The Disgusting Food Museum

Malmo, Sweden, is welcoming a new museum opening at the end of this month. The Disgusting Food Museum will highlight recipes from around the world that make some folks salivate and others feel a bit queasy. Museum founder and organizational psychologist Dr. Samuel West is most known for opening the Museum of Failure last year.    

There has been some criticism of the Disgusting Food Museum as an exercise in othering—deeming the food of some cultures to be normal and delicious, and the aromas, flavors, and ingredients of others to be weird and off-putting. Just as the Museum of Failure does more than just poke fun at the idea of Hot Road, the Harley Davidson perfume (the larger purpose is to explore the relationship between failure and innovation), the Disgusting Food Museum paints a more complicated picture of why we eat certain things and push others away in revulsion.

The items features on the museum’s website fall into roughly three, often overlapping categories: unfamiliar creatures (bats, dog, insects) or parts (penis, intestines, heads); very strong flavors, textures, and aromas (durian, natto, root beer); and items that violate certain religious or moral beliefs (pork, meat, jell-o salad).

Read more about the Disgusting Food Museum at Quartz. -via Nag on the Lake

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The Pyrotechnic Ice-Cream Parades of the Nobel Prize Banquet

On December 10, this year's Nobel Prize winners will gather with royalty and dignitaries at City Hall in Stockholm for the Nobel banquet. Some think the highlight of the evening is the awarding of the prizes, but those who know say it's really the dessert parade, a grand entrance featuring a light show of sparklers as an army of servers bring in the dessert.

Nobel banquets have been held since 1901, and each year, the menu is exquisite. That’s to be expected: Some of the world’s most lauded people, not to mention Swedish royalty and dignitaries, are in attendance. In the first few years, the food was mostly French-style, the cuisine of the elite. Only later in the century did Swedish dishes and ingredients take center stage, with filet of sole being replaced by filet of reindeer. But until recently, there was one constant: For dessert, dozens of waiters descended the grand staircase with trays of Nobel ice cream and sparklers, a fitting accompaniment to the Nobel Prize’s explosive origins.

Things change, and even the ice cream is optional these days. However the dessert parade will continue, upstaging the scientists and peacemakers once again. Read about the Nobel banquet and its ice cream parades at Atlas Obscura.

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Margarine Once Contained a Whole Lot More Whale

When you grow up eating Mazola, you tend to think that margarine was always made of corn oil. That's far from the truth, as many different kinds of fats have been used to make the butter substitute. The only requirement was that it had to be cheaper than butter; otherwise people would just buy butter. That included whale oil, which was widely used for fuel before the rise of the American petroleum industry.

Margarine was invented in 1869, just as whale oil was on the verge of falling out of use as a fuel. To simulate butter, margarine must contain some kind of fat. That might come from a variety of vegetable oils—as in most margarines today—or beef fat. But in the first half of the 20th century, since whale oil was “no longer needed for illumination” and a “large amount became available,” as one researcher wrote in the 1960s, most of the world’s supply was being whipped into a spreadable butter substitute.

Read up on the history of whale oil margarine, which was so popular that it led to the formation of one of the world's largest corporations, at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: KingaNBM)

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Christmas Tree Chips

It's not unusual for food companies to bring out seasonal flavors for Christmas, but they are usually flavors of other foods associated with the holidays, like peppermint or egg nog or pumpkin spice. Iceland is offering a new flavor of crisps this holiday season- that of a Christmas tree. Okay, in case you're confused, Iceland refers not to the country, but to a British grocery store chain. Crisps are what we Americans know as potato chips. But the Christmas tree flavor is real. The chips are called “Luxury Christmas Tree Flavour Salted Hand-Cooked Crisps,” and the Christmas tree is a pine.

The crisps use the oil from real pine needles to help get that unique Christmas tree flavor. Some point out that pine nuts are a popular add to salads and soups and dishes like pesto—but how far does that piney love go? Enough to look at a Christmas tree and think, “delicious”? Maybe if these crisps had been released in November or something, but on October 8, they’re a little difficult to fathom.

Bon apetit!

