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February 08 2014

21:43

Why you shouldn't mess with carbonara | Public Radio International

Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen Fant have penned a new book together called "Pasta the Italian Way." The title underscores the fact that Fant takes Italian food very seriously, and strives to keep it as authentic as possible. And no dish is more sacred, Fant says, than spaghetti alla carbonara. http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-01-29/why-you-shouldnt-mess-carbonara
21:37

Italy's extra virgin olive oil isn't always so virgin, or so Italian | Public Radio International

It's good for your health. The best chefs wouldn't be caught without it. And Americans love the stuff. But are we getting the REAL stuff? Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy? http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-01-31/italys-extra-virgin-olive-oil-isnt-always-so-virgin-or-so-italian

January 17 2014

20:52

Michael Pollan Explains What's Wrong With the Paleo Diet | Mother Jones

Caveman: ollyy/Shutterstock; Scale: Fabio Freitas e Silva/Shutterstock; Kabob food: Africa Studio/Shutterstock. Photoilustration by Matt Connolly.The paleo diet is hot. Those who follow it are attempting, they say, to mimic our ancient ancestors—minus the animal-skin fashions and the total lack of technology, of course. The adherents eschew what they believe comes from modern agriculture (wheat, dairy, legumes, for instance) and rely instead on meals full of meat, nuts, and vegetables—foods they claim are closer to what hunter-gatherers ate. The trouble with that view, however, is that what they're eating is probably nothing like the diet of hunter-gatherers, says Michael Pollan, author of a number of best-selling books on food and agriculture, including Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. "I don't think we really understand…well the proportions in the ancient diet," argues Pollan on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast (stream below). "Most people who tell you with great confidence that this is what our ancestors ate—I think they're kind of blowing smoke." The wide-ranging interview with Pollan covered the science and history of cooking, the importance of microbes—tiny organisms such as bacteria—in our diet, and surprising new research on the intelligence of plants. Here are five suggestions he offered about cooking and eating well. 1. Meat: It's not always for dinner. Cooking meat transforms it: Roasting it or braising it for hours in liquid unlocks complex smells and flavors that are hard to resist. In addition to converting it into something we crave, intense heat also breaks down the meat into nutrients that we can more easily access. Our ancient ancestors likely loved the smell of meat on an open fire as much as we do. Michael Pollan. Ken Light. But human populations in different regions of the world ate a variety of diets. Some ate more; some ate less. They likely ate meat only when they could get it, and then they gorged. Richard Wrangham, author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, says diets from around the world ranged greatly in the percentage of calories from meat. It's not cooked meat that made us human, he says, but rather cooked food. In any case, says Pollan, today's meat is nothing like that of the hunter-gatherer. One problem with the paleo diet is that "they're assuming that the options available to our caveman ancestors are still there," he argues. But "unless you're willing to hunt your food, they're not." As Pollan explains, the animals bred by modern agriculture—which are fed artificial diets of corn and grains, and beefed up with hormones and antibiotics—have nutritional profiles far from wild game. Pastured animals, raised on diets of grass and grubs, are closer to their wild relatives; even these, however, are nothing like the lean animals our ancestors ate. So, basically, enjoy meat in moderation, and choose pastured meat if possible. Space Monkey Pics/Shutterstock 2. Humans can live on bread alone. Paleo obsessives might shun bread, but bread, as it has been traditionally made, is a healthy way to access a wide array of nutrients from grains. In Cooked, Pollan describes how bread might have been first created: Thousands of years ago, someone probably in ancient Egypt discovered a bubbling mash of grains and water, the microbes busily fermenting what would become dough. And unbeknownst to those ancient Egyptians, the fluffy, delicious new substance had been transformed by those microbes. Suddenly the grains provided even more bang for the bite. As University of California-Davis food chemist Bruce German told Pollan in an interview, "You could not survive on wheat flour. But you can survive on bread." Microbes start to digest the grains, breaking them down in ways that free up more of the healthful parts. If bread is compared to another method of cooking flour—basically making it into porridge—"bread is dramatically more nutritious," says Pollan. Still, common bread made from white flour and commercial yeast doesn't have the same nutritional content as the slowly fermented and healthier sourdough bread you might find at a local baker. Overall, though, bread can certainly be part of a nutritious diet. (At least, for those who don't suffer from celiac disease.) 3. Eat more microbes. Microbes play a key role not just in bread, but in all sorts of fermented foods: beer, cheese, yogurt, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, pickles. Thousands—even hundreds—of years ago, before electricity made refrigeration widely available, fermentation was one of the best means of preserving foods. And now we know that microbes, such as those in our gut, play a key role in our health, as well. The microbes we eat in foods like pickles may not take up a permanent home in our innards; rather, they seem to be more akin to transient visitors, says Pollan. Still, "fermented foods provide a lot of compounds that gut microbes like," and he says he makes sure to eat some fermented vegetables every day.  HandmadePictures/Shutterstock 4. Raw food is for the birds (too much of it, anyway). There's paleo, and then there's the raw diet. Folks who eat raw tout the health benefits of the approach, saying that they’re accessing the full, complete nutrients available because they're not heating, and thus destroying, their dinner. But that's simply wrong. We cook to get our hands on more nutrients, not fewer. According to Wrangham, the one thing absolutely all cultures have in common is that they cook their food. He points out that women who move towards 100 percent raw diets often stop ovulating, because even if in theory they're tossing sufficient food into the blender to fulfill their caloric needs, they simply can't absorb enough from the uncooked food. Our hefty cousins, the apes, spend half their waking hours gnawing on raw sustenance, about six hours per day. In contrast, we spend only one hour. "So in a sense, cooking opens up this space for other activities," says Pollan. "It's very hard to have culture, it's very hard to have science, it's very hard to have all the things we count as important parts of civilization if you're spending half of all your waking hours chewing." Cooked food: It gave us civilization. 5. Want to be healthy? Cook. Pollan says the food industry has done a great job of convincing eaters that corporations can cook better than we can. The problem is, it's not true. And the food that others cook is nearly always less healthful than that which we cook ourselves. "Part of the problem is that we've been isolated as cooks for too long," says Pollan. "I found that to the extent you can make cooking itself a social experience, it can be a lot more fun." But how can we convince folks to give it a try? "I think we have to lead with pleasure," he says. Aside from the many health benefits, cooking is also "one of the most interesting things humans know how to do and have done for a very long time. And we get that, or we wouldn't be watching so much cooking on TV. There is something fascinating about it. But it's even more fascinating when you do it yourself." For the full interview, in which Pollan also discusses cheese made from his belly button microbes and the latest research on how plants can hear insects snacking on neighboring leaves, listen here: This episode of Inquiring Minds, a podcast hosted by best-selling author Chris Mooney and neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas, is guest-hosted by Cynthia Graber. It also features a discussion of the new popular physics book Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn, by Amanda Gefter, and new research suggesting that the purpose of sleep is to clean cellular waste substances out of your brain. To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to Inquiring Minds via iTunes or RSS. We are also available on Swell. You can follow the show on Twitter at @inquiringshow and like us on Facebook. Inquiring Minds was also recently singled out as one of the "Best of 2013" shows on iTunes—you can learn more here. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/michael-pollan-paleo-diet-inquiring-minds

