Most of us know what chocolate tastes like. But have you ever paid attention to what it sounds like? Listen carefully and it will tell you its secrets. In this episode of The Sporkful, Madre Chocolate's Nat Bletter, PhD, explains how you can tell a chocolate's quality by the sound it makes when you break it. He also delineates three types of chocolate eaters: melters (who let it melt in their mouths), chompers (who bite into it), and chomelters (a hybrid of the two). Nat says different chocolate bars are made for different styles, so if you know your type you'll know your chocolate. And Nat's not the only food supernerd on this week's podcast. Dan also talks with Jeff Potter, author of Cooki...
Hot Sauce with 11-Year Old Nathaniel Goodyear
Aug 25, 2014 |
Dan Pashman is not the biggest fan of hot sauce. He doesn't think the eating experience should include pain. He says salsa is over-rated and Tabasco has too much vinegar. And he's ten years late to the whole sriracha party. He's kind of a caliente wimp. Nathaniel Goodyear, founding president of The Sporkful Junior Eaters Society. Enter hot sauce enthusiast Nathaniel Goodyear, who believes Dan has the potential to love spice as much as he does. The 11-year-old founding president of The Sporkful Junior Eaters Society volunteered to serve as Dan's hot sauce personal trainer, increasing Dan's endurance and whipping him into shape as they work their way from the mild stuff to sauce labeled "XXX."...
Morgan Spurlock, Guinness, and Pepperoni Rolls
Aug 10, 2014 |
Morgan Spurlock is well known for his less-than-flattering portrayals of excess and gluttony ("Super Size Me," "7 Deadly Sins"). But he's no teetotaler. He calls himself a "Guinness drinking, West Virginia hillbilly" and says even the mantra "all things in moderation" should only apply "in moderation." In this episode of The Sporkful he and host Dan Pashman pour themselves pints of Guinness and tear into some West Virginia-style pepperoni rolls, then discuss the perfect drinking weather, Morgan's mom's cooking, and how many beers it takes for him to get his southern accent back. They also discuss Spurlock's new Showtime series, "7 Deadly Sins," and how much gluttony is okay. After that, Dan ...
Jul 28, 2014 |
There are a lot of desserts named after different weather phenomena, but while some pack a whollop, others are pretty mild. We asked legendary Oklahoma meteorologist Gary England, who's spent the past 40 years predicting severe weather in Tornado Alley, to help us rank some of these desserts based on the severity of their namesake weather system. Here are his rankings: Blizzard, from Dairy Queen 31 Below, from Baskin-Robbins Cyclone, from Friendly's Carvalanche, from Carvel McFlurry, from McDonalds Honorable mention went to: Mr. Misty, from Dairy Queen Frosty, from Wendy's The Sonic Blast was disqualified due to the fact that it is named for an audio phenomenon, rather than a meteorological ...
How to Find Deliciousness in Your Kids' Table Scraps
Jul 14, 2014 |
Anyone who takes care of kids knows that eating off children's plates is part of the everyday dining experience. But which kid scraps make for the most delicious eats? How can an eater make these scraps even better? And which touched/dropped/pre-masticated foods are just too gross to consume? Hillary Frank of WNYC's parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time is disgusted by Dan's answers, but Dan remains undeterred. He talks with Arun Venegopal of WNYC's Micropolis about the role of eating with your hands in Indian culture and how it can help parents find prized morsels in the post-meal detritus. Plus, former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner discusses the scraps he most enjoys eating fro...
The King of Hot Dogs in America's Biggest Hot Dog City Hangs Up His Hat
Jun 30, 2014 |
There's no shortage of hot dog and sausage joints in Chicago, but one restaurant inspires a level of devotion unlike any other--Hot Doug's. People come from all over the country to wait in line for hours for a taste. In part that's because the menu extends far beyond the standard Chicago style hot dog and includes dishes like alligator sausage and duck fat fries. It's also because of chef and owner Doug Sohn, who has stood at the counter and taken every single order himself since he opened his doors 13 years ago. Doug has turned down million dollar offers to expand, and recently, he actually announced that he's closing up shop in October. People are freaking out. In this week's episode of Th...
