Why Is a ‘Pepper’ Different From ‘Pepper’?

When cooking with other people, you sometimes have to stop and explain what you mean when you say "pepper." There's black pepper, ground from peppercorns, and then there's the various vegetables that originated in America: bell, banana, jalapeño, etc. Black pepper originated in Asia, so why do we call the other plants "peppers"? It was due to Christopher Columbus trying to find a new route to Asia. He didn't, but he still tried to make the best of it by bringing back spices to enrich King Ferdinand. A little misnaming would do.   

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) had been a culinary mainstay of fine cuisine since the Roman Empire, beating out prior spicy compounds such as horseradish, mustard, and the arguably better long pepper. It was a valued addition to both food and medicine, yet getting it from Asia was expensive and difficult. Columbus was so eager to find pepper that he carried peppercorns with him. When he landed, he showed them to locals. They were similar enough to the allspice berries growing wild in Jamaica that Columbus also likened them to pepper: pimienta de Jamaica. Marjorie Shaffer writes in Pepper: A History of the World’s Most Influential Spice that Columbus was likely smart enough to know what he had wasn’t pepper, but that he probably didn’t care. Allspice and hot peppers headed for Europe.

Peppers from the New World were a hit, to the chagrin of Dutch spice traders. Read about the initial misnaming of peppers and how that affected world trade at Atlas Obscura.


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Pizza Wedding Bouquet

Remember when KFC made prom corsages out of fried chicken a few years back? This is a step beyond that. You can have a wedding bouquet made of pizza! Villa Italian Kitchen in New Jersey is offering an edible wedding bouquet and a matching boutonniere for the groom. They're even giving some away to affianced couples who enter a contest.

On the one hand, this is a way to save money by combining the expense of flowers with the expense of food for the reception. On the other hand, pizza grease can leave a real mess behind on a wedding gown or a rental tux. Read more about the pizza bouquet at Elite Daily. -via Metafilter


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How Ketchup Revolutionized How Food Is Grown, Processed and Regulated

The original condiment called ke-tchup was a fermented fish sauce from China. It became popular among sailors for spicing up bland food on long ocean voyages, and folks in other parts of the world then tried to duplicate it for themselves. The recipes varied widely until any fermented and/or vinegary sauce was called ketchup.

But ketchup became truly American once it was wed with the tomato and bottled industrially. While an early ketchup recipe with tomatoes appeared in Britain in 1817, calling for “a gallon of fine, red, and full ripe tomatas [sic],” and also anchovies, shallots, salt, and a variety of spices, it was Americans who really invented tomato ketchup.

The American tomato, with its origins in what is now Mexico and South America, was introduced to Europeans and North Americans by the Spanish conquistadors, and by the 19th century had become a ubiquitous garden plant. (Earlier it had been considered unhealthy and even poisonous.) Tomatoes became the base of many a sauce or stew, and before long were bottled as concentrated, fermented ketchups, preserved with vinegar and spices much the same way housewives would make a mushroom ketchup.

Tomato ketchup was a sensation, but recipes still varied until a company called Heinz started tweaking the recipe to balance shelf life and taste. That's when the story really takes off, and the success of Heinz ketchup led to other milestones in American agribusiness and cuisine. Read the story of ketchup at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: Visitor7)


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Butter Tarts

Do you like butter tarts? Have you ever heard of a butter tart? I had to see a recipe to know what they are, and have ascertained that they are like tiny pecan pies, except sometimes they are made with walnuts or raisins instead of pecans, and sometimes with no nuts at all. In fact, Wikipedia describes them as just that, except the filling is runnier than American pecan pie because they don't use corn starch, and that's why they are in individual crusts. Sweet! Butter tarts are a favorite Canadian treat and comfort food. This came up because Saturday, June 9, is Ontario's Best Butter Tart Festival in Midland, Ontario. The festival opens with The Piping of the Tart with a bagpipe and drum band, and includes all the normal festival trappings, but the main event is the butter tart cooking competition. So if you want to try Canada's best butter tarts, you've got a week to get there. -via Fark

(Image credit: Rob Campbell)


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The History of the Pineapple

Europe had no pineapples, and they were completely unknown there until Christopher Columbus returned from his second voyage to the New World in 1496. He packed some of the fruit for import along with parrots, tomatoes, tobacco, and pumpkins. While the tobacco and pumpkins survived the journey the best, it was the pineapple that really made an impression.

