Gastropod Podcast

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Food with a Side of Science & History

Gastropod Website

Who Invented Mac and Cheese?
The warm, gooey dish, a childhood staple across North America, is many things to many people: a mainstay of African-American Sunday dinners, according to soul food expert Adrian Miller; a comforting yet celebratory meal that can be jazzed up in dozens of ways, according to chef and former mac and cheese restaurant owner Allison Arevalo; and …More → The post Who Invented Mac and Cheese? appeared first on Gastropod....

How the Carrot Became Orange, and Other Stories
Thousands of years ago, in what’s now Afghanistan, people unearthed the tangled, gnarled roots of Queen Anne’s Lace—a ubiquitous, hairy-stemmed plant with a spray of tiny white flowers. These fibrous, twisted roots were white and bitter-tasting, but they had an appealing spicy, pine-y, earthy aroma. This was the unpromising ancestor of one of America’s most …More → The post How the Carrot Became Orange, and Other Stories appeared first on Gastropod....

The Incredible Egg
We love eggs scrambled, fried, or poached; we couldn’t enjoy a quiche, meringue, or flan without them. But for scientists and archaeologists, these perfect packages are a source of both wonder and curiosity. Why do eggs come in such a spectacular variety of colors, shapes, and sizes? Why are we stuck mostly eating chicken eggs, …More → The post The Incredible Egg appeared first on Gastropod....

Espresso and Whisky: The Place of Time in Food
Why does fish cook so fast? What’s the “wasabi window”? And can you really make 20-year-old aged whisky in six days? This episode, we’re looking at the role of time in food and flavor: what it does, and how we’ve tried—and sometimes succeeded—to manipulate that. To explore these questions, we visit a whisky time machine tucked …More → The post Espresso and Whisky: The Place of Time in Food appeared first on Gastropod....

Why These Animals?
In the West, when it comes to which meat is for dinner, we nearly always choose beef, pork, or chicken. Yet cows and pigs are only two of more than five thousand of species of mammals, and chicken is one of ten thousand species of birds. Meanwhile, at different times in history and in different …More → The post Why These Animals? appeared first on Gastropod....

Mango Mania: How the American Mango Lost its Flavor—and How it Might Just Get it Back
Mangoes inspire passion, particularly in India, which is home to hundreds of varieties of the fruit. They are celebrated in Indian music, poetry, and art; they are mentioned in Hindu and Buddhist religious texts as well as the Kama Sutra; and Indian expats will even pay hundreds of dollars for a single, air-freighted box of …More → The post Mango Mania: How the American Mango Lost its Flavor—and How it Might Just Get it Back appeared first on Gastropod....

Keeping it Fresh: Preservatives and The Poison Squad
More than a century ago, enterprising manufacturers added brand-new chemical preservatives into food to keep it fresh as it traveled from the farm into rapidly growing American cities. Milk no longer went rancid! Meat no longer spoiled! But some scientists wondered: could all these preservatives be doing more harm than good? It took a crusading …More → The post Keeping it Fresh: Preservatives and The Poison Squad appeared first on Gastropod....

Watch It Wiggle: The Jell-O Story
It’s been described as the ultimate status symbol for the wealthy, as the perfect solution for dieters and the sick, and, confusingly, as a liquid trapped in a solid that somehow remains fluid. What could this magical substance be? In case you haven’t guessed, this episode, we’re talking about Jell-O! Or, to be more precise, …More → The post Watch It Wiggle: The Jell-O Story appeared first on Gastropod....

Out of the Fire, Into the Frying Pan
From rainbow-hued enameled stew pots to lightweight nonstick frying pans, the metal and ceramic vessels we use to heat our food are such an everyday aspect of the kitchen that they’re easy to take for granted. But make no mistake: the invention of the pot was, after fire, one of the most important innovations in …More → The post Out of the Fire, Into the Frying Pan appeared first on Gastropod....

Hotbox: The Oven From Turnspit Dogs to Microwaves
Humans are the only animals that cook their food, an innovation that changed the course of our evolution and the trajectory of the planet. But how did we tame those early cooking fires and put them in a box—and what can subsequent leaps forward in heating technology tell us about cuisines and culture? This episode, …More → The post Hotbox: The Oven From Turnspit Dogs to Microwaves appeared first on Gastropod....

Feed the World: How the U.S. Became the World’s Biggest Food Aid Donor—And Why That Might Not be Such a Great Thing
The United States is, by far, the world’s largest international food aid donor. Almost every year since the 1950s, it has been responsible for more than 50 percent of the billions of tons of food shipped from the parts of the world with a surplus to the parts of the world that are hungry. This …More → The post Feed the World: How the U.S. Became the World’s Biggest Food Aid Donor—And Why That Might Not be Such a Great Thing appeared first on Gastropod....

