The Sporkful

The Sporkful

We obsess about food to learn more about people. The Sporkful isn't for foodies, it's for eaters. Hosted by Dan Pashman, who's also the inventor of the new pasta shape cascatelli. James Beard and Webby Award winner for Best Food Podcast. A Stitcher Production.

Episodes

January 30, 2023 35 min

We’re entering the third wave of meat alternatives. First, there was the Gardenburger — a hockey puck-like object that made it less annoying to be a vegetarian at a barbecue. Next came the meat substitutes that really tried to replicate the look, feel, and experience of meat, like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Now lab-grown meat, once the stuff of science fiction, is on the horizon, edging towards feasibility. After billions of...

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The number one question Dan has gotten since inventing cascatelli is: Are you going to invent another pasta shape? The answer is probably not — the sequel is never as good as the original. Instead, he gets a better idea: find some old, obscure shapes that he loves, make a tweak or two, and team up with Sfoglini to produce them. But first he has to figure out which shapes, and how to get his hands on them. That requires a lot of tas...

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January 13, 2023 31 min

This week, a federal regulator called gas stoves a “hidden hazard,” saying a ban on them was in the realm of possibility. President Biden and the Consumer Product Safety Commission quickly walked back that statement, but not before it ignited a firestorm among Republican politicians. So why the big kerfuffle over gas stoves? In 2021, we investigated the debate over gas vs. electric stoves, including the ad campaigns that have fuele...

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From the show about a thirst trap chef at a Chicago Italian beef joint, to a movie about a luxury restaurant planning to kill its customers, 2022 was the year of ambitious, experimental, and downright weird food TV and movies. This week, comedian and TV writer Ashley Ray (who hosts the podcast “TV I Say”) breaks down some of the most talked about food shows and movies of the past year, including The Bear, Julia, Atlanta, and The Me...

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December 19, 2022 44 min

What foods do Sporkful listeners resolve to eat more of in the new year, and why? And what’s Dan’s New Year’s food resolution for 2023? All is revealed in our annual year-end spectacular. Plus we replay one of the Sporkful crew’s favorite episodes of the year, which we all loved for our guest’s combination of extreme hilarity and thoughtful storytelling... Jason Mantzoukas sees every meal as a threat. As an actor and comedian, he p...

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When Rick Martínez was growing up in Texas, he and his mom would drive across the Mexican border to go to mercados and buy dried chiles. One winter break, they spent two weeks recreating Rick’s grandma’s recipe for tamales, using a whole hog’s head. Even with this deep connection to food at a young age, it took Rick until he was 40 to quit his corporate job in favor of cooking professionally. Rick’s first cookbook, Mi Cocina, follo...

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December 5, 2022 33 min

Growing up in Sacramento, Illyanna Maisonet felt distant from her Puerto Rican roots. Eventually, through food, she found her connection to the Puerto Rican diaspora, and to the island’s rich culinary history and diversity, which she says are often overlooked by Puerto Ricans themselves. Illyanna talks with Dan about trying to coax recipes out of her grandmother, how her new cookbook Diasporican became a family affair, and being la...

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Beloved dessert person Claire Saffitz joins Dan for a holiday baking-themed extravaganza and tackles some of the most pressing baking questions of the moment… What’s the best way to roll out pie dough into a uniform shape? How can I recreate a relative’s secret cookie recipe? And what’s the difference between a muffin and a cupcake? Plus, Claire tells us how she and her chef husband divvy up kitchen responsibilities at home, and of...

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Firefighters face plenty of high-pressure situations — including cooking a lunch for their crewmates that’s hot, filling, and on time. The pressure is even greater for A.J. Fusco, a firefighter in Harrison, New York, who moonlights as a chef in New York City. His firehouse lunches sometimes include ingredients the other firefighters aren’t used to. And when he makes mistakes, his crewmates make sure he doesn’t forget. On today’s sh...

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November 14, 2022 35 min

A bottle of whiskey with no online footprint. A bar that’s long been closed. An address that doesn’t exist. Six years ago, Akhil and Nisha Dayal found a whiskey bottle at an estate sale whose backstory they couldn’t trace. Can The Sporkful uncover the origins of this mysterious whiskey?

