Tuesday 1 May 2007

Food Science 101 - Additives

Advisory: You need a strong constitution to read through this, if you are fussy about food, you might lose other things you like from your food list. Certain depictions of food are completely unpalatable.

Mandatory extras on the menu

I felt a bit last yesterday after walking a few kilometres one end of the Tiergarten to the other end where my hotel is.

At the point, I could not be bothered with going out to eat so I picked up the room service folder and looked to see what would sate my appetite.

A number of meals looked tasty enough, but I got a bit worried about all the superscript numbers that appeared as suffixes at the end of each menu item.

Not one meal had less that 4 of those suffixes, so I looked for the legend and this is what I read.

Food science

Colouring or pigmentation - indicating natural colours no more make food pleasant to the eye.

Preservative - in fact, that is French for condom, jokes aside, we might just be keeping food in formaldehyde, this is getting crazy, it is supposed to be freshly cooked, between kitchen and my room it should not get spoilt. But then, it probably had to be preserved before it was used and then presented as freshly prepared food.

Anti Oxidation additives - this is an area of food chemistry I am not familiar with, the first part being the prevention of rancidity in certain foods and then the other about the benefits of antioxidants in foods, preferably from natural sources.

Flavour enhancer - Is this because the food is not entirely made of what they purport it is made from? For instance many fruit juices of different flavours are usually bulked up with cheaper to produce apple juice which could be up to 80% liquid content.

Maybe human beings have evolved to a state where their tongues no more function as efficiently as they should - you tell me.

Blackener - Thankfully, this not in any of the meals, but it was in the legend. I am sure food can easily be blackened by burning it - why on God's earth would anyone need blackener in food apart from when you are eating squids in squid-ink?

Phosphate - Usually a constituent of fertilizer, I am not sure this is about helping reproductive organs, this was also absent from the listed meals.

Thickness enhancer - You tell me why chicken, fruits, beef or lamb would need this.

There is a whole industry selling the mirage of good food by colouring, flavouring and packing, eventually, we would be able to give cardboard the colour of beef, the flavouring of chicken and the consistency of pork and we may never go hungry any more.

I felt better going to bed on an empty stomach, but German menus by law do have to display all additives put in food, read the menu and leave out the superscripts is the received wisdom on this matter.

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