Food

Gastropod

Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley

+61 FANS

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...Show More

Best
Newest
Looking for recently uploaded episodes
It’s Tea Time: Pirates, Polyphenols, and a Proper Cuppa

44:27 | Aug 1st, 2017

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 internationa...Show More

Sour Grapes: The History and Science of Vinegar

45:50 | Aug 29th, 2017

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 entr...Show More

Peanuts: Peril and Promise

46:46 | Jun 20th, 2017

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 kid...Show More

Ripe for Global Domination: The Story of the Avocado

48:19 | May 8th, 2018

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...Show More

The Curry Chronicles

43:12 | Apr 9th

Curry is, supposedly, Indian. But there is no such word in any of the country’s many official languages—and no Indian would use the term to describe their own food. So what is curry? This episode takes us to India, Britain, and Japan on a quest to un...Show More

The Bagelization of America

52:20 | Mar 26th

Today, it’s a breakfast staple, but, as recently as 1960, The New York Times had to define it for readers—as “an unsweetened doughnut with rigor mortis.” That’s right, this episode is all about the bagel, that shiny, ring-shaped, surprisingly dense b...Show More

Can Diet Stop Alzheimer’s?

43:09 | Mar 11th

Every three seconds, someone in the world develops Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a devastating disease: millions of people, as well as their caretakers, spend years dealing with disabling disorientation and memory loss. Today, it’s the sixth leading caus...Show More

Seeds of Immortality

27:00 | Mar 4th

When seeds first evolved, hundreds of millions of years ago, they not only revolutionized the plant world, but they also eventually sowed the path for human civilization. Today, it’s nearly impossible to eat a meal without consuming a plant embryo—or...Show More

Pick A Pawpaw: America’s Forgotten Fruit

42:50 | Feb 26th

In 1916, agricultural experts voted the pawpaw the American fruit most likely to succeed, ahead of blueberries and cranberries. But today, most people have never even heard of it, let alone tried it. What is the pawpaw, and how did we forget it? List...Show More

Eating to Win: Gatorade, Muscle Milk, and… Chicken Nuggets?

40:12 | Feb 12th

Ancient Greek Olympians swore by beans to give them a competitive edge. Japanese sumo wrestlers rely on a protein-rich soup called chankonabe to get into peak condition. And NBA all-stars Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony, and Steph Curry credit their s...Show More

The Secret History of the Slave Behind Jack Daniel’s Whiskey

44:24 | Jan 28th

Back in 1866, Jack Daniel’s became the first registered distillery in the United States; today, it’s the top-selling American whiskey in the world. For much of the brand’s 150-plus years, the story went that the young Jack Daniel learned his trade fr...Show More

Sweet and Low (Calorie): The Story of Artificial Sweeteners

43:32 | Jan 15th

For decades, ads for treats sweetened with substances like Sweet’N Low, NutraSweet, and Splenda have promised what seems like a miracle of modern science: that you can enjoy all the dessert you want, calorie-free. No need to deprive yourself—with art...Show More

Dirty Tricks and Data: The Great Soda Wars, Part 2

48:07 | Dec 18th, 2018

Over the past five years, more than forty cities and countries around the world have passed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. These soda taxes are designed to improve public health—but do they? Or have all the doom-and-gloom predictions of the soda...Show More

Souring on Sweet: The Great Soda Wars, Part 1

49:43 | Dec 4th, 2018

Public health researchers agree: the evidence is clear that Americans consume way too much sugar, that sugar contributes to weight gain, and that rising rates of obesity in the U.S. will lead to significant health problems in the future. What’s much ...Show More

Listener Survey

0:00 | Dec 1st, 2018

Please take our 2018 listener survey here. It’s short, your data will be kept anonymous and only shared in aggregate, and the information you share will help us keep making the podcast and, we hope, keep making it better! We really appreciate it. The...Show More

The Truth is in the Tooth: Braces, Cavities, and the Paleo Diet

37:09 | Nov 19th, 2018

Brush, floss, and forget: chances are, you only think about your teeth when they cause you trouble. But teeth have tales to tell, such as how old we are, how fast we grew, and how far we’ve traveled… But, most intriguingly, teeth can tell us both wha...Show More

Who Invented Mac and Cheese?

