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Gastropod

Food & Cooking Podcasts

Food with a side of science and history. Every other week, co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode exploring the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food- or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. We interview experts, visit labs, fields, and archaeological digs, and generally have lots of fun while discovering new ways to think about and understand the world through food. Find us online at gastropod.com, follow us on Twitter @gastropodcast, and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/gastropodcast.

Location:

United States

Description:

Food with a side of science and history. Every other week, co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode exploring the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food- or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. We interview experts, visit labs, fields, and archaeological digs, and generally have lots of fun while discovering new ways to think about and understand the world through food. Find us online at gastropod.com, follow us on Twitter @gastropodcast, and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/gastropodcast.

Language:

English


Episodes
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(Guest) Are Fast Food Jingles Pop Music?

5/21/2024
From our friends at Switched on Pop: Where were you when you learned that the McDonald's jingle "I'm lovin' it" was originally part of a full-fledged pop song by Justin Timberlake and Pharrell that flopped on the charts but found staying power as a slogan? For us, it was recording our live episode about sponsored content in pop back in March 2024, and we have not been the same since. Shaken by this revelation, we found ourselves asking, "What else don't we know about fast food jingles?" Turns out, it's a lot. From Taco Bell to Popeye's to Chili's, the music of fast food represent some of the most familiar melodies in society, across state lines and generations. But the stories behind those songs, and the way that fast food production and pop music production often move in parallel, was something we never saw coming. Since we are music experts but amateur foodies, we invited the brilliant hosts of Gastropod, Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley, to help serve up the history of fast food and its changing role in culture. Tune in and pig out with us as we listen and debate the artistic and ethical implications of the sounds of fast food. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:41:03

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Why Are Restaurants So Loud? Plus the Science Behind the Perfect Playlist

5/14/2024
When you go out for a meal, it’s not just what's on your plate that matters, it's what's in your eardrums, too. From dining rooms so loud you have to shout to be heard, to playlists that sound like a generic Millennial Spotify account, it's not surprising that sound is the single most complained about aspect of restaurants. This episode, Gastropod explores the science behind the sonic experience of eating. Are restaurants really getting louder, and, if so, why? What does it take to create the perfect acoustic environment for dining? Can restaurateurs design their playlists to make customers order more or eat faster? Listen in now for the secrets to culinary acoustic bliss! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:43:48

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The Food Explorer (encore)

5/7/2024
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 talk to Daniel Stone, author of The Food Explorer, a new book all about Fairchild's adventures. Listen in now for tales of pirates and biopiracy, eccentric patrons and painful betrayals, as well as the successes and failures that shaped not only the way we eat, but America's place in the world. ENCORE Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:42:12

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Meet the Most Famous American You’ve Never Heard Of: His Legacy is Excellent French Fries and Monsanto

4/30/2024
In his day, Luther Burbank was a horticultural rock star: everyone from opera singers to movie stars and European royalty to an Indian guru traveled to Santa Rosa, California, to meet him. Dubbed the "plant wizard," Burbank invented the plumcot and the stoneless plum, the white blackberry, and the potato variety used in every French fry you've ever eaten—as well as some 800 more new-and-improved plants, from walnuts to rhubarb. His fame as a plant inventor put him in the same league as Thomas Edison—but, while Edison patented his light bulb and phonograph, Burbank had no legal way to protect his crop creations. Listen now for the story of Luther Burbank, the most famous American you've never heard of, and how his struggles shaped what's on our supermarket shelves today, but also led to a world in which big companies like Monsanto can patent life. It's a wild ride that involves the death spiral of the Red Delicious and the rise of the Cosmic Crisp apple, as well as coded notebooks, detective agencies, rogue farmers, and a resistance movement led by former New York City mayor (and subsequent airport namesake) Fiorello La Guardia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:56:03

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All You Can Eat: The True Story Behind America's Most Popular Seafood

