De­li­cious ac­ci­dents = iconic foods

There’s the ac­ci­dently fer­mented grain that led to beer and the ac­ci­dently co­ag­u­lated soymilk that led to tofu. And then, you have the Ham­dog....

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - OPINION - star2@ thes­tar. com. my Ja­son God­frey Catch Ja­son God­frey on The LINK on Life In­spired ( Astro B. yond Ch 728).

THE fu­ture is now. Vir­tual re­al­ity gam­ing, talk about com­mer­cial flights to the moon, ac­cess to prac­ti­cally all of hu­man knowledge via the In­ter­net – yes, in­no­va­tion and in­ven­tion are pro­pel­ling us into a won­der­filled fu­ture. And the culi­nary world is not ex­empt from this in­no­va­tion es­pe­cially since the news that the Ham­dog has ar­rived.

Aussie Mark Mur­ray has patented the Ham­dog – part ham­burger, part hot dog, all fat­ten­ingly de­li­cious. Ba­si­cally, the Ham­dog looks like a ham­burger with a hot­dog lodged in the cen­tre. Imag­ine the in­no­va­tion of shov­ing a hot­dog through a beef patty. Ah yes, the tech­ni­cal won­ders we’re wit­ness­ing. Ap­par­ently, the real tech­ni­cal chal­lenge to the Ham­dog is mak­ing a bun that fits; it seems the buns have to be hand­made, to cover the girth of the burg- er and the length of the hot dog.

It seems a lit­tle strange to patent a food. I would think these days most “new” foods are cre­ated rather than patented, usu­ally by chefs who are look­ing to in­no­vate in their craft with de­li­cious re­sults. Take the mac and cheese burger that I so lov­ingly wrote about a few weeks back (“Love At First Bite”, Aug 28). Pre­sum­ably, it was made by tak­ing two de­li­cious things and meld­ing them so that the flavours com­ple­mented each other in one in­cred­i­ble fi­nal prod­uct. But as far as I know, the mac and cheese burger isn’t patented any­where.

Ac­tu­ally, de­lib­er­ate cre­ation is not how some of our most pop­u­lar food items were cre­ated. Na­chos, for in­stance, is a pseudo ac­ci­den­tal, born- of- ne­ces­sity recipe. The story goes that they were cre­ated in 1943 when Ig­na­cio “Na­cho” Anaya was faced with a group of hun­gry for­eign­ers at his es­tab­lish­ment. The chef had gone miss­ing so Na­cho ran into the kitchen and ba­si­cally com­bined scraps of in­gre­di­ents and served them over tor­tilla chips. Boom. Na­chos were born. And poor Ig­na­cio didn’t patent a thing.

Then there is the sand­wich in­vented by John Mon­tagu ( 17181792), the fourth Earl of ... wait for it ... Sand­wich. Be­ing an earl must be very busy work in­deed be­cause John de­cided he didn’t have time to eat with uten­sils and asked for his meat between two pieces of bread to keep the juices off his fin­gers. And so we now have the sand­wich.

Some foods were in­vented com- pletely by ac­ci­dent. Like beer. The story goes that 10,000 years ago in Me­sopotamia, the stor­age ar­eas for grains would get damp and cause the grain to fer­ment. There is no ac­tual ac­count but, pre­sum­ably, the fer­men­ta­tion re­sulted in amounts of liq­uid, prob­a­bly on the floor, that some­body just ran­domly de­cided to taste – be­cause tast­ing liq­uid from the floor is a great idea. But it’s a good thing that some­body made the ques­tion­able choice to do that, or we might not have beer to­day, and with­out beer, there could be no Ok­to­beer­fest and frosh par­ties at univer­sity would be that much duller.

Tofu is an­other ac­ci­den­tal dis­cov­ery. Sto­ries talk about a Chi­nese chef drop­ping a co­ag­u­lant into a pot of soy­bean milk that cur­dled, and cre­ated tofu.

So some of the best foods were cre­ated by ne­ces­sity and ac­ci­dent and not nec­es­sar­ily in­no­vated like biotech in a lab. Is the Ham­dog go­ing to be one of these foods that we look back on and say, where were you when the Ham­dog was patented?

Only time will tell if eat­ing a ham­burger at the ex­act same time that you eat a hot dog is some­thing the gen­eral pub­lic wants. And if it is, that’s sort of scary. Be­cause the one thing so­ci­ety doesn’t need is a way to cram more un­healthy meats into peo­ple’s mouths at an even faster pace, which is the only real in­no­va­tion the Ham­dog pro­vides.

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