Sunday, March 8, 2015

This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth

Another review for BloggingForBooks

This Is What You Just Put in Your Mouth? From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising Secrets by Patrick Di Justo 

A friend once forswore gelatin forever when she found out it was made from animal carcasses (like a good friend, I decided not to tell her how broth is made, as that would have too much of a negative impact on her life). She is the type of person who would hate this book.

Based on the author's Wired column, the book consists of many very short chapters, where the main ingredients of a food or other product are shown, discussed and analysed. Sometimes, there is a short background section as well. The writing is always casual and fun. The author's sense of humour runs along similar lines to mine, so I really enjoyed myself.

For me, it was interesting to understand more about about ingredients such as taurine or calcium phosphate. Yes, many of those are also used in other products (such as Plaster of Paris) but there is a huge difference between eating a food grade ingredient and Plaster of Paris. Of course, not everyone agrees with this view and they may have very different reactions to this book. The author himself has a very balanced view, showing why an ingredient is used but, at the same time, often not hiding his reaction of "I am eating this?"

Part of it may be that we are very distant from our own food. Not that long ago, most cooks would know what gelatin and broth is made of. Using every part of an animal or plant was also seen as positive. Today, we seem to think that any part of an animal that isn't a steak shouldn't be eaten or that all plants should be pretty to be eaten. For some reason, it seems more reasonable when the little old lady makes tortilla the traditional way (with lye) than to read that an industrial plant uses the same chemical.

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