Ripe for Global Domination: The Story of the Avocado
Avocados are on a roll. More precisely, they’re on toast—a lot of toast. Last summer, British Vogue reported that more than three million new photos of avocado toast are uploaded to Instagram every day. But how did this humble fruit, originally named after testicles, get from its Mexican forest home to a tattoo on Miley …More → The post Ripe for Global Domination: The Story of the Avocado appeared first on Gastropod....

Meet the Man Who Found, Finagled, and Ferried Home the Foods We Eat Today
You’ve probably never heard of David Fairchild. But if you’ve savored kale, mango, peaches, dates, grapes, a Meyer lemon, or a glass of craft beer lately, you’ve tasted the fruits of his globe-trotting travels in search of the world’s best crops—and his struggles to get them back home to the United States. This episode, we …More → The post Meet the Man Who Found, Finagled, and Ferried Home the Foods We Eat Today appeared first on Gastropod....

Who Faked My Cheese?
Cheeeeese: that one word alone causes our stomachs to rumble and mouths to water. The sheer variety of flavors and textures created by only a few ingredients—milk, salt, enzymes, and microbes—is astounding: hard and soft, creamy and crumbly, richly umami and sweetly savory. For thousands of years, humans have been transforming animal milk into one …More → The post Who Faked My Cheese? appeared first on Gastropod....

Marching on our Stomachs: The Science and History of Feeding the Troops
For most of us, eggs are perfect packets of portable protein, and pizza is the lazy option for dinner. For the research team at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, pizza and eggs are two of the most nightmarish food-science challenges of the last fifty years—but the struggle to perfect such dishes for the …More → The post Marching on our Stomachs: The Science and History of Feeding the Troops appeared first on Gastropod....

Cooking the Books with Yotam and Nigella
Who first started collecting recipes into cookbooks? Do cookbooks have a future in a world full of online recipes? And can cookbooks tell us anything about what people are actually eating, or are they simply aspirational food porn? This episode, we explore the past, present, and future of cookbooks, from cuneiform tablets to Hail Marys, …More → The post Cooking the Books with Yotam and Nigella appeared first on Gastropod....

Cutting the Mustard
For some Americans, a trip to the ballpark isn’t complete without the bright yellow squiggle of French’s atop a hotdog. For the French, the slow burn of Dijon is a must-have complement to charcuterie. In the U.K., Sunday’s roast beef is nothing without the punch of Colman’s. Yet few realize that this condiment has been …More → The post Cutting the Mustard appeared first on Gastropod....

Remembrance of Things Pasta: A Saucy Tale
It’s one of food’s most beautiful relationships: pasta and sauce. But which came first—and how on Earth are you supposed to figure out which of those hundreds of shapes to serve with your pesto? With Valentine’s Day round the corner, we bring you the saucy—and occasionally scientific—history of an Italian staple. Listen in now as …More → The post Remembrance of Things Pasta: A Saucy Tale appeared first on Gastropod....

We’ve Lost It: The Diet Episode
Diet dreams are splashed across magazine covers and blare from the T.V., offering tips and tricks, that will, readers and viewers are promised, make weight loss easy and fast. Diet books making similar claims can be found at the top of the best-seller list without fail, every January. But where does this obsession with losing …More → The post We’ve Lost It: The Diet Episode appeared first on Gastropod....

Meet Saffron, the World’s Most Expensive Spice
It’s the poshest spice of all, often worth its weight in gold. But saffron also has a hidden history as a dye, a luxury self-tanner, and even a serotonin stimulant. That’s right, this episode we’re all about those fragile red threads plucked from the center of a purple crocus flower. Listen in as we visit …More → The post Meet Saffron, the World’s Most Expensive Spice appeared first on Gastropod....

Secrets of Sourdough
Today, you can find a huge variety of breads on supermarket shelves, only a few of which are called “sourdough.” For most of human history, though, any bread that wasn’t flat was sourdough—that is, it was leavened with a wild community of microbes. And yet we know surprisingly little about the microbes responsible for raising …More → The post Secrets of Sourdough appeared first on Gastropod....

Green Gold: Our Love Affair with Olive Oil
Olive oil is not what you think it is. According to Tom Mueller, author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, an olive is a stone fruit like a plum or cherry—meaning that the green-gold liquid we extract from it “is, quite literally, fruit juice.” And, while we’re blowing your minds, …More → The post Green Gold: Our Love Affair with Olive Oil appeared first on Gastropod....