29:22 | Nov 13th, 2018

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 dozen...Show More

How the Carrot Became Orange, and Other Stories

39:27 | Nov 6th, 2018

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 ...Show More

The Incredible Egg

44:30 | Oct 23rd, 2018

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 var...Show More

Espresso and Whisky: The Place of Time in Food

42:01 | Oct 9th, 2018

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 mani...Show More

Why These Animals?

47:27 | Sep 25th, 2018

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, a...Show More

Mango Mania: How the American Mango Lost its Flavor—and How it Might Just Get it Back

40:36 | Sep 11th, 2018

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 ...Show More

Keeping it Fresh: Preservatives and The Poison Squad

51:52 | Aug 28th, 2018

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 scie...Show More

Watch It Wiggle: The Jell-O Story

49:59 | Aug 14th, 2018

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’...Show More

Out of the Fire, Into the Frying Pan

49:09 | Jun 19th, 2018

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 th...Show More

Hotbox: The Oven From Turnspit Dogs to Microwaves

55:17 | Jun 5th, 2018

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 he...Show More

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

50:30 | May 22nd, 2018

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 ...Show More

Meet the Man Who Found, Finagled, and Ferried Home the Foods We Eat Today

44:01 | Apr 24th, 2018

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 ...Show More

Who Faked My Cheese?

55:46 | Apr 10th, 2018

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 u...Show More

Marching on our Stomachs: The Science and History of Feeding the Troops

49:35 | Mar 27th, 2018

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...Show More

Cooking the Books with Yotam and Nigella

48:31 | Mar 13th, 2018

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 e...Show More

Cutting the Mustard

47:50 | Feb 27th, 2018

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 witho...Show More

Remembrance of Things Pasta: A Saucy Tale

45:49 | Feb 13th, 2018

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...Show More

We’ve Lost It: The Diet Episode

52:31 | Jan 30th, 2018

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-selle...Show More

Meet Saffron, the World’s Most Expensive Spice

43:45 | Jan 16th, 2018

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...Show More

Secrets of Sourdough

50:16 | Dec 18th, 2017

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. A...Show More

Green Gold: Our Love Affair with Olive Oil

52:37 | Dec 5th, 2017

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, quit...Show More

Women, Food, Power … and Books!

43:46 | Nov 21st, 2017

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. B...Show More

Crantastic: The Story of America’s Berry

42:24 | Nov 7th, 2017

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 a...Show More

Cannibalism: From Calories to Kuru

47:07 | Oct 24th, 2017

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...Show More

Eataly World and the Future of Food Shopping

39:17 | Oct 10th, 2017

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 shoppi...Show More

What the Fluff is Marshmallow Creme?

38:51 | Sep 26th, 2017

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,...Show More

Lunch Gets Schooled

54:22 | Sep 11th, 2017

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 dec...Show More

The Birds and The Bugs

48:24 | Aug 15th, 2017

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. ...Show More

Fake Food

42:17 | Jun 6th, 2017

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...Show More

Here’s Why You Should Care About Southern Food

48:50 | May 22nd, 2017

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 countr...Show More

Better Believe It’s Butter

39:27 | May 9th, 2017

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 t...Show More

Meet Koji, Your New Favorite Fungus

41:36 | Apr 25th, 2017

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 ...Show More

V is for Vitamin

49:04 | Apr 10th, 2017

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 ...Show More

Hacking Taste

48:40 | Mar 14th, 2017

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, i...Show More

Cork Dork: Inside the Weird World of Wine Appreciation

46:51 | Feb 28th, 2017

“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 ...Show More

To Eat or Not to Eat Meat

49:31 | Feb 14th, 2017

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 w...Show More

We Heart Chocolate

45:45 | Jan 31st, 2017

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 ...Show More

Inventing the Restaurant: From Bone Broth to Michelin

46:21 | Jan 17th, 2017

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 t...Show More

Gettin’ Fizzy With It

44:10 | Dec 13th, 2016

‘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 whe...Show More

The Spice Curve: From Pepper to Sriracha with Sarah Lohman

44:14 | Nov 29th, 2016

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, whic...Show More

The Buzz on Honey

43:27 | Nov 15th, 2016

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...Show More

What is Native American Cuisine?

