Image Source: Morphing Matter Lab, Carnegie Mellon University
Over the past decade, the nascent discipline of Food Design has come into its own. There is now a magazine, MOLD, devoted to Food Design; an International Food Design Society; and you can obtain a master's degree in Food Design. This new discipline bridges the gap between the food products you see in stores and various disciplines like psychology, biology, genetics, anthropology, sociology, agriculture, environmental science, nutrition, engineering, and culinary arts. Perfect for design-minded food lovers!
Image Source: Hyoung Chang/Getty
The "Disneyland of Mexican restaurants" features waterfalls, cliff divers, Black Bart’s Cave, gold and silver mines, puppet shows, and a person in a gorilla costume chased by a sheriff. It's a wacky eatery that opened in 1974 and went bankrupt in 2020. Enter the heroes, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who rescued the beloved landmark, in part because Parker had his own childhood birthday parties there. The pair also featured Casa Bonita in a 2003 episode of their irreverent cartoon "South Park". They've since dumped $40 million+ into restaurant upgrades, including major improvements to the food, now overseen by executive chef Dana Rodriguez (aka Loca), a six-time James Beard Award nominee. Why do Parker and Stone care? C'mon, these guys have always thrown themselves recklessly into the preservation of childhood memories. Will it be as successful as South Park? More than 100,000 potential customers have already signed up for reservations after the soft opening. Long live whimsy and playfulness.
Image Source: Archaeological Park of Pompeii
Pizza in Pompeii?! But pizza was born in Naples, no? Archaeologists recently deepened our understanding of pizza history after unearthing a fresco (mural) in ancient Pompeii depicting what appears to be a round pizza or focaccia. The image was discovered on the wall of a house attached to a bakery, and the flatbread is topped with pomegranate, a fruit resembling a date, spices, and what may be an early type of pesto. "It was an ancient form of pizza," says Gino Sorbillo, owner of one of the oldest pizzerias in Naples, which is only 20 miles from Pompeii. “In ancient Pompeii, we already knew that there were forms of flatbread, made with grains, water, salt and maybe beer as a leavening agent,” he adds. Maybe this flatbread simply wasn't known as "pizza" until Neapolitans topped it with tomatoes and mozzarella. Either way, one thing is for sure: pizza is not made with a base of pulverized cauliflower. Go ahead, fight me on it.
Image Source: Qilai Shen/New York Times
Beijing gets all the economic headlines. But BBQ? That honor goes squarely to Zibo, in central China's Shandong province. A self-proclaimed "Barbecue Experiential Ground," Zibo welcomes hungry visitors under a huge archway that flickers neon blue and red flames. The city often has more tourists than residents (4 million+) and in peak season gets more traffic than the Great Wall. The local BBQ is so popular that Zibo lawmakers set up 21 buses from the train station directly to barbecue restaurants, which sprawl across an open-air market the size of 12 football fields. There, diners grill their own skewers on tabletop charcoal stoves, and wrap them in tortilla-like shells with hot sauce and green onion. At 15 cents a pop, these local DIY skewers might be worth a try if you happen to be in China.
Image Source: IDRlabs.com
Are you grossed out by bloody meat, blue cheese, or a fly in your soup? To better understand negative food reactions, researchers at the Technical University of Zurich have classified and quantified the yuk factor into eight distinct metrics of disgust. Take their simple test to find out your food disgust level. Mine's 20%, which is pretty low. You might also want to check out the other food tests on this site, such as the Eating Disorder Test and the Diet Mapping Test to see how your food intake compares to that of others.
Image Source: Fabrice Coffini/Getty Images
According to the "Swissness Act" of 2017, food products with the Swiss cross or "Swiss Made" on packaging must contain a minimum of 80% raw materials from Switzerland (100% for milk and dairy) and essential processing must be done in the country. One of those Swiss food products, Toblerone chocolate, was invented in the Swiss city of Bern and can be identified by its distinctive triangular peaks, inspired by the nearby Matterhorn mountain. Alas, Toblerone is now owned by US company, Mondelez International, which is shifting some production to Slovakia in July. Result? Toblerone packaging will soon lose its iconic Swiss Matterhorn mountain. Will anyone notice or care? We shall see.
Image Source: Ronny Przysucha
This February, the JBF and the US State Department signed a "memorandum of understanding" renewing its Diplomatic Culinary Partnership. Begun in 2012, the partnership waned in recent years, and the renewed goal is to "engage world leaders, further cross-cultural dialogue, and strengthen bilateral relationships." How? With the food and hospitality of the American Culinary Corps, a group of over 80 top US chefs and culinary professionals who will participate in diplomatic programs and events at home and abroad. Can't wait to see what they cook up. You can watch the ceremony and see the list of participating chefs here.
Image Source: Dingding Hu
It's a simple enough question. Shouldn't cans and boxes of chicken stock list ingredients like chicken bones, chicken meat, and/or various vegetables? Most don't. "Chicken stock" is the main ingredient. To get an answer, an intrepid reporter explores the food product worlds of Swanson, College Inn, ConAgra, the USDA, and the FDA, only to find that federal laws leave a lot of leeway on what must be listed on ingredient labels. Do you really want to know what's in commercial chicken stock? Enter this deep-dive article at your own risk.
Image Source: Sara Pinsonault
It's an interesting debate. You might think it heresy to include anything but gin and vermouth in a classic martini. Maybe a green olive or lemon twist are acceptable. But orange bitters? Surprise! It turns out that the earliest martini recipes called for orange bitters. Bitters were only jettisoned later to simplify the drink. Here's to upending beliefs in light of new information. Here's to the New Year!
Image Source: Pixabay
If you've watched chef Gordon Ramsay squirm on YouTube's Hot Ones show, you know that humans can't always handle hot chile peppers. How about dolphins? Seems they can take the heat. Fisheries around the world have been desperate to stop dolphins from pilfering fish from their nets. We know that other mammals like deer, squirrels, and rabbits (and some humans) can't stand hot chiles. So Greek researchers coated fishing nets with resin containing capsaicin, the hot compound in chiles, and waited for the dolphins to swim away. Results? Fail. Dolphins still chewed through the nets and ate the fish. Maybe it even tasted better to them.