Women, Food, Power … and Books!
From “The Flintstones” to Focus on the Family, the stereotype has long been that men hunt and provide, while women just stir the pot. Thankfully, today many women—and men—reject both that biological essentialism and the resulting division of labor. But what can science tell us about the role our earliest female ancestors played in providing …More → The post Women, Food, Power … and Books! appeared first on Gastropod....

Crantastic: The Story of America’s Berry
It’s nearly Thanksgiving, which, for most Americans, marks the one time a year their dinner table is adorned with jewel-like cranberries, simmered into a delicious sauce. But hundreds of years ago, cranberry sauce was a mainstay of daily meals, all around the U.S. How did this acidic, tannic berry, so hard to love in its …More → The post Crantastic: The Story of America’s Berry appeared first on Gastropod....

Cannibalism: From Calories to Kuru
For most of us, it’s unthinkable: human is never what’s for dinner. Sorry to burst any bubbles, but this episode, we discover that not only is cannibalism widespread throughout the natural world, but it’s also much more common among our own kind than we like to think. Spiders and sharks do it; so have both …More → The post Cannibalism: From Calories to Kuru appeared first on Gastropod....

Eataly World and the Future of Food Shopping
In just over a month, the world’s first theme park devoted entirely to Italian food will open its doors—and Gastropod has the scoop! Among Eataly World‘s delights will be hunt-your-own truffles, baby lambs, beach volleyball, and custom Bianchi shopping bike-carts. But there’s a bigger story, and it’s that Oscar Farinetti, the founder of the Eataly …More → The post Eataly World and the Future of Food Shopping appeared first on Gastropod....

What the Fluff is Marshmallow Creme?
If you’re not from New England, you may never have heard of Fluff, or its legendary sandwich-based incarnation, the Fluffernutter. The sticky sweet marshmallow creme was invented exactly one hundred years ago in Somerville, Massachusetts—at the time, the Silicon Valley of candy innovation. To celebrate, we’re diving into the history of the disruptive technologies that …More → The post What the Fluff is Marshmallow Creme? appeared first on Gastropod....

Lunch Gets Schooled
Across the United States, school lunch is being transformed, as counties and cities partner with local farms to access fresh vegetables, as well as hire chefs to introduce tastier and more adventurous meals. This is a much-needed correction after decades of processed meals that contained little in the way of nutrition and flavor. But how …More → The post Lunch Gets Schooled appeared first on Gastropod....

Sour Grapes: The History and Science of Vinegar
It’s found in almost every home, whether it’s destined to dress salads or clean surfaces and kill fruit flies. But, effective as it is at those tasks, most of us struggle to get excited about vinegar. Today, however, a handful of enthusiasts and entrepreneurs are trying to launch a vinegar renaissance—one in which we appreciate …More → The post Sour Grapes: The History and Science of Vinegar appeared first on Gastropod....

The Birds and The Bugs
Chicken is such a mainstay of the contemporary American dinner table that it seems hard to imagine that, just a century ago, it was rare and expensive. But over the course of the 20th century, both chickens and the chicken industry exploded in size. Much of that growth can be attributed to the miraculous properties …More → The post The Birds and The Bugs appeared first on Gastropod....

It’s Tea Time: Pirates, Polyphenols, and a Proper Cuppa
This week, Gastropod tells the story of two countries and their shared obsession with a plant: Camellia sinensis, otherwise known as the tea bush. The Chinese domesticated tea over thousands of years, but they lost their near monopoly on international trade when a Scottish botanist, disguised as a Chinese nobleman, smuggled it out of China in …More → The post It’s Tea Time: Pirates, Polyphenols, and a Proper Cuppa appeared first on Gastropod....

Peanuts: Peril and Promise
Despite their diminutive scale, peanuts play an outsized role in American culture. Peanut butter has long been a mainstay of the American lunchbox, with its sticky, slightly sweet nuttiness flavoring the memories of generation after generation of kids. And it’s hard to imagine ballgames without, as the song goes, peanuts and Cracker Jacks (which, of course, also …More → The post Peanuts: Peril and Promise appeared first on Gastropod....

Fake Food
Hamburgers that turn out to be horse, not beef. Honey sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Old, grey olives dipped in copper sulfate solution to make them look fresh and green. Fraudulent foods such as these make up as much as five to ten percent of the offerings on supermarket shelves, according to experts—but which food is …More → The post Fake Food appeared first on Gastropod....

