1567: "Kitchen Tips"

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xtifr
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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby xtifr » Sat Sep 05, 2015 8:09 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:Fish is a kind of meat.

Biologically yes, in a culinary sense, not particularly [...]

This is a distinction that eludes many people. Take the classic question, "is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit?" Many people answer "fruit" because biologically, a tomato is indeed a fruit, but they never stop to think, "what does biology define as a vegetable?" The answer is: plant, and tomatoes are indeed part of the vegetable kingdom. So both answers would be correct in biological terms, and saying, "it's a fruit, not a vegetable" (as many people do) is simply wrong. (And merely saying "it's a fruit" is at best incomplete and highly misleading.)

Beyond that though, pretty much all fruits are members of the vegetable kingdom. The exceptions are primarily fungi, and if the question were about biology, then it would be easier just to ask, "is a tomato a vegetable or a fungus?" So, if it's a sincere question, then it almost certainly about culinary classification. And culinarily, a tomato is indeed a vegetable, not a fruit. In fact, culinarily, many fungi are classified as vegetables. And rhubarb is often classified as a fruit, despite not meeting the biological definition.

Bottom line: if you think "is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit?" is a sincere question, you should respond "vegetable." If you think it's a trick question, you should answer "both." Under no conceivable set of circumstances is "fruit" a correct answer.
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mathmannix
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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby mathmannix » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:23 pm UTC

xtifr wrote:
Quercus wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:Fish is a kind of meat.

Biologically yes, in a culinary sense, not particularly [...]

This is a distinction that eludes many people. Take the classic question, "is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit?" Many people answer "fruit" because biologically, a tomato is indeed a fruit, but they never stop to think, "what does biology define as a vegetable?" The answer is: plant, and tomatoes are indeed part of the vegetable kingdom. So both answers would be correct in biological terms, and saying, "it's a fruit, not a vegetable" (as many people do) is simply wrong. (And merely saying "it's a fruit" is at best incomplete and highly misleading.)

Beyond that though, pretty much all fruits are members of the vegetable kingdom. The exceptions are primarily fungi, and if the question were about biology, then it would be easier just to ask, "is a tomato a vegetable or a fungus?" So, if it's a sincere question, then it almost certainly about culinary classification. And culinarily, a tomato is indeed a vegetable, not a fruit. In fact, culinarily, many fungi are classified as vegetables. And rhubarb is often classified as a fruit, despite not meeting the biological definition.

Bottom line: if you think "is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit?" is a sincere question, you should respond "vegetable." If you think it's a trick question, you should answer "both." Under no conceivable set of circumstances is "fruit" a correct answer.


Yeah, that question/distinction has always bothered me. From a biology standpoint, it's the same as asking "is a carrot a vegetable or a root?" Or just asking "Is a carrot a vegetable?" and if someone says "Yes", then saying "No, haha, it's a root!" Dumb, why can't it be both? Are vegetables defined to be edible parts of plants which are not (biologically) fruit? [1] Some (commonly-classified) vegetables are fruits (including tomatoes, peppers, and squash, and to many people, corn), some are roots, some are stalks, some are leaves, some are flower buds, etc., etc.

But most non-biologists separate vegetables and fruits into two, not really that distinct, groups, based mostly on the idea that vegetables are not as sweet as fruit (or are "yucky" or "rabbit food".) So yes, tomatoes are vegetables, because they go better (to many Americans, anyway) in lettuce salads than fruit salads.

[1] - No.
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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby Quercus » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:44 pm UTC

xtifr wrote:"is a tomato a vegetable or a fungus?"

Depends how long ago I bought it.

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mathmannix
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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby mathmannix » Thu Sep 10, 2015 2:00 pm UTC

Oh, I should add to my previous rant, that mushrooms are also commonly considered vegetables, despite being fungi. But they go in garden salads or on burgers, so there you are. And I guess vegetables can even include animals, if the sea cucumber is an example! (Kelp can be a vegetable too. Wikipedia says it's in the Kingdom "Chromalveolata", but I think it's a plant in the traditional five-kingdom system I adhere to.)
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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby Quercus » Thu Sep 10, 2015 2:27 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Kelp can be a vegetable too. Wikipedia says it's in the Kingdom "Chromalveolata", but I think it's a plant in the traditional five-kingdom system I adhere to.

You do realise that taxonomically the five kingdom system is utterly broken, don't you? I mean, kelp, a red alga, is a plant in that system, but it's far more closely related to some things that are fungi in that system (e.g. water molds) and some things that are protists (e.g. diatoms) than the bulk of what are considered plants in the five-kingdom system.

Even modern clade based systems are broken to a degree (because the evidence for deep level genetic relatedness is often ambiguous), but they at least make an attempt to keep all the groups as monophyletic as they can.

(as you can tell, I'm a pretty hard-line cladist).

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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Sep 10, 2015 5:03 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:
mathmannix wrote:Kelp can be a vegetable too. Wikipedia says it's in the Kingdom "Chromalveolata", but I think it's a plant in the traditional five-kingdom system I adhere to.

You do realise that taxonomically the five kingdom system is utterly broken, don't you? I mean, kelp, a red alga, is a plant in that system, but it's far more closely related to some things that are fungi in that system (e.g. water molds) and some things that are protists (e.g. diatoms) than the bulk of what are considered plants in the five-kingdom system.

Even modern clade based systems are broken to a degree (because the evidence for deep level genetic relatedness is often ambiguous), but they at least make an attempt to keep all the groups as monophyletic as they can.