The fateful pineapple that reached King Ferdinand was the sole survivor: it was the only specimen that had not dissolved into a sticky rot during the journey. It produced enough of an impression for Peter Martyr, tutor to the Spanish princes, to record the first tasting: “The most invincible King Ferdinand relates that he has eaten another fruit brought from those countries. It is like a pine-nut in form and colour, covered with scales, and firmer than a melon. Its flavour excels all other fruits.” At least part of the excitement came from the fruit’s spiked form, which sent Europeans into rapture. King Ferdinand’s envoy to Panama, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdes, writes, “[It is] the most beautiful of any fruits I have seen. I do not suppose there is in the whole world any other of so exquisite and lovely appearance.” The sweetness of the pineapple, too, should not go unmentioned. Renaissance Europe was a world essentially bereft of common sweets. Sugar refined from cane was an expensive commodity, and orchard-grown fruits were subject to seasons. The pineapple may well have been the tastiest thing anyone had ever eaten. But delicious or otherwise, it was still the preserve of adventurers, and the pineapple might never have made it into common lore if it hadn’t coincided with yet another global development: the widespread dissemination of the written word.

Pineapple became a sensation for three reasons: it was completely new, it was expensive due to shipping and was therefore reserved for the wealthy, and it was really tasty. Read about the rise of the pineapple at The Paris Review.

-via Messy Nessy Chic


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A Brief History of America’s Appetite for Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese has been an American (and Canadian) staple since Thomas Jefferson regaled the recipe he encountered in France. It expanded to nearly all American tables because it was simple, delicious, and most of all, cheap. After all, cheese itself was invented as a survival food to make milk last longer when there was nothing else to eat.   

Although processed cheese was invented in Switzerland, big American cheese producers—as part of our factory-scale, get-big-or-get-out philosophy of food production—bought into processed cheese so heavily that the very definition of “American cheese” has come to be a processed product. Many Americans may never have had a macaroni and cheese made with real cheese, and many who grew up on mac and cheese may never have had a version that wasn’t made with a powdered mix. While the most popular brand of boxed mac only just recently quietly removed artificial colors and preservatives from their “cheese sauce,” it seems, from a traditional roux-making perspective, still far removed from the original recipe.

Macaroni and cheese has been served as long as there has been a United States of America, but in a 20th-century economy driven by convenience packaging and industrialization, it was elevated to an ideal American food: Pasta and processed cheese are very cheap to make and easy to ship and store, and they certainly fill up a belly. It’s no wonder a hot gooey Velveeta mac and cheese tastes like a winner to so many Americans, even those attending a fancy contest in San Francisco.

The contest the author refers to is one in which the popular vote went to a chef whose recipe for macaroni and cheese included Velveeta, causing a scandal among the gourmet judges. Read about how Americans fell in love with macaroni and cheese at Smithsonian.


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Where Did the Prohibition on Combining Seafood and Cheese Come From?

As someone who does not eat seafood, I never thought much about seafood recipes. I've read in several places that you shouldn't combine cheese with seafood. Okay, but why? I assumed it was some ancient prohibition against combining a food that spoils easily (seafood) with a food that uses things like bacteria or fungus to exist at all (cheese). Dan Nosowitz did some research on the "rule," and found that it is far from universal.

The prohibition on combining seafood and cheese is ancient and strong, but localized. The Top Chef judges state this prohibition as if it is a universal rule, but of course there are dozens of centuries-old dishes combining seafood and cheese that are beloved outside the United States—in Greece, Mexico, France, and even in specific pockets of the U.S. itself. To assume that the combination of seafood and cheese is inherently wrong is bizarre, and yet common. So where did it come from?