Here’s Why You Should Care About Southern Food
The food of the South is one of the most complicated, complex, contradictory cuisines in the U.S. This is the region where a monumental mixing of crops and culinary traditions gave way to one of the most punishing, damaging monocultures in the country; where food born in violence and slavery led to delicious, nutritious dishes. …More → The post Here’s Why You Should Care About Southern Food appeared first on Gastropod....

Better Believe It’s Butter
Butter is beautiful: solid golden bars add the perfect flakiness to pastry, give cake a delightfully tender springiness, and melt mouth-wateringly onto toast. But unlike its cousin, cheese—another concentrated, solidified form of milk—we don’t tend to think of butter as something that’s available in hundreds of varieties, each with a different flavor, color, and texture. …More → The post Better Believe It’s Butter appeared first on Gastropod....

Meet Koji, Your New Favorite Fungus
It’s impossible to imagine Japanese meals without soy sauce, or the umami-rich fermented bean paste called miso, or the rice-based spirit known as sake. Which means that Japanese cuisine depends on the one fungus that enables the fermentation of all these delicious foods: koji. Today, American chefs are discovering what Asian cooks have known for centuries, that …More → The post Meet Koji, Your New Favorite Fungus appeared first on Gastropod....

V is for Vitamin
They’re added to breakfast cereal, bread, and even Pop-Tarts, giving the sweetest, most processed treats a halo of health. Most people pop an extra dose for good measure, perhaps washing it down with fortified milk. But what are vitamins—and how did their discovery make America’s processed food revolution possible? On this episode of Gastropod, author …More → The post V is for Vitamin appeared first on Gastropod....

Hacking Taste
Taste is the oldest of our five senses, and yet perhaps the least understood. It’s far more complicated than salty versus sweet: new research is dramatically expanding our knowledge of taste, showing that it’s intimately connected to obesity, mood, immunity, and more. In this episode, we get into the science of how taste works, why we taste what we do, and …More → The post Hacking Taste appeared first on Gastropod....

Cork Dork: Inside the Weird World of Wine Appreciation
“There’s the faintest soupçon of asparagus and just a flutter of Edam cheese,” says Paul Giamatti in the movie Sideways. Believe it or not, he’s describing pinot noir, not quiche. The world of sommeliers, wine lists, and tasting notes is filled with this kind of language, prices seemingly rising in step with the number of …More → The post Cork Dork: Inside the Weird World of Wine Appreciation appeared first on Gastropod....

To Eat or Not to Eat Meat
With flexitarianism on the rise throughout the developed world, and everyone from Bill Clinton to Beyoncé endorsing the benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet, it can sometimes seem as though meat is just a bad habit that the majority of us are too weak-willed to kick. But is giving up meat morally superior, healthier, …More → The post To Eat or Not to Eat Meat appeared first on Gastropod....

We Heart Chocolate
In the weeks before Valentine’s Day, U.S. consumers will buy nearly 58 million pounds of chocolate. This love affair is not limited to just one day or one country: chocolate has spread from its native home in Central and South America to conquer the world. But today, cacao cultivation is facing a series of wicked problems—ones that threaten to …More → The post We Heart Chocolate appeared first on Gastropod....

Inventing the Restaurant: From Bone Broth to Michelin
Early humans may have visited each others’ caves for a shared meal, but they wouldn’t have expected to be served at their own table, or to choose when and what to eat. But today, restaurants are ubiquitous: there are millions of them worldwide, and the average American eats roughly 200 meals a year in one. So …More → The post Inventing the Restaurant: From Bone Broth to Michelin appeared first on Gastropod....

Listener Survey
Our 2017 listener survey is now closed. A huge thanks to all of you who responded—the information you shared will help us keep making the podcast and, we hope, keep making it better! We really appreciate it. The post Listener Survey appeared first on Gastropod....

Gettin’ Fizzy With It
‘Tis the season for a glass of bubbly—but this episode we’re not talking champagne, we’re talking seltzer. America is in the throes of a serious seltzer craze, with consumption of the bubbly stuff doubling in only a decade, from 2004 to 2014. But where does seltzer come from, and why is it called “seltzer,” rather than simply …More → The post Gettin’ Fizzy With It appeared first on Gastropod....

The Spice Curve: From Pepper to Sriracha with Sarah Lohman
American food has a reputation for being bland—but, according to historical gastronomist Sarah Lohman, “It’s nonsense that Americans don’t like spicy food.” Lohman is the author of a new book, Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, which explores the stories behind the flavors that have come to define American cuisine. In this episode, she …More → The post The Spice Curve: From Pepper to Sriracha with Sarah Lohman appeared first on Gastropod....

