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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> science

Which pairs best with soft cheeses like brie and camembert: red or white wine? What about harder, more mature cheeses such as cheddar and parmesan? Which cheeses will please those who prefer a beer or cocktail to wine?

Now it's fast and easy for you to find drink matches for 219 cheeses, plus thousands  more pairings for appetizers, main courses and dessert in this comprehensive food and drink mobile application. The new Drinks Matcher from Nat Decants is available now for your smartphone. It's like having a personal sommelier and a bartender at your side. Natalie MacLean, creator of Nat Decants, the wine web site here, has teamed up with the software developer bitHeads to create an application that works on your iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Curve.

"Wine and cheese is a classic for fall and holiday entertaining: delicious and simple to prepare," MacLean explains. "But we're all busy during the holiday season, so we don't have time to spend researching information online. We want to do a quick search while we browse in the liquor store, do our Christmas shopping or order from a restaurant menu."

You just choose a match on your mobile device and then you can find the top drink picks either in your local liquor store or on the restaurant menu. Unlike MacLean's popular pairing widget on her web site, this new tool doesn't require a connection to the Internet and so can be used in remote locations.


Back in 1994-95, the big chile pepper story was that eating the pods caused stomach cancer.  We investigated this allegation and published this report.  Back  then I wrote, "Let's put this absurdity to rest right now.  Despite all the mass media hype and paranoia, there is not one bit of credible evidence linking chile peppers with causing any type of cancer.   Period."  Here is the full story.

Fun Stuff from the Show

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

The 21st annual National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show was a huge success!  Periodically I will show you some interesting stuff from the show, like this from Jeffrey Schickowski, an author, scientist, and artist.  Using x-rays, photography, CT scans, and 3-D computer reconstructions, he takes us deep inside chile pepper pods.  Visit Jeffrey's website here.


German researchers have discovered that the flapping of bees' wings scares off caterpillars, reducing leaf damage on bell peppers and soybeans.

Many wasp species lay their eggs in caterpillars, and so caterpillars have evolved to avoid them. The sounds of bees' and wasps' wings are similar.

Researchers suggest this is an added bonus of having bees around, as well as the pollination they provide.

The scientists wrote in the journal Current Biology: "Our findings indicate for the first time that visiting honeybees provide plants with a totally unexpected advantage. They not only transport pollen from flower to flower, but in addition also reduce plant destruction by herbivores."

For the experiment, researchers used bell pepper and soybean plants, beet armyworm caterpillars, and honeybees. They set up experimental plots of the plants, added the caterpillars, and allowed the bees to enter some of the plots but not others.

When the caterpillars had turned into pupae and buried away in the soil, the scientists went back into the cages and measured the extent of leaf damage - the amount of munching that the caterpillars had indulged in.

The presence of bees reduced caterpillar damage by about 60% in plants that had not fruited.


New technological advances in roasting and peeling New Mexico green chile have created InstantChile Futuro, which is much tastier than the canned green chile you find in supermarkets. Go here to read the entire story, plus recipes. 


Why Cooks Spice Up Their Foods

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: science , history , chile peppers

 There are a number of explanations for why we have added spices such as chile peppers to our foods over the tens or hundreds of thousands of years that we have been cooking. They are:

--Spices make foods taste better.

--The "eat-to-sweat hypothesis"-eating spicy foods makes us cool down during hot weather.

--To disguise the taste of spoiled food.

--Spices add nutritional value to food.

--The antimicrobial hypothesis: spices kill harmful bacteria in food and aid in food preservation.

Which of these explanations are correct?  Read my article about it, here.

 

 


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