“It definitely originated in Italy, there’s no doubt about that,” says Julia della Croce, a cookbook author, teacher, writer, and one of America’s foremost experts on Italian cuisine. “Italians are very religious about mixing cheese and fish or seafood, it just isn’t done.” I spoke with several food historians and nobody seems to disagree on this point: The prohibition, and its aggressiveness, come from Italy.

The next question is why. While there is no consensus on the reason, there are quite a few possibilities, which you can read about at Gastro Obscura.

(Image credit: Aïda Amer)


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Your Saddest Desperation Cocktails, Ranked

Remember back in college, when you had limited money, limited access to alcohol, and limited supplies in the dormitory kitchen? Making a cocktail, or even a highball, was a matter of inventiveness often driven by desperation. You mixed what you had. It can also happen when you are adult, but broke, or a high school student sneaking what's available up to your room.

Deadspin collected stories of these cocktail recipes born of desperation dredged from readers' pasts. -via Metafilter, where you'll find even more.

(image credit: Elena Scotti (GMG))


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The Turkish Roots of Swedish Meatballs

King Charles XII ascended to the Swedish throne at the age of 15 in 1705, and immediately set out to wage war against the world around him. He earned the nickname "the Swedish Meteor" when he conquered Denmark-Norway and Saxony-Poland-Lithuania in the 18th century.

The meteor, as it happened, fizzled. In 1708, Charles XII decided to make what is now considered a military misstep: invading Russia. After Russian forces destroyed his troops at the battle of Poltava in 1709, Charles fled to the Ottoman Empire, another enemy of Russia. Settling with 1,000 men in what is now Moldova, he spent five years shuttling around the Empire, including Constantinople. In 1710, he convinced Sultan Ahmed III to declare war on Russia.

Though Charles was champing at the bit to get back to Sweden, it’s said he and his men gained a taste for Ottoman Turk cuisine, such as sherbet and what’s now known as Turkish coffee. Voltaire even wrote that a Russian-paid assassin tried to slip poison in Charles’s coffee. While the Swedish government didn’t specify which recipe Charles XII liked so much, the king and his followers likely encountered köfte, the spiced lamb and beef meatballs of Turkish cuisine.

Having made several nations of enemies, Charles did not live a long life. Like a meteor, indeed. It was a while before his favorite meatball recipe slipped into the public eye and became Sweden's pride and joy. Read how that happened at Gastro Obscura.


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Pickled Basilisk Eggs with Wasabi and Avocado

You've probably been using the same deviled egg recipe your entire life; now its time to try something different! Tye Lombardi at the Necro Nom-nom-nomicon has a spicy, colorful recipe for pickled basilisk eggs. You will need:

6-8 basilisk eggs.
1 fireproof suit and gloves.
Large mirror
Blindfold

Oh, wait, that's the recipe for immortals. For the rest of us, it's a matter of pickling your eggs for a few days with brine colored with beet juice, then deviling the yolks with with wasabi and avocado filling. That's where the fuchsia and chartreuse color scheme comes from. Bone appetit!


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O Moldy Night: A Celebration of Molded Food

Three old friends in Durham, North Carolina, staged a pop-up museum project at the Durham Hotel called "O Moldy Night," featuring premiere dishes of molded food from 40 experienced chefs, home cooks, and artists. The idea of molded food was dominated by tributes to old family recipes involving Jell-O, agar, or aspic, but it was not limited to those ingredients. Some were molded of chocolate or cooked beans. The dish pictured is “Jell-O by the Sea” by Kate Fulbright.

Medium: Agar agar, Jell-O, coconut milk, Swedish Fish, graham crackers, sprinkles

Inspired by an episode of “Rugrats,” I set out to make a grand, wiggly-jiggly mold of the ocean. Using Swedish fish to represent ocean life, and a combination of tapioca balls and zigzags representing bubbles and kelp, I suspended this all in layers of agar agar (a gelatin derived from algae). Crushed graham crackers and sprinkles adorning the edge as sand and seashells completed the tableau.

