Hamming it Up
Bacon has been relegated to old-hat status, despite being the “apple of food nerds’ eye for so long.” Meanwhile, America’s old-time cured country ham tantalizes taste buds and is beating bacon.
"Bacon has been the apple of food nerds' eye for so long that the backlash to it already had a backlash, its fans an impenetrable phalanx of fatty warriors. So what is it about bacon? Is it the salty goodness? The smoke? Or the way lard delivers these flavors in wallops? Either way, bacon is the cook's sledgehammer. But it's time to make way for country ham, the cook's ... er, well, whatever counts as the more elegant version of a sledgehammer. Like prosciutto -- or the currently more ballyhooed Spanish jamón serrano -- American country ham is the uncooked, salt-cured leg of pig, hung to mature for months and sometimes years. The long curing was originally meant to let the salt work into the meat and preserve it from rot, but for eaters in the age of refrigeration, time-consuming chemistry is where the action's really at. Slowly, enzymes naturally in the meat will break proteins down into our coterie of tasty friends, the amino acids, which give us the satisfying, blooming taste of umami. The fats in the meat slowly change, too, creating beautiful compounds that Harold McGee describes as ‘characteristic of the aromas of melon, apple, citrus, flowers, freshly cut grass, and butter.’ Wait, did you catch that? Pork fat that tastes like butter."
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It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.
In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.
Image from the study.
As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.
Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.
"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.
It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.
Image by authors of the study.
Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.
The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.
“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
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