Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

INFO: Potatoes 101


Potatoes were a staple of Peruvian civilization as early as 3500 BCE. The discovery of the Americas by Europe introduced potatoes into Old World cuisine. Recipes for mashed potatoes (Mache-Potetesse), potatoes a l'anglaise, and potatoes dites appear in Antonin Careme's Art of French Cooking in the 19th Century (1835) as dishes to be eaten during Lent.

In 2000, Amos Latteier, the "Best Fake Professor in Portland" built a battery out of 500 lbs. of potatoes. It was able to power a small sound system, which he then drove around town for people to listen to. A potato can work as a battery because the phosphoric acid in them enables a chemical reaction allowing electrons to flow from copper to zinc. One potato will generate approximately .5 volts and .2 millamperes. Once the potato is used as a battery, it is no longer edible.

Experimental psychologists Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence investigate whether modifying the sound made by a crunching potato chip would affect the eater's perception of the chip's staleness. The study was conducted on Pringles, because Pringles are made from reconstituted "potato goo" and are therefore uniform in size, shape and texture.

The volunteers wore headphones and sat in front of a microphone with footpedals. In between the microphone and the headphones, the crunching sounds were doctored, unbeknownst to the volunteer. The volunteer then rated the freshness and crispness of the chip using the footpedals.

The result? People think potato chips are fresher and crisper when the sound of the crunch is intensified or when only the high frequency sounds were amplified.

I am sure potato chip companies far and wide are now developing louder crunching chips.

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3 comments:

a heart-shaped potato! this blog is terrific, KT.

said by Milla at 1:09 PM Delete

There are some delicious-looking drink recipes in the LA Times food section today...perhaps my blog should follow yours and turn into Bartending 101?

said by Anyanka at 3:31 PM Delete

Milla: Thank you! The heart is for "I heart potatoes" and "I heart you, my friends!"

Anyanks: I totally think you should! That's what I would do if I wasn't doing a food blog. You should see the crazy cocktails in the cocktail magazine I got J. One has little fruit cubes floating all through it because of some scientific substance used in the drink ... some gelatin or pectin or something. It looks polka dot.

said by KT at 4:23 PM Delete

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