A cautionary tale to cookbook authors, publishers and recipe-writers (oh hey, that's me
) everywhere: don't instruct your readers to deep-fry with oil so hot it'll cause explosions, fire and maim your trusting audience.
Hispanically Speaking News reports that yesterday, Chile's Supreme Court upheld a ruling that the daily newspaper La Tercera must pay damages to 13 people injured in explosions that resulted by following their 2004 directions for a fritters recipe.
The case dates back to July 25, 2004, when La Tercera published in its women's supplement a recipe for caramel-filled fritters that called for frying a mass of dough at a temperature of 250 C (482 F).
The procedure set down in the recipe produced "explosions so violent that the splatters reached the ceiling and bathed the person preparing it," investigating magistrate Ximena Diaz concluded in 2008 after a four-year investigation.
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Where did things go wrong? Cooking oils have different smoke points, but many are smoking-hot and dangerous by 425 degrees. Cooking cold, moist foods at that temperature will cause intense spattering and boil-overs in a too-small pot, which the stove would then ignite.
Cooking at oil that's 482 F degrees might do even more damage: superheated oil vapors above the oil have the potential to ignite, explode, and set the pot full of hot oil on fire as well.
According to Hispanically Speaking News, the 13 individual plaintiffs will receive damages ranging from 1 million to 25 million pesos ($1,923 to $48,076).