what is a balanced diet. 90% of Americans eat too much of anything. That's why they're so fat. It's not the meat in the diet as much as the volume. Encouraging people to eat more vegetables is one thing, but making of fake statistics about lifespans isn't a great idea.

Re:Vegetarians live longer? (1)

Licinius (252579) | about 12 years ago | (#4245346)

First, it doesn't say anywhere that vegetarians live longer. It just says that in places where meat consumption, etc. is lower than what Americans are used to usually have a healthier and longer living population. There've been numerous studies on it (search on Google), such as the average diet in the Mediterranean region.

Re:Vegetarians live longer? (1)

HarvDog (70933) | about 12 years ago | (#4245371)

I'd have to disagree with your comment about vegetarians having a "wan and lifeless glow." I have quite a few vegetarian friends and none of them look wan and lifeless. In fact, they all look pretty healthy. (I eat some vegetarian meals, but I'm far from a full-blown vegetarian) That being said, I do know some vegans who are sorta funny-looking, but for all I know they looked that way before they got started. :)

You are absolutely right about Americans eating too much of everything. I think of that everything I pass by a Sonic drive-in with their cursed Super Sonic double cheeseburger value meals. The fact is, fat tastes good. (cooked fat, that is :)

Quick!... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4245294)

...Someone write a script to replace the "?"s with whatever they're supposed to be...please!!!

Cooking In Lava (5, Insightful)

SirTreveyan (9270) | about 12 years ago | (#4245327)

I am really surprised at Alton's response to this question. Although IANAP I would think this is really a simple matter of the thermodynamics of state changes of matter.

An example might be in order here to explain for those who never took chemistry. Take an ice cube with a thermometer frozen within. The temperature of the ice cube will rise 0 degrees C is reached. At this point the state of the ice changes to water. However the temperature of both the water and ice remains at 0 degrees C untils ALL the ice is melted. The same holds true at the boiling point, only if the steam is allowed to maintain constant pressure. When the water boils it remains at 100 degrees C until all the water has turned to steam. If the steam had been collected at constant pressure, once the water is all gone the temperature of the steam will begin to rise.

Now how does this apply to cooking chincken in lava?

"...wrap the hen in about 10 Ti (or banana) leaves. These protect the hen from actually burning" The banana leaves im sure are rather large and contain signicant amounts of water.

"...wrapped hen in the middle of the blob of lava and cover it with another shovel full of lava. We try to leave a small opening to the Ti leaves, for steam to escape..." The water in the leaves is boiling off. The opening maintains constant pressure which results in a fairly constant temperature. As long as the steam is escaping the temperature of the hen is being regulated at a level way below the lava temperature.

If Alton would wrap his hen in banana leaves ( or even wet paper towels ) before placing it under that broiler I will gaurentee it will take longer than 15 minutes to cook.

Does anyone know if his show airs in the UK? (2, Interesting)

$rtbl_this (584653) | about 12 years ago | (#4245352)

After all the hype on /. I quite fancy watching Good Eats now, but I can't find any information about whether any UK channels (even satellite) have picked it up. If anyone knows whether it is shown here could they let me know where and when? Cheers!

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