Jiffy Pop!

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Having lived my entire life in North America, I don’t think twice about how much corn is in our diet.  Michael Pollan’s book  The Omnivore’s Dilemma talks in great detail – probably more than you want to know – about how much corn and corn by-products are in the North American diet.

After all, corn is a North American crop that didn’t make its way to Europe until the 16th century.  In culinary school, the chefs talked about this when we learned about creme patissiere, one of the basic creams from which you can make all kinds of tasty things.  Creme patissiere is a mixture of egg yolks, milk, sugar, and a thickening agent.  Before the introduction of corn, European pastry chefs used flour to thicken their creme patissiere, which worked just fine.  However, modern-day creme patissiere recipes call for cornstarch as a thickener, because it has better binding properties.  I had one chef swear by a half-and-half mixture of the two.

So last night, I was at a friend’s potluck (hi Colleen!) and the highlight of the evening was when a Frenchman, an Austrian and an Australian gathered around the stove to prepare a batch of Jiffy Pop.  I don’t know what was more fun – watching the foil expand, or watching the reactions of the non-North Americans as the foil expanded. 

As an aside, does anyone else think that Jiffy Pop looks like a brain?  I mean, there’s this bulbous foil thing, and when you first open it (and the foil is still structurally intact), the mass of kernels really looks like brains.  If that sounds gross, don’t worry.  This moment of observation is usually pretty brief, because people rip open the foil and eat the popcorn – and then there’s no more brain.

Published by: Eagranie

7 years as a chemist + 9 months of culinary school + 2 years as a pastry chef & chocolatier + a lifetime of writing = this blog. This blog won't always be about chocolate, but it will almost certainly be about food. The name of the blog is a triple play on words. 1. It's a nod to my training as a classical pianist. Among other fantastic accomplishments, J.S. Bach combined technical prowess with artistic inspiration and penned the 24 preludes & fugues that make up The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I and II. 2. In order to behave properly, chocolate needs to be tempered. In a nutshell, tempering prompts the chocolate to assume its most stable crystalline form (beta prime, if you're interested) so that it is shiny, snappy, and as stable as it can be. 3. Depending on my mood and how we meet, you might agree that I'm well-tempered. Or not.

Categories 2008, Food scienceTags, , , , , , 4 Comments

4 thoughts on “Jiffy Pop!”

  1. I used to love Jiffy Pop as a kid because it seemed so magical, but when I tasted it again a few years ago as an adult I remember it being really salty.

    Mmmm, brains….

  2. I have a copy of The Omnivore’s Dilemma in my car. It has been there over a year and a half. I tried to read it, but the first chapter just droned on and on. Perhaps I will give it another shot this time.
    BTW, I voted for you!

  3. Cheryl – Jiffy Pop *is* really salty! I think they must make a lot of their sales based solely on nostalgia (and European curiosity), because that’s the only reason I’d buy it.

    Sharon – Thanks! Re: Michael Pollan, I found “In Defense of Food” a lot easier to read, and it’s still a great book. Might be worth a try.

  4. Wait a minute… was I the Australian??? I think I was across the other side of the room… but damn, I was excited! The blog is great, keep up the good work!

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