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Rice Balls Too Cute to Eat

Food can make a wonderful art medium. Making food "cute" is also a great way to get kids to enjoy their lunch, as we've seen in many artistic Bento boxes. But when does food cross the line from one to the other? Instagram user Peaceloving Pax is a doctor in Thailand who is also a food artist. You have to wonder whether his/her creations ever are actually eaten.

Peaceloving Pax recreates rice balls depicting kawaii characters from Pokémon, Studio Ghibli, and other anime and cartoon worlds. See more of these wonderful rice balls, as well as dumplings, sandwiches, baked goods, and other foods at Instagram.

-via Buzzfeed

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Foods Each State Hates

This map by Hackernoon used data provided by the dating app Hater to determine which foods are most disproportionally disliked, relative to how other states feel about those foods. Take a look around, and it appears that many states' pick for the worst food is less about how the food actually tastes, and more about what that food represents. The environmentally-minded coffee connoisseurs of Washington state hate Keurig K-Cups. Macho Montana hates pumpkin spice flavors. And while Texas cattle ranchers love steak, they hate seeing it overcooked. Some make sense, like Kansas disliking shellfish. The shellfish they get isn't as fresh as it would be anywhere else. A few states are confusing, like Missouri. There must be a story somewhere about the last bite of a hot dog. See the enlargeable image at Hackernoon.  -via Uproxx 

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Is This the Most Magical Meal on Earth?

Disneyland in California was originally built with a private luxury apartment inside for Walt Disney himself. After his death, it was made into an art gallery, then an exclusive lodging experience called the Disneyland Dream Suite. It's now called 21 Royal, the setting for a posh dinner offered for $15,000. Don't faint; that price covers 12 people and includes park tickets, so dinner itself is in the realm of a grand per person. As a theme park journalist, Carlye Wisel got to try it out, and she gives us a blow-by-blow description of the evening.

After a seemingly brief cocktail hour, we’re ushered into the dining room. It’s neoclassical by way of New Orleans, all jewel-toned wainscotting and aquamarine velvet chairs with idealized murals of the park’s Mark Twain Riverboat churning through open waters and the famed Haunted Mansion in all its antebellum glory. A floral eruption of sunset-hued ranunculus, roses, and sprigs of rosemary on the table would almost have you forgetting you’re a stone’s throw from mouse-shaped beignets until a candelabra on the mantle is magically lit by, what else, fairy dust.

Sommelier Matt Ellingson does most of the talking throughout the night, with lengthy backstories for every pour, including our first — a Dom Ruinart champagne named for, as we’re told in detail, the 18th-century inventor of “wine with bubbles.” The first course lands, Osetra caviar offset by an acidic yellow tomato sauce and Alaskan king crab with a delicate potato mousseline crepe. The wine and food pairing isn’t just nice, it’s nearly unprecedented: Save for Club 33, nowhere at the original Disneyland Park sells alcohol, for now.

You might never have an evening at 21 Royal, but you can read about it for free at Eater.

(Image credit: Frank Wonho Lee)

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The Hidden Limits of the ‘All-You-Can-Eat’ Buffet

When considering an all-you-can-eat buffet, diners calculate not only whether the experience is worth the price, but other factors such as accommodating the tastes of a group. Restaurant owners, who often operate a razor-thin margin, must calculate the total cost of food and service against the aggregate appetite of everyone who walks in the door. How do they deal with people who eat several times what the proprietor calculates?      

Born in midcentury Las Vegas, the American all-you-can-eat (or AYCE) buffet was all about excess from the start. The phrase itself can be an issue for proprietors, insofar as it sounds like a challenge. Someone might level the place just to prove a point, not because they’re actually that hungry. To that end, owners might include “within reason” in the fine print or style the offer as “all you care to eat” to instill a sense of moderation — that’s on top of various other tricks for getting you to leave before you do too much damage, like uncomfortable seating, not clearing your dirty plates right away and enticing you to fill up on bread and beverages instead of more expensive items.

Every buffet restaurant has a story about someone who ate more than should be humanly possible, but dealing with them is a delicate balance of economics and reputation. Read about the many ways it's been handled, for individual cases and as policy, at Mel magazine. -via Digg    

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War of the Pizzas: A Bracket to Determine the Best Pizza-Related Moment in History

If you were to name the desires that all people have in common, food would be at the top of the list. And if there was ever a food that people agreed upon, it's pizza. Pizza is the world's most perfect food, containing all the major groups, and the dish people want if they could only eat one thing for the rest of their lives. Add in that someone will make one for you and even bring it to you, and you've got something special. That's true even when we don't eat the pizza ourselves. Andrew Gruttadaro at The Ringer put together a tournament bracket of famous "pizza moments" that penetrated our shared experiences.