4/16/2024
Americans eat more shrimp than any other seafood: on average, each person in the US gobbles up close to six pounds of the cheap crustaceans every year. We can eat so many of these bug-like shellfish because they’re incredibly inexpensive, making them the stars of all-you-can-eat shrimp buffets and single-digit seafood deals. But we've got bad news: this is one bargain that's too good to be true. More than 90 percent of the shrimp we eat comes from overseas, where looser regulations lead to horrific labor abuses, environmental destruction, and the use of banned chemicals and antibiotics—all while American shrimpers struggle to survive. This episode, we’re exploring the history of how shrimp went from a fancy delicacy to buffet bargain (yes, Forrest Gump is involved), plus what to do if you want to enjoy everybody's favorite seafood with a clear conscience. Hold the cocktail sauce: this episode will change how you look at your favorite appetizer forever. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:44:36

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The World Is Your Oyster: How Our Favorite Shellfish Could Save Coastlines Worldwide

4/2/2024
If we at Gastropod were asked to name a perfect food, the oyster would be at the top of our list. Oysters are pretty much always our answer to the question of what we'd like to eat this evening—but are they also the answer to the slow-motion disaster of disappearing coastlines worldwide? Join us this episode as we discover how this magical mollusk contains a pearl of hope in the fight to counter rising sea-levels, prevent erosion, and buffer storm surges everywhere from hurricane-hit New Orleans to New York City's flood-prone fringes. But be prepared: you just might join the ranks of the oyster obsessed. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:49:37

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Eat This, Not That: The Surprising Science of Personalized Nutrition (encore)

3/26/2024
This episode, we've got the exclusive on the preliminary results of the world's largest personalized nutrition experiment. Genetic epidemiologist Tim Spector launched the study, called PREDICT, to answer a simple but important question: do we each respond to different foods differently? And, if so, why? How much of that difference is genetic, how much is due to gut microbes, and how much is due to any one of the dozens of other factors that scientists think affect our metabolic processes? You’ve heard of personalized medicine, will there be such a thing as personalized diets? And should there be? Can teasing out the nuances of how each individual body processes different foods make us all healthier? To find out, we signed ourselves up as study participants, sticking pins in our fingers, weighing our food, and providing fecal samples, all for science—and for you, dear listeners. Listen in now as we take part in this ground-breaking study, discover our own differences, and find out the early results! (Encore episode) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:56:45

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Bam! How Did Cajun Flavor Take Over the World?

3/19/2024
If "Cajun-style" only makes you think of spicy chicken sandwiches and popcorn shrimp, you need to join us in the Big Easy this episode, to meet the real Cajun flavor. Cajun cuisine and its close cousin, Creole, were born out of the unique landscape of the Mississippi River delta, whose bounty was sufficient to support large, complex Indigenous societies, without the need for farming or even social hierarchies, for thousands of years. Europeans were slow to appreciate the wealth of this waterlogged country, but, as waves of French, Spanish, and American colonists and enslaved Africans arrived in Louisiana and the port of New Orleans, they all shaped the food that makes it famous today. But it would take a formerly enslaved woman turned international celebrity chef, a legendary restaurant that's hosted Freedom Riders, U.S. presidents, and Queen B, and a blackened redfish craze to turn Louisiana's flavorsome food into a global trend. Come on down to the bayou this episode, as we catch crawfish and cook up a storm to tell the story of how Cajun and Creole flavors ended up on home-cooking shows, in Disney movies, and at drive-throughs nationwide. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:49:16

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Anything's Pastable (Guest Episode)

3/12/2024
After Dan’s pasta shape, cascatelli, was launched, people everywhere were cooking with it and sending him photos of what they were making. As exciting as that was, he was disappointed that most folks were only making a handful of well-worn dishes with this new shape. So Dan decided to write a cookbook to show the world that there’s so much more you can and should be putting on all your pasta shapes, cascatelli and beyond! There’s only one problem: he’s never written a recipe in his life. In this four-part series, Dan shares the inside story of creating his first cookbook, Anything’s Pastable — from the highs and lows of recipe testing, to a research trip across Italy, to the agonizing decisions over the design of the cover. Listen to this special guest episode of The Sporkful now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:47:45

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Can You Patent a Pizza?