The dishes ranged from the nostalgic (“Nothing Says I Love You Like Green Jell-O”) to the exotic (“Big in Japan”) to the alcoholic (“Jiggle Gin Fizz”) to the disgusting (“I Would Heart for You to Trotter on Over and Vent Your Spleen”). The best-named dish was certainly "Congealed Item." You can see the most notable of the molded foods at Bitter Southerner. -via Metafilter


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A Japanese Take on American Sushi

(YouTube link)

Jun Yoshizuki of Jun's Kitchen makes American-style sushi with what seems like the entire contents of a grocery store to the beat of a fast, bouncy soundtrack. You don't even need to like sushi to enjoy the efficient moves of his practiced technique. His "studio audience" consists of his curious and appreciative cats Haku and Nagi, who are both well-fed and well-trained. We can assume that Poki is in another room with the door shut. -via Laughing Squid


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How Hostess Cakes Are Made

(YouTube link)

Come close and watch robots in Emporia, Kansas, make Hostess cupcakes, donettes, and Twinkies! No, we're not going to get any recipes, but we will see battalions of cakes marching in formation through the factory as layer after layer of sweet sugary stuff is added to them. Cream filling? Check. Frosting? Check. Swirls? Check. Powdered sugar? Check. You might get a sugar high just by watching, but my guess is that you'll go find a sweet snack right after the video is finished. -via Geekologie  


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Rhett And Link Test Vegan Fast Food Hacks

Restaurants are becoming more allergy friendly and catering to more dietary restrictions by the day, which means people will all sorts of different diets have more choices available when they eat out.

But it's still pretty hard for vegans to find vegan-friendly options at fast food restaurants like Wendy's, Arby's and McDonald's, so Rhett and Link decided to tackle the problem head on by creating their own vegan fast food creations on this episode of Good Mythical Morning.

(YouTube Link)


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The Best Easter Candy of All Time

You might get away with filling an Easter basket with boiled eggs and Peeps if your children are young, but adults are much more discriminating in their Easter treats. Ranker compiled results from over 13,000 online voters to determine the best Easter candies. Cadbury Eggs took three of the top five slots, but did not make #1. The overall results are:

1. Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs
2. Cadbury Creme Egg
3. Cadbury's Mini Eggs
4. Lindt Chocolate Bunny
5. Cadbury's Caramel Egg

The list ranks 27 different Easter-themed candies. You can sort results by sex, generation, and region and get somewhat different results, but Reece's Peanut Butter Eggs stays at the top for all of them. -via Uproxx


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Peeps S’mores Skillet Dip

Making s'mores out of Peeps is the true fusion of spring and summer confections. You can do that without even going outside with the Peeps S’mores Skillet Dip! A hot cast iron skillet under a broiler replaces a campfire, and a rainbow of Peeps provide the eye candy. That won't last long, as you swish a roasted, melty Peep with the melted chocolate using a graham cracker. Or maybe a fork, if you want a neater s'more. Since Easter is the last of the candy holidays until Halloween, you might want to stock up on Peeps so you can have this again and again. Get the complete recipe, with a video, at Hello Giggles. -via Pee-wee Herman


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Garfield's Lasagna

Garfield, the fat cat of comics and movie fame, always craved lasagna. Andrew Rea shows us why that lasagna was so delicious in the latest episode of Binging With Babish. The good news is that Garfield doesn't have to appear in this cooking video, so he doesn't.

(YouTube link)

All the parts of this lasagna are hand-made before they are assembled. J. Kenji López-Alt's recipe for Ragu Bolognese is at Serious Eats. To see Brad Leone make the ricotta cheese, see his video. The instructions for homemade pasta is in a previous video by Andrew Rea. I can guarantee that after going through all this for a pan of lasagna, the cat is not getting it. -via reddit


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How To Cook A Bowl Of Noodles At Your Desk

Workers sometimes find it hard to leave their desks and eat lunch, so they have to come up with clever ways to fix themselves a meal at their workstation without pissing off the boss or burning down the office building.  