November 12 2013

21:24

'Oma and Bella': Two Holocaust Survivors that Preserve Memories in their Berlin Kitchen | Public Radio International

'Oma and Bella' is a documentary about two Jewish women in their 80s living in Berlin. Reporter Julia Simon talks to the filmmaker, who is the grand daughter of one of the women. http://www.pri.org/stories/2012-12-10/oma-and-bella-two-holocaust-survivors-preserve-memories-their-berlin-kitchen
19:53

Kitchen Cabinet: Oxford

Jay Rayner hosts a new food panel show. Every week the expert team visit a different interesting food location in the UK and answer cooking questions from a live audience. In a food science special, the experimental psychologist Professor Charles Spence discusses the relationship between food perception and taste. The panel tests the effects of cutlery on our taste buds, and we ask whether Margaret Thatcher was really responsible for soft-scoop ice cream. We find out whether the panel members believe they are better cooks than their mothers, ask how not to commit a sausage faux pas, and question why the British have a peculiar love for Marmalade. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/kc

October 30 2013

12:33

Fish Sauce: An Ancient Roman Condiment Rises Again

We usually associate fish sauce with Southeast Asian cooking. But it turns out the briny condiment also has deep roots in Europe, dating back to the Roman Empire. What caused its decline? Historians say it boils down to taxes, and pirates.

