"All too often, cooking is explained in terms of social norms about femininity, or immigrants, or, in one recent New York Times column, the Cold War. This is all very well for sophomore sociology classes, but why does no one ever offer simple theories such as 'they liked it'; 'they thought it looked pretty like that'; or 'that was what they could afford'? Having read quite a lot of the era's cookbooks and food writing, I find these the most likely reasons for the endless parade of things molded, jellied, bemayonnaised and enbechameled."
“Sound is the forgotten flavour sense,” says experimental psychologist Charles Spence. In this episode of Gastropod, we discover how manipulating sound can transform our experience of food and drink, making stale crisps taste fresh, adding the sensation of cream to black coffee, or boosting the savory, peaty notes in whiskey.[more inside]
Since the controversial 2010 takeover of the British company Cadbury, by the makers of processed cheese slices Kraft, consumers of chocolate have been dismayed at the many changes brought in by the new owners. But the breaking point of many has been reached as the recipe for Cadbury Creme Eggs in the UK is changed, replacing dairy milk chocolate with standard cocoa mix chocolate. To add insult to culinary injury, Mondelez International, owned by Kraft Foods, is also introducing five eggs in a pack instead of three and six-packs. The opinions of actors and wallpaper designers. [more inside]
In the wake of the great miracle fruit craze of the late 00's, Francis Lam tested two more obscure taste distorters: adenosine 5′-monophosphate, which blocks the sensation of bitter flavors, and Gymnema sylvestre, a South Asian herb that does the same for sweetness.
"From a street-parked GhostFood truck, Simun and Songster and their team of trained staff will be serving a menu of three items, each of which conjures up a future dining experience for a food whose supply is currently threatened by climate change. " // "Its menu offers a curious collection of substitutes for potentially endangered foods: artificial recreations of chocolate, cod, and peanut butter." // "Pop one of the placebos--or “edible textural substitutes”--in your mouth and enjoy."
Suddenly everything you eat or drink tastes horribly bitter and metallic, with the bitterness persisting at the back of your tongue after each swallow. The symptom recedes somewhat after a few meals but still persists after days. What's wrong with you? Brain tumor? Liver failure? First check if you ate pine nuts a few days ago - if so, you've probably just got pine mouth. [more inside]
"People who use sows to hunt for truffles often find it hard to prevent a sex-crazed animal from eating the truffle she has found and may lose fingers in the attempt." (via) The NYT on decoding the genome of the Périgord Black Truffle . Attempts to make truffles cheaper and more accessible in the past have been met with some resistance.
Yummy Science. Researchers unravel the complex combination of physical and emotional reactions that influence our perceptions of what tastes good. Once upon a time, flavor research was a matter of asking housewives to munch a few potato chips... Now it's about providing an exceptional flavor "experience." And as scientists learn to exploit the ways we perceive flavor, food manufacturers will be able to refine their products to appeal to us as individuals. Welcome to the world of personally tailored mass-produced food.
Do You Taste What I Taste? - The first of Slate's 3-part series on the physiology of taste [parts 2, 3]
Ah, inspiring food and good writing. Recounting "first taste" experiences of Sea Urchin, Hearts of Artichokes à la Isman Bavaldy, and Cock in Wine, the perfect Pastrami sandwich, the sweet memory of honey and green mangoes, and about the late-onset cook, THE DOMESTIC MALE.