The Buzz on Honey
Honey seems like a simple, comforting food, slathered on toast, spooned down to soothe sore throats, and beloved of bears, both plush and real. In reality, this sticky combination of bee spit and evaporated nectar is a powerful and ancient ingredient. For much of history, honey was humanity’s main source of sweetness, as well as …More → The post The Buzz on Honey appeared first on Gastropod....

What is Native American Cuisine?
Pasta, sushi, tacos, samosas, and pad thai: In the U.S., enthusiastic eaters will likely be able to name traditional dishes from a wide variety of cuisines around the world. But most of us couldn’t name a single Native American dish from any one the vast network of tribes, cultures, and cuisines that spread across the U.S. …More → The post What is Native American Cuisine? appeared first on Gastropod....

Oysters: History and Science on the Half Shell
We’re living in a golden age for oysters. Just two decades ago, an ostreophile would have thought him or herself lucky to choose among a handful of options; today, in the U.S. alone, hundreds of varieties with exotic names like Moon Shoal, Hama Hama, and Kusshi tempt oyster lovers. What creates all those different flavors and …More → The post Oysters: History and Science on the Half Shell appeared first on Gastropod....

Counting Fish
This week, we are taking on one of the universe’s great mysteries: how many fish are in the sea? If you stop to think about it, it seems almost impossible to figure out how many fish there are—after all, they’re basically invisible, not to mention constantly moving. But how else are we to know how …More → The post Counting Fish appeared first on Gastropod....

Seaweed Special
Seaweed farming is booming: the global harvest has doubled in the past decade, according to a new report from the United Nations University, and it’s now worth more than all the world’s lemons and limes. Most of that seaweed ends up in our food, though there is a growing market in seaweed-based cosmetics and drugs. …More → The post Seaweed Special appeared first on Gastropod....

The Salt Wars
Salt is a magical substance. It reduces bitterness, enhances sweetness, boosts flavor, and preserves perishable foods. Without it, we would die: the human body can’t make sodium, but our nerves and muscles don’t work without it. It was considered rare until quite recently, so it’s hardly surprising that, throughout history, salt has been the engine …More → The post The Salt Wars appeared first on Gastropod....

Kombucha Culture
If you haven’t tasted kombucha yet, you probably will soon. The sour-sweet, fizzy, fermented tea is becoming ubiquitous in trendy cafes, workplaces, and health food stores across America. Where did it come from, and how did it get so popular? And what in the world is the slimy, beige blob that produces it? From German POWs to Lindsey Lohan to a …More → The post Kombucha Culture appeared first on Gastropod....

Keeping Kosher: When Jewish Law Met Processed Food
Roughly two percent of Americans are Jewish, and only a small fraction of them keep kosher. Yet between a third and a half of all packaged food in an American supermarket has a kosher label on it. How did kosher law become big business? Join us this episode as we find out how ancient Jewish dietary …More → The post Keeping Kosher: When Jewish Law Met Processed Food appeared first on Gastropod....

Poultry Power: The Fried Chicken Chronicles
Juicy, crispy, crunchy…fried chicken is undoubtedly delicious. But it’s also complicated, in ways that go far deeper than the science behind that perfect crust. From slavery to entrepreneurship and from yard fowl to Gospel bird, the story of fried chicken is filled with challenging contradictions. Grab a drumstick and listen in. 2016 is, according to Eater, …More → The post Poultry Power: The Fried Chicken Chronicles appeared first on Gastropod....

Outside the Box: The Story of Food Packaging
The invention of food packaging is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. It may seem hard to imagine today, but the first clay pots made the great civilizations of the ancient world possible, while paper’s first use, long before it became a surface for writing, was to wrap food. But packaging’s proliferation, combined with the invention …More → The post Outside the Box: The Story of Food Packaging appeared first on Gastropod....

Who Invented the Cherry Tomato?
In the 1960s, cherry tomatoes were nearly impossible to find in the grocery store. By the 1990s, it was hard to get a salad without them. Somehow, within a couple of decades, the tiny tomatoes had taken over. Where did they come from? And who lay behind their sudden rise to glory? A few years …More → The post Who Invented the Cherry Tomato? appeared first on Gastropod....

Everything Old is Brew Again
Pull up a bar stool and prepare to open both your mind and your palate: it’s time to meet beer before it settled down into the fizzy brown brew we know and love today. The ales in this episode of Gastropod represent the future of flavor, but take their inspiration from the pre-industrial pint. Join …More → The post Everything Old is Brew Again appeared first on Gastropod....

