Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Food Knowledge Base

I would never have believed it had I not been the one to discover it. The other day I was looking for a description online of something called a "quenelle". Now, I knew what it was, because we were taught how to make them pretty early on in cooking school. Anyone that watches Iron Chef or Iron Chef America a lot has probably seen a dozen different chefs use them in their dish, though they rarely if ever refer to them as a quenelle. In an upcoming post, I had planned to refer to a quenelle, and I wanted a link to point people to. Unfortunately, there are two definitions out there, and nobody seemed to have the one that I wanted. And then, I finally ran across it in what had to be one of the last places I would ever have expected it: Hormel's web site. Hormel! I buy pepperoni from these guys, not haute cuisine! I was more than just a little surprised. The definition that I was looking for is, "In modern cooking, quenelle is considered a shape, not an ingredient. The shape is formed into and oval with two spoons using semi-soft foods that are easy to form into an oval, such as ice cream or sorbet."

And yet, the story doesn't end there. For yesterday's post on crabapple mousse, I was searching for a good description of "soft peaks", "medium peaks" and "stiff peaks". Where do I find it? Hormel. They have a food knowledge base. This is a term that we used to use in my tech support days to describe tech companies' support pages. This is not a term that I've ever really thought to associate with a food site. I ended up not linking to them because the focus of the page wasn't completely on whipping cream, so I thought it might be too ambiguous and confuse people. But the rest of the page is still a gem. They have a chart of cream types very similar to one I've been working on for another project. In fact, the biggest difference between theirs and mine is that mine covers all dairy (from skim milk all the way up to clarified butter) and theirs only covers cream. But then they take it further and talk about flavoring whipped cream, and then stabilizing and even storing it.

I'm pretty impressed by Hormel right now. Who knows what other culinary finds there await my running across them in Google?

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