07 October 2020
15 Fun Food Facts & Entertaining Trivia
Funny food facts with which to wow your guests when EGGing
When you light the charcoal in your Big Green Egg, you have probably already carefully chosen the dish and ingredients you want to prepare. But do you know the background of these dishes and ingredients? We’ve collected some fun, interesting food facts for you. That way, you can entertain your guests, not just with the most delicious dishes, but also with some background trivia and fun facts.
The Shape of Your Pasta
Do you always choose the same pasta shape because that is what you usually buy, or do you like to switch around? Each pasta shape has its own special function and there are more differences than you might think. Always keep in mind that the purpose of pasta’s shape is to allow sauce to stick to it. Hollow pasta such as penne, paccheri or bucatini are meant for thick sauces, while flat or thin pasta is generally used for thinner sauces. For smooth sauces, it’s best to choose a smooth or slightly ribbed pasta variety and for thicker sauces, pasta with large ribs or strongly curved shapes are the tastiest option.
There are as many as 300 different pasta varieties with some 600 different names. That’s right, the same pasta variety may have different names. But there is a logic of sorts behind the pasta-naming mayhem. Usually, the names are literal translations. Orecchiette, for example, means ears and conchiglie, shells. Rigate stands for ribbed. Hence, Penne Rigate are ribbed hollow tubes. If the name of the pasta ends in either ‘ini’ or ‘ette’, it’ is a small version of a bigger sibling. In turn, types of pasta that end on ‘oni’ are the bigger sibling.
What is a Grunter?
You might think it’s a little pig or a bird. But it’s not. It’s something else altogether! Grunter is the nickname of the gurnard, which is also affectionately referred to as a croaker or crooner. This bottom-dwelling sea fish thanks its name to the fact that it makes a grunting sound with which it wards off predators. It’s a wonderful little fish that can be very tastily prepared on the Big Green Egg. The fairly firm, white fish meat has a delicate and sweet taste that can be compared to shrimp. Do you want to put the grunter on the menu ? It’s widely available from July to December.
The Origins of the Hamburger
Think hamburger, think USA! The thick, round patty of ground beef is indeed a veritable American BBQ classic – however, the hamburger didn’t originate there. The story goes, that the history of the hamburger begins in the 13th century in the Mongol Empire. Mongolian warriors placed pieces of beef under the saddles of their horses to make it more tender and in so doing, created tartar. From there, the tartar is said to have made its way into Western Europe. The truth is a matter of academic debate.
It is a fact, however, that the idea to heat up this slice of chopped or ground steak originated in the German city of Hamburg, and German immigrants introduced the delicacy to America, where the meat was first sold as a steak and later served in a bun. In a bun, is how the hamburger conquered the world. You can come up with endless hamburger variations depending on the other fillings you choose. How about a hamburger bun with bacon, cheddar and jalapeño from the Big Green Egg?
Originally, pizza was mainly popular among the poorer population of Italy. That changed when Raffaele Esposito – Naples’ most famous pizza baker – was invited by the king of Italy and his wife Margherita to come and prepare this speciality at the palace. He created a pizza especially for the occasion in the colours of the red-white-and-green Italian flag, using tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. The queen loved this pizza and thus began the pizza’s success story, with pizza Margherita, named after the queen, at the fore. From that moment on, pizza was no longer a meal for the less privileged of the population and was savoured by most everyone.
Saffron is made from the stigmas and styles of the saffron crocus and is the most expensive spice in the world. For this reason, it is commonly called red gold. The stigma is the upper part of the pistil and each crocus contains 3 stigmas. For 1 gram of saffron some 150 saffron crocuses are needed, which are all harvested by hand! That explains the spice’s exclusivity. Luckily, you don’t need much saffron to add the taste, colour and aroma of this special spice to your dish – a tasty bouillabaisse, for instance.
Sake, Wine or Beer?
Sake is also known as rice wine, although the production process is more similar to beer than wine. This Asian drink is made from rice, water, Koji mould and yeast. Of the thousands of rice varieties cultivated worldwide, around 80 are considered suitable for brewing sake. These relatively expensive types of sake rice are collectively referred to as Sakamai. In contrast to regular table rice, these types of rice are quite heavy and the cores contain neither fat nor protein, which is essentially important for a good sake. Sake is not just a drink but, much like wine, it is also widely used in recipes.