Museums and the Mafia: The Secret History of Citrus
A slice of lime in your cocktail, a lunchbox clementine, or a glass of OJ at breakfast: citrus is so common today that most of us have at least one lurking on the kitchen counter or in the back of the fridge. But don’t be fooled: not only were these fruits so precious that they …More → The post Museums and the Mafia: The Secret History of Citrus appeared first on Gastropod....

Grand Theft Food
It’s easy to assume that burglars and thieves are always after conventional valuables: cash, jewels, or high-end electronics. But some of the most memorable heists actually involve food. Inspired by Geoff Manaugh’s new book, A Burglar’s Guide to the City, we dive into the ancient history and detective science behind food crime. From Spartan hunger games …More → The post Grand Theft Food appeared first on Gastropod....

Caffeine: The World’s Most Popular Drug
A tablespoon of it will kill you, but most of us feel like death without it: we’re talking about caffeine this episode. Inspired by a listener question — does green tea have more or less caffeine than black? and what about yerba mate? — Cynthia and Nicky explore the history and science of the world’s …More → The post Caffeine: The World’s Most Popular Drug appeared first on Gastropod....

The Maple Boom
Many people only think of maple syrup at the breakfast table, when they’re facing down a stack of hot, fluffy pancakes or some French toast. They’re missing out. Maple is undergoing a major boom, newly ascendant in beverage aisles, Asian kitchens, and even biomedical research laboratories. In this episode, we visit sugar shacks and talk …More → The post The Maple Boom appeared first on Gastropod....

First Foods: Learning to Eat
How do we learn to eat? It may seem like an obvious question, but it’s actually quite a complicated process. Who decided that mushed-up vegetables were the perfect first food—and has that always been the case? What makes us like some foods and hate others—and can we change? Join us to discover the back story behind the …More → The post First Foods: Learning to Eat appeared first on Gastropod....

The Food of Love
Throughout history, humans have attributed aphrodisiac powers to certain foods, from legendary lover Casanova’s diet of fifty oysters for breakfast to chocolate, the default Valentine’s Day gift for the uninspired. But how did such varying vegetables as asparagus, potatoes, and Peruvian maca acquire this reputation—and do any of them actually deserve it? Join us to …More → The post The Food of Love appeared first on Gastropod....

The End of the Calorie
For most of us, the calorie is just a number on the back of the packet or on the display at the gym. But what is it, exactly? And how did we end up with this one unit with which to measure our food? Is a calorie the same no matter what type of food …More → The post The End of the Calorie appeared first on Gastropod....

End-Of-Year Feast
Cheese science, cilantro phobia, and fork usage: we’ve covered it all on Gastropod. And, for our special end-of-year episode, we’re bringing you updates on some our favorite stories. Join us to find out what happened next… Ever wondered what happened to those researchers in Colombia who discovered they could grow five times more food by adding …More → The post End-Of-Year Feast appeared first on Gastropod....

States’ Plates
What’s the dish that best represents your home state? Whose version or recipe would you choose to define it? And what do those dishes tell us about ourselves? In his new book, The Mad Feast, Matthew Gavin Frank travels the United States, teasing out the history and science behind each state’s dish: for this episode …More → The post States’ Plates appeared first on Gastropod....

The Mushroom Underground
They’re a kingdom unto themselves, neither animal, vegetable, nor mineral. They count among their number both the world’s largest organism and millions of microscopic, single-celled creatures. And yet not only have they been an important—and delicious—food source for thousands of years, but they also seem to have powerful medicinal properties. What are these mysterious creatures? …More → The post The Mushroom Underground appeared first on Gastropod....

Peak Booze
Are you part of Generation Peak Booze? In this episode, we dive into the factors behind the ups and downs in alcohol consumption in the U.K. and the U.S. over the course of the twentieth century, we explore the long-term health effects of peak booze, and we get a sneak peek at the synthetic alcohol …More → The post Peak Booze appeared first on Gastropod....

Mezcal: Everything but the Worm
It’s nearly the Day of the Dead in Mexico, which gives us the perfect excuse to get familiar with the country’s national spirit: tequila. Or wait, should that be mezcal? And what’s the difference, anyway? In this episode of Gastropod, Cynthia and Nicky travel to Mexico to explore the history and science of distilled agave, …More → The post Mezcal: Everything but the Worm appeared first on Gastropod....