October 26 2013

21:32

Fish Sauce: An Ancient Roman Condiment Rises Again

We usually associate fish sauce with Southeast Asian cooking. But it turns out the briny condiment also has deep roots in Europe, dating back to the Roman Empire. What caused its decline? Historians say it boils down to taxes, and pirates.

September 19 2013

05:58

A Taste of the Past - Episode 140 - A History of Food in 100 Recipes

William Sitwell, author of A History of Food in 100 Recipes, joins Linda Pelaccio for this week's episode of A Taste of the Past to talk about the evolution of the food industry over hundreds of years. Tune in to hear William talk about the initiation of fast food and supermarkets, and how the idea of self-service mechanized the business of eating. From Mesopotamia to Mario Batali, William highlights and reproduces important recipes in order to transport the reader to specific time periods. How do different foods denote status? Learn about William's literary lineage, and how that inspired his writing. How did William decide to outline his book, and why does food history research require primary sources? Find out all of this and more on this week's edition of A Taste of the Past! Thanks to our sponsor, Hearst Ranch, and thanks to Plexophonic for today's break music. 'Food is a wonderful subject for journalists because it touches on so many aspects of everyone's lives.' [3:30] -- William Sitwell on A Taste of the Past http://www.heritageradionetwork.com/episodes/4363-A-Taste-of-the-Past-Episode-140-A-History-of-Food-in-100-Recipes

December 08 2011

09:04

'Kitchen Science': The Dinner Is In The Details : NPR

In How to Read a French Fry: And Other Stories of Intriguing Kitchen Science, Russ Parsons answers all sorts of food science questions, including why meat browns, why sauces emulsify and how frying is different from roasting. http://www.npr.org/2011/08/31/139791166/kitchen-science-the-dinner-is-in-the-details
09:03

Tried And True Tricks From 'America's Test Kitchen' : NPR

From perfect pie crusts to poached salmon, Christopher Kimball and Bridget Lancaster share cooking tips and secret shortcuts from America's Test Kitchen. The biggest challenge is getting home chefs to faithfully follow recipes, Kimball says: "They will substitute ingredients with great abandon." http://www.npr.org/2011/12/07/143259669/tried-and-true-tricks-from-americas-test-kitchen
Tags: npr food cooking

November 07 2011

04:39

On the Science of Cooking - An Edge Conversation with Nathan Myhrvold

Cooking also obeys the laws of physics, in particular chemistry. Yet it is quite possible to cook without understanding it. You can cook better if you do understand what is going on, particularly if you want to deviate from the ways that people have cooked before. If you want to follow a recipe exactly, slavishly, what the hell, you can do it without understanding it. As a rote automaton, you can say, "yes, I mixed this, I cook at this temperature" and so forth. But if you want to do something really different, if you want to go color outside the lines, if you want to go outside of the recipe, it helps if you have some intuition as to how things work. http://edge.org/conversation/on-the-science-of-cooking

November 02 2011

10:30

On the Science of Cooking - An Edge Conversation with Nathan Myhrvold

Cooking also obeys the laws of physics, in particular chemistry. Yet it is quite possible to cook without understanding it. You can cook better if you do understand what is going on, particularly if you want to deviate from the ways that people have cooked before. If you want to follow a recipe exactly, slavishly, what the hell, you can do it without understanding it. As a rote automaton, you can say, "yes, I mixed this, I cook at this temperature" and so forth. But if you want to do something really different, if you want to go color outside the lines, if you want to go outside of the recipe, it helps if you have some intuition as to how things work. http://edge.org/conversation/on-the-science-of-cooking

