In the U.S., most of us are pretty far removed from our food. Meat comes in neat, plastic-wrapped styrofoam packages, bread is presliced in a bag, milk comes in a big paper carton.
It's only in the past few years that I've started thinking about where my food comes from. (Don't worry, I'm not climbing on a soapbox here. No organic/ethical/sustainable discussion ahead.)
The other night I was at a potluck dinner for a YP group. One of the guys asked me how to make soup.
"What kind of soup?" I asked back.
"Any soup," he said.
I summed up making chicken soup, thinking he was just asking to see whether I knew how.
It turned out that he didn't realize there was such a thing as stock or broth. He thought you just somehow turned vegetables into soup. He couldn't comprehend how the vegetables could produce so much liquid. So we started discussing broth and how to make it. Soon, a bunch of us were talking about foods whose origins we never understood.
Some really interesting questions were posed about the origins of flour, sugar, boullion cubes, etc. I recently read "Twinkie, Deconstructed," so I understand the basics.
My confession was, by far, the funniest (saddest?) bit of food ignorance.
In high school, we learned about fast- and slow-twitch muscles and our teacher pointed out that that's why we have dark and light meat. My jaw dropped.
"So, you mean, muscle is meat?" I asked, immediately regretting having opened my mouth.
He laughed -- and so did many members of the class. (I grew up a "townie" in a farm town.) I thought there was a special part of the animal called "flesh" that produced meat. I thought it was a special organ. I had never once in my 15 1/2 years thought about where my food came from. (Coincidentally, it was shortly after that when I first decided to try vegetarianism for unrelated reasons.)
Is there some food whose origins you ponder? I've told you mine. What about yours? Go ahead, mock me. It's OK. I've since learned. :)