We learned many food-related lessons in 2017 at The Daily Meal. It’s pretty hard not to absorb at least some sort of knowledge working on a food-centric website and being inundated with news and ideas about ingredients, chefs, and kitchen culture. Some of our staff received their lessons through consuming food, some through cooking it, and many through crazy research on everything from techniques (like the right way to carve a turkey) to weird food science (like the fact that figs are full of dead wasps).
Do yourself a favor and take the time to educate yourself on the things we have learned this year through experience and exposure. Once you’ve learned that there is such a thing as eating too many vegetables, maybe you will add some carbs to your plate. You might even rethink posting that tasty dish to social media, because to some people it might sound disgusting!
Learn from our editors before the year is over and live your best 2018 life with all the cool food info you will absorb by reading the 20 lessons we learned about food in 2017.
Sure, it looks casual and easy to crack an egg on the side of your bowl, but at what cost? My old stand-by method was a surefire way of getting crunchy bites of egg shell into my ingredients!
Luckily, this year I learned that you should always crack eggs on a flat surface as it won’t force any of the shell inward. One sharp tap on a hard table/counter is truly all you need! — Lily Rose, West Coast news editor
It makes sense that adding your breath to a birthday cake isn’t the most hygienic thing in the world, but it’s really, truly grody. According to one study, cakes that have had their candles blown out have 14 times more bacteria on them than before being breathed on! Some cakes had up to 120 times more bacteria on them. This fact will make you fun at parties! — Carolyn Menyes, entertain and holidays editor
Anthony Bourdain made his name with Kitchen Confidential, a book that in many ways glorified the toughness that aspiring cooks earn by enduring the vicious hazing that plagues professional kitchens. But in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, even food’s most famous tough guy came out firmly against work environments that leave employees vulnerable to psychological and sexual abuse. Even as some culinary figures have called for reform (“Something’s broken here,” Tom Colicchio wrote in an open letter in November), a number of prominent male chefs have been accused just this year of abusing their power over women in their employ, often in ways that the industry has treated as an open secret. Now that people are speaking up, cooks and diners alike need to demand change. — Jeremy Rose, copy editor
I went to Butterball University, and this is what I learned: First, clear out the kitchen. This is not a pretty task. Then, take the thigh and bring it away from the rest of the bird. If you’re having trouble getting the thigh removed from the bird, it’s probably because it’s undercooked. Separate the leg from the thigh and put the entire leg on your turkey platter for the dark meat lovers and cut the thigh along the bone. Next, remove the breast from the bone, getting as close to the carcass as possible. To avoid shredding your meat, cut across the grain. — Carolyn Menyes, entertain and holidays editor
Pizza-eating methods are apparently as varied as pizza toppings themselves, and the way you choose to eat your pie says a lot about you as a person. Some may pick it up and eat it like a normal slice, which I learned means you’re dependable and casual. But some weirdos cut it up with a fork and a knife, which means you (a lot like your pizza eating habits) are extra AF. If you eat your pizza backwards — i.e., crust first — I now know that you’re a bread monster from the Upside Down and you need to be stopped. Extra points if you can connect these pizza eating habits to their corresponding zodiac signs! — Lily Rose, West Coast news editor
Activated charcoal does not come from leftover ash or charcoal like you would use to light a grill — it comes from coconuts! The coconut husk is burned in an oxygen poor environment to create charcoal but it isn’t considered “activated” until it is either introduced to extremely hot air that burns out excess gases or infused with chemicals that activate its carbon. Crazy, right?
Not to worry — it’s only in those tiny unavoidable eggplant seeds. But the eggplant does in fact contain trace amounts of nicotine. However, there is practically no chance of you suddenly becoming an eggplant addict after a few eggplant parm dinners. To feel any of the effects of the addictive stimulant, you would need to consume 20 pounds of the purple plant at one time!
Nobody wants to eat an underripe avocado! That makes for terrible avocado toast! This year we figured out some of the best ways for getting your avocado where you need it to be on the ripeness scale ASAP! Some of these avocado hacks will ripen your fruit in 24 hours, and some in 10 minutes — perfect on-hand info for every impatient avo-eater.
This year, I learned that the definition of “sandwich” is very lax and that nearly anything can be substituted for bread. Just like this brunch sandwich that used hash browns instead of bread slices. — Alyssa Haak, restaurant and city guide editor
While making our recipe for easy brunch bacon quiche, I learned to always make sure the pie dish is deep enough. If it’s not, you’ll spend more time cleaning than cooking. — Patrick Brown, video editor
It’s totally a myth that our favorite jiggly treat is made from horse hooves! Hooves are composed of keratin, whereas Jell-O contains collagen. You can’t extract collagen from keratin — myth busted! However, the collagen in Jell-O is still made from other parts of animals like cows and pigs, so it is not vegetarian or vegan-friendly!
Try not to be too shocked, but the recipe for German chocolate cake did not come from Germany! The life-changing chocolate-pecan-coconut confection was actually invented by a woman who went by the name of Mrs. George Clay. She submitted a recipe for “German’s Chocolate Cake” to the Dallas Morning News in 1957. The cake was actually named for Samuel German, the inventor of the dark baking chocolate Clay used in her batter!
It was devastating to learn that there was a better way to make mashed potatoes, but Food Network chef Tyler Florence truly opened our eyes. Now when we whip up a batch of the fluffy starchy stuff, we are sure to cook our raw potatoes in cream and butter rather than water — not only does it help retain the flavor of the potato, it actually upgrades the entire mash experience.
Apparently as sardines age, they get tastier! The tinned fish develop a mellow flavor and soft, plump texture perfect for eating on toast and crackers. Apparently, the act of eating “vintage” sardines was popularized by Oscar Wilde’s son, who started London’s first sardine tasting club in 1935. We’ve always used the phrase “aging like a fine wine” — but now we’ll be saying “fine sardines” instead.
Sorry vegans, we know this is super-depressing news. But the inverted flowers known widely as figs are genuinely full of dead wasps that crawl inside as part of the pollination process. No, when you bite into a fig you’re not running the risk of getting stung — luckily, figs use an enzyme to break down the wasp’s body into protein! So if you’re not completely disgusted and you’re an omnivore, you may continue eating figs. If you’re an especially strict vegan, you might want stop.
Call your mom! Tell her you were right all along! Yes, it is possible to eat too many vegetables! We learned that overeating vegetables can cause you to ingest too much fiber, which can result in some pretty uncomfortable bathroom time. It can also make your skin turn orange and cause nutrient deficiencies. Now that we know that eating too many vegetables is actually a thing, maybe we can convince Mom that dessert before dinner is a good idea!
Fried Green Tomato Hornworms are interesting to some as a meal — after all, the dish was one of our 50 most popular recipes of 2017, but it repulsed our Facebook users more than anything (which is understandable). — Corey Cross-Hansen, social media coordinator
You know those gross long strings that always make you shiver a little while you peel them off your banana? Well they’re called “phloem bundles,” and they actually serve a purpose: They deliver nutrients to the banana like veins! So when you peel them off, you’re peeling off banana veins! Love a good food fact? Click here for 11 incredible food facts!