Culinary wives tales

There isn’t much food science being taught at school, but for me, it’s an important part of learning how to cook. I do a lot of research on my own, trying to understand the chemical reactions and effects temperatures and elements have on the recipes we’ve made in class, and recipes I’m developing at home and for work.

So this week, when Chef told us to add a little oil to our butter to extend the smoking point, I raised my hand. I learned otherwise. I tested it first hand. I knew it wasn’t true. I assumed it was just something he was told at some point during his career, and he believed it to be true.

I started thinking about other culinary wives tales we have been told, and wondered why they continue to be taught:
the need to add salt to water when cooking green vegetables; sear meat to seal in the juices; stock must be started with cold water; add oil to pasta water to prevent sticking, to name a few.

I’m guessing that “guessing” was the root of the wives tales, until a few smarty-pants people tested the hypothesis and settled any dispute on whether or not the technique really worked.

My next question for Chef will be about blooming spices. We’re forbidden to bloom in oil during class, being allowed to only toast spices in a dry pan and then add to the recipe. The theory is that the oil will make the spices bitter. I have no idea if it’s true; I imagine it’s not, as long as you control the heat of the oil. After all, centuries of Indian cuisine can’t be wrong. Or can it?

What’s the craziest culinary wives tale you’ve been told, and how did you discover the truth?

Featured Culinary Schools

Refine School Matches
Hide filters

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
            • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
            • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
            • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
            • Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
            • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
            • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
            • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            1 Program(s) Found
            • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
            • Ensures that service members, their spouses and veterans can maximize their military education benefits.
            • Gives students the option to customize monthly payments to fit their budgets and lifestyle.
            • Offers all-inclusive tuition: textbooks, learning materials, and academic support are covered in the cost.
            • Allows alumni to enroll in any future program at a reduced rate.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses