Five Things Nathan Myhrvold Taught Us About Cooking
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of writing software, and that’s always a rude thing to ask about software. And maybe because of this heritage, we’ve produced a large, sprawling book that’s late. But there’s no bugs in it, we drew the line there.” (He said the book would be out in a year.)
2. Everything you thought you knew about food safety is wrong. There’s no need to overcook pork, for instance. That’s because the parasite trichinella is largely gone from the U.S., Myhrvold said, except for bear meat—“if you’re a hunter and you eat wild bear, cook the crap out of it.” Similarly, botulism affects very few people, except in Alaska, which seems to be the botulism capital of the world. “Essentially everything that chefs and most people are taught about food safety is flat wrong,” Myhrvold said. “Not a little bit wrong, it’s massively wrong in almost every area.”
3. Be wary of fancy French terms. Restaurants often say a meat dish, like duck, is “confit” (cooked and preserved in its own fat) when it’s not really, Myhrvold said. The same goes for “caramelized” anything. And stay away from canned foie gras at all costs. Myhrvold said a series of blind taste tests revealed that people could not tell it apart from dog food.
4. Choose your sushi wisely. Myhrvold’s team came across a research paper that found 25 percent of the raw salmon in Seattle-area sushi restaurants had Anisakis nematodes (a type of parasitic roundworm) in it. I’m not sure how dangerous that actually is, but I’d probably rather not find out.
5. Invest in some liquid nitrogen for the kitchen. It’s cheaper than Fiji Water, Myhrvold said, and can be used to make novel frozen desserts, preserve certain foods, and flash-freeze food surfaces during preparation. “There are quite a few companies that sell it here in Seattle. Some of them deliver. When I first started screwing around with liquid nitrogen, I had it delivered to my house. This guy would come every month. When he’d bring the canister of liquid nitrogen, he’d say, ‘You know, I don’t make a lot of house calls.” You can also use dry ice to do things like make smooth and creamy ice cream, or freeze duck skin before cooking so you don’t overcook the meat while making the skin crispy.
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