The Good, The Bad, The Cilantro
On the surface, it’s just a leafy green herb. Its feathery fronds add a decorative note and a distinctive flavor to dishes across Latin America and Asia, from guacamole to phở. And yet cilantro is the most divisive herb in the kitchen, inspiring both deep dislike and equally deep devotion. What’s the history and science …More → The post The Good, The Bad, The Cilantro appeared first on Gastropod....

The Bitter Truth
It’s one of the five basic tastes, along with salty, sweet, sour, and umami. It’s also the least popular and the most mysterious. “That tastes bitter” is not usually a compliment, and yet scientists are increasingly concerned that by banishing bitter from our diets, we’re affecting our health in ways we don’t fully understand. In …More → The post The Bitter Truth appeared first on Gastropod....

Inside the Food Lab with Kenji López-Alt
He has boiled hundreds of eggs in the quest for breakfast perfection. He has expended thousands of words on the divisive subject of mashed potatoes. And he is the only one who cares enough to test absolutely every possible shape of pan you could ever cook with. In this episode of Gastropod, we interview the …More → The post Inside the Food Lab with Kenji López-Alt appeared first on Gastropod....

The United States of Chinese Food
Wander into any town in the U.S., no matter how small and remote, and you’re likely to find at least one Chinese restaurant. In fact, there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King combined. And the food they serve is completely unlike anything you’ll find in China. In this episode …More → The post The United States of Chinese Food appeared first on Gastropod....

The Whole Hog
Bacon, bratwurst, bangers, barbecue: these are just a few of the many ways people around the world enjoy feasting on pigs. Of all the domesticated animals humans consume, Sus scrofa domesticus is the most fascinating, the most divisive, and, arguably, the most delicious. In this in-depth conversation with author and historian Mark Essig, author of the …More → The post The Whole Hog appeared first on Gastropod....

The Scoop on Ice Cream
It’s one of the most complex food products you’ll ever consume: a thermodynamic miracle that contains all three states of matter—solid, liquid, and gas—at the same time. And yet no birthday party, beach trip, or Fourth of July celebration is complete without a scoop or two. That’s right—in this episode of Gastropod, we serve up a …More → The post The Scoop on Ice Cream appeared first on Gastropod....

Crunch, Crackle, and Pop
“Sound is the forgotten flavor sense,” says experimental psychologist Charles Spence. In this episode, we discover how manipulating sound can transform our experience of food and drink, making stale potato chips taste fresh, adding the sensation of cream to black coffee, or boosting the savory, peaty notes in whiskey. Composers have written music to go …More → The post Crunch, Crackle, and Pop appeared first on Gastropod....

Field Recordings
Plants that can hear themselves being eaten. Microphone-equipped drones that eavesdrop on sick chickens. Lasers that detect an insect’s wing-beats from dozens of feet away. In this James Bond-inspired episode of Gastropod, we listen to the soundtrack of farming, decode the meaning hidden in each squawk, moo, and buzz, and learn how we can use …More → The post Field Recordings appeared first on Gastropod....

The Cocktail Hour
Whether you sip it with friends, chug it before hitting the dance floor, or take it as a post-work pick-me-up, there’s clearly nothing like a cocktail for bracing the spirit. In addition to its peculiar history as a medicinal tonic, plenty of hard science lies behind the perfect cocktail, from the relationship between taste perception …More → The post The Cocktail Hour appeared first on Gastropod....

Gastropod on Gastropods
Finally, Gastropod is tackling gastropods! In this episode, Cynthia visits one of America’s first and only snail farms. Though Gastropod is, as regular listeners know, a podcast about the science and history of all things gastronomical, we do share a name with Gastropoda, the taxonomic class that includes slugs and snails. And, as it turns …More → The post Gastropod on Gastropods appeared first on Gastropod....

Savor Flavor
Why does grape candy taste so fake? What on earth is blue raspberry, anyway? And what is the difference between natural and artificial, at least when it comes to flavor? Join us as we taste the rainbow on this episode of Gastropod, from artificial flavoring’s public debut at the 1851 Crystal Palace exhibition, to the …More → The post Savor Flavor appeared first on Gastropod....

DNA Detectives
DNA: it’s the genetic information that makes plants and animals what we are. Most of the time when you hear about it in the context of food, it’s to do with breeding. But in this short episode, we bring you two DNA detective stories that show how genetic analysis can rewrite the history of agriculture and …More → The post DNA Detectives appeared first on Gastropod....

Say Cheese!
Cheese is the chameleon of the food world, as well as one of its greatest delights. Fresh and light or funky and earthy, creamy and melty or crystalline and crumbly—no other food offers such a variety of flavors and textures. But cheese is not just a treat for the palate: its discovery changed the course …More → The post Say Cheese! appeared first on Gastropod....

