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food

Nancy Leson

In this episode, Nancy Leson explains the difference between broth and stock. I share some of my stock (or is it broth?) tips, and brag to her that — two weeks after the event — DeGroot and I finally managed to use up all the Thanksgiving leftovers.

Courtesy of The Blind Cafe

This story originally aired May 28, 2016.   

This week on Sound Effect our theme is “Out of the Darkness,” but KPLU’s Ed Ronco and Ariel Van Cleave found that going into the darkness can shed a lot of light on the world around you, and even your own personality.

The Blind Café is a pop-up event that travels the country, offering guests the chance to have dinner in the dark. Not candlelight. Not a dimly lit room. We’re talking total, 100 percent, pitch black.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The Lockspot Café is your classic fisherman’s bar, a stone’s throw from Salmon Bay and the Ballard Locks. It’s pretty much the first place Alaskan fishermen see when they arrive on dry land. The establishment has been some kind of fish and chips joint for more than 100 years.

"Marcus Gavius Apicius purchased me on a day hot enough to fry sausage on the market stones."

So begins the tale of Thrasius, the fictional narrator of Feast of Sorrow. Released this week, the novel is based on the real life of ancient Roman noble Marcus Gavius Apicius, who is thought to have inspired and contributed to the world's oldest surviving cookbook, a ten-volume collection titled Apicius.

It started with a cup of coffee, or more precisely, a hot beverage. Seven years later came fries, the now infamous eggplant and friends. Sandwich lovers waited for their time to come, while begrudgingly sending another drumstick, wishing it were barbecue.

MOHAI, PEMCO Webster and Stevens Collection / courtesy MOHAI

You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry explores that idea in depth with a new exhibition that opened over the weekend. Called "Edible City," it charts more than 100 years of Seattle’s evolving food culture.

Those first bubbles were almost a revelation. A couple of days before, I had mixed together flour and water into a paste. But now pockets of gas percolated through that seemingly inert glob. It was breathing. It was alive.

This gloppy mess, exuding a whiff of vinegar, was my nascent sourdough starter. When mature, it would be a pungent brew of yeasts and bacteria, a complex ecosystem that would hopefully yield delicious loaves of sourdough bread.

Cup Noodles, the dorm-room staple that cooks in three minutes, turns 45 this month. There's no better place to celebrate than its very own museum in Yokohama, Japan.

"This is the museum that really honors the creator of instant ramen and Cup Noodles," says museum manager Yuya Ichikawa, who leads me on a tour.

When describing the cultural history of the Caribbean island of Grenada, it's the cooking pot rather than the melting pot that springs to mind. And there's no better culinary metaphor than "oil down," the peculiarly named national dish of Grenada, a mix of meats and vegetables.

Nearly every ingredient in this hearty stew has a unique origin and story to tell: For instance, callaloo, a leafy vegetable somewhat similar in taste to spinach, and the same plant's root, known as dasheen, are indigenous to the Caribbean and were cultivated by Grenada's earliest Amerindian inhabitants.

A holiday celebrating a dish beloved of many West Africans, World Jollof Day, was marked last week.

Jollof is a celebration dish. You eat it at parties, naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals — you name it, you will see the familiar and comforting pot of steaming jollof rice.

But jollof is also war – of the deliciously friendly variety.

Nestled among rolling hills and grazing cows, Elmore Mountain Bread in central Vermont is quintessentially pastoral. The setting is apropos, given the owners' recent decision to start grinding their own flour by stone — a veritable step back in time.

What if you were about to buy some packaged food at a supermarket, newsstand or vending machine and you noticed a black stop sign staring back at you from the label? On it was a message from the U.S. Department of Health: This snack is high in sugar, saturated fat, salt or calories.

Would it give you pause?

In southern Venezuela, the Ye'kuana people gather them from the mud around streams or dig them up from the floor of the highland forest. They're gutted and boiled and eaten — or smoked and sold at prices three times that of other smoked meats.

What is this lucrative, forageable fare?

Earthworms.

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.

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.

Thanks to the rise of food delivery services like Grubhub and Eat24, it's getting easier to order meals online.

Celery, the mild-mannered straight man of the vegetable world, packs a puny six calories per stalk and — in my opinion — about as much flavor as a desk lamp. Yet despite its limitations, the fibrous plant has featured in Mediterranean and East Asian civilizations for thousands of years.

