via flickr/Robert Banh
Once upon a time, I was tasked by a chemistry teacher to design, conduct and present an experiment. Now, I was always a bit of a lazy student when it came to the hard sciences, but the parameters of this assignment were luckily lax enough that I basically just made peanut brittle. "If nothing else," I reasoned, "I will have a lot of peanut brittle to pass around during my presentation, which will probably go over well." I'm a little foggy on the details, but the experiment involved making three separate batches and attempting to measure the effect of some variable on crystallization.
Long story medium-length, I made a ton of peanut brittle, and my fellow students munched on peanut brittle while I fumbled with an overhead projector, and I somehow got an A despite the fact my results ended up being unmeasurable by any means available to me in a high school chem lab. This is all to say that Scientific American did a food issue this month, and in addition to such gems as "Why Does Food Taste So Delicious?", they suggest you run an experiment on some pancakes to learn about the science of pancake fluffiness. This is actually suggested for kids, whereas you're probably a grown-up, so you can just go ahead and make the good recipe and skip the terrible one. They yoinked it from Cook's Illustrated, so it's probably pretty edible. Science!
(As an aside, here's a better "experiment" I just designed: search "pancake face" on flickr. Enjoy!)
Not to be outdone, a blogger at Smithsonian Mag's site sought an explanation for the numbing effect of Sichuan peppercorn a little more scientific than what I would've offered had they asked. ("There's probably something in it. Like a chemical? Duh.") Since science is technically impossible to paraphrase, you should just go read the article if you're so inclined. There are little diagrams of molecules and everything, so you know it's real and very smart.
Meanwhile, over at the Washington Post, they employ math to determine that this recipe for lasagna may be the most-viewed recipe in the English language. Or at least they toss off some vaguely math-based assumptions, which is good enough for me. This lasagna contains almost two pounds of meat and has broken up at least one relationship—both very positive signs for its overall quality. Other fun facts revealed in WaPo's article: the recipe's creator has the sort of heritage that left him with the last name "Chandler" and he grew up in Atlanta, which is how the story of all good Eyetalian dishes start.
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