Now that we have a domain redirect and a site name, I plan to be a little more active about sharing and proselytizing. What are some of the best questions that really show the value of the site when talking to someone about this place?

I think Aaronut had some good suggestions in the too subjective question. What else works?

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    I'm going to try to hunt down a bunch over the next few days; I'm also going to clean up a few of my quick-and-dirty answers to interesting questions (for example, that one about applesauce and oil) so that they're more presentable. We've got a ton of great questions but several do need some cleanup before I'd personally be comfortable "showing them off." – Aaronut Oct 18 '10 at 14:11

I really like How can you reduce the heat of a chilli pepper because it has a great answer that was almost the opposite of what I expected, and is probably common knowledge in a lot of the world.

also Why did my banana catch fire in the microwave as its an interesting answer, but also the other answer was interesting too

  • I'm actually wary of the banana one because even though it's a fun question, I'm still not sure that the answer is correct in spite of being highly-voted. I rarely have criticism for hobodave or any of his posts - but I challenged him to back up or elaborate on his answer and didn't really get a satisfactory response. Maybe the answer is 100% correct, but I worry that promoting it without knowing for sure might backfire and that somebody "in the know" could blog that we're all morons. – Aaronut Oct 19 '10 at 20:07
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    I agree with @Aaronut, which is why I haven't accepted hobodave's answer. I meant to experiment with some more frozen bananas, but we ate them all before I had a chance to try and set them on fire again. – yossarian Oct 19 '10 at 20:28
  • @Aaron: I provided a reference in my answer, the frozen vegetable sparking which referenced the USDA. As a rule, I ignore challenges to things that I have already provided supporting evidence of, and don't have personal expertise in. (I got an A in university organic chemistry -- that is the extent of my expertise (lack)). – hobodave Oct 19 '10 at 23:43
  • @hobodave: I did see that reference but am not sure that I find a PR statement particularly satisfying as supporting evidence. Again, if what's being said is true with no strings attached, then why doesn't ordinary salt do the same thing? Something's missing. If you guys want to promote the question/answer I can't stop you but the whole thing just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth, like security holes getting voted up on Stack Overflow. It sounds plausible but there's no actual scientific evidence, just a public statement from some company's marketing department. – Aaronut Oct 20 '10 at 3:23
  • @Aaron: The article references USDA statements, not just General Mills. I don't really care about the promotion of the question. I just find it puzzling that you would suggest that my answer were somehow subpar based on "I don't feel entirely convinced by this". A 60 second Google expedition uncovers the direct references by both of our governments. – hobodave Oct 20 '10 at 5:57
  • Not to mention the tacit acceptance by our resident physicist (dmckee). – hobodave Oct 20 '10 at 6:00
  • I updated with more references. – hobodave Oct 20 '10 at 6:36
  • @hobodave: To be clear, I don't think it's outright wrong, just incomplete. It doesn't actually explain anything because many things we put in the microwave contain various metal compounds. Bananas don't contain pure potassium, they contain stable molecules. If it's simply due to the metal content then clearly something is causing the molecules to become unstable, releasing just enough pure metal to arc. I trust the USDA on food safety issues but find their explanation of this phenomenon to be quite lacking; answers like the dielectric antenna effect seem more plausible. – Aaronut Oct 20 '10 at 14:26
  • Try not to be offended or puzzled @hobodave; I recognize that you sourced your claim, I just don't like the source. The question is really getting into physics/chemistry, and answers on chemistry/physics from a health agency are about as satisfying as answers on food safety from a physics lab. – Aaronut Oct 20 '10 at 14:29

A great "representative" question should meet all of the following requirements:

  1. It is of general interest to a recognizable subset of the culinary community. Mass appeal appeal is not required, but "what went wrong with my recipe?" questions generally don't fit the bill - although we might want to pick one or two, just to show that they get answered nevertheless.

  2. It has a highly-voted or accepted answer that is not just good, but illuminating. We don't want the kind of Q&A where people read it and go, "Yeah, that makes sense." We want people to read it and go "Wow, I never would have figured that out!"

  3. It is not already trivial to answer with Google or another well-known site (Wikipedia, stilltasty, chowhound, etc.) We want questions that show not only that we're good but also unique.

Please let's not make this into a poll. Instead, add your own examples to this answer, along with a short (one reasonably-sized paragraph) explanation of why you think it fits the bill. The starter list is taken from yossarian's link in the question - I picked my top 3.

  • Why can applesauce be used in place of oil?

    There is an astounding amount of awful misinformation to be found on the internet about this substitution. All of the top Google results are total crap; none explain anything in detail and most give advice that's naïve or just plain wrong. I (Aaronut) have beefed up my answer with a bunch of sources and tried to set the record straight; fact-checking is, of course, welcome.

  • Pasta: Simmering Water or Rolling Boil?

    Almost everybody makes pasta from time to time, and although you can find reasonably-correct information on Google, most of the hits don't tell you the whole story. I think our question does an excellent job of highlighting the competing viewpoints (as separate answers) and their relative merits without overwhelming the reader.

  • Why do some recipes recommend Kosher salt?

    Nowhere else have I found this kind of information, and yet it's very important to know if you have a recipe calling for kosher salt (and most people who cook regularly will have seen at least one).

  • How Could I Make Stuffed French Fries?

    I love a bunch of things about this question. A google search is useless as it's a relatively original idea and the words are so common. A search for "Stuffed French Fries" either in quotes or out turns up nothing of value on page 1, except this question which is ranked 1st. Most of all, someone in the community who's in the restaurant industry thought it was interesting, didn't know the answer, and spent a day playing around with techniques, eventually landing on one.

  • How can I make a chocolate cup that looks like the seaweed on a sushi roll?

    This is another "Seasoned Advice Original" in that it's high on the "cool factor" and you won't get many other Google hits on it. Great for showing how we're about much more than bland and generic home cooking.

  • You guys have gotta help me out here - this won't be much good if it's just a list of my favourite questions. So keep your eyes peeled, at least! I know we have a lot more questions that are up to snuff but don't have unlimited time to go through our archive. – Aaronut Oct 19 '10 at 17:42

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