Good Eats Moments

    These moments aired on the Food Network in 2007.

Cry Me An Onion

Announcer: Here's a Good Eats moment with Alton Brown

    Ever wonder why cutting an onion can feel like a tear gas attack?  Because, when you cut into an onion, the cells rupture releasing enzymes which break down nearby sulfur compounds into oxides and acids.

Rupture Cells
Oxides / Acids
Nasty Gas

    These re-form to make a nasty gas. This gas move [sic] into your eyes, mixes with your tears and forms sulfuric acid.  Ouch!
    What can you do?  AB is wearing aviator goggles] Well, goggles or a scuba mask would protect your eyes, but you look kind of funny and it's hard to see what your doing. Spritzing vinegar on your cutting board will interrupt the chemical reaction.  But, I think the lingering stink is worse than the tears.
    Cutting near an open flame works surprisingly well.  The flames create convection, pulling in air and most of the fumes, which are then incinerated.
    In the end, tough, a sharp knife it your best defense because it damages fewer cells.  Less damage, less gas, fewer tears.

    Sure you're still going to have a good cry from time to time. But hey, that's life in the big kitchen!

Happiness Is A Sharp Knife


Announcer: Here's a Good Eats moment with Alton Brown.

    Happiness is a sharp knife.  Trouble is, even a great edge won't stay that way if you use it.  Luckily, with some basic blade maintenance, we can help our edges last longer.
    Now, let's say for a moment that this is a sharp knife.  [has a model of an 8 foot long knife] Okay.  Over time, the edge gets bent out of shape.  Oh, it's still there.  It's just not pointing at the food any more.  This is where honing steel can help.

    Hold the steel vertically and lightly pass the knife 5 times down on one side, then 5 times down the other side. Then 2 times again on the first side.  Although a 15 degree angle is considered perfect, just pretend you're trying to cut off a thin slice of the steel.  Do this a few times and month and odds are, you'll be able to go a year between sharpenings.

Don't force blade
against steel …
let gravity do the work.

    What is sharpening?  Well, eventually this edge is going to literally wear away and then material will have to be removed to create a new one.  That is called sharpening and as far as I'm concerned it's best left to professionals.

Announcer: For more, visit  Or, watch Good Eats on Food Network.

Mr. Oatmeal


Announcer: Here's a Food Network Minute with Alton Brown.

    I like to eat a bowl of oatmeal everyday. Problem is, when you travel, it's tough to get your oats on. Or, it used to be. You know just about every Salary Man Motel in the country supplies one of these. [points to coffee pot] And, although it's designed for coffee, it knows its oats.
    All you need is an emergency oatmeal kit. Two packets of oatmeal go into the carafe, along with an individual packet of honey and an individual packet of fruit jam, your choice of flavor. And maybe, just a little bit of salt.
    And now, the secret ingredient, an herbal tea bag—I like orange—goes up into the top of the basket. Pour in 8-10 ounces of water, depending on the consistency you like. Turn on the machine. And in about 5 minutes you've got yourself a perfect pot of oats. And, unlike your average breakfast bowl, it'll stay warm ‘til your good and ready.

Announcer: For more ways to spice up your oatmeal visit And, be sure to watch Good Eats on Food Network.


Smells Like Good Taste

Announcer: Here's a Food Network Minute with Alton Brown.

    Although our brains tell us that our mouths do the tasting. The truth is, the taste buds right here [points to his tong] are blunt instruments compared to the apparatus up here. [points to his nose]
    Now, if you could travel up into your nasal cavity and fight past the hairs and all the other protective barriers, [shakes green slime off his hand] you would eventually find several tiny patches of exposed nerve ending which are actually the only parts of the human brain exposed to open air.
    Now aroma molecules travel up from the mouth and lock on to these nerve endings which kind of examine their shape, and then send the intel off to the brain. Now this is analyzed, of course, along with the more general data from the mouth and a flavor profile is formed.
    If you don't—[pulls one of the nerve endings out] uh, oh—believe that this works, just pinch your nose, and taste the peach, and then let go. See? Your nose, knows.

Announcer: Want some ideas on how to tantalize your taste buds? Visit And, be sure to watch Good Eats on Food Network.

Timid Cook Theater: The Caper


Announcer: Here's a Food Network Minute with Alton Brown.

     Welcome to Timid Cook Theater, where less-than-adventurous cooks meet less-than-ordinary ingredients. Today's ingredient: capers!
    Capers are the flower buds of a scrappy Mediterranean shrub called Capparis spinosa which is related to both mustard and wasabi. They can range in size from tiny French non-pariels to big Italian models over 10 millimeters wide.
     Now, whether pickled in a brine or cured in salt, you want to give them a rinse before using. Though I do have to say, the brine is tasty in deviled eggs. Added to end of the cooking process, capers add a mustardy twang to a wide array of dishes: from pasta sauces to scrambled eggs.
    Now, caper berries are the actual fruits of Capparis spinosa. And although they deliver much of the caper's flowery flavor, they are intended for out of hand eating, like olives.
     Now, go get cooking!

Announcer: For recipes featuring capers, visit And, be sure to watch Good Eats on Food Network.

Transcription provided by Dana McDonnell

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Last Edited 08/27/2010