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The “food-onality” of the brownie

March 3, 2010

Guess what?  We’ll be baking these!  Mmmmm….

Looks matter

Believe me, we aren’t totally superficial for being offended by an ugly cheesecake, or a dainty rib-eye steak.  When the appearance of a food contradicts its essence, all of our other senses are instinctively put off.

The hunter-gatherers regularly encountered unfamiliar food, and those individuals who could better discriminate between the good/edible and bad/toxic using their sense of sight held the survival advantage.  So it is only logical that we are hard-wired to judge food critically with our eyes.

So then what is the essence of a food?  The essence of a food is its abstract character that can never be altered by external manipulations/experimentations or by changing human tastes.  I like to think of it as sort of like the food’s personality, or “food-onality”.  And I believe that this “food-onality” is what ultimately defines a food’s evolution.  Which explains why 12 oz rib-eye steaks have maintained resistant to cuteness, despite the overall evolutionary advantage of cuteness.

The bottom line is that I believe taking the time to understand and appreciate the essence, or food-onality, of a food is the best way to bring out its best!


The brownie you never knew….

Grasping the food-onality of a food is mostly intuitive.  For example, you probably already knew doughnuts are friendly or that blondies are coquettish.  No?  Not to worry, we’ll get to know our food one at a time.  Right now, we are going to focus on the brownie.

I believe the food-onality of the brownie is best summarized as cute.  People have the tendency to assume that “cute” strictly refers to the physical appearance of something,  but in reality “cute” is abstract and can be used to describe sounds, smells, textures, behaviors, personalities, food-o-nalities, etc., or a unique combination of them.  Keep this all in mind as I attempt to capture (in words) the essence of the brownie.

1. Linguistics: the word brown-“ie” is cute

The “-ie” affix is a diminutive in language structure.  What is a diminutive?  Wikipedia says it is a form of a word “used to convey a slight degree of the root meaning, smallness of the object or quality named, encapsulation, intimacy, or endearment.”  Here are some examples:

doggie (vs. dog); auntie (vs. aunt); Maggie (vs. Margaret)

So as you can see, words ending in “ie” are in essence, playful, endearing and/or mini, or at least more so than their root counterparts.  And playful, endearing, mini things are almost always cute (puppies, babies, etc.).  Below are some other cute sweet treats you might be familiar with to prove my point:

pixie stick; tootsie roll; whoopie pie; cookie; brownie (!!!!)

2. Texture: the texture of a brownie is cute

Texture is a great indication of whether a sweet is cute (vs. pretty), in essence

Texture Examples Cute Pretty
Brittle/Vitreous pulled/blown sugar candies X
Chewy jelly bellies, brownies X
Fluffy marshmallows, cream puffs X
Silky ganache, custard X
Squishy mochi, gummy bears X

But the most reliable reference is YOUR intuition…

When you see and feel a sweet treat, do you feel the urge to be violent exert forceful energy upon it?

If so, the treat is more likely than not cute, in essence.

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Intro to The High-Heeled Contessa

February 25, 2010

Let me preface this first entry with the note that:

1. There are no pictures today.  Which really sucks.  My camera conveniently broke before starting this blog, which means I am entitled to a fancy new one soon… woohoo!

2. This first entry/introduction is me shamelessly talking about myself.  In the future, I promise to share more useful stuff with you (recipes, music, interesting/weird facts and things to do, people/places to see), but I can’t promise that I won’t also babble on about my life….  On that note…

Welcome to the virtual home of The High-Heeled Contessa!!! Can you smell the freshly baked chocolate chunk cookies?!? lavender?!?  No?  Well, please please pretty please try to use your imagination now and EVERY TIME you visit 😀

Introduction to The High-Heeled Contessa

People who I meet in nyc are often surprised to learn that I majored in molecular biology, and I love that.  For one, it is pretty damn annoying having to convince potential employers that I have no intention of secretly applying to medical school (did I mention that I am an Asian-American + Ivy League grad?).  Additionally, at Yale, the pre-med student is a dangerously competitive creature motivated NOT by intellectual curiosity (unfortunately), but by fabulous marks and lines for his/her resume.  So you can imagine why I’m flattered (too flattered, actually) by people’s assumptions that I was a cool, laid-back art history major.  But I suppose it is only logical since I have never held a job in the field.  And also because I am more often than not talking about baking/cooking, raving about my latest sample sale acquisition, listening/dancing/bouncing to soulful, danceable music, or planning a fun themed party.  Oh, and of course (pardon my modesty), also because I always do keep it real, and understand the value of being as ferosh as possible, at all times.

But in reality, my-so-called passion for science is very relevant to who I obviously appear to be (yeah, people tend to assume i’m cool… don’t be jealous).  First of all, if you talk to me longer than 10 minutes, you will discover that I think of everything in terms of natural selection.   And I mean everything.  This is why very very little actually gets to me… awful people, music, food, etc. ultimately dissipate..  Trust in science, and you will better understand Timon and Pumba….   Secondly, I love love love experimentation!!!!!!  I am CONSTANTLY in search of interesting recipes to manipulate, unfamiliar ingredients, the best bargain shopping experiences, avant-garde music, crazy hats, useless cute gadgets, etc… and this demands TIRELESS testing.  And thanks to my hyperactive nature and tendency to get bored AND entertained ABNORMALLY easily, I am predisposed to stray from complacency.

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