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Good Cooking's Questions and Culinary Facts!


1.) Why has the price of Italian Olive Oil increased from $10.00 a gallon to over $25.00 a gallon in less than one year's time? Olive Oil from Spain where are you? I bet the price will never come back to a reasonable level!

Answer to the Question: Erika wrote: I read that the olive crop hasn't been doing well and can't keep up with worldwide demand. Hence higher prices.

This was confirmed on May 3rd: According to Signor Carmastra of the Italian Trade Commission in New York City , "The price of olive oil has increased by 30% over the past 6 months. There was a much smaller than normal harvest last year. Combine that with the growing demand for the product, as people realize it is better for your health than butter especially in the USA, and hence you have price increases." Signor Carmastra also stated, "Hopefully the harvest this year would be better, but it takes the trees a few years to get back their full production". No opinion was offered on whether the price will come down to lower levels.

The price is still high! In the Boston area one gallon of Berio Olive Oil sold for $9.99 at Star Market in September 1995. This past week it was $24.99, that's up 250%. Other markets are charging a similar price. I wonder as so often happens if the markets are taking advantage of the increased price and that they are involved in a little price gouging?

Thank you: Erika and Signor Carmastra.

May 1998 Update! Prices have fallen due to a huge harvest!

Wow, what a difference 2 years make. Italy and Spain are celebrating record breaking olive harvests. The price of olive oil has returned to pre-1996 prices. A 1 liter can now sells for around $9.99 in most markets, with extra-virgin olive oil prices following suit. Enjoy the low prices now and cook more with this wonderful oil.

Jay of Cambridge, Ont. wrote in response: Look for a product with Canola and Olive oil combination. It's less expensive and used for cooking. Also can be used on salads etc., but I still prefer Olive oil on some things. Canola oil does not have cholesterol and therefore healthier. You can also use Canola oil straight. I have seen chefs on TV recommend it. Thank you: Jay

January, 2000 Update! Prices to remain low!

The Italian Olive Harvest was near records again, prices should remain low through 2000.

October 2004 Update! Prices on the rise.

Although production is steady growers can't keep up with the demand.

January, 2009 Update! Prices on the rise again!

Italian grown and produced olive oil very high in price. Olive oil from Turkey, Spain, Tunisa, Argentine keeps the price moderate for blend olive oil.

2.) What is the French term for "cocktail appetizer, or taste tickler".

Answer! The correct answer has been received from Michael Berlin, Germany. The French term is "amuse gueule". Thank you Michael for your quick, correct answer!

3.) What French chef is responsible for developing "Cuisine Minceur"?

Answer! Michel Guérard developed this "light" style of cooking in the 1970's at his restaurant in Eugénie-les-Bains. His approach included less butter and cream, more vegetables and vegetable sauces and lean cuts of meat and poultry.

4.) What winter squash grows to 30 pounds, has golden orange flesh and a silvery blue skin?

Answer! Two correct answers have been received from Baratt and Eliot.  It is a Blue Hubbard Squash.

Note! Blue Hubbard Squash can be prepared like butternut squash; boiled, drained, mashed, then seasoned with butter, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. It can be baked like acorn squash; brush it with butter, maple syrup and add a sprinkle of cinnamon, then bake it at 350 degrees (with a little water in the pan) until tender or about 50 minutes. A particularly good way of using the squash is to make it into a pureed soup.  For an example use a recipe for cream of asparagus soup and substitute the squash for the asparagus, then puree the soup and season with a little sugar and cinnamon. Serve with cheddar cheese and garlic biscuits, or crusty French bread and salad.

5.) A ripe (red) plobano pepper takes on a new name when dried. What is it?

Answer!  It is an Ancho Chile. Several answers has been received. Patrick somewhere in Texas  replied with an answer of Chiplote Chile which is actually a dried smoked jalapeno pepper. He did ask an interesting question as to the proper spelling of (chile or chili)? Most agree on "Chile" for the pepper, i.e. chiles rellenos and "Chili" for  i.e. chili con carne. (Click here) to see additional information as to the proper spelling from Don Davis.

6.) What is the Japanese word for carrot?

Answer! It is "ninjin"! The correct answer was received from McCutcheon.

Answer! Stephanie who is in the fourth grade also had the correct answer!

7.) The French word "Caneton" means what in English?

Answer! It's duck a plump duck, Jacques.

8.) In India, What does the term "Hot Spices" refer to?

Answer! Hot Spices is a literal translation of Garam Masala. The whole garam masala consists of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black pepper. In the ground up version nutmeg is also added. There are regional variations to this recipes where other spices like cumin and coriander are added. Oindrila submitted the correct answer.

9.) Methuselah is an oversized bottle of Champagne, how many regular size bottles does it hold? Do you know the answer?