3/5/2024
Close your eyes and imagine this: a world without stuffed crust pizza. We know!—but that was the dismal state of the Italian flatbread scene before 1985, when Anthony Mongiello, aka The Big Cheese, came up with an innovation that loaded even more cheese onto pizza, while saving crusts nationwide from the trashcan. It was a multi-million dollar idea, Mongiello was sure—if only he could figure out how to protect his intellectual property and license it. But can you copyright the recipe for stuffing the crust? Could that puffy, cheese-filled rim be trademarked, or the technique for making it qualify as a trade secret? Can you patent a pizza? And did Pizza Hut, which unveiled their own stuffed crust pie in 1995, steal his idea—or does the concept of a cheesy crust belong to humanity as a whole? This episode, we're diving deep into the weird and wonderful world of food IP, via the legendary legal battles to defend Pepperidge Farm's Goldfish, Smucker's Uncrustables, and that futuristic mall treat of the 90s, Dippin' Dots ice cream. Listen in now for the true story of stuffed crust pizza—a story in which creativity, commerce, and lots and lots of cheese collide. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:50:13

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Super Fry: The Fight for the Golden Frite (encore)

2/27/2024
Shoestring, waffle, curly, or thick-cut: however you slice it, nearly everyone loves a deep-fried, golden brown piece of potato. But that's where the agreement ends and the battles begin. While Americans call their fries "French," Belgians claim that they, not the French, invented the perfect fry. Who's right? This episode, we take you right into the heart of the battle that continues to be waged over who owns the fry—who invented it, who perfected it, who loves it the most? And then we take you behind the scenes into another epic fight: the struggle for the perfect fry. Can food scientists create a fry with the ultimate crispy shell and soft inside, one that can stay that way while your delivery driver is stuck in traffic? Plus, the condiment wars: does mayo really have the edge over ketchup? Listen in now to find out! (Encore episode) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:43:46

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Dining at the (Other) Top of the World: Hunger, Fruitcake, and the Race to Reach the South Pole

2/20/2024
In contrast to the abundance of the Arctic, in Antarctica, "once you leave the coast, you're basically heading to the moon." Jason Anthony, who spent several summers on the seventh continent, told us that in this desert of ice and stone (where the largest terrestrial animal is a tiny wingless midge), food isn't just important—it's everything. This episode is packed full of stories of survival at Earth's southernmost points, from Heroic Era expedition chefs whipping up croissants on the ice, to desperate Dorito auctions when supplies run low today. Plus, listen in now for the scoop on how food fueled the race to the South Pole—and determined the ultimate winner and loser. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:43:48

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Dining at the Top of the World: Arctic Adaptation, Abundance, and...Ice Cream

2/6/2024
You may feel like it's cold where you live, but in the Arctic, the average temperature is well below freezing all year round. In winter, it's also pitch black for weeks on end—not an ideal environment for growing food. Still, for thousands of years, people in the Arctic have thrived in a landscape that most outsiders would find fatally inhospitable. This episode, we point our compasses north on a journey to discover how traditional knowledge, ingenuity, and a lot of hard work—combined with genetics and microbes—have allowed the indigenous populations of the far North to not only successfully feed themselves, but also develop a distinctive and remarkable cuisine. Tune in now for the secrets of a dish that feels like Fourth of July fireworks in your mouth, the story of Iceland's second-most famous celebrity (after Björk), and the science behind how to avoid scurvy on an almost vegetable-free diet. Just don't forget your long underwear! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:52:41

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Cork Dork: Inside the Weird World of Wine Appreciation (encore)

1/23/2024
“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 bizarre adjectives. It's tempting to dismiss the whole thing as B.S., but listen in: this episode, author Bianca Bosker takes us along on her journey into the history and science behind blind tasting, wine flavor wheels, and the craft of the sommelier. You'll never feel lost in front of a wine list again. (encore) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:45:58

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It's Tea Time: Pirates, Polyphenols, and a Proper Cuppa (encore)

1/9/2024
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 the 1800s, in order to secure Britain's favorite beverage and prop up its empire for another century. The story involves pirates, ponytails, and hard drugs—and, to help tell the tale, Cynthia and Nicky visit Britain's one and only commercial tea plantation, tucked away in a secret garden on an aristocratic estate on the Cornish coast. While harvesting and processing tea leaves, we learn the difference between green and black tea, as well as which is better for your health. Put the kettle on, and settle in for the science and history of tea! (encore edition) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:45:21

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The Case of the Confusing Bitter Beverages: Vermouth, Amaro, Aperitivos, and Other Botanical Schnapps

