It’s mid-term and schools are out. There are no classroom lessons, but lessons from parent to child are taught on a daily basis. Some will be of the practical kind, like how to tie shoelaces, looking both ways before crossing the road or how to properly brush teeth. The kind of teachings about life that when we grow older, we simply take for granted.
Some of my life lessons I also learnt in my father’s kitchen. Like the one about always heating the pan first to the appropriate temperature to allow meat, etc, to brown. As a youngster, I knew not the science, but I knew it made food taste good, intensifying flavour by creating that little bit of extra crispiness on the surface of the food.
At a more technical level, browning occurs as a result of the moisture on the surface of the meat evaporating when it comes into contact with high heat. Consequently, a chemical reaction takes place whereby the proteins on the surface of the meat develop. It then leads to the caramelising effect which ‘browns’ the meat, adding not only flavour, but also a more appetising appeal with the added (brown) colour. ‘Browning’ is also known as the Maillard reaction, so named for the French scientist who first investigated the reaction. It is one of the reasons why when we partake in our beloved BBQs we always make sure the heat is high so that we get that wonderful outer layer of flavour and crispiness on our steaks and sausages. It is also the heat that creates that mouth-watering aroma of smoking, sizzling meat which makes the wait for the cooking food sometimes unbearable.