Charcoal in food…what is all the fuss about?

In Dining to Tell 

Why are people so obsessed with charcoal and is it good for you?

There are numerous bizarre food trends out there, avocado chocolate puddings, insect candies and bacon ice cream to name a few. However, for the past few months a noticeable trend has been towards using charcoal as a health supplement, whether it is to whiten your teeth or flavour your lemonade.

It is easy to see why a pitch-black food can be eye catching but is that really all this trend is about or is it actually good for you?

We at Dine in the City have done a bit of research and we hope to answer some of your burning questions!

A little bit of science!

When you order up your noir ice cream it will contain something called activated charcoal. But what does that mean?

Basically the charcoal is activated because it carries a negative charge; this means that it will bond with positive charged ions and naturally removed them from your body. These positively charged ions come in the form of ‘bad or toxic chemicals, acting as a sort of detox method. (It is important to note that just eating large quantities of charcoal will be very bad for your health…not too mention pretty unpleasant to the taste.)

The charcoal you eat from restaurants and food trucks is made from burnt wood or coconut shells. If you are planning to try cooking with it yourself please do make sure it is safe to eat and don’t use BBQ coals!!! When you buy a food with the active charcoal ingredient it is in a relatively low quantity and safe for you to ingest, providing a simple yet potentially effective detox method.

So, does it work? The answer to this is pretty much the usual yes and no. Whilst it will help to remove some toxins from your system it can also remove some good nutrients at the same time. In short while charcoal will definitely help to increase your Instagram following it probably won’t make a massive difference to your health.

How about the taste?

This food trend first reared its head at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice cream Parlour in New York, with their black coconut ash ice cream. Described as a giving the dessert a creamier taste but also a slightly grainy texture, however, it instantly became a hit, possibly due to its dramatic visual! Soon many trendy locations were touting their own version of these charcoal black foods now you can find everything from charcoal lemonade to blackened bagels!

I recently was given a tasting of a charcoal lemonade down at the Marina’s new food truck area, I have to say I am not a massive fan of lemonade as it tends to be too tart, but, the one I tried was pretty tasty! Whether this was due to the charcoal or not I would happily return there and order another glass, perfect for warm Dubai evenings!

At the moment the jury seems to be out on how much charcoal adds to your food, some believe it is the new health trend set to lengthen our lives whereas others see it as a great marketing tool, but a word of advice…I have discovered unanimously that you should be very careful when eating it on a first date, or at least carry a mirror!

Where to find charcoal cuisine in Dubai

The activated charcoal trend seems to be slowly gaining traction in the UAE but is still in the experimental stage. However, where it is clearly gaining popularity is in the food truck community, a concept that has thankfully really taken off over here! So, if you are a fan of food trucks then there are numerous unique lemonades and ice creams for you to try out. Head over to the Last Exit food truck station just off Sheikh Zayed road towards Abu Dhabi and have a bit of an experiment! Or pop over to the ever-popular Zabeel Ripe Market there are plenty of delicious treats for you to taste!

So, if you are out there and you spot some of the charcoal blackened foods in Dubai then Instagram them and tag us in them! We look forward to seeing your photos!

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