Saturday, August 17, 2013

The charcoal argument

Joe Brown, a Wired magazine editor, explains why food tastes better grilled over charcoal:

"What charcoal brings to the party is a healthy heaping of aroma compounds, the other half of the power couple that is flavour. In fact, aroma might be the super starlet in that relationship, because our tongues are actually pretty limited. Anything else you perceive while eating — is courtesy of aroma.

Aromas are released when you bite into your food. They travel up your retronasal cavity, and light up your olfactory receptors. That neurological signal mixes with whatever your taste buds are saying and tells your brain what’s going on in your mouth. Food grilled over a charcoal flame has a special aroma: guaiacol. Guaiacol is an aroma compound produced when you use heat to break down lignin, the resin responsible for holding strands of cellulose together to form wood. It has a smoky, spicy, bacony aroma. In fact, the flavor that most people associate with bacon is largely degraded lignin.

Translation: Cooking over charcoal makes your food taste like bacon. Let me repeat that: blah blah charcoal blah blah BACON."

No comments: