'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Laboratory Labour leads to Less Lacrymosity

While making a meatloaf today, I was at a loss to know what a scallion was, did a search on google, got side-tracked (as one does) and ended up wondering why onions make you cry... did another search and stumbled on an interesting ozzie (that's 'Australian' to us down here on the underside of the world)  news article.  

I just can't believe it's not been picked up by the New Zealand press, given
1.  its significance to all cooks around the world

and, probably more importantly to the 'newsworthiness''
2.  the furore and fuss that New Zealand makes whenever the words "Genetically Modified" come up.  

(I just found one small article in a NZ paper.)

But anyway, this guy Colin Eady is good!  To put it simply, he has 'turned off' the enzyme that sits in onion cells and that, when you cut an onion, gets combined with another cell substance to create the highly volatile chemical that floats up and turns to an acid (ouch) when it contacts the water of your eye.  He reckons what he has done it makes no difference to the flavour at all, except to make onions even nicer - ie less bitter.

Colin Eady, a plant geneticist at Crop and Food Research in New Zealand, says, "We can take the crushed [modified] onion extract and put it under your eye and you get no tearing whatsoever."

They have to check carefully that what they've done is harmless to humans, and then it will take ages (10 -15 years) to get enough seed to have these onions grown commercially, as onions only make seeds every two years.  

Trouble is, New Zealand is "G.E free", so we won't see them here, even then.  Pity.

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