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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 12/02/2009 :  01:13:04  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Many nights I find myself looking something up on Wikipedia and then letting the minutes slip past as I follow link after link, many times forgetting why I was originally there in the first place. You start out looking up Mongolian Chicken, then start reading about Attila the Hun, and somehow end up on an entry for the heavy plow. Reminds me a bit like an interactive version of that old show Connections with James Burke.

Anyway, I was browsing again tonight and I discovered something interesting. The Chinese have a specialized way of popping corn.
A very different method of popcorn-making can still be seen on the streets of some Chinese cities today. The corn is poured into a large cast-iron canister- sometimes called a 'popcorn hammer'- that is then sealed with a heavy lid and slowly turned over a curbside fire in rotisserie fashion. When a pressure gauge on the canister reaches a certain level, it is removed from the fire, a large canvas sack is put over the lid, and the seal is released. With a huge boom, all of the popcorn explodes at once and is poured into the sack.
I even found a video in the footnotes. When they say it all comes out in a "huge boom," they mean it.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie

Edited by - H. Humbert on 12/02/2009 01:20:01

bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 12/02/2009 :  09:28:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Several years ago I watched the Chinese popcorn-poppers on the streets of Kowloon, a suburb of Hong Kong. They make quite an impressive bit of street theater out of the process, and the explosion when the corn all pops at once and comes out of the "cannon" is quite impressive.

It tastes different too -- kind of a sugar and salt combination that is delicious. It makes me wonder -- did the Chinese invent popcorn?
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 12/02/2009 :  10:41:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by bngbuck
It makes me wonder -- did the Chinese invent popcorn?
Corn is indigenous to the Americas and was first popped by Native Americans. I don't know when it was introduced into China.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 12/02/2009 :  12:33:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wow. That's so cool. But I think I will stick with my heavy pot method, at least for in the kitchen...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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AnthroGeek
New Member

USA
38 Posts

Posted - 12/02/2009 :  12:40:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send AnthroGeek a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Makes me wonder if the Chinese originally used a similar popping process with sorghum prior to maize introduction?

While maize was introduce after the 1500's to China, sorghum has been domesticated in the Old World since around 4000 BCE and as far back as 8000 BCE as a wild grain. It seems to have been in India by 1700 BCE, so I am not quite sure as to its introduction to China.

The Chinese also have traditional alcoholic beverages made with sorghum and with out my giant food dictionaries and other food related sources on hand(plus I am on way to class atm with little time to goggle through journals atm)I will have to look into the matter later on. But I would not be surprised in the least to see this as an adaptation of an already existing preparation technique.

A series of fun one-liners about various pseudoscientific claims and, even better, a concise description of the scientific method - Ken Feder on Skeptic Friends Network from "Frauds, Myths and Mysteries"
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Baxter
Skeptic Friend

USA
131 Posts

Posted - 12/02/2009 :  13:01:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Baxter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That figures, since the Chinese invented fireworks.

"We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can't scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me." ~from Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

"We can be as honest as we are ignorant. If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know." ~Robert G. Ingersoll
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