But instead of buying a tiny microwave or using warm sink water to make noodles food vlogger Xiao Ye, aka Miss Yeah, came up with the most clever desktop cooking hack I've ever seen, turning Pepsi cans and some rubbing alcohol into a mini stove.

She then cooked up a bowl of bean sauce noodles using one very, very long noodle, some fresh veg she stole from the company fridge and some other ingredients she just happened to have in her desk.

Something tells me she cooks at her desk a lot...

(YouTube Link)

-Via Laughing Squid


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Pastry Chef Attempts To Make Gourmet Cheetos

Cheetos are far from gourmet food products, and yet cheesy crackers and cheese platters can be quite fancy so maybe the only thing holding Cheetos back from being considered fancy foods is a gourmet makeover.

With better ingredients and lots of experience creating gourmet versions of favorite snack foods Bon Appétit's Claire Saffitz definitely had what it takes to create a Cheeto for the sophisticated foodie. And her gourmet Cheetos look more delicious than the original!

(YouTube Link)

-Via Geekologie


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Your Face in Candy

The Face Licker is a custom-made lollipop made to look like your face -or the face of someone you'd like to lick. Firebox offers to use a photograph that you send them and create a life-size replica by hand in delicious tutti-frutti hard candy. It's $57, but if you've got that kind of money, it would make a great gift. You won't get one in time for Easter, however. If you're going to buy a Face Licker for me, send them a picture of Robert Redford, circa 1970. -via Mashable 


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This Is The Weirdest Mayonnaise-Based Video Ever Made

Have you ever watched a video online and wondered "why the f%$k did somebody make this f$%king video? LIKE SERIOUSLY WTF?!?!?!" Yeah, of course you have.

We've all come across a video at one time or another which has left us completely puzzled and wondering why someone would make such a thing, let alone upload it to YouTube, and most of these videos are presented without explanation.

But this bizarre and disgusting video by Joe Philippus was actually created with a purpose in mind- to gross out his buddy:

One of my best friends has a completely irrational fear of mayonnaise. I was bored one afternoon while my wife was at work, so I decided to make him a tribute video.

(YouTube Link)

You filmed it for your buddy, eh Joe? Yeah right, YOU KNOW YOU LIKED IT!

-Via Reddit


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A Noise Canceling Noodle Fork That Drowns Out Slurping Sounds With Music

Real ramen heads don't give a crap about slurping, and many Japanese ramen chefs consider slurping to be a compliment, but if you're forced to eat ramen around people who don't appreciate a good slurp you may need to eat quietly.

Or better yet grab one of these "Otohiko" noise canceling noodle forks and slurp away with impunity! The Otohiko noodle fork was created by Nissin to battle "noodle harassment" by drowning out the sound of slurping with music:

Do you know an international issue “Noodle Harassment”? People say that the slurping noise Japanese people make when they eat noodles makes people from abroad uncomfortable. …The moment that the high powered directional mic equipped on the fork detects the sound of noodles slurping, it transmits that signal to a dedicated app installed on a smartphone, using short wave radio communication. Sound is then emitted from the smartphone to camouflage the noodle slurping noise.

(YouTube Link)

-Via Laughing Squid


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Pickle Juice Slushes Coming to Sonic

The refreshing properties of frozen pickles should not be new to Neatorama readers. We've posted about pickle sickles, pickle soda, and Kool-Aid pickles. Every day, more people find out that they're not the only one who takes a sip of juice from the pickle jar occasionally. That habit goes nationwide this summer, when Sonic Drive-ins roll out a new flavor in their extensive slush menu- pickle juice slushes!   