Inside the Mind of a Culinary Mad Scientist
Jun 16, 2014 |
In the beginning, stuffed crust pizza was not beautiful. “I did the first prototype in the lab and it looked like a Schwinn bike tire,” says Tom Ryan, the flavor chemist who invented it. “It was ugly as hell.” But he was on to something. Years of research had shown him two things: People always like more cheese on their pizza, and most people don’t eat the crust. (He calls the leftover crust “pizza bones,” because it usually goes to the dog.) Filling the crust with a ribbon of cheese was exactly what people wanted, even if they didn’t know it. When Ryan finally presented a stuffed crust pizza to a focus group, one man looked at him and said, “My dog is going to hate you.” He knew he had a wi...
Eat Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jack
Jun 2, 2014 |
Baseball season is in full swing and if someone takes you out to a ball game, you'll likely ask them to buy you some peanuts and Cracker Jack. (Not Cracker Jacks, of course, because there's no such thing). Before you place your order, listen to Dan explore the intricacies of these classic foods with three experts: Nile Brisson is a third generation peanut man and president of Peanut Processors, Inc. in North Carolina. He uses his teeth to crack the shells open and says that once you've eaten the nut, unsalted shells make a great addition to your garden soil. (He also explains how they get the salt inside the shells in the first place. Mike Pesca looks at the history of the song "Take Me Out ...
When Belgian Waffles Came to America
May 19, 2014 |
Back in 1964, Americans hadn’t set foot on the moon and Belgian waffles hadn’t set foot on our plates. Enter MariePaule Vermersch and her family, Belgian immigrants who saw an opportunity to share a piece of their culture and build a business at the same time. At the World's Fair of 1964-65, the Vermersches served Belgian waffles to eager eaters who were delighted by the taste and novelty of the hand-held waffle with the deep wells and crisp crust. "The line never ended...we had 24 machines that never stopped running," MariePaule says. At the end of the day, she explained that, "Sometimes we had fights, we had people fighting, 'one more, one more!'" But MariePaule’s father was unable to capi...
Kelis: The Sporkful Interview
May 5, 2014 |
Music superstar Kelis sang in 2003 that her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, but today she uses dairy products for more than just innuendos. In fact, the Harlem-born singer/songwriter holds a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu and is as influenced by her mother (a caterer) as her father (a musician). Kelis's new album, "Food," marries her two creative passions, bringing a retro-soul feel to songs like "Jerk Ribs," "Cobbler," "Biscuits and Gravy," and "Hooch." In cooperation with WNYC's Soundcheck, Dan sat down with Kelis to discuss her new album, the difference between making a meal and making a record, and why -- of all the tools in the kitchen -- she most identifies with the cas...
Pizza Legends Patsy and Carol Grimaldi: The Sporkful Interview
Apr 21, 2014 |
In honor of the passing of Carol Grimaldi we're replaying this classic Sporkful episode, which covers slice folding technique, the art of using a coal oven, and what Mrs. Grimaldi taught her husband about pizza. 81-year-old Patsy Grimaldi may be the last person making pizza today who trained under someone who trained at Lombardi's--the first pizzeria in American history. Dan sits down with Patsy and his wife Carol to discuss slice folding technique, the art and science of using a coal oven, what she taught him about pizza, and the scourge of pineapple pizza, along with several other trends Patsy deems "ridiculous." Carol explains that Patsy knows where in the coal oven to place the pizza bas...
The Science and Religion of Matzoh
Apr 7, 2014 |
Matzoh isn't just for Jews, and it isn't just for Passover. It's a delicious, plain cracker that's ideal for all people all year round! In a quest to better understand and appreciate matzoh, Dan travels to the Manischewitz factory in Newark, NJ, to interview a Southern Baptist matzoh expert named Randall Copeland and Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, who is an expert on kosher law. Dan talks to Randall about the science of matzoh, including: Manufacturing matzoh crunch (including how different cooking processes change crunch levels) The role that the little holes in matzoh play in determining a cracker's texture The reason why Tam Tams and matzoh crackers are hexagonal Then Dan asks the rabbi some toug...
Broccoli Sub, Broccoli Tacos, and More with Chef Tyler Kord of No. 7
Mar 24, 2014 |
Think broccoli is boring? Chef Tyler Kord makes a broccoli sub, double-decker broccoli tacos, and fried broccoli, and they're all amazing. He says a ham and cheese sandwich isn't complete without broccoli. He even wrote a whole cookbook that's all about broccoli. Tyler discusses with Dan the magic of broccoli, whether you're really "overcooking" it if it still tastes delicious, and something called The Brocco-Leg. They also get into a ridiculous amount of detail on taco construction and bite consistency vs. bite variety in the aforementioned broccoli tacos. Tyler is the chef at No. 7 Restaurant and No. 7 Sub.
