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FOOD MICROBIOLOGY FOODS MADE BY MICROBES The line between gourmet and rotten food is often a matter of perspective stemming from ones' upbringing and early gastronomic experiences. As discussed previously, one society will consider that slightly rotten pheasant is a taste experience of the highest order, while members of another group will gag at the very thought of it. We Americans use soy sauce in copious quantities on a variety of foods without realizing (or not caring) that it is a mixture of several rotted foods. Cheeses are simply a form of spoiled milk, many of which are covered with the very same molds that we throw out in disgust when we find them growing on our bread or tomatoes. The French and Germans consider snails such a gastronomical delight that they fight local snail-wars over the right to scour the woods for these slimy gastropods. Horse's milk and meat is eaten by more people than eat beef and cow's milk. Insects are a staple of the diet of most non-Westerners. In various parts of the world one can experience the delights of fried grasshoppers, a variety of fat, juicy fried worms and crunchy crickets or water bugs. Some insects are even eaten alive as their flavor is considered the best in this state. Almost all peoples make and enjoy fermented beverages, some of which are produced in unusual ways such as having old women chew up and spit the raw material into containers to aid in the fermentation process. Certain countries consider dog and cat meat a special treat, and monkeys (including chimps --98.6% genetically human) and rats are a common food for many humans around the world. The expensive steaks you purchase in fine restaurants are juicy and tender because they have been hung in the cold room long enough to allow a thick layer of mold to cover the sides of beef; the mold releases proteases that tenderize the meat (you can purchase similar proteases in the store and sprinkle them on your steaks. As I discuss the industrial production of food, it is a good idea to consider the differences between people in a positive light and appreciate that other societies find some of our dietary preferences as disgusting as we find theirs. In the first part of this chapter the industrial production of several common foods will be described. In the second section other industrial uses of microbes will be presented. CHEESE PRODUCTION The discovery of the cheese-making process is very old and certainly was accidental. Early man learned to carry his water, beer and milk in natural containers like animal stomachs, bladders and lengths of intestines tied at the ends. These were tough, water-proof and light, and they could easily be tied around ones neck, shoulder or waist. The stomach of young cattle contains an enzyme, rennin , that cleaves the casein protein of milk making it easier to curdle when microbes convert the lactose sugar in milk to acid; This is the basis of cheese making . A likely scenario is that a calf's stomach, full of milk, was left in a cool corner of a cave or hut for several
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This note was uploaded on 11/27/2011 for the course MCB 2000 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at University of Florida.

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