We tasted the drink at Sonic’s headquarters in Oklahoma City, and it’s surprisingly delicious (and makes a good accompaniment to burgers and/or tots and/or corn dogs.) Sweet and tangy, the bright brine compensates for the over-savoriness you might have been worried about. You won’t understand why, but you’ll keep going back for more sips, likely until it’s all gone. Our only gripe is that the slush is a bit too sweet, as if overcorrecting for the acidity, but maybe this is what has to happen for America to acclimate to—and embrace—pickle-flavored soft drink.

If that's too much for you, you can start slowly by requesting a shot of pickle juice in a slushy of another flavor. The pickle juice slushes should be available starting in June. I don't care for sweet pickles, so I'll wait until the dill version comes out eventually. -via Boing Boing


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A Mesmerizing Visual Recipe For Handmade Crispy Fried Noodles

Foodies often have a particular dish, ingredient or dessert that reminds them of their childhood, and whenever their senses are treated to the comforting sight, smell and taste of that familiar food all feels right in the world again.

For food vlogger Li Ziqi that childhood fave food is crispy fried noodles, a dish which she lovingly prepares in this meditative video recipe that showcases the time honored tradition of preparing food from scratch.

(YouTube Link)

-Via Laughing Squid


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Lauren Ko's Geometric Pie Crusts

Just because Pi Day has come and gone, that doesn't mean you can't make a pie this weekend. Right now, I have inspiration and some blueberries in the house ready to go. Lauren Ko makes beautiful pies that have to taste as good as they look. Her pies get intricately-designed upper crusts and her tarts feature mosaics of cut fruit in geometric shapes.   



See more of Ko's lovely pies at Instagram, and read about them at Lokokitchen. If you'd like to see how she makes her pies, there's a video at Boing Boing.

(Image credit: Lauren Ko)


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Varieties Of Hot Tea Everyone Should Try

Sometimes a cup of hot tea seems to warm both your heart and soul, as the relaxing wave of warmth soothes your spirit and calms you from within.

Those who find comfort in a cup of tea tend to stick with their favorite varieties and flavors as they're a reliable source of comfort and a familiar taste.

But if they would just step out of their comfort zone a bit they would find a world of amazing hot teas out there to try- like Royal Milk Tea, which is made with Ceylon, Assam and Darjeeling, milk and sugar.

(YouTube Link)

You may have heard the name Yerba Mate and wondered what the buzz is all about. Well, according to one site it has the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate" all in one beverage.

This South American staple has been taking the tea drinking world by storm, and even though the process of drinking Yerba Mate is a bit odd don't worry! It's a wonderful experience for tea drinkers, as long as you can handle a caffeine kick:

This slightly bitter drink is made by pouring hot water over dried leaves and twigs from the yerba mate plant. The tea is typically brewed in a gourd or gourd-shaped container and drunk through a metal straw called a bombilla. If you’re invited to drink yerba mate in Argentina or Uruguay, it’s polite to drink it as is, but if you’re brewing your own at home, it’s fine to add a little honey or sugar.

See 8 Varieties Of Hot Tea Everyone Should Try at Mental Floss


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Horrible Secrets About Your Favorite Foods

Every day people head to the grocery store to buy their favorite foods blissfully unaware that they're being sold a bunch of mislabeled lies.

They're told the wine they purchase is aged in oak caskets when some wineries are simply adding wood chips and shavings to the wine, which is actually being made in steel vats to cut costs.

Even worse- winemakers are adding a substance called "Mega Purple" to their wines, and Mega Purple is basically just concentrated grape juice.

It's a grape concentrate, or slurry, which big wine labels add to underwhelming red wine to intensify the flavor and color and sometimes even to mask spoilage. It's estimated that over 25 million bottles get spiked with Mega Purple on a yearly basis. Many wineries rely so heavily on it that they have their own reverse-osmosis machines which let them make their own concentrates by extracting the alcohol from their s#%tty wines to pump up slightly less s#%tty wine. Yummy.

(Image Link)

There is still plenty of real wine made the old fashioned way available at your local grocery store, but the fish they're selling is nothing but a big flippin' lie- because most of it is intentionally mislabeled.

