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Everything you ever wanted to know about cooking, but were afraid to ask, part 8 'H' from Ham to Hunger

Updated on June 25, 2015


Ham; Ham is usually a leg of pork that’s been cured & smoked, much the same as bacon.

I worked in a Butchers after school and I recall Xmas having to load hams in & out of the smoker, num num...

Technically a Ham is the process of curing & smoking, you can get Mutton Hams, processed in a similar way as Pork.

Turkey can also be hammed, to invent a new word...

Ham has been around for millennia and each country has its own customs & traditions.

Ham simply is Pig, salt & smoke; smoke optional. Pretty much any nation state that had Pigs, a fire and a beach had Ham; except probably Halal& Kosher cultures.

There are various descriptors of Ham, depending upon where you live.

Some enterprising manufacturers are able to produce Ham out of pieces or chunks which are formed into a shape resembling a Ham and treated to a process not resembling Ham. They are not cured, they are injected with a brine solution, a percentage of their weight is made up of non pork liquids, such as whey and they are treated with ‘smoke flavours’, not actually smoked.

These ‘Hams’ resemble sliced plastic and are merely a cheap facsimile of real Ham, loaded with nitrates you are more likely to see these forms of Ham at supermarket deli’s or fast food these places exclusively use all the cheapest mass produced hams etc, that’s why you will never see me eating there!

If you want a good Ham, go see your butcher; ask for local pork, don’t get stuck with ‘imported origin uncertain imports’.

Baked Hams have to be one of My faves; X X the skin, bake a couple hours at a low temp, arrange Pineapple slices, nailed with studs of cloves, and a Maraschino Cherry, back in the oven another hour! I can live on Baked Ham leftovers for a week.

The Ham you buy swimming in juice has been injected with preservatives & salt, cooked and vacuum sealed you hardly need to even refrigerate them, they’ll probably survive a holocaust. Once you have opened any ‘wet’ Ham, use it up as soon as you can.

Ham is known as a prime choice for a bacterial medium; it’s wet and it get’s handled with bare hands, it’s often served in lunch sandwiches, which often are unrefrigerated, then eaten again with bare hands…

Try leaving a few slices uncovered in the fridge for a few weeks, as it dries out in forces lots of crystals out like salt, some even have pretty colours. Keep the wrappers, look up those e-numbers and see what it is they were trying to poison you with


Hamburger; Why do we call it a ‘Ham’burger if it doesn’t contain Ham?

Do they sell Hamburgers in Muslim nations?

Hamburger derives its name from the German province of Hamburg, Where allegedly they discovered the process of finely chopping, or mincing meat. This has gradually spread to the west and now hamburger has become ubiquitous.

To anyone who doesn’t get out much, a hamburger, or simply burger is a ground meat Pattie cooked & served between 2 slices of bread, with optional ingredients, salad, pickles etc.

The burger is the ground meat pattie, but usually you ask for a burger, you get the bread and the extras.

I’ve gone off burgers since they started posting the calorie counts at the drive thru; could be worse I tell myself, got ½ the calories of aFrappe’. And you don’t want to ask how much sugar’s in those buns, (the sugar softens the dough). From our buns to yours, girls!

I don’t mind a quick burger now and then, but as a meal Chef try and outdo each other; constructing towers with all fancy ingredients, you need a stepladder and a hedge trimmer to get into them, and they cost as much as a small town.

I’m not sure if there’sa causal relationship between Burgers and Scottish food, I’ve never heard of a haggis-burger; but there’s a global franchise that has linked them together! Apparently clowns are Scottish also?

Ground meat, by its nature often has a higher bacterial count than other cuts of meat.

Ground meat or mince is usually made from trimmings & off cuts from various parts of the carcass.

These are handled more by more people and tend to have more surface area which may be exposed to even more cross contamination.

Also the origin of some of these cuts has been traditionally dubious.

When I worked at the butchers, mince & sausages were made with all manner of trimmings, old & recycled meat products which could be recycled...

Nowadays there is a process in place to reduce contamination, or rather to reduce the bacterial count due to contamination.

Some enterprising people have devised a method of treating burger meat with ammonia to effectively sterilise it.

Like all mass produced ingredients there must be economies in place; they classify it as a ‘processing agent’ and it doesn’t have to be listed as an ingredient. Thanks guys!