As you can see, the pizza moments have been broken up into four regions: In the Movies, On TV, In Sports, and In Life. Each pizza moment was then seeded based on my general opinion of its popularity and recognizability. Because Pizza Day is only 24 hours long, we do not have enough time to stage a popular vote. Instead, I will be deciding the winners of each matchup based on a combination of things: the moment’s popularity and notoriety, the moment’s nostalgia factor, the prominence of the pizza in the moment, how delicious the pizza looks in the moment, and what the moment says about pizza. If you disagree with my pizza moment takes and the outcome of this bracket, then you should make your own. (I genuinely mean this, with no ill will: Pizza is for everyone, and therefore everyone should be allowed to construct their own pizza moments bracket.)

Gruttadaro examines each of the contestants and justifies the matchup winners all the way down to the final championship at The Ringer. -via Digg

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Edible Face Pie

Not long ago, we posted Ashley Newman's People Pot Pie. Newman is a special effects artist, and her pies are made of latex. Tons of friends sent that video to baker Andrew Fuller of Guy Meets Cake, who already does gruesome cakes featuring monsters and body parts. It inspired him to go ahead with an idea he'd been considering: making an edible pie with a creepy face! This is a mint cherry pie with edible decorations. Yes, even the hair is edible. If you want to order one, check with him through Facebook for availability. See more views of this pie at Instagram. Read about Fuller's work (and Newman's) at Atlas Obscura.

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Celery Jell-O and Mixed Vegetable Jell-O

We've posted some completely awful recipes and pictures of the Jell-O craze of the 20th century, although those were mostly recipes from the company. Real people make delicious and fruity Jell-O salads from sweet things like fruit, whipped cream, and marshmallows. Or at least they do after one or two experiments with vegetables in gelatin. But at the height of the Jell-O salad fad, the company made things easier with specific flavors made to go with veggies. Celery and mixed vegetables flavors were introduced in 1964. See more of the advertisements and read a couple recipes for the new flavors at ClickAmericana. Yum! See their other vintage recipes here. -via Metafilter

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Smoked Watermelon Looks Like Meat

(YouTube link)

This is a watermelon. It's been skinned, brined, smoked, basted, and grilled like a ham, so it resembles a ham. Duck's Eatery in New York City offers it as an entree, but you could make it at home, with some skill, particular ingredients and tools, and lots of time. What does it taste like? My guess is that it tastes like a watermelon, no matter what it looks like. My guess is also that it looks better than it tastes. -via Laughing Squid

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How Instant Ramen Became an Overnight Success

(YouTube link)

Instant noodles are a miracle. When you're really broke, they are the cheapest meal you can eat in a hurry, with almost no kitchen equipment necessary. And if you aren't broke, you can dress them up with a variety of other foods. And kids love them. Personally, I avoid ramen because of the association of being way too broke for way too long, but I can understand how others look at these noodles more nostalgically. But where did they come from? Momofuku Ando set out to develop an inexpensive food that could be easily stored. Great Big Story tells us how he did it. -via Geeks Are Sexy 

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People Pot Pie

(YouTube link)

Now, these are some freaky-looking pies! Doesn't matter. If they've got berries in them, I'll eat it. I believe these pies were made by Ashley Newman of Folsom, Louisiana. Her Etsy store is here. Newman posted a tutorial a few years ago on how to make these pies. -via reddit

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How Did Cereal Become a Staple Breakfast Item?

(YouTube link)

Cold cereal is a fairly American habit. The rest of the world eats a light meal of bread, fruit, and a couple of other normal foods, or maybe a hearty cooked meal if you do heavy labor. So why do we eat so much sugary cereal with milk? Yeah, it's tasty, but it's not good for us. However, those cereals were born to be health foods, especially good for the suppression of sexual urges. Simon Whistler of Today I Found Out explains the evolution of breakfast itself first, and then the origins of the cereals we know.

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