168 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

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 2.8K 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.

    Are Plant- and Fungus-Based Meats Really Better than the Real Thing?

    Are Plant- and Fungus-Based Meats Really Better than the Real Thing?

    Move over, beef: there’s a new burger in town. Plant-based meats are sizzling hot right now; in 2020 alone, the alternative meat industry saw a record $3.1 billion in investment, with 112 new plant-based brands launching in supermarkets. These juicy, savory, chewy fake burgers are a far cry from the dry, weird-tasting veggie patties of the past. This episode, we visit the Impossible Foods labs to swig some of the animal-free molecule that makes their meatless meat bleed, try fungal food start-up Meati's prototype "chicken" cutlet, and speak to the scientists and historians who can help us compare these new fake meats to their predecessors—and to real meat! Can a plant-based sausage roll be considered kosher or halal? Are plant-based meats actually better for you and for the environment? And how might a mysterious protein-powerhouse fungus named Rosita help feed the world?
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    • 55 min
    Guest Episode: The Doorbell by Nice Try!

    Guest Episode: The Doorbell by Nice Try!

    This week we're bringing you an episode from Nice Try! Nice Try’s second season, Interior, is all about the lifestyle products that have been sold to us over and over, and the promises of self improvement they have made, kept, and broken. Their foray into the private utopia of the home starts with the doorbell.
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    • 46 min
    Balls *and* Brains: The Science and History of Offal

    Balls *and* Brains: The Science and History of Offal

    It’s pretty rare to find organ meat on the dinner table in most American households today, but 90 years ago, the earliest editions of The Joy of Cooking contained dozens of recipes for liver, sweetbreads, and even testicles. For much of history, offal (as organ meat is called) was considered the best part of the animal—so what happened? Why are brains banned in the UK and lungs illegal to sell in the US, and why are Scottish haggis-makers up in arms about it? And the question we’re sure you’ve all been pondering: What do testicles taste like?

    With the help of Jonathan Reisman, author of the new book The Unseen Body: A Doctor's Journey Through the Hidden Wonders of the Human Anatomy, we explore how the vital functions of various animal organs affect their flavor and taste. Jon’s wife, Anna Wexler, also an academic and a writer, joins us to impart the wisdom she’s gained from years as a judge at the World Testicle Cooking Championship (aka Test Fest). We learn about the culinary history of offal from cookbook author Jennifer McLagan, and butcher Sam Garwin comes over to help us prepare up a massive organ meat feast: a Norwegian heart and lung pate (yes, we scored some lung!); a Georgian testicle stew; rabbit, chicken, and beef liver and onions; and breaded, fried lamb brains. Listen to find out which one we liked best, and which ones were just plain offal! (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)
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    • 51 min
    Trick or Treat: Soul Cakes, Candy Corn, and Sugar Skulls Galore!

    Trick or Treat: Soul Cakes, Candy Corn, and Sugar Skulls Galore!

    If you live in the U.S., chances are, your first hint of fall isn’t a russet-colored leaf landing on the sidewalk—it’s the orange-wrappered candies taking over the aisles of your local grocery and convenience stores. Forget decorative gourds: it’s officially Halloween candy season! But how did a 2,000-year-old Celtic festival marking the sun's death and the beginning of winter morph into a family-friendly sugar-fest? With the help of Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman, historians and hosts of the Vox Media Podcast Network show Now & Then, we explore the surprisingly recent introduction of trick-or-treating, and the all-American invention of Halloween as the ultimate candy-permissive, religion-free Frankenholiday. Plus, why do so many cultures around the world celebrate deathy things at this time of year—and why do so many of them involve sugar? All this, plus a rigorous candy corn tasting bravely undertaken by your indefatigable hosts!
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    • 51 min
    Buried Treasure: Weeds, Seeds, and Zombies

    Buried Treasure: Weeds, Seeds, and Zombies

    If you’ve ever engaged in mortal combat with a patch of ragweed, dandelion, or crabgrass in your garden, you might understand the twin emotions of rage and begrudging admiration when it comes to weeds: They. Just. Won’t. Die. When it comes to commercial agriculture, weeds pose a more existential threat—globally, the proportion of our harvest that is lost to weed infiltration is enough to feed millions, and, even with advanced herbicides, weeds cost farmers in North America an estimated $33 billion in lost yield each year. No matter what we throw at them, weeds just seem to get stronger. This episode, we follow a group of scientists along on a 149-year-old quest to see just how long weeds can survive—and, along the way, figure out what we can learn from weeds, what we really ought to thank them for, and what is a weed, anyhow? Listen in now for zombie seeds, a midnight treasure hunt, and the wild ways that weeds have outwitted us for millennia.
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    • 49 min
    The Barrel That Could Save A Forest

    The Barrel That Could Save A Forest

    Bourbon has to be aged in barrels, by law; whiskey usually spends years in barrels, by custom; and between 20-30 percent of wine spends some time in one. And almost all of those wooden vessels are made from just two kinds of tree: American white oak and French oak. This episode, we tell the story—and try the whiskey—of the distiller and the barrel-maker who, together, are figuring out how to use the huge, elegant, native oak of the Pacific Northwest to create new flavor, and, in the process, restore an ecosystem that has nearly vanished. Along the way, we figure out the science behind how a barrel affects the taste of what you sip, and we trace the trajectory of barrels from their pinnacle, as the go-to container for everything from fish to petroleum, to their current niche status. Finally, we explore why oak became the default wood for barrel-making—and meet the coopers experimenting with different woods, and an entirely new flavor universe for booze.
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    • 51 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
2.8K Ratings

2.8K Ratings

ChefTonyPR ,

Simply great

You ladies are the best you calm me down when am in a down depression day and make me feel like everything will be ok. You make me laugh you teach me something new and a s a chef I love learning more about food but you ladies are just amazing. Thank yiu for your hard work and keep being awesome.

An NPR Fan ,

Ouch

I was uncomfortable with anti-Catholic sentiments expressed, only to find, while corresponding with them, that the the podcasters were self-righteous about their bigotry. I was so surprised and disappointed.

Bpmd50 ,

I understand that ads are necessary

Having been a fan since the beginning of this smart podcast, I’m recently repulsed by their new advertisement for dietary supplements which hopefully unsuccessfully panders grossly to what I had assumed was an intelligent audience.

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