All Posts In News

Backfiring Food Rules, a $2,000 Tasting Menu and the Question McDonald’s No Longer Asks

by in News, April 23rd, 2014

Backfiring Food RulesThe Pitfalls of Family Food Rules: Most of the time, a graham cracker is just a graham cracker, but when children are asked to click a computer mouse like mad to get one, as in a recent series of experiments, or decide how many of them to eat when they are given restricted access to them, it becomes the marker of a “reactive eater” and a clue that, while genetics and biology may play a role in children who are strongly motivated by food, food rules imposed at home may also factor in. “The message is that restriction is counterproductive — it just doesn’t work very well,” Brandi Rollins, the Penn State postdoctoral researcher who led the studies, told the New York Times. “Restriction just increases a child’s focus and intake of the food that the parent is trying to restrict.” Bottom line: It’s better not to put junk food out of reach on a high shelf, but rather not have it in the house at all. [The New York Times]

The Planet’s Priciest Eatery? Considering all the things you could do with $2,078, even hard-core foodies might pause before paying that much per person for a meal. Even for a 20-course tasting menu that promises to combine food, art and technology to create a “complete and unprecedented emotional experience.” Regardless, that’s apparently what Sublimotion, a restaurant opening on May 18 at the new five-star Hard Rock Hotel in Playa d’en Bossa, on Ibiza, under the supervision of Michelin-starred chef Paco Roncero, is charging, making it what the Daily Mail is calling “the most expensive restaurant on the planet.” Enjoyed by only 12 guests each night, the meal “will cause a stir among the most-neglected senses,” a spokesman told the tabloid. “From moments of humor, pleasure, fear, reflection and nostalgia, diners will be wandering through a world of sensations from the North Pole where they will enjoy a cold snack that they carve on their own iceberg or to the baroque Versailles where the elegance of a rose is sure to melt in their palate.” At those prices, you’d think they’d get someone to carve your cold snack for you. [Daily Mail]

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Earth Day Dinners, Powdered Alcohol and a Couple of Costly Tacos

by in News, April 22nd, 2014

Earth Day DinnersHappy Earth Day: Today, in case you were unaware, is Earth Day. And if you’re looking for a way to celebrate it, you might consider hosting an Earth Dinner. Plan a meal that focuses on local, seasonal and organic ingredients, then learn as much as you can about your food — where it comes from, who farmed it, the history of the ingredients and the dishes you’re making from those ingredients. Then try to engage your guests — or your family — in a conversation about food and sustainability. You can download a booklet containing great discussion questions — “What’s your earliest food memory?” or “Describe your spiciest food experience,” for instance — an “Earth Dinner Toolkit” and other information here. [EarthDinner.org via Living Green Magazine]

Hard Facts About Food Texture: Texture may play a bigger role in how we consume food — and mess up our diets — than many of us realize. The authors of a new study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, examined “the link between how a food feels in your mouth and the amount we eat, the types of food we choose, and how many calories we think we are consuming.” Participants in five studies were given foods to taste that were hard, soft, rough or smooth. Then the participants were asked to estimate the calorie content. One study found that people who were not asked about calorie count who were given soft brownies ate more of them than those given hard brownies, but people who were asked about calorie content ate more hard brownies than soft ones. “Understanding how the texture of food can influence calorie perceptions, food choice, and consumption amount can help nudge consumers towards making healthier choices,” the authors conclude. [EurekAlert via Tech Times]

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History of the Belgian Waffle and Inside the Candy Egg Factory

by in News, April 19th, 2014

WafflesAll’s Fair in Love of Waffles: This month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, New York. Did you know we can thank the fair for popularizing the Belgian waffle, in all its whipped cream- and strawberry-covered wonder? The treat was first sold — for $1 — at the fair’s Belgian Village, where it was called the Bel-Gem Waffle, and later by vendors throughout the fair. “For historical purists, the Belgian waffle was actually introduced at a 1958 Paris expo, and migrated to America for the Seattle Fair of 1962,” the New York Daily News reports. “When it got to New York it was still called the Brussels Waffle, which was changed when some reasoned that Americans associated ‘Brussels’ not with the capital of Belgium, but ‘Brussels sprouts.’ The name was tweaked and the rest is World’s Fair history.” Now you know. [New York Daily News]

