Just last weekend, we had our Mt. Ugu climb (which I’m yet to blog about) and this question really bothered me the whole time while I was frustratingly waiting for our dinner to get cooked. It took us really a loooong time to have at least the rice get done.
I can’t remember on how many times I told Neri, our cook for that night, “ok na yan”. But she kept on insisting that it’s still raw, which was true when I checked on it. I know how she really wanted us to get served with good food after that long trek. But then again, we had to eat and satisfy our already hungry stomach. My frustration got more intense when our supposedly ulam for that night, Pork Nilaga also didn’t turn out well. Despite the fact that I’ve precooked the pork, and we already reboiled it, it didn’t get any softer. Factor in the cold temperature, the meat got tougher. So we had to resort with just the sabaw plus the vegetables in it.
Being a graduate of an Engineering course, I was trying to recall my Thermodynamics class. I just know for a fact that the higher the altitude, the lower the pressure gets. I also remember one of the Gas Laws which relates the direct proportionality of pressure to temperature. Which means that the lower the pressure gets, the lower the temperature gets as well. So if you’re at the sea level where the boiling point is at 100 degree Celsius, expect that at the top of a mountain, it runs below 100 degrees. Boiling therefore, where we see the bubbles coming out, is a function of air pressure and not the temperature. Thus, on why pressure cookers were invented. For Mt.Ugu with 2150 MASL, my estimate boiling temperature would be at around 90 degree Celsius. That answered my bothersome question on why despite the fact that I saw the rice boiling, it turned out raw still.
In a nutshell, it is the time that goes along with the temperature that gets the food cooked and not the boiling per se. Cooking in the mountains, therefore, like walking along a very long trail requires big amount of patience and determination. Good thing, Science has its way of explaining it. 😀