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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Barlow Defends Moore, Slanders Aluminum

Ted Barlow, at Crooked Timber, responding to a silly attack on Michael Moore by some right-wing warblogger, writes, "I could argue with this nonsense. But wouldn�t all of our time be better spent sharing a genuinely delicious recipe for braised lamb shanks in red wine?" Indeed, the recipe is mostly pretty good (well-written, emphasizes important points like "don't crowd the pan").

Unfortunately, Barlow's recipe in defense of Michael Moore turns out to be quite deceptive. While Moore is said to have hired a fact checker from the New Yorker to vet Fahrenheit 9/11, Barlow's standards appear to be somewhat lower.

Barlow passes on myth as gospel, insisting on a "nonreactive saut� pan," presumably because the recipe calls for braising the lamb in red wine and tomato paste, two acidic ingredients. Now, it is true that acidic foods can discolor aluminum cookware, but who cares what color the pan is? Many's the time I've cooked tomatoes in "reactive" aluminum, without harming the flavor or the color of the food. Julia Child, who is careful to specify non-reactive pans where necessary (to prevent discoloring white wine or egg yolks, she says), does not specify non-reactive pans for tomato sauce.

The Food Network has a pretty good discussion of the issue, noting that "those who claim that some foods take on a metallic taste when cooked with aluminum cookware are counterbalanced by just as many who insist they don't." If only Barlow had done his homework, and taken an even-handed tone, rather than launching a vicious assault on the favorite pan of America's restaurant industry.

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