This is your brain on eggnog
By Clay Thompson
Dec. 7, 2002
What's gotten into you people about food lately? In the past few days I've had two questions about eggnog, the same question about pepper from two people and a question about honey. What's up with that?
All shall be made clear directly, but first a note about the Season for Sharing free-lunch contest. People, people, people: Do not send your donations to me. Terrible idea. Send them to the coupon address on Page A2. Then send me a note that says, "I am not a goober, and I don't want to live in Gooberville." For every note, my masters will pluck $2 from their moth-eaten wallets and give it to Season for Sharing. E-mail your note to the address below or mail it to Anti-Gooberism, Valley 101, NM-18, Arizona Republic, 200 E. Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ 85004.
Now, as to food:
Where did eggnog come from? With all the dangers of salmonella, is it safe to drink homemade eggnog?
I found several different stories about eggnog's origin, and so far I have narrowed it down to the Northern Hemisphere.
Most likely, eggnog is a British invention. Some sources said nog came from "noggin," a term for a small cup. Others said the drink is descended from something called posset, a mix of eggs and ale and wine. Yeech. And because it is sometimes made with rum, some people say the word is a mix of egg and grog, another name for rum.
As for the salmonella thing, I found some eggnog recipes that said you shouldn't give it to the very young, the very old or to nursing or pregnant women, so I'm thinking if it's risky for them, I'll pass, too. Why not just get store-bought or use that fake-egg stuff?
Is it true that we don't really taste pepper but that it's a sensation?
Stuff like pepper or horseradish and peppermint sets off your trigeminal nerve, which has branches in your mouth and nose. Depending on what's in that stuff, the nerve registers a sensation of heat, cold or pain. Capsaicinoids, chemicals in most peppers, trigger heat and pain functions. Hot mustard and horseradish contain isothiocyanates, which vaporize and hit the trigeminal nerve in your nose. Mints contain menthol that the nerve reads as cold.
Why doesn't honey spoil?
I found a couple sources that said honey is the only food that won't spoil, but I don't know that for sure.
The National Honey Board says honey is fairly stable because it has a low water content, a low pH and "anti-microbial constituents," which I suspect are something I don't want to know about.
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