Blog of an aspiring foodie

Bedtime thoughts – chili, pie, chocolate

Posted by beer_chris on 30-December-2007

A couple of thoughts before heading off to bed.

Chili needs anchos . . .
. . . probably as much as spaghetti sauce needs tomatoes. I made a variation of the beef chili recipe and basically replaced the chili powder with hot paprika as an experiment. I brought it back from Hungary, so I know it is authentic, and it smells as rich and full as my regular chili powder – but the flavor cooked out completely. The chili tasted underseasoned – it was missing a fullness. It had heat, it had saltiness, but was missing something – the smoky heat of the ancho chili that is the backbone of most chili powder. Oh well, lesson learned.

Pecan pie
Well, the pecan pie I made was close but no cigar to the Goode Co. standard. As it turned out my mother had a Goode Co. pie to do a taste test with. My pie was still too sweet, and the filling didn't set up as nicely – it was a little runny. Additionally the crust was not par-baked – following the recipe – and it was gummy and undercooked. I made it in a Pyrex dish, so maybe that had something to do with it. Next time may up the lemon juice/vinegar, and I think it needs vanilla extract and maybe some more salt. Perhaps more eggs in the custard layer will help it setup.

Also, read some interesting stuff regarding joint history of pecan pie and corn syrup – including that American evil, the subsidized high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). There are tons of websites out there touting how terrible HFCS is for Americans and their health, and in reading various alternative recipes for pecan pie that replaced the corn syrup with other alternatives, there was a long discussion of how the Karo home economists invented pumpkin pie in the 20's as an outlet for the product – it uses nearly half of a normal sized jar. There was a posting (I've not verified it) that stated that food historians cannot find mention of pie earlier than this time – and there was a push by Karo to get their product adopted around that time. Also, found that the various manufacturers have been replacing normal corn syrup with HFCS in all of their products. Now, apparently 'light' syrup is now 100% HFCS, while 'dark' Karo syrup still is just plain corn syrup. Apparently since HFCS is a cause of all ills this is something important to pay attention to.

Chocolate as social microcosm
In the Chron today was an article about a freshman seminar at Southwestern University focused on an interdisciplinary approach to chocolate – political science, economics, marketing/business and sociology (among other examples). Two thoughts on this:

  1. How cool is it to have freshman seminars like this to engage students in the 'university learning process' early?
  2. The article portrays chocolate as a unique commodity that enables this type of analysis – my thought would be that just about any commodity type food could be looked at in the same way. I would argue that basically all 'world foods' (i.e. foods consumed/produced the world over) could be analyzed in this way, as food is the great common denominator amongst humanity – we all eat, we all have the same physiological methods for obtaining, tasting, harvesting foods – it's the mental and sociological side of foods that creates the differences, so take any food and it could be put into this interdisciplinary focus.



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