(as you can tell, I'm a pretty hard-line cladist).


Cladistic definitons are useful if you think relatedness is important. If you're more interested in what something is like now, it makes sense to classify something plantlike as a plant even if it's just an example of convergent evolution.

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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Sep 10, 2015 5:54 pm UTC

In the five and six kingdom systems, kelp is in kingdom protista (or protozoa).

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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Sep 10, 2015 6:11 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:Cladistic definitons are useful if you think relatedness is important. If you're more interested in what something is like now, it makes sense to classify something plantlike as a plant even if it's just an example of convergent evolution.

So whales are fish after all then?
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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Sep 10, 2015 6:33 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:Cladistic definitons are useful if you think relatedness is important. If you're more interested in what something is like now, it makes sense to classify something plantlike as a plant even if it's just an example of convergent evolution.

So whales are fish after all then?

Depends what your interest in the question is - if you're curious about things you might find in the sea, then, sure, not much point distinguishing whales from fish, turtles, crustaceans, or any other self-mobile oceanic organism. If you care about how to catch them, how to cook them, or the details of their daily life, then it's worth categorising them more finely.

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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby mathmannix » Thu Sep 10, 2015 7:05 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:In the five and six kingdom systems, kelp is in kingdom protista (or protozoa).

I thought protists (as well as monerans, the fifth kingdom) were strictly monocellular. Is kelp a colony of monocellular organisms, some of which are specialized (as in the ones that are rootlike or seedlike)? Because that was not my understanding of kelp.
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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby xtifr » Thu Sep 10, 2015 9:48 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote: Are vegetables defined to be edible parts of plants which are not (biologically) fruit?


In the culinary taxonomy (which is unrelated to biological taxonomy), edible plants and fungi are generally divided into five groups, not two: fruits (sweet), grains, nuts, spices (generally, plants used only in small amounts for their aromatic qualities), and vegetables (everything which doesn't fit in the previous categories, including fungi). Legumes may be considered a separate category, or lumped in with vegetables. Grains and nuts, however, are basically always distinct from fruits or vegetables. If there were a sweet, edible fungus, it would probably be classified as a fruit. (Non-edible plants are, of course, not classified at all under this taxonomy.)

The culinary taxonomy is used by professional cooks. It is not just some arbitrary "common" definition. It's less formal than biological taxonomy, and it can have flexibility that a proper science wouldn't allow (e.g. peppers may be a spice or a vegetable, depending on the type and application), but it's formal enough to count as a proper taxonomy.

And, of course, common speech may use terms from either the biological or culinary taxonomies, which is why all the confusion about tomatoes exists.
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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby Quercus » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:27 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:Cladistic definitons are useful if you think relatedness is important. If you're more interested in what something is like now, it makes sense to classify something plantlike as a plant even if it's just an example of convergent evolution.

What something is like now in what sense though? Sure, kelp are plantlike at a large scale, but their biochemistry is significantly different in quite a lot of ways that belie this superficial classification (what accessory pigments they use in photosynthesis, how their chloroplasts are constructed, how their cell walls are made, their growth patterns etc. etc.).

Molecular cladistics is the only methodology that (mostly) leads to a sensible classification at all scales of biology, and can be relied upon not to give utterly silly conclusions if used to make inferences on characteristics that were not originally included in the classification. In other words it's the only classification scheme with any real degree of predictive power.

Perhaps I spoke too harshly when I said that the five kingdoms system is taxonomically broken - I should have added a "for doing biology" in there, because as a way of classifying what things look like at large scales it works just fine, I guess. That doesn't really seem very useful compared to cladistic systems for actually doing any biology though. I'll also acknowledge that I'm a geneticist and a molecular biologist by training, and that's the perspective I'm coming at this from - other schemes may be useful in areas of biology which I'm not familiar with.

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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Sep 11, 2015 2:22 am UTC

mathmannix wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:In the five and six kingdom systems, kelp is in kingdom protista (or protozoa).

I thought protists (as well as monerans, the fifth kingdom) were strictly monocellular. Is kelp a colony of monocellular organisms, some of which are specialized (as in the ones that are rootlike or seedlike)? Because that was not my understanding of kelp.

Well it depends on your definition, and this kind of relates to the confusion discussed above. Kelp are multicellular and to some extent specialized but do not form tissues. Their morphology and color do not really resemble any plants I know of. If unicellularity were the only defining feature of protists, then wouldn't Volvox be an animal? That doesn't seem right.

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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby Quercus » Fri Sep 11, 2015 8:29 am UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:If unicellularity were the only defining feature of protists, then wouldn't Volvox be an animal? That doesn't seem right.

May I just take this opportunity to do a shout-out for Volvox:- Volvox is awesome (and also a plant, y'know, speaking cladistically).

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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:15 pm UTC

Should probably be noted that kelp don't have "rootlike" structures in the first place, or a vascular system to make any imagined root system useful at drawing water up from the ground, which is luckily not really a problem kelp have. The stringy bits at the bottom are just a holdfast.
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Re: 1567: "Kitchen Tips"

Postby mathmannix » Mon Sep 14, 2015 3:41 pm UTC

Hmm, now that I think about it, I do recall learning that "algae" were in three different kingdoms - blue-green algae in Monera, green algae (including Volvox) in Plantae, and I guess brown algae in Protista. Not sure about red algae, but I think it's a plant given those three choices. (There definitely weren't any algae that were Fungi or Animalia!)
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