Other additives & preservatives are used in minced, or ground meat to preserve the meat, also additives are used to keep the ‘natural’ colour of the meat, it tends to discolour on the surface... Thanks again guys

Then it only gets worse; certain fast food outlets brand their burger meats as 100% ‘a certain breed of cattle’. Well guess what? That’s a trademark, not what’s in your burger!! That burger could contain Goat, and still be called 100% Beef ‘TM’

Thanks guys, you’re killing us, no really, you are!


Harrissa; Is a Tunisian chilli sauce, or paste. It’s made from Chilli actually, and may or may not have other spices in it.

Harissa has a similar value to it’s afficianados as any culture that’s blended roast Chilli’s, but has the distinction or roasted, or toasted, then ground, Coriander & Cumin seeds.


Hash; Now before you get your hopes up I’d like to remind you this is a tome dedicated to all things culinary, not expansion of your inner horizons...

Hash in this context refers to anything that has been hashed. Hashed as in mixed together cooked items which are then refried.

Most commonly it refers to hash brown potatoes, which a Chef would call a Rosti.

Colcannon; where you refry potatoes and leftover veg is hash.

Nod to the origin of the name; Hashish, which is the resin of Cannabis trees is traditionally extracted by thrashing the branches of the Cannabis tree.

Hash oil is extracted chemically, in a solvent; Isopropyl, paint thinners… I’ve heard Butane is a lot kinder to the consumer than solvents… If we’re going to go there, and it looks like we already are; Butter is a much safer option; not as practical in a commercial sense, consumers want bang for their bucks. As a home-hobby enthusiast however; make some hash butter by sweating your Cannabis in butter. Make a cake!

I’m not sure if you can have hashed hash? I know there’s a lot of products which can be utilised from the Cannabis tree, just not sure it woud qualify as a vegetable?


Hawiian; Hawaiian is a pizza style, there aint nothing else in a culinary sense that is indicative of what Hawaiian is, apart from Pizza.

But wait, it gets more confusing, Is Hawaii known for its pizza’s? Nope...

Is Hawaii somehow associated with Ham? Nope, they may have pigs but they are not famous for Ham; perhaps it’s the Pineapple?

Pigs and Pineapples have both been introduced to Hawii, but there’s no strong sense of pride, or ownership of these commodities to define Hawii as being home of Pizza, Pineapple, or Pork…

Some budding entrepreneur has labelled a pizza with Ham and Pineapple as being Hawaiian. Try going to Hawaii, see if they sell Hawaiian pizza?

Did the Italians, who are known for their Pizza, and their Hams, ever have Pineapple? Did they make Pizza’s as such prior to the discovery of Hawii?

A simple thing just became majorly complicated…


Hazlenuts; Are my favourite nuts; actually most nuts aren’t really nuts, but hazelnuts are. They are my favourite because you get hazelnuts in chocolates!

Hazelnuts are used predominately in baking and form the basis of Praline, a toffee & hazelnut confection.


Herbs; Are the leafs of certain edible plants, used for flavour, rather than the bulk of a meal.

Other parts such as stems stalks, seeds & fruit are more correctly classified as spices.

There are further uses for herbs, apart from flavouring agents, they can be medicinal, or my favourite, psychoactive


Hobart; this is worth a mention! Hobart is the name of a city in Tasmania, named after the guy who invented the rotary mixer which goes by the same name. Even if it’s not a Hobart by brand name, it still get’s called a Hobart. It’s the large rotary mixer, Hobart make food processors too, but they are called Robot-coupe’s after the brand name Robot coupe. Confused?

Hoi sin

Hoisin; Sauce, actually Hoi-sin. It’s an Asian sauce, compares closely to the western Barbeque sauce. I always wondered about bbq sauce... Is it meant to be an accompaniment to charcoaled food, or is it the flavour of concentrated barbeque?

I recently used hoi sin as a stand in for bbq, but it is much sweeter.

Apparently hoi-sin means seafood, but there’s no seafood in it.

Must go back & check the names of fish sauce & oyster sauce...


Hollondaise; Hollandaise is considered one of the ‘mother’ or base sauces. For example Béarnaise as previously discussed is a descendant of Hollandaise.

Hollandaise is an emulsion sauce similar to a Mayonnaise; it’s the ‘aisse’ which gives it away!

Where mayonnaise is made with egg yolks, mustard, vinegar and oil; Hollandaise is made with egg yolks which are cooked, a vinegar reduction & melted butter, a real heart stopper...