Weird Al Yankovic: The Sporkful Interview
Mar 10, 2014 |
In this very special episode of The Sporkful, Dan sits down with the one and only "Weird Al" Yankovic, the man behind "Eat It," "Fat," "My Balogna," and so many other classic food-related parody songs. What would be his ideal ratio of cookie to white stuff in an Oreo? When he isn't rhyming with sharona, does he say "balogna" or "baloney?" And which does he prefer, the rye or the kaiser? Plus, Dan takes issue with Al's suggestion in "Eat It" that it doesn't matter whether chicken or pie is boiled or fried. Weird Al revelations from this episode: Before writing "My Balogna" to the tune of "My Sharona," he pronounced it "baloney." Since writing the song, he says it "balogna". Contrary to the ly...
Tequila Revisited: A Redemption Story
Feb 24, 2014 |
Like so many people, Dan was scarred by tequila at a young age, and hasn't been able to drink it for years. But maybe, with some help, he can overcome his aversion and learn to appreciate good tequila. Lending a hand is Ilana Edelstein, author of The Patron Way: The Untold Inside Story of the World's Most Successful Tequila. Dan rates each tequila they taste by how strongly it evokes the hot car trunk in which that fateful bottle was stored so many years ago, and Ilana shares recipes for a couple of her favorite tequila cocktails. Ilana's Ilanarita Margarita: Mix a shot of Patron Silver, a shot of orange liqueur, and fill the rest of a tall glass with ice and Squirt (grapefruit soda). Ilana'...
Peter Sagal of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me: The Sporkful Interview
Feb 10, 2014 |
It's all fun, food, and wacky facts, when the one and only Peter Sagal of NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! joins Dan for a wide-ranging conversation on many of the most pressing issues of the day. Peter talks about growing up as a fat kid, what he eats after a 20 mile run, his opinions on Chicago pizza, grilling the perfect burger, and spaghetti consumption techniques, among many other topics. He then channels Courtney Love for a profanity-laced tirade against melted cheese. (In fairness the profanity was Courtney Love's, not Peter's. He was just channeling. But he still agrees with her conclusion.) Also discussed: The fact that when Wait Wait producer Ian Chillag (also of NPR's How to do Ev...
Ramen: Cooking Methods, Flavor Packet Usage, and The Ramen Code
Jan 27, 2014 |
There's plenty to slurp up, when Slate Food and Drink Editor L.V. Anderson joins Dan to debate ideal ramen cooking methods, broth-to-noodle-ratio, and flavor packet usage. Plus L.V. explains what curly hair can teach you about ramen while Dan lays out The Ramen Code and introduces several new techniques for ramen preparation, including one that produces multi-textured ramen in the same bowl and another that lets you make your own flavor packet. Also, Dan, L.V. and a caller from Alaska discuss the proper use of the word "vegetarian."
Debating Muffin Tops, Plus the Cake-ification of Muffindom
Jan 13, 2014 |
From debating the merits of muffin tops, to discussing the secrets of muffin grilling to bemoaning the cake-ification of muffins, it's all things muffindom when Dan sits down with the great Julia Turner from the Slate Culture Gabfest. Plus, a quiz on the official muffins of various U.S. states, and a caller who needs serious help reheating a leftover meatball sub.
The Great Chicken Wing Hunt and Perfection in Food and Life
Dec 30, 2013 |
"I want to believe that there are perfect things in life. The perfect relationship, the perfect song, or the perfect day. And the perfect wing. I think it's out there." So says Matt Reynolds at the start of The Great Chicken Wing Hunt, a new documentary comedy in which he leaves his life as an American expat in Slovakia to return to his native western New York in search of the perfect Buffalo wing. Equipped with a scoresheet developed by one of the nation's top cancer researchers, Matt sets off with a motley crew of wing fanatics, Slovak filmmakers, and his Czech girlfriend Lucie, convinced that "everything you can possibly imagine existing in the world is out there, and if you look hard eno...