May 12 2011

07:05

March 14 2011

17:34

Episode 24: Burgers « Spilled Milk

Do you love hamburgers? Do you butter your buns with care? And most importantly, do you grind your meat at home? If these questions make you feel like you need a cold shower, you've come to the right place. This week on Spilled Milk, we cook and eat a couple of supremely juicy burgers and share our best tips for buying and grinding meat. http://www.spilledmilkpodcast.com/2010/10/21/episode-24-burgers/

December 30 2010

18:14

Countryman’s Cooking – W.M.W.Fowler’s Cookery for Men: Cormorant Recipe

The forthright and wildly eccentric musings on food and its preparation written by an RAF bomber pilot who returned from prison camp after WW2 to his bleak homeland where rationing and a long tradition of terrible cuisine frustrated his yearning for a decent meal. Leslie Phillips reads from WMW Fowler’s definitive cookery manual for men. First sold 40 years ago by Willie Fowler in his local pub and recently rediscovered in a charity shop, these joyfully wicked musings retain a surprising relevance today. Abridged by Neil Cargill. From http://www.articlesandtexticles.co.uk/2008/04/04/countrymans-cooking-wmwfowlers-cookery-for-men/

December 16 2010

15:21

App-etizing: Cookbooks And Recipes Go Mobile : NPR

If there's one kind of book that you'd think might be safe from the digital revolution it's the cookbook. It's hard to imagine how the Web could replicate a cookbook's well-organized recipes or enticing illustrations — and, of course, a book doesn't freeze or short out after a cooking accident. And cookbooks make the perfect gift for the foodie on anyone's list, which is why they're a mainstay of publishing at this time of year. But though the traditional cookbook is alive and well, a number of tech-savvy cooks believe that e-books and iPad apps are a boon for the industry — and could provide cooks with more creative and convenient ways to find the right recipes. http://www.npr.org/2010/12/16/132082822/app-etizing-cookbooks-and-recipes-go-mobile?sc=fb&cc=fp

November 03 2010

19:33

Mark Bittman | The Food Matters Cookbook: Lose Weight and Heal the Planet with More Than 500 Recipes

Mark Bittman is one of the country's foremost food writers, author of "The Minimalist" food column for The New York Times and of multiple James Beard Award and IACP/Julia Child Award-winning cookbooks, including How to Cook Everything. Selling more than a million copies, the book was described by a Washington Post reviewer as "the new, hip Joy of Cooking." Bittman also appears regularly on NBC's Today Show and NPR's All Things Considered, and has hosted three public television series. His latest cookbook is a follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating, offering recipes that are both healthier for you and for the environment.

October 24 2010

10:32

Harold McGee's 'Keys To Good Cooking' For Chefs

His latest book, the Keys to Good Cooking, is a how-to guide for home chefs in which McGee, a food science expert, explains techniques for kicking recipes up a few notches. McGee details why people perceive flavors differently, offers his thoughts on seasonings and explains why searing meat doesn't seal in the juices. McGee joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to offer advice for harried home cooks wondering whether it's safe to eat that shrimp in the back of the freezer (maybe) or whether it's worth it to buy that fancy new appliance (also maybe). http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130697865
Tags: food cooking

October 11 2010

10:30

NPR’s Science Friday & Cooking for Geeks

I had the privilege of being on NPR’s Science Friday last Friday. In a word, it was amazing. If you haven’t listened to the podcast yet, click here to listen to an MP3 of me on NPR (file size: 16 MB; runtime: 35 minutes). http://www.cookingforgeeks.com/blog/posts/npr-science-friday/

September 30 2010

19:03

Spilled Milk: Chiles

Put on your pepper pants, people, because we're frying, pickling, and enchiladafying chiles today. We're crazy for medium-sized, medium-hot chiles (padrons, shishitos, anaheims, poblanos, and their cousins), and we're going to drive you crazy, too, with a little help from Bryan Adams. Recipes: Pan-Fried Peppers, Pickled Peppers, and Folded Enchiladas. www.spilledmilkpodcast.com (http://www.spilledmilkpodcast.com/) The podcast highlight for Episode 133 of Forgotten Classics (http://hcforgottenclassics.blogspot.com/)
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