The name Hollandaise is a reference to Holland being a land of dairy produce, milk cheese & cream...

Hollandaise is not a sauce for beginners; it is full of pitfalls for the unwary.

Temperatures must be just right, the butter has to be melted, but not too hot, the reduction needs to be reduced, and cooled.

The egg yolks need to be cooked with the reduction over a pot of boiling water, or an open flame for the bold; and /or more experienced. Don’t overcook the eggs, just thickened is good, your Hollandaise will not hold if you completely cook the eggs.

Then after all this, your Hollandaise is only good for a few hours, once it sets it’s no good.

I say no good, it still looks good, but if you ladle your cooled Hollandaise over say, hot Asparagus, it will melt all over your plate & simply look like melted butter on a plate...

A blender Hollandaise is the simplest way to make it; Classical Chef’s all over the world will be turning in their graves, but I say if it works, do it.

Blender Hollandaise is innovative in that it uses technology to the user’s advantage.

Make your reduction, add it to a blender with the egg yolks, which do not need to be cooked; slowly add melted butter. The butter can be a bit hotter for this application.

Perfect Hollandaise every time, why wouldn’t you?


Hommous; Rhymes with Thomas, there are variations upon the pronunciation, but Hummous is still Hummous.

Hummous is not a new food by any means; it’s still currently trendy, but it’s a trend that is as old or older than the bible.

Hummous is a paste of cooked chick peas, or Garbanzo beans if you want to be different...

Blended with Tahini, (a sesame seed paste), olive oil & lemon juice.

It used to be a mainstay of Arabian diets, eaten with flat bread, as a staple, now it is more likely found on a bread and dips place in a swanky cafe’; real progress!

I make Hummous, then I devour it all in one sitting, num num, no wonder it’s a dish which has survived 2 millennia!

I doubt you could buy chick peas in a can back then though? You can make Hummous by cooking the chick peas, or you can open a can, very little difference in the end product...

If you use dried Chick peas, soak them overnight, Will have to try making Hommous with Gram, or chick pea flour.


Honey; Honey is regurgitated nectar from flowers.

Bees eat the nectar then they fly back to their hives & spew it back into honey combs.

That’s what I like to do, demystify foods, replace the warm fuzzy feelings with hard reality.

Honey is one of Nature’s treats, it’s a natural sweetener.

The sugars it contains parallel Man’s best effort at producing sweeteners from blends of sugars.

So long as the honey is not processed it will contain pollen which ingested in small doses may build immunity to allergy sufferers.

Honey produces Hydrogen Peroxide when mixed with water.

This makes Honey an ideal antiseptic, applied topically, which means externally to a wound. Honey also alleviates or cures sore throats.

Interestingly it is the New Zealand Manuka honey which has antibacterial properties; which is being investigated by scientists as an alternative medication.

For decades mankind has been producing antibiotics, now the bacteria have themselves evolved so they are less affected by these antibiotics, giving rise to superbugs which do not respond to traditional medication.

Hospitals have become one of the most dangerous places for sick people to be...

Honey has various grades, depending on how it is treated, micro filtered, pasteurised etc.

The type of honey, e.g. Manuka honey is from the flowers of the Manuka tree...

Beware Honeys that are not honey, Corn syrup sold as Honey, or ratios of sugar to honey.

Beware also GM crops and pesticides, they’re out to get our Bees, so soon your honey might be obsolete.


Honey-comb;Is the entire bee hive, pollen and all, waxy little cells the bees store their honey in.

Neat little sterile containers full of honey and capped in wax.

We used to get honeycomb as kids, I hated the waxy combs then, but I guess I’ve grown out of that...

Enterprising honey farmers, bee keepers or Apiarists; now make their bees make honeycombs in regular little cylinders, for marketing purposes.

The bees don’t seem to mind; bees can be very sensitive and exhibit swarming behaviour when stressed, try and keep them happy please!


Honey-dew; Is a melon, they are smooth shelled and green on the inside.

I think they look attractive, but don’t have a great taste, maybe I haven’t been getting fully ripened honey dews?

Honey dew can also be something that bees live on...

If a bee sees an aphid which has sucked all the juice out of a plant, they sometimes overindulge and a sweet secretion is evident from the terminal end of their intestinal track...

Bees love this and will dine exclusively upon this.

This makes for a very dark honey, which is treasured as a gourmet delight.