Here's a chart that shows what you're actually getting when you buy fish at the grocery store:

See 6 Of Your Favorite Foods (That Have Horrible Secrets) at Cracked (NSFW language)


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Secrets of the Avocado

(Image credit: Kjokkenutstyr)

The following is an article from Uncle John's 24-Karat Gold Bathroom Reader.

Inside that textured green skin, it’s ripe with mystery. It’s an “evolutionary anachronism.” It’s not a vegetable, and not exactly your typical fruit. It’s an acquired taste that most Americans still resist. Meet the avocado.

HAVING A BALL

The avocado came from South America, so it’s not too surprising that the Nahuatl language of the ancient Aztecs gave us its name, derived from ahuacatl. Besides referring to the fruit, the word had another meaning: “testicle,” which also isn’t too surprising, considering the fruit’s shape and texture. Although “guacamole” doesn’t really sound like “avocado,” the two words share a root: Guacamole comes from the Nahuatl ahuacatl-molli, which means “avocado sauce.” (The fact that it also means “testicle sauce” is probably not something we want to dwell on.)

BEEN THERE, DUNG THAT

Biologists suggest that it’s a lucky accident the avocado is still with us, because it evolved to fill a niche in an ecosystem that went extinct eons ago. As with many fruits, the avocado developed as a mutually beneficial trade-off with animals. The tree provides tasty food, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch- the plant’s price for its fruit is mobility for its seeds. How does that work? The seeds of the fruit are typically small enough to pass through the digestive systems of the animals that eat it. The seeds are often bitter, sometimes even toxic enough to cause nausea. So animals rarely chew them more than once, but instead learn to swallow them whole. The seeds exit the digestive system intact, as waste, and end up planted in the animal’s nutrient-rich dung.

There’s no reason to believe that the avocado was an exception to this rule. It’s unlikely that the plant species’ survival was ever meant to depend on humans poking its seed with toothpicks and suspending it in water to get it to sprout. But that begs the question: What animal in South America is big enough to eat a avocado whole and poop out its oversize pit?

Continue reading

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A Comic About Learning To Speak The Language Of Food

If you can speak the language of food then you can communicate with people from other cultures better than any language ever could, because all humans enjoy sitting down to a good meal.

Food slides right past our tongues and speaks to our very souls, and when someone prepares a special meal for you they're sharing the flavors of their culture, life story and family heritage with you- and no words need to be spoken to enjoy each other's company.

Cartoonist and installation artist Shing Yin Khor learned the language of food from her grandmother, who also taught her that preparing food is a marvelous way to express your love when you have trouble saying it aloud.

Shing paid homage to her grandmother with this wonderfully honest autobiographical comic strip, telling the story of how food became an important part of her life- and how her relationship with food became complicated.

See Say It With Noodles: On Learning To Speak The Language Of Food here


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The Dirty Secret of ‘Secret Family Recipes’

If you're lucky, you have fond memories of the wonderful dishes your grandmother used to cook. If you're even luckier, she wrote out those recipes so you could make them on your own. These traditional family recipes get handed down to a generations who believe they have something special that no one else could replicate. A restaurant owner gave his grandmother's secret potato salad recipe to his chefs to recreate, and they laughed because they knew that recipe came from the label of Hellman's mayonnaise. That happens more often than you think. Atlas Obscura's food section, Gastro Obscura, asked readers to send in stories of secret family recipes.

In response to our call, 174 readers wrote in with stories of plagiarized family recipes. Hailing from New York to Nicaragua, from Auckland, New Zealand, to Baghpat, India, they prove that this is a global phenomenon. The majority of readers described devastating discoveries: They found supposedly secret recipes in the pages of famous cookbooks, and heard confessions from parents whose legendary dessert recipes came from the side of Karo Syrup bottles.

You can read some of the funnier stories at Gastro Obscura. There are some recipes you might want to try, too.

(Image credit: Paul Boston)


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