121 episodes

Food with a side of science and history. Every other week, co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode exploring the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food- or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. We interview experts, visit labs, fields, and archaeological digs, and generally have lots of fun while discovering new ways to think about and understand the world through food.


Find us online at gastropod.com, follow us on Twitter @gastropodcast, and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/gastropodcast.

Gastropod Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley

    • Food
    • 4.8, 2.3K Ratings

Food with a side of science and history. Every other week, co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode exploring the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food- or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. We interview experts, visit labs, fields, and archaeological digs, and generally have lots of fun while discovering new ways to think about and understand the world through food.


Find us online at gastropod.com, follow us on Twitter @gastropodcast, and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/gastropodcast.

    Pizza Pizza!

    Pizza Pizza!

    At last, an episode on pizza! But that raises a tricky question: what exactly is pizza? As it turns out, the original pizzas from eighteenth-century Naples looked nothing like a standard slice—they were more like a focaccia, topped with oil, herbs, anchovies, or whatever else was on hand. Even after these first pizzas met the tomato, the dish was a local peculiarity—most Italians thought pizza was gross and weird until just a few decades ago. So how did we get from Neapolitan subsistence snack to today's delivery staple? Listen in this episode as we travel with historian Carol Helstosky, author of Pizza: A Global History, and Francisco Migoya, head chef at Modernist Cuisine, from Italy to New York to Brazil and beyond, to tell the story of how pizza conquered the world. All that, plus the tough questions: is Chicago deep dish really pizza? How about bananas on top? What about (gasp) a donut pizza?

    • 45 min
    Eating the Wild: Bushmeat, Game, and the Fuzzy Line Between Them

    Eating the Wild: Bushmeat, Game, and the Fuzzy Line Between Them

    It's a safe bet that your recent media diet has included the words "wet market," "zoonotic disease," and "pangolin," as experts take a pause from discussing COVID-19's spread and impact to speculate on the virus's origins. This episode, we're digging into the larger story behind those words, that of our relationship to eating wild animals: how and why have our attitudes to wild meat shifted over time? Why is it that deer shot by a hunter in the U.S. is game, but monkey caught in the Democratic Republic of Congo is bushmeat? With the help of Gina Rae La Cerva, author of the new book, Feasting Wild, we explore what we gain and lose by eating wild, from the lost primeval forests of Europe to Robin Hood, and from smoked monkey to bird spit.

    • 39 min
    Eating the Rainbow: Or, the Mystery of the Orange Oranges, the Red M&Ms, and the Blue Raspberry

    Eating the Rainbow: Or, the Mystery of the Orange Oranges, the Red M&Ms, and the Blue Raspberry

    From stripy fuchsia beets to unicorn doughnuts, the foods available today on grocery store shelves and in cafe displays are more brightly colored than ever. But this hasn't always been the case. This episode of Gastropod, we offer three stories that explore the colors of our cuisine: How did a food fight between Florida and California turn oranges (the fruit) that perfect bright orange (the color)? Why did US consumers freak out about the food dye Red #2, and what was the impact on our M&Ms? And finally, who invented the blue raspberry? All that, plus one very sexy indigo-hued blossom.

    • 43 min
    A Tale To Warm The Cockles Of Your Heart

    A Tale To Warm The Cockles Of Your Heart

    You might have heard of Molly Malone, selling cockles from a wheelbarrow in Dublin, or of Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, with her cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row—but the chances are most Gastropod listeners have never actually tasted a cockle. And, apparently, you're missing out! For the Native American tribes in the Puget Sound, where cockles used to be abundant, they're a treasured treat: meatier, sweeter, and richer-tasting than other shellfish. But they're also disappearing, and no one knows why—or how to save them. This episode, we join the team of intrepid marine biologists and tribal leaders on a mission to restore the cockle, on a journey that involves cockle viagra, a cockle vampire, and some carefully choreographed simultaneous spawning. Listen in now for a story of shellfish science and cultural history that will warm the cockles of your heart—and perhaps inspire the revival of other indigenous foods.

    • 35 min
    White vs. Wheat: The Food Fight of the Centuries

    White vs. Wheat: The Food Fight of the Centuries

    White or whole wheat: while today the question is most frequently asked at the sandwich counter, the debate over the correct answer goes back literally thousands of years. In the past century, though, as white flour and thus white bread became more accessible, the debate became increasingly heated: "Science finds that white bread develops criminals,” reported newspapers in the 1920s, while anti-white bread activists at the time claimed that eating too many slices would causing blindness and facial deformity. But whole-wheat bashers had their retorts ready: "Whiteness and purity go hand in hand," proclaimed health writer Dr. Woods Hutchinson. "The whitest possible of white bread" is "not only much more appetizing, but ... more nutritious and more wholesome than any black, brown or brindled staff of life."



    White vs. wholewheat: this episode, we dive into the world's longest-running, highest-stakes food fight. Along the way: the invention of sliced bread, the science behind Wonder Bread's curious bounce, and a light dusting of eugenics. Listen in now as Aaron Bobrow-Strain, author of White Bread: A Social History of the Store-bought Loaf, unpacks the anxieties and values underlying the bread wars, while wheat breeder Steve Jones introduces us to the "approachable" loaf that he hopes will win the battle for once and for all.

    • 49 min
    Licorice: A Dark and Salty Stranger

    Licorice: A Dark and Salty Stranger

    Licorice is a polarizing candy: there are those who pick out the black jelly beans, those who think Twizzlers are better than Red Vines, and those who won't travel without a supply of salty dark lozenges. The dark and chewy treat begins life as a plant root that is more than fifty times as sweet as sugar. This episode, we tell the story of how a traditional remedy become England's first branded candy, and we get to the bottom of a medical mystery (licorice poisoning!) in a tale that involves both Tutankhamun and Henry VIII. 

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
2.3K Ratings

2.3K Ratings

Jr1029384 ,

The perfect podcast

Simply my favorite podcast out there (and I listen to a lot of podcasts). I’ve listened to every episode and look forward to every 2nd Tuesday. The hosts provide interesting and exciting reporting and all the cool facts about the food topics they cover. Huge fan and highly highly highly recommend!

Ash Luster ,

Best Show EVER!!!

Seriously. Why aren’t you already listening to this? These wonderful women have answered so many questions I’ve had about food and introduced me to so much more. I cannot thank them enough for all the random food information that I amaze/annoy everyone around me with. They are truly a treasure. Microbes!!!!

Il machinista ,

Great show but they talk too fast

I love this show, but the presenters talk way too fast. What’s the hurry? I got a headache listening to their (great) show on the teaser of color. My girlfriend who is not a native speaker of English gave up (even when we slowed the speed down) so I had to listen to it by myself :-(

Please. slow. down.

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