One of my pet peeves is TV chefs throwing the word “carmelization” around everywhere. Sour grapes? Well, yes actually. But just because I’m ticked that Tyler Florence gets to jet around the country making pot-au-feu with pretty single women while I’m sitting at home blogging in my underwear doesn’t mean I’m not entitled to carp about petty inconsistencies. So let’s get down to it.
Caramelization is a term that refers to the browning of sugars. When Tyler Florence (and I don’t mean to single out Tyler Florence per se, I generally like his recipes. He’s also a very good looking man, which I can say because I too am a very good looking man. Really, really good-looking guys like Tyler and I can say things like that about each other without there being any misunderstandings). So where was I? Oh yes, when Tyler Florence is browning a scallop in a pan of butter, what he’s doing is, well…browning, which has nothing to do with caramelization and everything to do with something called the Maillard Reaction. Like caramelization, the Maillard Reaction has to do with a few rather simple and relatively well-understood compounds breaking down into hundreds of confusing and extremely poorly understoond compounds. The whole thing isn’t very well grasped by science. Or perhaps I should say it isn’t very well grasped by me. One thing I do know though, you don’t get caramelization on a steak, unless you’re browning it in a pan of rock candy.
So there I said it. Tyler and I can now get on with our lives.