We all know the importance of water for hygiene, hydration and cleaning, but it also plays an integral role as an ingredient in cooking.
Don’t believe us? Just ask the folks in St. Louis or Denver.
Considered one of four “Ramen Gods” in Japan, Shigetoshi Nakamura believes, “Ramen is only as good as the water it’s made with. Cooking with hard, mineral-dense water gives ramen broth a grayish-brown hue instead of a more desirable milky-white. Likewise, ramen noodles require water with precisely calibrated alkaline levels.” Which just so happens to be the case in St. Louis’s water. In 2019, Food & Wine ranked the city America’s fifth-best place to eat in the country.
It’s hardly a coincidence that the water in St. Louis is widely considered among the country’s best, including in 2001 when the Chain of Rocks and Howard Bend water treatment plants garnered the Director’s Award for treatment optimization from AWWA’s Partnership for Safe Water. The Partnership for Safe Water also recognized the water produced by all four of the Missouri American Water Company’s treatment plants with 15-year Director’s Awards – something achieved by less than one percent of the country’s water utilities.
It’s not just St. Louis’ ramen that’s benefitted from the water’s excellence.
Loryn Nalic, co-owner of Balkan Treat Box, earned a James Beard nomination for Best Chef-Midwest in February 2020.
“The taste and texture of bread can easily get thrown off if you’re cooking with hard water. I’ve made my recipes in California, and they don’t turn out the same,” said Nalic. “Given our day-to-day process always starts with flour and water, we’re very grateful to call St. Louis home.”
About 850 miles west, in Denver, a transplanted New Yorker in search of bagels like those he grew up with in New Jersey, researched the water in his new home.
“The levels of calcium and magnesium were starkly different between Colorado and NY’s water. After I figured out the difference I engaged with a water company to create a machine that recreates NY’s water chemistry,” said Josh Pollack, the owner of Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen.
After finding success with bagels, Pollack used the same water to recreate pizza dough that reminds him of home.
A key component of cleaning, hydrating and hygiene and a super ingredient - is there anything your water can’t do?