The paradox puzzled me enough that I called a bunch of specialists at the intersection of botany and anthropology to pick their brains. They shared their best guesses about how celery sneaked into our diets.

Where do you draw the line between inspiration and straight-up imitation when it comes to food?

A few years ago, we brought you the story of Caitlin Freeman, a pastry chef baking innovative, art-inspired cakes at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Using modern art as her muse, Freeman translated what she saw in the museum into edible form at the SFMOMA's upstairs café.

Nashville Hot Chicken is showing up everywhere lately, from fast-food marquees to trendy restaurant menus. But to find the real thing, you might start in a nondescript strip mall on the northeast side of Nashville, Tenn.

Here at Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, people line up long before the doors open to get their fix.

"Need my hot chicken," says construction worker Jose Rodriguez as he approaches the kitchen window to place his order. "I'm going to get two hot of the breast quarters."

Waugsberg / Wikimedia Creative Commons

Imagine what your Thanksgiving table would look like without any food that is pollinated by bees.  

It’s a challenge issued by the group Environment Washington, which is highlighting the issue with a campaign called “No Bees, No Food.”

Canvassers for the group say if bees die off, then turkey, rolls and potatoes are all  that would be left on the table. Dairy products would be endangered. And you can forget about vegetables or traditional pies.

Editor's note: Today is National Sandwich Day. To mark the occasion, we bring you this story from our archives. It was originally published in 2012.

White bread, like vanilla, is one of those foods that have become a metaphor for blandness. But it wasn't always that way.

The L & T Cheryl DeGroot

Nancy Leson asked me how the horseradish got its name.  It's not because of its resemblance to a certain part of a horse.  And it's not because horses like to eat it -- the stuff's actually poisonous to them.  The "Horse" in horseradish is just an antique adjective describing anything large or strong.  For my taste, the stronger the better.

It's not hard to grate your own horseradish but if you do, it wouldn't hurt to wear a nuke suit or at least a gas mask when you do.  Once the cell walls of the root are broken down two chemicals previously kept separate combine to form allyl isothiocyanate -- the stuff that shoots the vaporized razor blades through your sinuses.  It's the plant's natural defense against getting eaten.  Ironic, no?

thegreenbeet.com

As I tell Nancy Leson in this week's Food for Thought, I have had an iceberg lettuce epiphany.  A voice whispered, "Slice it horizontally." 

We all could probably eat more fruits and vegetables. But if forced to choose between whole fruit or a glass of juice, which one seems more healthful?

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Wild mushrooms are going gangbusters this year in the Pacific Northwest, thanks to just the right weather conditions, and foragers are rejoicing after last year’s shortage

Among them is James Nowak, an amateur mycologist who spends most of his days working with mushrooms. When he’s not out in a forest hunting for mushrooms, he grows them in his lab in Seattle or processes them for sale to restaurants and home cooks.

Heather W. / Yelp.com

So how long would you be willing to stand on line for a table at a popular restaurant? Ten minutes? A half hour? Longer? Not KPLU’s Dick Stein, as he tells Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson on today’s Food for Thought.

Keith Seinfeld / KPLU

What if fresh foods were easier to find in lower income neighborhoods?  Would that lead to less obesity and disease? 

King County has been testing this idea by offering store-owners a free “makeover” to help them sell fresh produce.

They discovered: selling fresh fruits and vegetables poses surprising challenges. Some are cultural, since many small stores are owned by recent immigrants. Others involve the hidden world of produce wholesaling.

How evil is sugar? That's long been a hard question for researchers to answer. Most of the studies about sugar's health effects to date have been too small, too short-term, or too poorly designed to nail it one way or another.

Elvis Presley was better known for his music than his gourmet tastes. But he did have a famous affinity for the fried goodness of the American South — and he had the waistline to prove it.

In honor of what would have been the King of Rock 'n' Roll's 78th birthday, let's take a look at some of his legendary eating habits.

That buzz from your morning cup of joe waning? How about a quick boost from caffeinated mints, gum, Perky Jerky or, from the makers of Cracker Jack, coffee-flavored Cracker Jack'd snacks?

It's not just coffee and tea and soda anymore. "There's a proliferation of foods; all kinds of things are now being caffeinated," says Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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