Searing cold

Wind whips at bare knuckles and flicks the ends of noses in a most unkind way these days. Meanwhile cold, its host, attacks the rest of the outer layers with the same mischievousness. And so you move faster and faster toward your cozy destination, heating up the core. As many a biker has experienced, you more often than not arrive with the part under your coat sweaty and any exposed skin dry and cracking.

Cold, it occurred to me today, is the opposite of the cook’s definition of searing–to expose the outsides of something to high heat while keeping the inside cool. In the case of tuna and other foods, this technique turns the outside an opaque white while the inner sanctum remains pink, uncooked. This also opposes the experience of cold weather, when it’s one’s outsides that end up the color of salmon sashimi. Why, then, does it sound so fitting to call the frigid weather searing?

Well, the purpose of searing is to seal in the juices ; keeping them tasty and viable for further cooking or immediate eating (that’s what they say, even if it’s not true). Similarly, when you get to the cozy place, having your juices intact will be the important thing. At least that’s my theory.

One language mystery solved…


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