Knowledge is power. And when it comes to power in the kitchen, the more you wield, the more delicious and exciting your meals can be. So when you are throwing a dinner party or preparing a meal for your beloved partner, you might want to sprinkle some fun food facts atop their dishes, alongside that fresh parmesan you’re grating.
If you’ve got an appetite for fascinating culinary information, we’ve got the perfect list for you to devour. Below, you’ll find some of the wildest cooking facts Redditors have recently shared, as well as an interview with Bintu from Recipes Recipes From a Pantry, so bon appétit! And don’t forget to upvote the tidbits of information you can’t wait to store up the sleeve of your chef’s uniform.
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The reason a bit of salt on your tomatoes tastes amazing is because they’re naturally rich in glutamate, and they react with the salt to create MSG
Image credits: slogginmagoggin
To gain more insight on this topic, we reached out to Bintu from Recipes From a Pantry, and she was kind enough to have a chat with us. Bintu shares a wide variety of recipes on her website, including mouth-watering African dishes, brilliant air fryer recipes, easy instant pot recipes, delicious vegetarian recipes and much more. So first, we wanted to know what Bintu loves most about cooking. “For me, it’s all about good food made with real ingredients,” she told Bored Panda. “I love creating fresh, exciting recipes with color, flavor, and a dash of spice.”
We were also curious if Bintu had any wild cooking facts up her sleeve. “I don’t think this can be considered crazy, but I grew up in Sierra Leone helping my Gran and favorite Aunt cook meals for our super-extended family. Now that I live in the UK, I love being able to introduce people to foods, spices, and recipes they’ve never heard of or experienced before!” she shared.
Oregano is from the Greek meaning “mountain of joy” and I agree
Image credits: ClementineCoda
When tomatoes were first discovered in the Americas by European colonizers, they thought the plant was poisonous. They recognized some of the plant’s features as a member of the nightshade family, and in Europe they immediately thought of nightshades such as *Atropa belladonna*, a fairly well-known poisonous plant. Plus, they noticed that when they sliced the fruits, and left them on metal plates, their juice would eat away at the plates’ surfaces. This was actually because of the low amount of acids in the tomatoes, and wasn’t actually dangerous to humans.
Image credits: CrazyPlato
When it comes to common cooking myths Bintu would like to dispel, she told Bored Panda, “I know a lot of people think that cooking is complicated and difficult. But, I truly believe that anyone can do this! It just takes practice and a little imagination.”
“I want to get people excited about created dishes from whatever ingredients they find in their pantry,” Bintu went on to share. “Understanding how to use an item many different ways and what flavor pairings work together makes it possible to cook affordable meals that are flavorful, colorful and never boring.”
ciabatta was only invented in 1981
Image credits: fozziwoo
Broccoli is mutant cabbage. It wouldn’t exist in nature if not for selective breeding. That said, as a species it is still over 2000 years old.
Here’s another wild one for y’all: More or less every citrus fruit you’ve ever had is descended from the following 3 fruits: Citrons, Mandarins, or Pomelos. The Wikipedia page on Citrus taxonomy explains it well.
Image credits: benjiyon
And for anyone out there looking for ways to increase their culinary knowledge, Bintu shared, “The internet is full of all sorts of amazing information and advice! I started my site with the goal of making cooking colorful, easy, and fun for all, which is why you will find really easy recipes with detailed step by step instructions, accompanying images, and some videos, so people can easily follow along in their own kitchen.”
If you’d like to expand your skills in the kitchen today, be sure to check out Bintu’s website Recipes From a Pantry right here!
The orange is a hybrid between pomelo and mandarin.
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Image credits: The_Derock
Image credits: margalingo
I didn’t learn this recently and it’s not so crazy (so I guess this doesn’t fit at all lol), but I’ve always thought it was cute that margherita pizza was invented/named for the Queen of Italy (Margherita of Savoy) and its ingredients were to represent Italy’s flag.
Image credits: BittenAtTheChomp
Fresh pineapple contains an enzyme that digests protein. If you make chicken salad with fresh pineapple and leave it in the refrigerator, the chicken will start to dissolve and get mealy.
Image credits: tongamoo
Japanese curry was created in attempt to replicate British stew, not Indian curry
Image credits: Prestor_Jon
The top global exporter of caraway (aka Persian cumin) is Finland, exporting approximately 30% of the world’s caraway.
Image credits: premature_eulogy
Cashews are not actually nuts- they are seeds that grow out of the bottom of the cashew apple, which is also edible.
Image credits: UrukHaiGuyz
You can “cook” shrimp in lemon or lime juice. Or both! Just throw them in a bowl of juice and watch them turn pink.
Image credits: LadyFreightliner
Apples are not true to seed. Meaning that if you plant the seed you won’t get the same variety of the seed that it came from. The only way to mass produce a particular variety is to graft a branch of a known variety into the trunk of another apple tree. Then that branch starts producing the variety.