Baskets at the Ready: Everyone knows Peeps have their die-hard fans, but there are those who vastly prefer the foil-wrapped, chocolate-covered, goo-filled springtime confection known as the Cadbury Creme Egg. Not that Easter candy is a zero-sum (zero-yum?) game. Cadbury parent company Mondelēz International, Inc. produces 350 million such eggs a year — and, no, there isn’t a giant coop full of chocolate-covered, goo-filled chickens doing the work. Wired has ventured behind the scenes at a Cadbury factory in Birmingham, England, to reveal how it does its eggcellent work. The eggs’ cream filling is made of “sugar, water, glucose, and a proprietary goo called ‘blended syrup’ — and free-range-egg powder,” the mag reports. “The ‘white’ and the ‘yolk’ have nearly identical ingredients, but the yellow contains food coloring.” Made year-round, the eggs are sold only from January to Easter, so fans may want to hop to it. [Wired]

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Could a Snack Save Your Marriage?

by in News, April 18th, 2014

Peanut Butter CookiesHere’s some satisfying news for those who get super crabby when they’re hungry and take it out on their spouses (if not for those poor, long-suffering spouses themselves). Scientific research has now determined that being “hangry” — hungry plus angry — is actually a real phenomenon, which means you have a total excuse to storm around and fume about random trivial things until someone — Anyone? Hello! — hands you a cracker or a piece of fruit. Or, well, if not an excuse, at least an explanation for that altogether charming behavior.

“People are often the most aggressive against the people to whom they are closest — intimate partners. Intimate partner violence might be partly a result of poor self-control. Self-control of aggressive impulses requires energy, and much of this energy is provided by glucose derived from the food we eat,” researchers explain in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) under the headline “Low glucose relates to greater aggression in married couples.”

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Doughnuts Near You and New Uses for Chip Cans

by in News, April 17th, 2014

Italian DoughnutsThe Great Gefilte Fish Shortage of 2014: The Passover Seders have come and gone, and many families, it seems, had to do without a holiday staple: gefilte fish. The oval fish patties — often made from whitefish, as well as carp and perhaps pike, mullet or even salmon — are in short supply this year, The New York Times reports, because of icy conditions on the Great Lakes and in western Canada. “In all my years making gefilte fish, it has never been this bad,” said Benzion Raskin, owner of Brooklyn’s BenZ’s Gourmet, which has been turning away customers. “I can’t remember a time with so little fish.” There are those who love gefilte fish and those who love to hate it — and then there are those who eat it for unusual reasons. “It may taste like cat food,” locavore fish store owner Peter Shelsky told the Times, “but that’s why I love it.” [The New York Times]

Craving Doughnuts? There’s an App for That: You may never have another doughnut emergency. A new app called Doughbot promises to keep you just a tap away from finding “every doughnut shop in your area” — whether you’re looking for “old-school shops or hipster-hyped cronut purveyors” — with directions, reviews and Instagram-powered galleries. “I was amazed at how many donut places are in walking distance from my office,” enthused one user. Fun, though perhaps not the best app for dieters. [iTunes via Huffington Post]

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No More Soggy Burger Buns and KFC for the Prom

by in News, April 16th, 2014

Killer Inside Out Burger with Worcestershire Tomato KetchupConscientious Eating: Are you paying too little for ethnic food? Food writer Sarah Henry makes a persuasive case that you just might be. “Mom-and-pop shops and divey diners repping diverse cultures from around the world, slinging seriously tasty stuff for a fraction of the price it costs — and the effort it takes — to make at home” are a “cornerstone of city living,” she notes in Edible San Francisco. However, as we “bite into that banh mi with mystery meat or chow down on Chinese dumplings made by kitchen hands who may earn less than minimum wage,” we may be turning too blind an eye to the “provenance of raw materials or exploitation of food service people, many of them immigrants or people of color.” Sarah asks, “Who cares what goes on behind the kitchen door when food this cheap tastes so good?” We all should, she says. [Edible San Francisco]

Lettuce, Mayo … no Mat: Subway fans who’d prefer to enjoy their sandwiches without azodicarbonamide — a bleaching chemical used in the fast food chain’s bread that, though approved by the Food and Drug Administration and widely used in food products, has sparked concern because it is also used in yoga mats and shoe rubber — rejoice. The eatery says the ingredient will be removed from its bread by next week. Though some food scientists insist the ingredient is not harmful, Subway was apparently feeling pressured by the public outcry. “You see the social media traffic, and people are happy that we’re taking it out, but they want to know when we’re taking it out,” Tony Pace, Subway’s chief marketing officer, told the Associated Press. “If there are people who have that hesitation, that hesitation is going to be removed.” [AP]

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Why Matzo Isn’t Tasteless and Other Interesting Facts

by in News, April 14th, 2014

Throwdown's Matzo Ball SoupPassover kicked off on Monday night, with Jews all around the world sitting down to break matzo — the unleavened “bread of affliction” that commemorates the Jews’ speedy exodus from Egypt, from slavery to freedom, more than 3,000 years ago — with family and friends at the traditional festival meal known as the Seder. Tonight, the second Seder will take place, and for those keeping the Passover tradition, matzo (not to mention matzo balls and matzo ball soup) will become a staple of their diets for the bread-free duration of the eight-day holiday. Here are a few quick clicks about the humble, flat cracker:

