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DISH: A weekly serving of food news and views

By Compiled by Janet K. Keeler from staff and wire reports
Published August 6, 2003

Potato chips
Are you in doubt as to how done is done when cooking fish?   photo

photo Glad's Press ‘n Seal wrap

deconstructing: explanations from the inside out

potato chip

Many popular foods have roots in other countries, but the potato chip is American, through and through. There are some variations on the story, but it's widely accepted that the crispy snack food was invented by the chef of a Saratoga Springs, N.Y., hotel in the mid 1850s. One version has the chef making the chips for Cornelius Vanderbilt, who had sent back a potato dish, complaining the potatoes were cut too thick.

Within 15 years of the chef's discovery, potato chips, or Saratoga chips as they were first known, became a worldwide phenomenon. Today, potato chip production accounts for $6-billion in retail sales annually, making it America's most popular snack.

Its simple start as thinly sliced and deep-fried potato pieces has grown into a dizzying array of variations. Among the most interesting are lamb-and-curry flavored potato "crisps" sold in England, a nod to American ingenuity and Indian influence.

Popular flavors in this country include barbecue, nacho, and sour cream and chive, besides the regular, salty variety with ruffles or ridges. Consumers will find low-fat and no-fat versions, plus those that are "hand-cut" or neatly stacked - even those with skins left on.

And these days, potatoes might be replaced by sweet potatoes or other root vegetables.

Pass the onion dip, please.

cooking class

Are you in doubt as to how done is done when cooking fish? The standard is to allow about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. (Flip fish halfway through if sauteing or frying.) This should result in fish that flakes easily when poked with a fork and appears opaque throughout.

fast food changes

Pressure from consumer groups is affecting the way fast food is made. The latest change is the phasing out of growth-promoting antibiotics in McDonald's fare. McDonald's has asked its producers of more than 2.5-billion pounds of meat to halt the use of antibiotics, except to treat illness or prevent disease, by the end of 2004. Public health agencies have warned that overuse of antibiotics is producing resistant strains of germs that may be difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate.

cold enchantment

Granita Magic (Artisan, $15), by Nadia Roden, scoops up dozens of recipes for one of the easiest cold treats to make. The satisfying, shredded-ice texture of granita, combined with Roden's creative approaches, lends itself to satisfying flavors such as basil and orange granita. Other recipes include lavender and honey, pistachio and rose, and tequila and lime.

the meat market

Food shoppers are checking out more than their groceries on trips to the supermarket, a new poll shows. The "Food in America" poll by Food & Wine magazine and America Online indicates that the supermarket checkout line is the most popular place to meet a mate.

Other findings in the poll, printed in August's issue and on www.foodandwine.com include:

--Rocker Ozzy Osbourne's refrigerator inspires the most curiosity. Ultra-thin actor Lara Flynn Boyle's fridge wasn't of much interest at all. Hmmm, wonder why.

--The best cheap meals are those made at home.

--A margarita is the best way to drink tequila.

--The pressure cooker is the favorite time-saving gadget.

raspberry blush

Flavored vodkas are all the rage these days - and one of the newest to join the ranks is Vox Raspberry, a premium raspberry vodka imported from the Netherlands by Jim Beam Brands Co. Packaged in a tall, column-shaped bottle made of clear Austrian glass, suggested retail price is $30. To make a rasmopolitan, mix 11/4 parts Vox Raspberry, 1 part cranberry juice, 1/2 part orange-flavored liqueur and juice from a fresh squeezed lime. Garnish with fresh raspberries if desired.

we're glad

Tired of fighting with plastic wrap? Check out Glad's new Press 'n Seal wrap that clings to just about anything, including plastic and wood. It's easy to pull and tear from the box and forms a spill-proof seal. Every time. We are impressed with this innovation and had fun reading the instructions in English, French and Spanish. A 75-square-foot roll is about $3.

constant comment

"I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts."

- Orson Welles

Long life to cheese

If the cheese in your refrigerator is beginning to sprout a bit of mold, do not throw the baby out with the bathwater by getting rid of the whole thing. Pare away the mold with a clean knife, or, if there is a lot of mold, cut one-quarter to one-half inch deeper than the mold and discard the contaminated portion. Mold occurs quite naturally on the surface of cheese, particularly in warm, humid environments, and is no cause for worry. To allay mold formation, be sure to rewrap cheese with clean plastic wrap every time you serve it. Bacteria thrives on old plastic wrap and is transferred to cheese's surface when reused.

[Last modified August 5, 2003, 10:13:23]

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