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Food

Editor's note: A version of this story was first published Aug. 1, 2014.

When Leanne Brown moved to New York from Canada to earn a master's in food studies at New York University, she couldn't help noticing that Americans on a tight budget were eating a lot of processed foods heavy in carbs.

Melon, Honey, and Mint Granita

Jul 27, 2015

Serves 6
 
When it’s time for dessert, ordinarily I don’t mess around -- give me cake or give me death, that sort of thing. But every once in a while -- say, in the peak of summer when temperatures are ghastly and you’ve invited people over for dinner, when you’d really rather just lie in front of the air conditioner in your underpants -- life calls for something light, fruity, and totally refreshing. Granita is my go-to for these occasions, and it couldn’t be simpler.
 

Put That Wok To Work: A Trick For Smoking Fish Indoors

Jul 26, 2015

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: We learn how to smoke fish without any specialized, pricey equipment.

Dr. Vivek Murthy — the 19th U.S. Surgeon General — has had a pretty good medical career: As a college freshman, he, along with his sister, co-founded an HIV/AIDs education program, and, in a move that would make even Doogie Howser jealous, he was confirmed as U.S. Surgeon General when he was just 37.

But! Did he ever work at General Hospital? We suspect not. We'll ask him three questions about the long-running ABC soap opera which mysteriously treated 5,000 percent more cases of amnesia than the national average.

The sun has very nearly set on Beirut, and in a bar called Anise, they're mixing the first cocktail of the evening.

There's vodka, vermouth and iced glasses. And next to the bunches of mint for mojitos are sage, wild oregano, rosemary and the Lebanese favorite, za'atar, a kind of wild thyme.

Here in Lebanon, mixologists and brewmasters are taking a national cuisine and reimagining it in liquid form.

As California's drought drags on, its almond industry has come under scrutiny. As you've probably heard by now, almonds use a lot of water — about one gallon per nut. Most growers are relying on groundwater even more this year, because their surface water has been cut off. But that brings a different problem all together: too much salt.

Not the salt added to make roasted almonds savory, but salt in groundwater – which is killing trees.

Sixty-five grams of added sugar. That's how much you'll find in a 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola.

But can you picture 65 grams? It's about 16 teaspoons worth of the sweet stuff.

The Food and Drug Administration wants to make it easier for Americans to track how much added sugars we're getting in the foods and beverages we choose.

Sugar gives the human brain much pleasure. But not everyone revels in cupcakes with an inch of frosting, or milkshakes blended with candy bars, though these crazily sugary treats are increasingly the norm.

The argument over genetically modified food has been dominated, in recent years, by a debate over food labels — specifically, whether those labels should reveal the presence of GMOs.

The battle, until now, has gone state by state. California refused to pass a labeling initiative, but Maine, Connecticut and Vermont have now passed laws in favor of GMO labeling.

A lot of people seem to want to bite Donald Trump's head off these days. For those riled up by the Republican presidential candidate's incendiary comments of late, artist Lauren Garfinkel offers up this food for thought:

Yep, that's the Donald's likeness carved into a circus peanut — those marshmallow candies shaped like the legume. The orange hue, Garfinkel says, reminded her of Trump's signature tan.

Detox diets come and go, like any other fad. In South Korea, one popular diet has staying power. It has been around for at least 1,600 years, ever since the founding of the Jinkwansa temple in the mountains outside of Seoul.

This Buddhist monastery sits at the convergence of two streams, amid twisting leafy trees and soaring peaks. It's one of many temples in the countryside outside of South Korea's capital. Each temple has its own specialty. Jinkwansa is famous for two reasons.

Strolling through the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists the other day, I saw several signs offering to solve an urgent problem American bakers face. The signs advertised "egg replacement."

The next time you pop a Popsicle in your mouth, think about this: You're enjoying the fruits of an 11-year-old entrepreneur's labor.

Back in 1905, a San Francisco Bay Area kid by the name of Frank Epperson accidentally invented the summertime treat. He had mixed some sugary soda powder with water and left it out overnight. It was a cold night, and the mixture froze. In the morning, Epperson devoured the icy concoction, licking it off the wooden stirrer. He declared it an Epsicle, a portmanteau of icicle and his name, and started selling the treat around his neighborhood.

Even those of us who can't tell the difference between a pinot noir and a merlot are probably familiar with the basic rule of wine pairing: white wine with fish and red wine with steak. But when it comes to tea pairings, we're stumped.

