After all the years I’ve been working with food, you might think that my knowledge is complete, or nearly so. Nothing could be further from the truth; I literally learn new things practically every day. No joke: Whether it’s an exotic food or a basic technique, there seems to be no end to what I don’t know, as well as deeper levels to what I do know.
Just today, for example, one of my recipe developers—you’ll find his excellent recipes in the September 2007 magazine—took issue with changing “diced” to “chopped” for vegetable ingredients. I’ve taken to doing this in DL recipes because I once heard another editor say that home cooks may be confused by “diced”—How big of dice? Does it truly mean cube-shaped? … and so forth. Here’s what he said:
I disagree [with the change]: Chopping is a most imprecise cutting method, which is fine for herbs, but unsuitably brutal for this application. Peppers, celery, and onion should be cut into attractive dice, not only for eye-appeal but also to preserve their juices, which are smashed out of them when chopped. The greater the surface area exposed, the more oxidation; the more chopping, the more loss of juices. If those juices are scraped into the salad bowl, they water down the dressing and muddy the overall flavor.
I changed it back.