Chat Leftovers: Microwave popcorn

Looks like Washington weather won’t be cooling off anytime soon, so if you’re entertaining this weekend — or even if you’re not — have we got a menu for you. For our third annual No-Cook Issue, writer Tony Rosenfeld rolls out a four-course feast that won’t require you to light the stove, fire up the grill or even turn on the microwave.

Eat cool, drink cool. In India, they’ve perfected the art of mixing spice and ice to create refreshing beverages, and Visi R. Tilak reveals four of them.

VIENNA, VA, JANUARY 9, 2013: Winter salad of shaved cucumber, radish and endive with lemon vinaigrette. Dishware courtesy of Crate & Barrel. (Photo by ASTRID RIECKEN For The Washington Post)

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Last week’s Food, you might recall, was all about popcorn, and that topic figured heavily in our last chat. Here’s a leftover question we couldn’t get to:

Since we’re talking about popcorn, what’s behind the command to put “THIS SIDE DOWN” on a bag of microwave popcorn? There’s no vent.

Vents have nothing to do with it. Implanted in the bottom of the bag is a strip of metallicized material that absorbs microwaves, heats up and makes the corn pop. In other words, it’s sort of a booster rocket for the oven. You want the contents of the bag to be sitting right on that strip. If you put the bag in upside down, the corn will still pop, but not as evenly, and you’ll end up with more unpopped kernels.

In the interest of science, I just popped some so I could study the insert. I tore open the bottom of the bag and found a square of plastic coated with a metallic finish. It’s laminated between two layers of paper, so presumably you shouldn’t worry about eating metal with your corn. And it popped nearly every kernel.

So now you know.

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