Correction: We defined "single malt" and "blend" incorrectly in an earlier version of this episode. The audio has now been updated t...

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It’s not just her three graduate degrees that set Dr. Wendy Osefo apart on The Real Housewives of Potomac. It’s also that she loves to cook. She says her castmates see her as “the only person on this entire show who feeds her guests real food.” That deep care around food comes from her mother, who would bring gourmet meals to the cafeteria in Wendy’s elementary school and cook up Nigerian delicacies regularly. But, Wendy says, her ...

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Nigella Lawson is a domestic goddess of the highest order. She strikes the perfect balance between aspiration — a beautiful garden, perfect lighting — and accessibility — sheet pan dinners and a disdain for pretentiousness. Nigella reveals how her own cooking show persona comes from her discomfort in social situations, and shares the two condiments she always keeps in her purse. She also rebuffs the one piece of criticism that she ...

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Today, we talk with two chefs who are putting their own stamp on Southern food, each refusing to be pigeonholed in the process. Vishwesh Bhatt was born and raised in Gujarat, India. He moved to Oxford, Mississippi, for graduate school and quickly embraced the region in his cooking, and his identity. Tanya Holland has family roots in Virginia and Louisiana, but she's not originally from there. Still, she took the Southern food t...

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October 10, 2022 27 min

As civil war erupted in Yemen, Mokhtar Alkhanshali found himself imprisoned, with $5,000 stuffed in his underwear and his coffee samples confiscated. To get those samples to the biggest specialty coffee expo in North America, he’d have to survive more than one near-death experience. Would his coffee be worth the risk?

This is the second half of our two-part episode about Mokhtar Alkhanshali. If you haven’t listened to Part 1 from la...

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October 3, 2022 29 min

Mokhtar Alkhanshali was a doorman in San Francisco when he saw a statue that changed his life. The statue was of an Arab man holding a cup of coffee, and it led Mokhtar to learn about the origins of coffee, in Yemen, where his family is from. While coffee’s roots in Yemen run deep, Mokhtar learned that present-day Yemeni coffee was hard to source, and the quality was inconsistent. But when it was good, some experts said it was the ...

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September 26, 2022 25 min

Shabbat — the Jewish Sabbath – begins every Friday at sundown with a meal. But in all the years that Jews have been having Shabbat dinner, there’s no record in the rabbinic texts of it happening at the fast food chain Wendy’s. Until, that is, a group of seniors in Palm Desert, California, made it their weekly tradition. This week Dan joins in on the Friday night festivities, and the seniors tell him why this ritual is so important ...

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September 19, 2022 35 min

Dan goes inside Consumer Reports, the independent nonprofit that tests and rates everything from toaster ovens to frozen pizzas to luxury cars. CR takes testing very seriously, and Dan gets to see their process in action. It all starts with an undercover shopper who goes by the pseudonym Jim. Then Dan visits the labs at HQ, where he sees how a gas range is poked, prodded, and brought to its limits. This includes testing the oven’s ...

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September 12, 2022 37 min

Author and podcast host Malcolm Gladwell immigrated to Canada when he was young, the child of an English father and Jamaican mother. He’s always felt like an outsider. He hated maple syrup, in a town that hosts the largest one-day maple syrup festival in the world. That outsider’s perspective served him well as he became a cultural observer, and over the years, Malcolm’s trained his critical eye on food. He calls flavored seltzer “...

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By day, Scott Wiener leads pizza tours around New York City. By night, he shares his Brooklyn apartment with his world record-holding pizza box collection. Since going all in on pizza, he’s visited tomato farms in California and buffalo farms in Italy, and even planned entire vacations around visits to pizza box factories. This week, Scott schools us on the history of pizza — from its humble invention to its unlikely rise to culina...

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August 29, 2022 29 min

In France, you either leave your desk during lunch, or you’re breaking the law. Which makes Kaitlin Plachy, an American expat in Strasbourg who secretly eats at her desk most days, an outlaw. So why do the French have this law? Our friends at the podcast Rough Translation found that one popular theory — that the law is meant to preserve French culture — is not as correct as many people believe. So what is the explanation? And can R...

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