You probably know Neil deGrasse Tyson as an astrophysicist with a seemingly endless stream of science fun facts at his command. You might not be aware that he is also a great oenophile and lover of food.

Some 16 years ago, before I was a journalist and illustrator, I worked with Neil at the American Museum of Natural History. He would sometimes carry around a small canvas tote bag. As I recall, the bag would contain one of two things: either a weighty, mango-sized meteorite to show to guests of the museum, or a bottle of wine to gift to a colleague.

QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About War And Food?

Jul 19, 2016

When we think of tools of warfare, we tend to think of spears, guns and other types of militaristic weaponry. But throughout history, food has often been a critical component of war — inspiring conflict and, in some cases, delivering victory. War and peace? More like war and peas.

We've created a quiz to test your knowledge of just a few examples of how the history of food and war are intermingled. Can you defeat the questions?

In the summertime, the air is thick with the low humming of bees delivering pollen from one flower to the next. If you listen closely, a louder buzz may catch your ear.

Cleaning a freshly picked head of lettuce can be an act of mindfulness, your worries melting away as you wash and tear each leaf. And the payoff, along with the beautiful summer salad, is a feeling of virtuous accomplishment.

But if you're a busy working parent, the rip-and-release salad kit in a bag can take some hassle out of dinner prep.

The food processor is, for me, hugely disappointing. Before owning one, I used to see them looking all shiny and powerful in the department store, and I'd fantasize about never chopping a vegetable by hand again. I failed to consider that cookbook authors have particular ideas about how each ingredient should be prepped. The food processor, no matter how many blades it may come with, often doesn't cut it.

The kitchen is hopping and hot at L'Ami Jean restaurant in Paris, as chef Stéphane Jégo gets lunch underway. Jégo, who has been at this small Paris bistro for 14 years, is joined on this day by Mohammad El Khaldy, a chef from Damascus in Syria.

I have lived in eight countries and 10 cities. I have never lived anywhere for longer than six years. But the one constant in my life, my anchor in a changing world, my defense against perpetual culture shock, is my pot of daal.

Daal -- yellow, red, brown or black — is a staple across India. It is often described, inadequately, I think, as lentil soup. Except it's so much more.

Weeknight Kitchen: The Famous Coconut BLT

Jul 7, 2016

Makes 4 sandwiches


• 8 slices sandwich bread
• Vegan mayonnaise
• 2 cups Coconut Bacon (see below)
• 1 large ripe tomato, sliced
• Lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry


Spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of mayonnaise. Top the mayonnaise with about 1/2 cup of the Coconut Bacon per sandwich, followed by slices of tomato and lettuce leaves. Top each sandwich with the remaining bread slices. Cut each sandwich with a serrated bread knife and serve immediately.

In Chile, 'Marraqueta' Is The Daily Bread

Jul 7, 2016

Invoking the expression "to be born with a marraqueta under his/her arm" in Chile is to speak of a child that has their future assured. It's a little more common than a silver spoon in one's mouth, and far more democratic, as the marraqueta, pan batido or pan francés — as it's called outside of the capital city of Santiago, where I live — is a staple food eaten sometimes as many as three times a day.

For 12 years, Chester, Pa., had no supermarket. In an effort to end this so-called food desert, a local food bank plunked down a nonprofit grocery store in the impoverished Delaware County city in October 2013.

Area food bank Philabundance opened the new store, called Fare & Square, in the same footprint as a former supermarket at the corner of Trainer and 9th streets.

From Tree To Tap: Maple Water Makes A Splash

Jul 5, 2016

Kate Weiler was in Mount Tremblant, Quebec, when she found bottled maple water in a local coffee shop. With one sip, she was hooked on the single-ingredient water with a hint of sweetness.

"I loved the idea that it was natural, plant-based hydration from a local, sustainable source that tasted great," says Weiler.

Maple water wasn't sold in her hometown of Saint Albans, Vt. In the process of searching for — and failing to find — a source where she could order it, Weiler decided to launch a business to bring the functional beverage to market.

What is a queer kitchen? Is there a recognizable queer style or sensibility that can be expressed through food?

These questions and more were at the heart of a recent conversation hosted at the Williams Sonoma flagship store in San Francisco's Union Square during the city's Pride Weekend. The gathering was organized by the New York-based gay men's food magazine, Jarry, a twice-yearly print publication launched last fall.

"Knee-high by the Fourth of July" is an old favorite saying, when you'd drive past a field of corn out in the country. And many of the old favorite varieties, called heirloom corn, have lots of new friends.

In recent years, seed companies have been reporting big sales numbers for these varieties. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri says sales are "skyrocketing" — a fitting verb for the fireworks holiday.

As Chinese, Iranian and Indonesian As Apple Pie

Jul 3, 2016

The fireworks are stacked high, the beer is on ice, and lumps of charcoal glow hot under the grill in anticipation of hot dogs and hamburgers. Fourth of July is a holiday celebrated through food. There's potato salad, popsicles, watermelon slices — and, of course, apple pie.

We have to posit first that baking itself can feel like magic. A simple loaf of bread might include only flour, water, yeast and salt, and it can still transform from a sticky blob to a pillowy ball with a texture unlike anything else you've ever handled to a final product that's perfectly crisp on the outside, perfectly tender on the inside. Not only that, but it will audibly crackle at you as it cools on the counter. It will pass through a perfect moment for consumption, and then that moment will be gone.

1 In 10 People May Face Malnutrition As Fish Catches Decline

Jun 30, 2016

There are many important reasons to manage the world's wild fisheries. We do it to maintain stock levels, to ensure biodiversity and because fish are valuable. But researchers say there's something else in need of protection: The very people who rely on fish for food.

Scientists are predicting more than 10 percent of the world's population, a whopping 845 million people, will experience deficiencies in critically important micronutrients including zinc, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and fatty-acids in the coming decades if global fish catches continue to decline.

Why Does Every New Restaurant Look Like A Factory?

Jun 29, 2016

For the past few years, my friends and I have noticed two trends when dining. First, seemingly every high-end menu rebukes factory farming with an essay about locally sourced pork belly, and second, just about every one of these restaurants looks so much like a factory — with exposed light bulbs, steel details and brick walls — that I'm constantly looking over my shoulder for the foreman.

Nothing Says 'Hip' Like Ancient Wheat

Jun 27, 2016

Forget bold stripes and mule flats — could the next big fad be super-old wheat?

Consumer interest in healthy grains could sow the seeds for some long-forgotten bread wheats to make a comeback, according to an opinion article released Monday in Trends in Plant Science — presumably the Vogue of botany.

With A Zap, Scientists Create Low-Fat Chocolate

Jun 25, 2016

Physicists say they've discovered how to zap the fat out of chocolate.

The researchers, led by Rongjia Tao of Temple University, were able to remove up to 20 percent of fat by running liquid milk chocolate through an electrified sieve. And they say the chocolate tastes good, too.

During his daily bus commute in the bustling Indian city of Hyderabad, there was something that really bothered Narayana Peesapaty.

"Everybody was eating something on their way to work," says Peesapaty, who was working as a sustainable farming researcher for a nonprofit organization at the time. But it wasn't his fellow bus riders' snacking habits that troubled him. It was their plastic cutlery.