12/19/2023
When it comes to booze, it’s fun to be bitter: an Aperol spritz has been the drink of summer for about five years, vermouth and soda was apparentlythe "hot girl" drink of 2023, and amaro is having "a major moment." Bitter botanical beverages are everywhere, but that doesn’t mean we understand what on earth they are. Could you explain the difference between vermouth and amaro, or whether either is an aperitif or a digestif? Where do Aperol, Campari, and Chartreuse fit in, and what’s the difference between drinks called bitters and the bitters your bartender dashes into a Manhattan? This episode, Gastropod is on the case of the confusing bitter beverages, starting with their origins in alchemy. (That pre-dinner spritz is pretty magical!) Listen in now to find out why Napoleon chugged cologne, how a shopkeeper’s assistant created the preferred drink of kings and influencers, and how you should enjoy these trendy new botanical beverages. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:51:11

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Rice, Rice Baby

12/5/2023
Though rice might not feature in a hit 1990s Vanilla Ice rap, this grain tops the charts in other ways: it's the staple food for more than half the global population, and it's grown by more farmers than any other crop on Earth, from Japan to West Africa to Italy's Po River valley. Rice is so central that it's been used as currency, embedded itself in language, and formed the basis of beloved dishes, from sushi to jollof to risotto. But this adaptable grass has two features that have molded rice cultures and directed the grain's destiny: it can grow in an aquatic environment, but it requires cooperation to cultivate. In this episode, we explore how rice's relationship to water and community have shaped stories all over the world, from Japanese-American rice growers in California's drought-prone San Joaquin valley to Bangladeshi farmers facing flooding from climate change. Plus: could taking rice out of water not only build a better future for African-American rice farmers in the American South, but save the planet in the process? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:51:59

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Ask Gastropod: White Chocolate, Jimmies, Chile vs. Mustard Burns, and Asparagus Pee

11/21/2023
Is white chocolate really chocolate? What causes asparagus pee? Sprinkles or jimmies—which do you call them, and is the term ‘jimmies’ racist? Why is the heat of mustard and wasabi so different from a chile burn? This episode, Gastropod is getting to the bottom of your most pressing questions—which also means diving into some of the internet’s most controversial food debates. Listen in now as we call in historians and scientists to bust myths, solve mysteries, and find out why some people turn asparagus into the devil’s own brew! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:45:16

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Pumpkin Spice Hero: The Thrilling But Tragic True Story of Nutmeg

11/7/2023
No pumpkin spice latte, cookie, candle, or seasonal can of Spam (yes, really) would be the same without one of its key flavors: nutmeg, a warm, woody spice grated from the seed of a tropical fruit. But back in the 1600s, nutmeg wasn’t so common that you could put it in everything from coffee to soap. In fact, nutmeg once grew only in one place in the entire world: the Banda Islands, a Pacific archipelago too tiny to even appear on regular maps. To get their precious nutmeg, European sailors had to brave a three-year journey filled with the possibility of shipwreck, storms, scurvy, dysentery, starvation, and death—so it's not surprising that the spice was so valuable that the crew weren't allowed to have pockets in their clothing, in case they smuggled some ashore for themselves! But how did one heroic Brit, Nathaniel Courthope, end up changing the course of nutmeg history—and, with it, the fate of not just pumpkin spice lattes, but also the city of New York? Listen now for the spicy, swashbuckling tale behind the season's favorite flavor. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:41:58

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Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

10/24/2023
Botanically, bean pods are indeed fruits, and, honestly, they are also pretty magical. And we’re clearly not the only ones to think that: beans are the unsung hero of history. The fact that they were domesticated an astonishing seven different times in different places around the world shows how essential beans were to early humans, wherever they lived; in Europe, Italian author and polymath Umberto Eco credits the bean with saving civilization itself. Lately, however, the humble bean has found its fan base declining. In Northern Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States, most people barely eat beans at all. This episode—our love song to beans—we're exploring the story of the bean's fall from grace, as well as the heirloom varieties and exclusive club that are making beans cool again. Plus, we visit with the Ugandan breeder working on Beans 2.0, which will take a third less time to cook. But can anybody do anything about one of beans' most notorious side-effects? Yes, we're talking farts: we're on the case to discover whether scientists can develop a gas-free bean. Listen in as we spill the beans on one of our favorite foods. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

Duration:00:49:28