Food myths debunked
Rafael Leal, Flickr, Getty Images
Myth 1: Aberdeen Angus is always good, pure Scottish meat
It's funny how certain 'facts' take hold and, particularly, how certain things become associated with quality. Take Aberdeen Angus, for example. We've lost count of the number of menus that boast Aberdeen Angus as shorthand for good, pure, Scottish meat. That's some distance from the truth - and probably some distance from Aberdeen too.
"It's a breed not a brand," explains Nathan Mills of The Butchery at Maltby Street Market. Accordingly it can be farmed anywhere and, in fact, has been crossbred to grow larger and thus give more meat. You do get good Aberdeen Angus beef but just the name alone isn't an indication of quality. "Like all meat, that still comes down to the individual farmer," adds Nathan, "and how it's been fed, tended, slaughtered, butchered and aged."
The same applies to the Bronze Turkey. Publications frequently instruct hungry Christmas diners to buy Bronze but again it's a breed not a brand with inherently high standards. "It all depends on the production method," says Jodie Cavaye, sales and marketing manager of Copas Traditional Turkeys. "That's what affects the eating quality, not the breed."
- On MSN Food: Would you eat meat grown in a lab?
- On MSN Food: The best places to eat in Scotland
- On MSN Food: Cuts of meat and what to do with them
Just a click, Flickr, Getty Images
Myth 2: "70% chocolate" and "Belgian" on the label don't always indicate a good-quality chocolate
There are similar misconceptions in the world of chocolate, much to the annoyance of acclaimed chocolatier Paul A Young, particularly recipes that call for 70% chocolate or Belgian chocolate as an indication of quality.
"The percentage of cocoa in chocolate is one of the most misleading aspects of identifying good chocolate," he tells us, "especially the 70% rule as seen in many recipes. That doesn't indicate good quality, flavour or taste intensity of chocolate - nor does any percentage.
"There are some stunning 70% chocolates and some inexcusably shocking 70% chocolates out there. Look for the cocoa variety and origin, the ingredients should be pure and especially free from vegetable fats, artificial flavourings, stabilisers, and artificial sugars and sweeteners. Price also gives a very good indication of the quality of the cocoa beans used in the bar of chocolate. Spend £2 and above to see a real difference in taste and quality. I suggest 62% and above for dark chocolate lovers and my personal favourite origins are Madagascan for intensely fruity chocolate and Peruvian for intoxicating depth and complexity."
But not Belgian. "Fantastic marketing by the Belgians in the 1980s made this term synonymous with fine quality - wrong!" exclaims Paul. "No cocoa grows in Belgium! It's just a term given to chocolates made there. I make chocolates in the UK but they are never referred to as British chocolates or as a type or style of chocolate!
"There are some amazing chocolatiers and chocolate from Belgium but there are some low-quality ones too, so don't ever think that if a bar of chocolate is labelled with Belgium it is automatically good."
- On MSN Food: What it's like to be a professional chocolate taster
- On MSN Food: Chocolate-covered bacon anyone?
Koki Iino, MIXA, Getty Images
Myth 3: Earl Grey is simply normal tea with bergamot flavouring and green tea does contain caffeine
The world of tea has such frustrations too as Henrietta Lovell, the founder of the Rare Tea Company, explains. Two of her particular annoyances are modern Earl Grey and any reference to green tea as herbal or a low caffeine option.
"Like all wine comes from grapes, all tea - black, white and green - comes from camellia sinensis," explains Henrietta. "And like all grapes contain sugar all tea leaves contain caffeine. Green tea is less processed so the flavour is lighter and softer than black tea, but the caffeine is the same."
Henrietta has just produced an Earl Grey tea and has had to explain to many people that the little oil visible on the surface is how it should be.
"Earl Grey is tea flavoured with bergamot - a citrus fruit from southern Italy that's a naturally occurring cross between a bitter orange and a lemon.
"It's the oil in the skin that is used to flavour tea - or should be. Bergamot oil is expensive and highly volatile. It dissipates quickly. That's why most manufacturers now use chemical flavourings, because they're cheaper and last longer. Some even add little blue petals to make the tea look pretty. They're cornflower petals! They have no flavour! Is it perhaps to distract you from the taste?"
Myth 4: A flat white is no better quality than any other coffee
Tea isn't the only beverage to suffer such image problems. Our tame barista (who wishes to remain anonymous) takes offence at the rise of the flat white. "Not because it's not a good drink," he adds. "It can be, but it depends on the quality of the coffee used and the milk."
The drink, an Australian or Kiwi invention (depending on who you believe), is essentially somewhere between latte and cappuccino: a strong espresso base - "two or three short shots" - topped with a small amount of "microfoam - the steamed milk from the bottom of the jug."
As our exasperated barista says of his high street rivals: "just because you sell a Flat White doesn't mean your coffee's suddenly got better."
The moral of the story then? Don't fall for the marketing spin or the appearance, and focus on the facts instead.
related stories on msn
IT is THANKS TO MEAT EATERS THAT WE STILL HAVE animals in the fields for our children to see.
Being a Farmer is a business if everyone stopped eating meat how long do you think the farmer would keep such animals ?.About 30Secs.
All of the animals we now see as food would be lost as farmers would no longer want them, so who would care for them...VEGGIES ???
It would be the loss of COWS, BULLS, SHEEP, PIGS, simply because no one wants them for food. So a BIG thank you to meat eaters without you all we would have are pictures of these animals.
Why do meat eaters always feel obliged to make excuses for eating it and then have a go at vegetarians? I chose not to eat meat mainly because of the way poor animals are treated, generally very badly before they are killed, then eaten. Although animal welfare has improved dramatically in the last thirty years, because of complaints from people like me! So stop moaning and eat what you want and leave others to choose what they want to eat!
I'm a gardener and I can tell you Bergamot is not an Italian fruit. It is another name for Monarda or Bee Balm (Labiatae/Lamiaceae) The leaves of which are used to flavour Earl Grey Tea. The leaves have a citrus flavour to them.
I think this article is very badly researched and written.
If anyone fancies giving up vegetarianism it's best done cold turkey.
Sorry. I'm bored out of my skull does it show?
For the inevitable pasty faced vegetarians, who may pop up sooner or later, it has been scientifically proved that vegetables scream when they are put into boiling water as, unlike meat, they are still alive when cooked...........Think on.
Can we see the 'scientific proof' for that please? I would have thought the lack of a mouth and vocal chords would be a serious bar to screaming. Maybe I am buying a different variety of carrot
veggies are not healthy if they are why do they take supplements . why do gorillas place there hand under there bottom and check if there dung has been through them once or twice if once they eat there food twice to remove calories left. a cow has 3 stomachs to digest its food its hard to remove goodness out of plants . humans have always been omnivores we need proteins and minerals out of plant and animal foods its what our bodies were designed for . any way paula who are you to tell me what to eat its called freedom ,how about smoking, drinking alcohol, etc freedom
Way overreactive mate. I was neither moaning or complaining. Lighten up. Hell's bells I knew vegetarians were a niggly bunch but get a grip, it was only a bit of fun. By the way, vegetarianism is a choice but we were given teeth for a reason. I know vegetarians wouldn't eat ox tongue because it came from an animal's mouth. Why not have an egg.
Leo Lyons. You've got an internet. Look it up. vegetables scream through their cell system. Type in 'do vegetables feel pain'
And while we're at it there is no such word as 'gullible' in the dictionary.