Don’t Call It Tasteless: Dan Pashman, creator of the food podcast The Sporkful and co-host of the Cooking Channel Web series Good to Know, is a fervent defender of matzo. “In a typical cracker you kind of have one or two options,” he tells NPR’s The Salt. Either it will be “crunchy but … also be very oily and salty,” or it will be like a “table water cracker, which is plain in flavor, but very flimsy” without a lot of crunch. Matzos, however, are both plain and crunchy. “It’s like a blank canvas,” Dan says; it’s a welcome base for any number of toppings. Dan also says “the degree of charring” differentiates one sort of matzo from another, and the holes are key as well. “There’s a lot of science behind those holes,” he says. [NPR's The Salt]

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What Online Restaurant Reviews Reveal About Those Who Write Them

by in News, April 12th, 2014

RestaurantOnline reviews on sites like Yelp (not to mention Chowhound, Urban Spoon, Zagat, TripAdvisor and others) presumably tell us a lot about restaurants. They also tell us a lot about the people who write them, a new study concludes.

For the study, published by the peer-reviewed online journal First Monday, Stanford University linguistics professor Dan Jurafsky and his co-authors examined 900,000 online restaurant reviews using computational linguistics and “sentiment analysis” to ferret out “the meanings that are hidden in the way people use words and connotations,” Dan explained in the Stanford Report.

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Why Nuke Peeps, Who Was General Tso, and What Decadent Drink Will Starbucks Devise Next?

by in News, April 11th, 2014

General Tso ChickenPeeps — Puffed: If microwaving Peeps — those sugar-covered marshmallow birdies that show up in stores every spring — and watching them do their “best Bruce Banner-meets-Jabba the Hutt impression” is something you’ve never done, the food scientists behind the site Decoding Delicious want you to know you’re missing out. “It’s the closest thing you’ll get to a toasted marshmallow without a bonfire,” they write, adding that it’s also “totally fun to watch” and a good way to make stale Peeps “palatable” again. But why do marshmallows puff when you nuke ‘em? Because they are “basically thousands of minuscule air bubbles surrounded by thin walls of gelatin and sugar syrup,” Decoding Delicious explains. “When microwaved, the water molecules in that syrup begin to vibrate and heat up. They quickly turn to steam and fill the air pockets in the marshmallow, causing them to expand.” It works for kosher marshmallows, too, by the way, so those who celebrate Passover need not miss out on the marshmallow-puffing fun. Learn more ways to put Peeps to work by checking out videos of Whoopeeps and homemade Easter chocolate bowls, and save the leftovers for Easter Candy Bark. [Decoding Delicious]

Tso Intriguing: A feature-length documentary set to screen at the Tribeca Film Festival this month looks to answer two age-old food questions: Who was General Tso? And why are so many people eating his chicken? For The Search for General Tso, director Ian Cheney traveled to Hunan and Shanghai hoping to discover how the sticky-sweet, crispy-tender dish became such an American staple, appearing on the menu of virtually every Chinese restaurant in the United States. “Did he love chicken?” one of the people Ian spoke with asks in a trailer for the film. “We don’t know. Nobody knows.” Ah, a mystery. Check out the film’s website here. [Food Republic]

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A Veggie Rap, the Greatest Grills and Cookbooks on the Map

by in News, April 10th, 2014

Margherita PizzaVeg Out: Do you like vegetables? So does the guy who wrote this rap. Singer-songwriter Parry Gripp and animator Yusuf Iqbal have teamed up to bring the world “I Like Vegetables.” Sample lyrics: “Call Dr. Phil and warn Oprah. I’m gonna eat up all of the okra! I’m notorious. I’m nefarious. I don’t spare one spear of asparagus.” Listen, laugh and then go out there and get crazy on a Brussels sprout. [Parry Gripp via Mashable]

Everything but the Grill? Finally, the long winter is over and it’s getting on toward grill season. If you’re shopping for a new grill on which to cook your meat, fish or veggies (perhaps some nefarious asparagus?) and looking for guidance, AmazingRibs.com, a website dedicated to “the science of BBQ and grilling,” has doled out its Best Value Awards to the 10 charcoal grills, 10 gas grills and 10 backyard smokers it considers the “best of breed in their price category.” Helpful. And once you get your grill, you’ll for sure want to check out Food Network’s Grilling Central and FN Dish Grilling and BBQ posts for recipes and ideas to get you fired up. [AmazingRibs.com via Huffington Post]

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