Image credits: Who_said-that
Margarine used to be the color pink to let people distinguish between it and real butter.
Image credits: fcewen00
It was posted recently on TIL that ketchup was originally a Chinese Fish Brine Sauce in the 17th century. then Brits encountered it in Malaysia, and made a mushroom-based sauce out of it in the 18th century. And theeennn in the 19th century, it became tomato based, and finally by 1850 it dropped anchovies as an ingredient and all semblance of its original fish-based existence was lost.
Image credits: TheGreyPotter
Cilantro and oregano are cullinary important in Mexico, they also grow everywhere and many local produce shops give customers a small bouquet of one of them as a gift for buying at their shop.
Heck even in american English their names are in Spanish because people associate them with Mexico, but the origin of these plants has nothing to do with the Americas but the Mediterranean
Image credits: MadMan1784
You know how Hershey’s milk chocolate tastes “pukey” to a lot of people? (Especially Europeans who are traditionally more used to high quality chocolate)
It’s butyric acid, and it is intentionally part of the flavor. Back in 1899 shortly after Hershey started making chocolate, they developed the “Hershey method” which was “less sensitive to milk quality.” What that means is the milk would spoil on the way to the factory or in holding, and you would end up with that acidic flavor. Well, people in America essentially just got used to it, especially after M&Ms became part of WW2 rations, and now it’s just “their flavor.” How they do it now isn’t public knowledge but it’s assumed they partially lipolyze their milk to produce butyric acid. Letting the milk spoil wouldn’t fly with modern food safety laws.
So yes, it does taste like puke, and it’s totally on purpose.
Image credits: camchapel
Another etymological fun fact: vindaloo, the Indian dish, comes from the port city of Goa, where Portuguese traders introduced the locals to a stewed pork dish with wine (vinha) and garlic (alho), named “meat with wine and garlic,” or “carne de vinha d’alhos.” Eventually the wine became replaced with vinegar, and taboos elsewhere in India against pork eventually caused the dish to branch out to all sorts of different meats.
Interestingly, “aloo” means potato in most South Asian languages, so despite the etymology having nothing to do with potatoes, many versions of the dish eventually included potatoes, too.
Image credits: BirdLawyerPerson
Thanks to Kenji at SE, I learned that the direction you cut an onion affects the type of flavor it imparts. So, cutting from root to stem end produces milder, sweeter flavor whereas slicing in perpendicularly will be more pungent (and should also be reserved for raw applications only).
Image credits: 4The_Mare
Mac and cheese was considered a really fancy food at one time, during the start of modern-style restaurants in America in the early-mid 1800s, it was the go-to dish to be served to you in a fancy restaurant (because all restaurants were a bit fancy then) in America.
Image credits: WeDriftEternal
Everyone always makes a big deal about tomatoes being fruits not vegetables, but no one seems to notice green beans being fruits all sneaky like.
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The word “milk” has been used to describe non dairy drinks (like almond, soy, and rice beverages) since the 13th century!
So the EU saying that only cow lactation can legally be labeled “milk” in order to avoid confusing people is well… effing nonsense.
Image credits: guerre-eclair
The fruit was named orange before the colour. Before that, the colour orange was just considering a type of mild red
Image credits: bigbagofbaldbabies
You can tell the approximate temperature of meat by comparing its toughness to the toughness of your thenar eminence.
Relax your hand, pressing the thenar eminence (muscular pad between wrist and first thumb joint) is comparable to rare. Gently touch the thumb and index finger of one hand. Use the other to touch the thenar eminence. You should notice it is slightly tougher, this is medium rare. Middle finger and thumb is medium. Ring and thumb is medium well. Pinky and thumb is well done.
My favorite (though the broccoli one is interesting too but its already been mentioned) is probably the fact that Triscuits are named after the fact that for the first time in a food product, electricity was used to bake them, and the name is a portmanteau of Electricity + Biscuit.
Fermented horse milk is a beloved drink in Kyrgyzstan (it’s also the absolute worst thing I’ve ever tasted in my life)
That fried chicken was invented in Scotland. To think what they could have done with it if they kept with it
Artificial banana flavoring was available in the US for decades before most of the nation had access to real bananas. Also, the chemical, isoamyl acetate, was marketed in the UK originally as artificial pear flavoring.
Image credits: anon
Cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, and more are just variations of the same kind of plant.
that you don’t have to have a rolling boil to cook pasta
A chef on SortedFood youtube channel said that you can put pasta into cold water and that you don’t need a whole pot full of water either.
Image credits: mumooshka
“Bombay Duck” has no duck in it.
Image credits: Emotional-Ebb8321
Pineapples take around a year to grow. Pineapples are also considered to be a group of berries.
Domestic ice cream machines from 1885 made ice cream up to 10 times faster than today’s ice cream machines.