Answer! A Methuselah bottle holds 8 regular size bottles (Methuselah holds 6L and a regular bottle holds 750cc). Thanks to Pamela for the correct answer!

10.) What is the Indian translation/ word for Cardamon.

Answer! Indian Translation word for Cardamom is 'Elaichi'. Iena is credited for the correct answer.

11.) What is the English translation for the French term Pommes Pailles?

Answer! Pommes Pailles is Straw Potatoes. Iain is credited with the correct answer

12.) In Spain what does "Morcilla Negra"refer too?

Answer! Saludos, The term "morcilla" is a food made from pigs intestines, stuffed with the same pork's blood and spanish spices. I have seen it in Spanish bean soups or "fabada asturiana". It turns black or "negra" (white term for black, female sense) when cooked. In Puerto Rico we prepare it all year round, but it is a Christmas time delicacy. We mainly eat it fried with roasted pork. Victor is credited with the correct answer.

13.) In Germany what does "Fleisch" refer too?

Answer! "Fleisch" means Meat. Elisa is credited with the correct answer.

14.) Carbonated Water gets its bubbles from what gas that is added under pressure?

Answer! Carbonated water contains dissolved carbon dioxide gas. One story indicates that Coke got the fizz from a mixture of the developed syrup and carbonated water at a trial in a soda fountain. Some indicate it was an accident others say it was the original purpose. Remember the formula developer: Dr. John Stith Pemberton a pharmacist! The correct answers was received from Victor and Brenda.

15.) Ika means what in Japanese?

Answers! Good Cooking received two in one day from Joanne and Jay. John I love your site, Ika means squid in English. Joanne a Sushi lover.

The Japanese word "ika" means squid. In Japan, squid -- and especially very young ones -- are eaten both boiled and raw. Jay.

16.)What does Zampone mean in Italian?

Answers! Ben sent in the correct answer! Zampone in Italian means 'big paw' Zampone can also mean a stuffed pig's foot.

17.) In India, what's the word for "Garlic"?

Answers! Arrif sent in the correct answer!  The word for garlic in India is Lassan.

18.) In cooking, whats the the name "Roux" mean?

Answers! A correct answer was received from Susan. A roux is a mixture with thickening properties made by heating a fat (oil or butter) and whisking in an equal amount of flour. This can immediately be a base for a white sauce (by adding milk or cream), or it can cook further until peanut or chocolate colored and become a brown base for gumbo and other Creole dishes (by adding veggies and stock)s.

19.) Where and what hotel in the United States invented the Parker House Roll.

Answers! A correct answer was received from George. The Parker House in Boston, of course!

20.) What French Chef is famous for his truffle soup with puff pastry crust? 

Answers!  My answer to your question is the famous French chef who invented "Truffle Soup..."  is - Paul Bocuse. Hope I'm right! Patricia Note: Paul Bocuse created this soup in his restaurant during the early 1980's, it was instantly copied by chef's worldwide for its spectacular presentation and great depth of flavor.

21.) What is the name of the yolk membrane of an egg which acts as a clear seal to hold the yolk intact.  Note, when it breaks the yolk runs! This is a hard question---Good Luck!

Answers!  The membrane around the egg yolk called the vitelline membrane, Cindy.

22.) A mixture of chopped parsley, garlic and grated lemon zests that is traditionally sprinkled on Osso Bucco for additional flavoring is known as what in Italian Cuisine?

Answers!  Two correct answers were received at the same time: Hi - Gremolata is the traditional mixture of parsley, lemon zest etc sprinkled on osso bucco.  Thank you,  Patricia. The mixture of chopped garlic, parsley and citrus zest is called gremolata, Eric.

 23.) What famous New York City French restaurant was a result of the 1939 World's Fair and who was its creator?  

Answers!  Two correct answers were received at the same time: The restaurant was Le Pavillon and the founder was Henri Soule. After a while the head chef became Pierre Franey, my hero and TV mentor.  Eric. Le Pavillon, Henri Soule. In case anyone asks for more details, there is an excellent discussion of both the kitchen at the Fair and the opening of the restaurant in Pierre Franey's autobiography, "A Chef's Tale",  Lindsay.

24.) Water boils at 212 F. or 100 C. at sea level.  At what temperature does it boil at if the altitude is 7,500 feet?  Please answer in both Fahrenheit  and Celsius.

Answer! Water boils at 198.3 F (92.2 C) at 7500 feet, Jennifer.

25.) The whitish blue smoke seen when fat is heated to a point where it breaks down indicates the presence of..........?

Answer! When oil is heated to the smoke point the glycerol is converted an acrid irritant called acrolein, Jason.

26.) There are many species of fish.  Hake, a member of the Atlantic Cod family, has a second name---What is it?

Answer! Another name for hake, member of cod family, is whiting, Eric.

Good Cooking's Culinary Fact Section  (Click here to get the facts!)

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