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Darling! We're Going to Have a Bug!

October 20, 1994|CHARLES PERRY

Insects have nothing to do all day but find ways of getting into grain, so grain nearly always contains some insect stuff. Above a certain level, it becomes unfit for human consumption. The usual inspection method (checking samples with a microscope) has flaws, though--it counts a large insect fragment the same as a small one, and it can't find eggs and larvae tucked inside kernels. Now researchers at the University of Texas have developed a more accurate test based on measuring the amount of myosin, a muscle protein present at all stages of an insect's life. It works sort of like a home pregnancy test: Inspectors add a reagent to a sample and observe how much the color changes.

Happy Birthday, H.J.

This year is the 125th anniversary of H.J. Heinz Co., which makes a lot more than 57 varieties these days. In the beginning, of course, there was only one variety--horseradish--and the Heinz company actually went broke for a while in 1875. It shrewdly added ketchup to the lineup the next year, though, and never looked back.

Coke au Vin

"Classic Cooking With Coca-Cola" (Hambleton-Hill; 1994) is a follow-up to Elizabeth Candler Graham's book "The Real Ones," which was about her family, the descendants of Coca-Cola mogul Asa Briggs Candler. The new book is a collection of 300 Coke-oriented recipes. Just under half call for Coke itself, the rest using Coke-owned products such as Sprite, Tab, Fresca or Minute Made orange juice--but there certainly are recipes for goulash, gumbo, a meat marinade and even microwave French onion soup made with Coke, plus lots of knowledgeable lore on the Coca-Cola Co. In bookstores.

Strictly Transcendental

Meanwhile, Arion Press is issuing a deluxe limited edition of M.F.K. Fisher's translation of the culinary classic "The Physiology of Taste; or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy," by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, source of the saying "you are what you eat" (though what Brillat-Savarin actually wrote was, "Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are"). How deluxe? Every copy is signed by the famous artist Wayne Thiebaud, who contributed over 200 illustrations, and it's $2,500 a pop, that's how deluxe. For information, call (800) 550-7737.

Horrible Hippo

It's generally illegal to kill hippopotamus these days, but some people used to enjoy hippo meat . . . or sort of enjoy it, apparently. One description speaks of "a peculiar flavor" and "a slightly pasty consistency from its superfluity of fat between the muscle fibers."

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