Extreme Salad and Crazy Potatoes
Step away from the French fries—and even from that bag of pre-washed mixed greens lurking in the crisper drawer. It’s time to reconsider the potato and up your salad game. In this episode, Cynthia and Nicky talk to science writer Ferris Jabr about the chestnut-flavored, gemstone-hued potatoes he discovered in Peru, as well as the …More → The post Extreme Salad and Crazy Potatoes appeared first on Gastropod....

No Scrubs: Breeding a Better Bull
In 1900, the average dairy cow in America produced 424 gallons of milk each year. By 2000, that figure had more than quadrupled, to 2,116 gallons. In this episode of Gastropod, we explore the incredible science that transformed the American cow into a milk machine—but we also uncover the disturbing history of prejudice and animal …More → The post No Scrubs: Breeding a Better Bull appeared first on Gastropod....

Enhanced Eating with Dan Pashman
Have you ever wondered how to avoid sandwich sogginess, what scented soap to pair with your restaurant order, and whether airplane food can be made to taste of anything at all? Dan Pashman has, and his new book, Eat More Better, is filled with deeply researched, science-based hacks to improve your everyday eating. Pashman, host of …More → The post Enhanced Eating with Dan Pashman appeared first on Gastropod....

Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast: the most important meal of the day. Or is it? In this episode of Gastropod, we explore the science and history behind the most intentionally designed, the most industrialized, and the most argued about meal of all. Armed with a healthy dose of caffeine chronopharmacology, we embark on a global breakfast tour that exposes …More → The post Breakfast of Champions appeared first on Gastropod....

Night of the Living Radishes
For this special New Year episode, Gastropod transports you to Oaxaca, Mexico, for the legendary Night of the Radishes, celebrated the night before Christmas eve, where locals present their most elaborate and inventive radish carvings. You’ll also get a taste of entomophagy, otherwise known as the practice of eating bugs, when Cynthia and her partner …More → The post Night of the Living Radishes appeared first on Gastropod....

Kale of the Sea
Call off the search for the new kale: we’ve found it, and it’s called kelp! In this episode of Gastropod, we explore the science behind the new wave of seaweed farms springing up off the New England coast, and discover seaweed’s starring role in the peopling of the Americas. The story of seaweed will take …More → The post Kale of the Sea appeared first on Gastropod....

Bite: Smoked Pigeon and Other Subnatural Delights
In this week’s bite-sized episode, Nicky travels to the campus of Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, for a day of talks and tastings exploring the shifting status of stinky cheese, offal, insects, and other funky foods. At different times and places, these foods have been regarded as “subnatural”—low-class, disgusting, even unhygienic. But what does …More → The post Bite: Smoked Pigeon and Other Subnatural Delights appeared first on Gastropod....

The Microbe Revolution
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you’ve probably heard about the human microbiome. Research into the composition, function, and importance of the galaxy of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that, when we’re healthy, live in symbiotic balance in and on us has become one of the fastest moving and …More → The post The Microbe Revolution appeared first on Gastropod....

Bite: Forgotten Fruits & the Future of Food?
We’re back with a bite-sized discussion of two fascinating food history and science stories that have crossed our paths in the last couple of weeks. This time, co-host Nicky spends a week living on Soylent, the Silicon Valley-spawned food replacement-drink, and then we learn about the weird world of fruit detectives, who hunt down America’s long-lost …More → The post Bite: Forgotten Fruits & the Future of Food? appeared first on Gastropod....

Dan Barber’s Quest for Flavor
In this latest episode of Gastropod, chef and author Dan Barber takes listeners on a journey around the world in search of great flavor and the ecosystems that support it, from Spain to the deep South. You’ll hear how a carefully tended landscape of cork trees makes for delicious ham, and about a squash so …More → The post Dan Barber’s Quest for Flavor appeared first on Gastropod....

Bite: What America Could Taste Like
We promised we’d serve a bite-sized snack in between our full-length episodes, and here it is—a short and snappy update, in which we share two of the most interesting food history and science stories we’ve come across recently. This week is all about the ignored, overlooked, and (maybe) future foods and flavors of America. We’ll …More → The post Bite: What America Could Taste Like appeared first on Gastropod....

Episode 1: The Golden Spoon
Chances are, you’ve spent more time thinking about the specs on your smartphone than about the gadgets that you use to put food in your mouth. But the shape and material properties of forks, spoons, and knives turn out to matter—a lot. Changes in the design of cutlery have not only affected how and what …More → The post Episode 1: The Golden Spoon appeared first on Gastropod....