Welcome ladies and gentleman to the main event of the week! In the category of Culinary Boxing here at Chef’s Mandala, we have weighing in at 3 ounces from Israel, please welcome oil! His opponent, weighing in at 2 ounces from Babylonia, please welcome vinegar!
LET’S GET READY TO RRRRR…….HAVE A SPIRITED DEBATE ON FOOD!!!
In the Red Corner – OIL
8,000 years ago, men and women started pressing olives and using their gold green juice to flavor food. Our champ, vegetable oil, in general has a pH of 1% to 2%. It is basically a neutral fat that is great at absorbing flavors. Today most oils are filtered which prevents inadvertent fermentation of suspended food particles. Also as unfiltered tanks are emptied into much smaller bottles, the heavier sediment is often used up in the beginning of the filling. This makes it somewhat difficult to maintain a consistent appearance over the course of a year’s worth of bottling. But throughout the world, whether is be olive in Europe, sesame in Asia, or marula in Africa, this champ is a staple of cuisine the world over. Rumors have dogged oil that as a marinade he is a waste of time. Some vegetables like mushrooms or eggplants will absorb an oil marinade and all its’ flavors. But with other proteins and vegetables, the oil doesn’t penetrate into the food itself unlike a wet seasoning like brine (which can permeate animal membranes). However fans point out that oil can help prevent moisture loss during cooking!
In the Blue Corner – ACID
And our challenger in today’s match, acid comes to us from ancient Babylonia over 7,000 years ago. In case you think that vinegar isn’t that strong, think again. When Hannibal was crossing the Alps he’d heat giant boulders red hot, and then pour vinegar over them, causing the rocks to crack apart! Worried that your delicious char on a nice, juicy steak is also carcinogenic? A vinegar marinade can cut the number of potential cancer causing compounds in grilled food by over half! However in terms of marination, our challenger definitely has an impact on texture. Critics complain though that this is only a few centimeters deep, and that the majority of a deep cut of meat remains unaffected flavor-wise.
- The Play-By-Play
Vinegar comes out with those pistons he calls biceps blazing, punch after punch. But oil dodges, ducks, dips, dives, and dodges again! Obviously vinegar is student of the White Goodman school of boxing (that other sports like dodgeball have so heavily influenced). Wait, wait, the referee is stopping the fight, something seems to be going on at the judges tables. Fans of vinegar are waving giant purple cobra flags and screaming for victory…
AND THE WINNER IS….
Both fighters are disqualified. It turns out that both oil and vinegar marinades are about the same in not influencing flavor alone that much. And both are about equally as good at helping to prevent carcinogens caused from a good char grill. Additional marinade cancer benefits are actually traced directly to the herb and spice mixtures added and how heavy they are in antioxidants.