It is often said that meat on the bone has more flavour. That is not entirely true. The bone itself does not produce any flavour whatsoever. Only if it is a hollow bone containing marrow – the marrow will enhance the favour of your dish. But the fact remains that a côte de boeuf on the Big Green Egg is a great, bold piece of meat with a delicious taste.
Cheesecake, an Ancient Classic
Cream cheese as base for a cake? Actually, it is not a bad idea. After all, whipped cream and cake are marriage made in heaven and cream cheese is made from whipped cream and milk. The unripened new cheese has a subtle taste and a compact, creamy structure. New York cheesecake is undoubtedly the best-known variant of this delicious cake. That’s why you might think cheesecake has its origins in America. There’s even a National Cheesecake Day in the US, on 30 July.
But it is plausible that the origins of cheesecake lie somewhere on the Greek island of Samos, where moulds have been found dating back to 2000 BC. The Greeks considered cheesecake to be a good source of energy. The first recipe dates from 230 CE. It was recorded by the Greek writer Athenaeus and consisted of cream cheese, honey and wheat. The Romans seized the recipe and spread it throughout Europe, where cheesecake as we know it today was created. Immigrants brought it to America, and Americans fell in love at first bite.
Barbecuing is even more fun in good company. That’s probably what they thought during an event organised at the Estado de Nuevo Leon in Parque Fundidora in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. On 18 August 2013, a barbecue was held there for 45,252 people, which earned the organisers a place in the Guinness World Records book.
Edible Thistle Flower
Did you know that an artichoke is actually the bud of a thistle flower? The flower base, the heart of the artichoke, and the fleshy leaves are all edible . The choke (the hairy part) is removed in every recipe and is not edible. If artichokes are not harvested for consumption, their chokes develop into beautiful purple flowers.
The Origins of Flammkuchen
Flammkuchen, also known as tarte flambée, has been a household name in Alsace and the neighbouring German Palatinate, Baden and Mosel for hundreds of years. It is a regional specialty that came into existence more or less by chance and has really only been discovered by the wider public in recent years. It originated as a by-product of baking bread. Several villages had large wood-fired ovens in the centre, the temperature of which was tested by placing the remains of the bread dough inside. Throwing it away was a shame, so before it went into the oven it was rolled out and garnished. Would you like to make classic Flammkuchen or Flammkuchen with salmon on your Big Green Egg?
Which Rice for Paella & Risotto?
Rice can be broadly divided into two types: ‘Indica’ and ‘Japonica’. Indica stands for long-grain, dry-boiling rice (such as basmati and jasmine rice). Japonica includes the round-grained varieties used for preparing paella and risotto. Although there are small differences between paella and risotto rice, you can substitute one for the other. If you want to make a tasty paella, for instance, and you don’t have paella rice on hand, then simply use risotto rice! Long-grain rice, however, is not recommended. Round-grain varieties can absorb a lot more moisture and contain more starch than the elongated variety. And it is the starch that lends risotto and paella their smooth and creamy texture.
Would you like to try a nice chocolate cake or some brownies from the Big Green Egg? Guilty pleasures that are totally guilt-free. Chocolate contains vitamins and minerals and it makes you happy. That’s because chocolate contains the substances tryptophan and phenylethylamine. Both are found in the body and improve your mood. What could possibly be wrong with an even better mood?
Carpaccio, the Original
The true carpaccio is a dish created around thin slices of raw beef. Giuseppe Cipriani, the then owner of Harry’s Bar in Venice, conceived the dish in 1950 for one of his regular customers. The Venetian countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo was anaemic and given the advice to eat raw red meat. Cipriani named this dish after the painter Vittore Carpaccio, who often used deep red colours in his paintings. Nowadays, the term carpaccio is often used for any thinly sliced ingredients on a plate, but these usually lack the red colour. Would you like to make a delicious carpaccio variation on your EGG? This hay-smoked carpaccio is as tasty as the original.
Herbs and spices are not just delicious seasonings, they are also very healthy. Chinese medicine uses the medicinal properties of these natural ingredients for good reason. Turmeric, also known as curcuma, stands out in particular. This antioxidant regulates your metabolism, purifies your liver, is anti-inflammatory and the consumption of turmeric slows down the aging process. An additional health benefit of using herbs and spices is that you will often need to use less salt in a dish.
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