Hops; Not chops, not hip hop, not playing hop scotch, but Hops.

Hops are a plant, a plant which grows like a vine. Like a vine that has cones.

The cones have a bitter flavour and are used in beer making; to balance the sweetness of the beer, and also as an antibiotic effect.

My historical knowledge of hops says hops are the closest botanical species to cannabis; some further research was in order to verify this... Apparently; as both plants are similar, you could graft or clone Hops onto your Cannabis trees, if you wanted; be a sure fire way to beat the law, turn your weed into Hops. Apparently again; they will grow, but retain the specifics of their parent plant, the hops will not produce Cannabis. But a Cannabis flavoured Hop could make a nice brew? Or Visa-versa…I’VE got Hops growing in my garden, I suppose that’s a start


Horseradish; Horseradish is a Brassica, related to Cabbage, Broccoli etc, also related and similar to Mustard and Wasabi. It is the tap root of the horseradish plant that interests us; it is very pungent when processed...

I’ve tried growing Horseradish before, came out as a long thin root, And I’m supposed to grate that? I have seen in markets, Horseradish which looks more like a parsnip; which is what I want…

Horseradish is a spicy or pungent herb, very bitter, like it’s cousin the radish. Has an Asian cousin called Wasabi.

Horseradish is associated with Roast Beef, but it’s an interesting herb to use when trying for a balance of sweet & bitter, A Redcurrant jelly with Horseradish works well with Game meats such as Venison.

Hundred year eggs

100 year old eggs; Century egg or pidan also known as preserved egg, hundred-year egg, thousand-year egg, thousand-year-old egg, and millennium egg, is a Chinese cuisine ingredient made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months, depending on the method of processing.

Through the process, the yolk becomes a dark green to grey color, with a creamy consistency and an odor of sulphur and ammonia, while the white becomes a dark brown, translucent jelly with salty or little flavor. The transforming agent in the century egg is its alkaline material, which gradually raises the pH of the egg to around 9–12, or more during the curing process. This chemical process breaks down some of the complex, flavorless proteins and fats, which produces a variety of smaller flavorful compounds.

Some eggs have patterns near the surface of the egg white that are likened to pine branches, and that gives rise to one of its Chinese names, the pine-patterned egg.


Hunger; Hunger is the sensation, the drive to stay alive!

Hunger is variable to an individual; some people may experience hunger as soon as they awaken. Others, such as me, cannot eat before midday.

Therefore hunger is entirely relative.

What controls hunger is not as simple as how much food is in your belly, certainly an empty belly will cause sensations of hunger; but so also will smelling something nice cooking, or even a visual stimuli.

These trigger appetite, which is again highly relative, above 100 year old eggs may get some people’s mouth watering, but not me…

What I find with hunger is; the more you eat, the more you want to eat, and how little food you really need to stave off hunger. I have moments when I remember not being allowed sweets before dinner, because they’d ‘ruin my appetite’.

Hunger is not about volume; how much you have in your belly. It’s more complicated than that. You can have a sweet, which will be digested fast and raise your blood sugar, which will decease your appetite; My Mum was probably right!

I think Hunger involves perception; if you are hungry, you think you can eat a horse, but ½ way through the neck and you’re stuffed full, cannot eat another thing.

Not even a wafer thin aperitif A’la “fuck off I’m full” (monty python meaning of life, fat guy explodes)

The saying “the eyes are bigger than the belly” is how ‘all you can eat buffets’ survive. After 20 minutes the hunger signals from your belly to your brain fade to a sensation of satiety. It’s a struggle to continue eating after that.

Ever really pigged out, then felt so stuffed, and wondered aloud how you managed to eat so much?

You can eat a small bowl of rice over 20 minutes and feel full, or you can devour ½ the buffet in the same time.

A buffet, or ‘all you can eat, only provide small plates, so you can pile your plate; and they are gambling on you taking your time to eat that, by which time you will be full.

I have not so fond memories of over indulging because we saw the ‘all you can eat’ as a challenge.

So Hunger is a perceived by individual realities, your hunger is different from mine, kind of the same but different. You may crave different foods according to your metabolism, and you think these cravings are personal choices; more like it’s your body telling your brain you need an essential nutrient from that type of food.


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    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 

      3 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      As Homer Simpson would say - "Mmmmm, food."

    • peachpurple profile image


      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      I love hash brown, ham is a luxury item for us


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