Yet it turns out there is an art to unlocking new flavors in your food by pairing it with tea. Sipping oolong with a buttery, citrusy madeleine can highlight the flowery and milky notes of the tea, while a hot cup of green tea melts the texture of goat cheese and enhances its creamy notes.

An ancient, abandoned city in Israel has revealed part of the story of how the chicken turned into one of the pillars of the modern Western diet.

The city, now an archaeological site, is called Maresha. It flourished in the Hellenistic period from 400 to 200 BCE.

"The site is located on a trade route between Jerusalem and Egypt," says Lee Perry-Gal, a doctoral student in the department of archaeology at the University of Haifa. As a result, it was a meeting place of cultures, "like New York City," she says.

In 1849 an American farmer watched a sow give birth and was moved to record a diary entry: "Pigs! Pigs! Pork! Pork! Pork!"

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: A play on an iconic New Orleans dish to get supreme flavor from shrimp without heads.

The Chef

For centuries, cooks around the world have been tapping a powerful secret ingredient. It can bind casseroles, tenderize meats, meld with vegetables and spices as a cooling dip or blend with fruits for a tangy drink.

We're talking, of course, about yogurt.

The U.S. and Europe are in the midst of negotiating a historic trade deal that will create the world's largest consumer market: some 800 million people. Despite promises that the agreement will create thousands of new jobs, there's fierce resistance to it in Europe, especially when it comes to food.

Many Europeans say they want to preserve a way of life and eating that they say America's industrial farming and multinational corporations threaten. A smaller version of that battle is being fought in one Paris neighborhood known as "the belly of Paris."

Weeknight Kitchen: Grilled Eggplants with Nuoc Cham

Jul 15, 2015

Serves 2
 
· 3 Asian eggplants, or use 1 large eggplant, cut into fingers
· 1/4 cup vegetable oil
· 1/2 handful of mint
· handful of fresh cilantro
· 1 quantity Nuoc Cham (see below)
· handful of toasted cashews, coarsely crushed 
 

As Dan Charles reported on Monday, yogurt has a way of igniting passions. In his story of arson, the flames were literal.

Once you start looking, it's really not hard to find people — even entire countries — deeply attached to this nourishing and calming food.

When Amanda Dykeman was certain she was done with having children, she had two options for permanent birth control: surgical sterilization, which typically involves general anesthesia and a laparoscopy, or Essure, the only nonsurgical permanent birth control option approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

She chose Essure. And she says her life has never been the same.

The idea that fermented foods — including yogurt and kefir — are good for us goes way back. But could the benefits of "good bacteria" extend beyond our guts to our brains?

Nobel Prize-winning scientist Elie Metchnikoff (also known as Ilya Ilich Mechnikov) first observed a connection between fermented milk and longevity among Bulgarian peasants more than a century ago.

It takes about four cups of milk to make one cup of skyr, Iceland's super thick, high-protein version of yogurt.

Every drop of skyr made in Iceland comes from Icelandic cattle, the country's single breed.

But there's a problem: The average Icelandic cow can't supply much milk. And the hunger for skyr is stronger than ever now that people around the world are discovering its creamy delights.

Watson, IBM's Jeopardy!-winning supercomputer, boasts a pretty impressive resume when it comes to cooking.

Many a book, blog and news article has been devoted to the topic of whiskey: the way it's aged, where to drink it, how to store it and serve it or pair it with food. But comparatively little attention has been paid to how whiskey is packaged.

Which is a shame, really, when you think about how a beautiful, funny or fancy-looking label can influence which bottles we buy — and which we ignore — when shopping the whiskey aisle.

One secret to a long life may be the simple daily ritual of tea.

We've told you how Okinawans — who are known to have more than a few centenarians among them — enjoy jasmine-infused tea.

And if you're looking to incorporate this fragrant aroma with a bit of creamy indulgence, pastry chef Naomi Gallego, of the Park Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C., has you covered.

Walking through the farmers market this time of year is a wondrous thing: juicy tomatoes, rows of jewel-toned eggplants, fragrant basil and sweet yellow corn. But then, you see bunches of greens that look like weeds, stuff with names like kohlrabi and purslane, and suddenly, you feel intimidated. Other people know what to do with these greens, why don't I?

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, top chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: We go to Seoul, South Korea, to make banchan — those endless small plates of pickles and veggies that traditionally accompany rice or soup.

What do we know about the power of food to rev up sex drive? Not much.

"Really, science has not figured out what determines sexual motivation and sexual attraction. If we knew the answer to that, we'd probably be richer than Pfizer after they invented Viagra," says Dolores Lamb, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

She hasn't seen any compelling evidence that any particular food can intensify desire.

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