44:43 | Nov 1st, 2016

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 ...Show More

Oysters: History and Science on the Half Shell

44:26 | Oct 18th, 2016

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,...Show More

Counting Fish

44:54 | Oct 4th, 2016

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 co...Show More

Seaweed Special

29:41 | Sep 13th, 2016

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, thou...Show More

The Salt Wars

44:38 | Aug 23rd, 2016

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 rar...Show More

Kombucha Culture

43:52 | Aug 8th, 2016

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 wha...Show More

Keeping Kosher: When Jewish Law Met Processed Food

48:06 | Jul 26th, 2016

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 ...Show More

Poultry Power: The Fried Chicken Chronicles

47:04 | Jul 12th, 2016

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 ch...Show More

Outside the Box: The Story of Food Packaging

45:32 | Jun 28th, 2016

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 surfac...Show More

Who Invented the Cherry Tomato?

36:19 | Jun 14th, 2016

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 beh...Show More

Everything Old is Brew Again

44:44 | May 31st, 2016

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 the...Show More

Museums and the Mafia: The Secret History of Citrus

45:43 | Apr 19th, 2016

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 ...Show More

Grand Theft Food

39:35 | Apr 5th, 2016

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 ...Show More

Caffeine: The World’s Most Popular Drug

42:58 | Mar 21st, 2016

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 N...Show More

The Maple Boom

37:44 | Mar 8th, 2016

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, an...Show More

First Foods: Learning to Eat

49:50 | Feb 23rd, 2016

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 o...Show More

The Food of Love

41:01 | Feb 9th, 2016

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...Show More

The End of the Calorie

47:36 | Jan 26th, 2016

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 …...Show More

End-Of-Year Feast

32:41 | Dec 15th, 2015

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...Show More

States’ Plates

35:18 | Dec 1st, 2015

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 ...Show More

The Mushroom Underground

39:21 | Nov 17th, 2015

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 deliciou...Show More

Peak Booze

34:41 | Nov 3rd, 2015

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,...Show More

Mezcal: Everything but the Worm

44:01 | Oct 20th, 2015

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 Nic...Show More

The Good, The Bad, The Cilantro

32:11 | Oct 6th, 2015

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...Show More

The Bitter Truth

43:07 | Sep 22nd, 2015

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...Show More

Inside the Food Lab with Kenji López-Alt

20:34 | Sep 7th, 2015

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...Show More

The United States of Chinese Food

43:26 | Aug 25th, 2015

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...Show More

The Whole Hog

27:48 | Aug 11th, 2015

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...Show More

The Scoop on Ice Cream

45:20 | Jul 28th, 2015

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...Show More

Crunch, Crackle, and Pop

26:42 | Jul 14th, 2015

“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 c...Show More

Field Recordings

32:36 | Jun 30th, 2015

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...Show More

The Cocktail Hour

52:42 | May 26th, 2015

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 sc...Show More

Gastropod on Gastropods

28:59 | May 4th, 2015

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...Show More

Savor Flavor

52:29 | Apr 21st, 2015

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 fl...Show More

DNA Detectives

21:20 | Apr 7th, 2015

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 gen...Show More

Say Cheese!

54:51 | Mar 23rd, 2015

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...Show More

Extreme Salad and Crazy Potatoes

24:57 | Mar 3rd, 2015

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 th...Show More

No Scrubs: Breeding a Better Bull

36:07 | Feb 17th, 2015

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 ...Show More

Enhanced Eating with Dan Pashman

20:56 | Feb 2nd, 2015

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...Show More

Breakfast of Champions

45:14 | Jan 20th, 2015

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 dos...Show More

Night of the Living Radishes

24:27 | Jan 2nd, 2015

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 ge...Show More

Kale of the Sea

38:25 | Dec 9th, 2014

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 ...Show More

Bite: Smoked Pigeon and Other Subnatural Delights

16:09 | Nov 25th, 2014

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 an...Show More

The Microbe Revolution

37:31 | Nov 11th, 2014

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, liv...Show More