miércoles, 27 de julio de 2011

Poison and Food.

There's a few ingredients we use in a everyday basis, or something very close to that, that are basically poison. We eat it and enjoy it, some of them are so common that it was impossible for us to think that it contains some kind of danger in it. I was thinking about this while I cooked dinner tonight, I made Pasta bolognese, it turned out great, but... it contained tomatoes.

Did you know that "The leaves and stems of the tomato plant contain a chemical called “Glycoalkaloid” which causes extreme nervousness and stomach upsets. Despite this, they can be used in cooking to enhance flavor, but they must be removed before eating. Cooking in this way does not allow enough poison to seep out but can make a huge difference in taste." I found this out in this site, and learned that there are other ingredients I love that can possibly make me sick. I can't think about eating a pizza without mushroom, and I've been eating an apple a day to keep the doctor away.

But these are just a few  of the things we love and makes us sick. We all know about Fugu or pufferfish, that contains tetrodotoxin that can produce paralysis, convulsions, and death within 4 to 6 hours. But let's talk about a national produce for my country: The cassava (yuca). 

Cassava is a kind of root that grows mostly in south américa and is part of the food in a daily basis in most countries that grows the plant. Cassava roots and leaves should not be consumed raw because they contain two cyanogenic glucosideslinamarin and lotaustralin. These are decomposed by linamarase, a naturally-occurring enzyme in cassava, liberating hydrogen cyanide (HCN) (thanks wikipedia) well... this all means that you should not try to eat it raw. And the sweet cassava actually makes cyanide. If cassava is prepared incorrectly, it can be deadly. 

Ok, let's move on to another ingredient you can find in my country, and it's very dangerous to eat if you don't know how: Cashews. Most people think it is a nut, they are actually seeds. Cashews grow inside of a shell-like structure that grows on a fruit, and in my opinion, the fruit is way batter than the seed. If you go to a store and ask for "raw cashews" they are selling you previously baked seeds, why? because when they are really raw they contain urushiol, which is the same chemical that you’d find in poison ivy. You wouldn'd eat poison ivy, would you? If you consume urushiol in big ammounts it can be deadly. In small amounts you'd get simmilar reaction as you'd get with poison ivy or oak.

Have you heard on tv or from some boyscout that the nature gives the animals, plants and so on the colors to tell the world that they are dangerous to eat? The red, black, white and yellow. Those are the colors that says: Hey, if I don't kill you, I can make you feel sick, really sick! Well... They aren't quite wrong. If you see, most fruits and vegetables that are red, are possible poisonous: Apples, Cherries, Chilies, Tomatoes... And still we eat those. Most seeds most be baked or cooked before they can be eaten, or we'd be facing a very heavy stomachache. 

After all of this I find myself saying: thanks to those who dared eat this! I can't live without eating most of them.