People often think of France when they hear mention of the croissant, but Austria is the true country of birth for this pastry. Its Viennese, not French! The ‘kipferl’ was believed to be the spiritual ancestor of the croissant. Was created as a propaganda technique by the Austrians, made in the shape of the Crescent Moon of islam so that when Austrians ate it they would be “Devouring” the Ottomans.
So mesay it was also made in Romania around 1683.
But it was brought to widespread recognition by the Austrians and their hate for the Ottomans who at the time were frequently attacking.
Image credits: TheIrishladinspain
Ketchup was used as a medicine in the 1800s to treat diarrhea, among other things.
“CANada Oil, Low Acid”
Natural rapeseed oil is high in erucic acid, and canola was originally a trademark for a hybridized cultivar that contains less acid.
Now it’s a generic name for the product.
Beer was classified as a soft drink in Russia until 2011 (well, not just beer, any drink with less than 10% ABV)
Oreida potatoes stand for Oregon and idaho
Panko bread crumbs are Japanese. I use them for breading everything and I never knew that the panko-style is specifically a Japenese style bread crumb. I thought it was a brand name or something.
Image credits: gnometrostky
Sushi was originally a method of preserving rice, not necessarily related to raw fish.
There’s a theory that people domesticated grains because they were super easy to make alcohol from. Bread invention was secondary, according to this theory. Also, earliest beer was like thin porridge, and consumed as nutrient-rich food, not beverage. Brewers started using hops only in Late Middle Ages.
There were times when a large enough fish was considered a gift fit for a king. Medieval English kings were presented with huge pikes. Even before that, in Roman Empire, red mullet was such a delicacy, sometimes the emperor himself got them as presents and rewarded the fishermen with gold. One Roman noble was exiled to what is now Marseilles, and Cicero (who tried to defend him in court, unsuccessfully) wrote a letter to him, basically to say sorry for what happened. The man answered “that’s okay, if I wasn’t exiled, I wouldn’t be able to try the wonderful mullet they serve here”. Romans surely loved good food!
In the United States companies can legally sell
Curry Powder that contains Less than 100 insect fragments per 25 grams
Hops with Less than 2500 aphids per 10 grams
and Coffee as long as less than 10% of beans are moldy.
Even with modern technology, all defects in goods cannot be eliminated. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration has set allowable defect or “tolerance levels”. The defect levels (i.e. “tolerance levels”) set by … The level represent an amount below which the defect is both unavoidable under current technology and presents no health hazard.
“Bistec” in Spanish comes from “beef steak” in English
Palmolive (the soap company) was literally named after the two oils they use(d) to make their soaps. Learnt that at a soap making workshop!
The greyish crust of aged Mimolette cheese is the result of cheese mites intentionally introduced to add flavor by their action on the surface of the cheese.
You can layer soda based on the sugar content.
Lima beans are actually Lima (Peru) beans because they come from Peru and Americans weren’t going to go through the trouble of enunciating foreign sounding words. See also Pierre (pronounced Pier) South Dakota.
Gelatin, which is a thickening agent, can be found in frosted cereals, yogurt, candy, and some types of sour cream.
The gelatin in desserts, for instance, comes mainly from pig skin.
Tapa means cover in Spanish. It is said that a small portion of food used to be put on top of the cover of the drinks.
Some argue that the name comes from how they used to give food with the drinks to “cover” the smell of bad wine.
The history of the Oreo is pretty fascinating. I heard it on a podcast once, and I wish I could remember all the details. Many people know that the Hydrox cookie actually came first, and the Oreo was a rip-off of it, but the naming of it was also supposed to be trolling. Iirc, it relates to the laurel wreath, which was the design on the Hydrox cookie.
Calrose rice has ‘Cal’ because it is grown in California
Image credits: YOUCORNY
That it’s Brussels sprouts, not Brussel sprouts. In my defense, I almost never saw it in writing, and when heard aloud, it’s easy for the ‘s’ at the end of Brussels to disappear into the first ‘s’ in sprouts.
I also hadn’t seen them [on the stalk](https://kirbiecravings.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/spicy-garlic-brussels-sprouts-stalk-17.jpg) until way to long in life. It was a real mind-bender. Like learning peanuts grow underground.
Asparagusic acid is processed by the kidneys as rapidly as 15 minutes after ingestion. And is what makes your pee smell when you eat asparagus.
Mold is an essential component in food production.
All from sausages, to cheese, to some kinds of rice and beans, mold is used frequently to spice or break down certain chemicals in food.
Also in some spirited drinks.
Those oval/rectangular-shaped ice cream tubs are called “squrounds”.
Fanta, a soda sold in the US, is what the Nazi’s created when the US embargoed Germany and they couldn’t get “the real thing” Coke.
This is sooooo rookie – no judging – but I don’t bake at all and never use the stuff… parchment paper isn’t the same as wax paper lol ??
Image credits: manbunsandkayaks
Pure Corn Sugar is the most delicious pure ingredient you will ever taste.