Searching for cyanide

by Justine de Valicourt  Overview Cyanide is a strongly toxic compound that is frequent in nature, including in some plants generally considered safe. We investigated its pathway to have a better understanding of its toxicity. A lot of food contains small concentrations of cyanide in the form of glycosides. When the plant is hurt or chewed a chemical reaction occurs in the harmed cell and the cyanide is released as a natural defense. This poison blocks the cell’s uptake of oxygen, bringing on a cellular condition called histotoxic anoxia, lit. ‘cell toxic lack of oxygen’. The cell is no longer able to produce energy for its normal functions and quickly dies. The human body can detoxify a small amount of cyanide in the liver through a pathway involving a molecule called thiosulfate. Poisoning occurs when there is not enough thiosulfate to neutralise all the cyanide. At low toxic concentrations the … Read more

Blood and egg

by Elisabeth Paul Overview Animal blood has a long culinary history throughout Europe, though recently has become neglected. We are interested in (re)valorising the despised and forgotten, so we had to look deeper into what blood is, how it should be handled, and what to use it for. Its coagulating properties led us to focus on blood as an egg-substitute in sweet products, since egg intolerance is one of the major food allergies affecting children in Europe. In fact, eggs and blood show similar protein compositions, particularly with the albumin that gives both their coagulant properties. Based on these similarities, a substitution ratio of 65g of blood for one egg (approx. 58g), or 43g of blood for one egg white (approx. 33g) can be used in the kitchen. Using this method, we have developed recipes for sourdough-blood pancakes, blood ice cream, blood meringues, and ‘chocolate’ blood sponge cake. A further … Read more