Ask The Amateur Gourmet: Ross and Dana

Tonight I’m settling all debts, and that includes answering the long-lingering-never-been-answered “Ask The Amateur Gourmet” questions that have been piling up. Well two people asked questions. Two make a pile, right?

First up Ross, who asks:

1. Tomato- fruit or vegetable?

What are categories but empty signifiers that perverts use to organize their porn collections? A tomato is neither a vegetable or a fruit. A tomato is hardcore bondage.

2. Tomatillo- tomato or gooseberry?

As a linguist, I can tell you that the suffix “illo” comes from the same family of suffixes that made Eva Peron “Evita” and Chiq Banana “chiquita.” “Illo,” which means “sick,” attaches to tomat to form “tomatillo” which means “sick tomat.” Therefore, the answer to your question is: 8.

3. Is it true that eggplants are in the same family as the tomato and the tomatillo?

What’s with you and categories? Free your mind brother. What an eggplant by any other name not smell as sweet?

4. In Martha Stewart’s handbook on hors d’oeuvres, she has a chapter entitled “wrapped, rolled, filled, folded, and stuffed.” Of particular interest in this chapter are the various edible cups/containers that she creates. One of her examples is the grape, which she suggests that you hollow out and fill with one of her various cheese fillings.

The question(2 parts):

A. How many cheese filled grapes should I prepare for a party of 10?

This is a simple difference of squares. 10 squares at a party will likely eat 5 cheese-stuffed grapes. Factor in their girlfriends and then remind yourself that squares don’t have girlfriends and divide by the cosign. The answer? 43.

B. What do I do with the left over grape insides after I hollow them out?

Save them! Remember what Joseph told the Pharoah in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (which I directed in college): “Seven years of bumper crops are on their way!” Meaning, first a feast then a famine. Keep your grape innards.

Non-Food question: Are you related to the galloping gourmet?


I do love some graham kerr. If so, please tell him I said hello.


Next up we have Dana, my old high school chum, who asks:

Please tell me difference between baking powder and baking soda? And should I be alarmed that baking soda can be used for everything under the sun, including cleaning my shower?

This is a ridiculously easy question. Baking soda, chemical formula NaHCO3, combines with the acid in a batter, H+, to produce carbon dioxite, CO2 (plus some water and Sodium).

Thus the formula reads:

NaHCO3 + H+ ——–> Na+ + H20 + CO2.

As an alternative, you might use Ammonia Bicarbonate (for eclairs and such) the formula reading:

NH4HCO3 —> NH3 + H20 + CO2

Baking powder is simply baking soda plus a dry acid. With the combination of wet ingredients, they react together to produce C02.

Did that help?

In summary: baking soda and baking powder are leaveners. They make your cake rise. They produce C02. My starter, also a leavener, also produces C02, which is why I can’t put the lid on tight or there’d be an explosion.

Not sure, though, why baking soda is good in the fridge. Anyone?

And if you have a question for the Amateur Gourmet, just post it in the comments section and he’ll get to it in three or four months. Thanks!

8 thoughts on “Ask The Amateur Gourmet: Ross and Dana”

  1. Question: You’ve said before the way you keep your fine girlish figure is that you only nibble, never eat the entire thing. Now, my question is, what happens to all that leftover food?

    Bacteria experiments?

    Helpless victims who you force to finish it?

    Donations to the homeless?

    Lolita gets a good meal?

    I’m curious. Give my regards to Lolita, she is the most beautiful cat I’ve ever seen on a food related weblog.

  2. Why baking soda in the fridge?

    Pop the lid open and leave the box in the corner of your fridge or buy one of those fancy decorative

    baking soda thingy containers available in some

    fancy kitchen gadget stores

    The baking soda will absorb undesireable odors.

    Nice fire extinguisher too!

  3. I have a question. 2 years ago, I received a bottle of 1993 Dom and immediately put it in the fridge. Shortly thereafter, I quit drinking. I have since gotten married and my wife would very much like to have access to that prime fridge real estate that is being taken up by a bottle of champagne (in a lovely gift box) that neither of us will ever drink. Can I remove it from the fridge to put on ice some other day when it has a chance of being drunk? Will it get “skunked”? As for the easier solutions, we rarely entertain and when we do, champagne would be way too fancy. Also, we always go out of town for new years. I am way too much of a cheap skate to throw this albatross out. What can I do?

  4. Hey doll, I’m not asking a question – just letting you know, in the event you haven’t heard, that the Big Dog, Mr. Leff, is featured in this week’s issue of Newsweek:

    and “The Chowhound’s Guide to the New York Tristate Area” will be out on the 26th of this month…available on amazon….plus there will be a San Francisco guide as well.

    If you’ve already written about this, sorry, but it wasn’t readily apparent on your site.

  5. Did I curdle my gelato? I beat 3 yolks into 3/4 cups of sugar then thickened yolksugar in @1 and 1/2 cups of whole milk on stove top. When custard cooled, I added a generous cup of kiwi puree and fridged it until it was cold. So far so good. The Mystery: the gelato mixture was smooth (I think) before I futzed with flavoring and added juice of 1/2 lemon. I froze it in my icecream maker and would swear that the milk solids “bunched up”. I improved on the flavor but screwed the texture?

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