What does that mean? Food terms that make me go "huh?"
Since I started this site almost three years ago, there have been a plethora of food related terms cropping up that I have no idea of the meaning of. This worries me a bit since I'm supposed to be a Serious Foodie. Thankfully, the interweb allows all of us to fake being an expert. Here are a few phrases that have entered my consciousness lately.
- Molecular gastronomy: Food as scientific experiment meets culinary artistry (or, depending on your point of view, culinary pretentiousness), popularized by practitioners such as Ferran Adrià, of el Bulli in Spain, Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck in England, and Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago. Tends to trigger strong opinions ranging from adoration to the view that it's a sign that we are nearing the end of civilization as we know it.
- Anti-griddle: A symbol of the molecular gastronomy movement, this device instantly freezes food on a 'griddle' that is cooled to minus 30°C. An anti-griddle costs around $850 US, so it's probably the ultimate gift for the Foodie Who Has Everything for 2006. Note that the same kind of flash-freezing technology is used to create that American mall cuisine masterpiece, Dippin' Dots.
- Glocalization: An attempt by multinational food corporations to market their global products with locality-specific tweaks. Best practioners: Hormel in Hawaii. Product: Spam.
- Neutraceutical: Food that is specifically marketed for its health benefits. Most nutraceutical food on the market is synthetically produced.
- Functional Foods: Nutraceutical foods. Makes food sounds so joyless, doesn't it?
- Flavonoids: A substance found in things like dark chocolate and red wine that supposedly has antioxidant properties, therefore leading to diet books that scream out YOU CAN EAT CHOCOLATE AND DRINK WINE ON THIS DIET AND STILL LOSE WEIGHT on their back covers. (Antioxidant may also be a puzzling term, but it came out in the early '90s so we should all know what it means by now.)
- Cocoa nibs and chocolate caviar. Since chocolate is now deemed to be good for you (see flavonoids) but it has to be dark dark dark, it's now sold in the form of cocoa nibs (chopped up cacao beans) and chocolate caviar (tiny specks of really dark chocolate suitable for sprinkling on stuff or eating by the spoonful). Expensive.
- Grass-finished beef: Beef that comes from cows that have been fed grass until they, er, finish. Supposed to be better for you, leaner, more natural, etc. than grain-finished beef.
- New-old grains: amaranth, flaxseed, quinoa, millet, spelt, etc. All ancient grains or grain-like seeds (quinoa and flaxseed) with suddenly re-discovered amazing health benefits that put poor old rice and wheat to shame. Expensive.