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Who You Gonna Call?

August 19th, 2011 - By Lari Robling

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Do you salt the meat before cooking? Wash the mushrooms? You need the kitchen “myth busters,” Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. They reveal some tricks from their book, Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them And 100 Other Myths About Food And Cooking.


Chances are your mom, nanna, or favorite uncle has schooled you on cutting onions without crying or the secrets to brewing coffee. But, is there more to kitchen myths than, ‘we’ve always done it that way?’ Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough tackle those questions in their book, Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them And 100 Other Myths About Food And Cooking.

First, I asked Mark about Myth #19 — Never cut lettuce with a knife:

Mark Scarbrough: “This has to do with the hand-torn aesthetic, but like all of these myths that aesthetic suddenly becomes an ethic. They claim ‘oh well it oxidizes less if you tear it by hand.’ That’s not true it oxidizes less if you cut it with a knife. I say it all has to do with how you want to get your salad on your plate. You know so many of these myths are just so funny in the face of dinner at 6 pm on Wednesday because they seem to be stumbling blocks toward getting a nutritious meal on the table.”


Lari Robling: “Ok, we’re in the height of the summer season, Bruce can you explain to me how to pick a peach?”

Bruce Weinstein: “Use your nose more than anything else. Don’t squeeze it, don’t throw it in the air, don’t juggle it, smell it. If a peach doesn’t smell sweet and peachy it’s not gonna taste sweet and peachy.”

Lari Robling: “And what do you do with it when you get it home, do you refrigerate it?”

Bruce Weinstein: “Once you refrigerate fruit especially peaches, they’re gonna stop ripening. If it’s really sweet, the moment you put it in the fridge it’s gonna stay that way for a bit. It’ll start to rot, but much slower than if you leave it on the counter. If it’s not really very fragrant you probably shouldn’t buy it anyway. But, if you do, then you want to keep it on the counter preferably in a paper bag and it will ripen somewhat in the next few days and become a little softer, perhaps a little sweeter, but no guarantees on that. Use your nose up front when you buy it!”

Lari Robling: “Any tips on if you do let it go?…”

Bruce Weinstein: “Cut off those rotten spots and then throw it in the blender with a little yogurt and maybe a little honey and make a smoothie out of it. Those are also the perfect fruit to cut up and make a crisp with a nice little oat, walnut, and maple topping.”

Ripe Watermelon Slices

Lari Robling: “Summertime is definitely the time for watermelon. How do you know it is ripe?”

Bruce Weinstein: “You go through the supermarket and you see people tapping them and shaking them and holding them over their head and we like to call it the watermelon mambo. I don’t know what they’re doing except maybe getting a little bit of exercise because the only way to know that a watermelon is good is to go by the color, and not the color all over, the color on the bottom, where that watermelon sat on the ground, that part where the sun don’t shine. That needs to have a little bit of yellow so some color’s gotten there, but no chlorophyll so it hasn’t turned green and you want to see a nice distinctive line between the green where the sun was and the pale yellow on the bottom. But make sure it’s not too white. If it’s too white it’s not good.”

Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough are the authors of Lobsters Scream when you Boil Them.

Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them

Check out Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough’s book Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them And 100 Other Myths About Food And Cooking.

Peaches photo by Flicker user catchesthelight / CC BY-NC 2.0
Watermelon slices photo by Flicker user persocomholic / CC BY-NC 2.0

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Photo by Flicker user Chiot's Run / CC BY-NC 2.0

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