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Eat This Podcast

251 EpisodesProduced by Jeremy CherfasWebsite

Talking about anything around food

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Grain and finance

June 27th, 2022


Having moved your wheat from where it grew to where it was needed, there was a matching need to transfer the money to pay for it. Bills of exchange, invented in Venice and Genoa, created a piece of paper that …

Grain and transport

June 20th, 2022


Cereals provide their offspring with a long-lived supply of energy to power the first growth spurt of the seed. Thousands of years ago, people …

Persephone’s secret

June 13th, 2022


Many people take the myth of Demeter — Ceres in Latin — and her daughter Persephone to be just a metaphor for the annual cycle of planting and …

Peanuts, Senegal and Slavery

May 16th, 2022


Senegal, on the western edge of Africa, was an ideal base for the transatlantic slave trade, although the European powers that established themselves in the region found other goods to trade too. One of the most …

Garum: Rome’s new library and museum of food

May 2nd, 2022


It is impossible to avoid the past in Rome; indeed, the past is why so many people come to Rome. If you’re interested in the history of food, though, there’s been nothing to see since the pasta museum shut its doors, …

Tomatoes: domestication and diversity

April 18th, 2022


Plants of the weedy wild relatives of the tomato all look pretty much like one another, but under the surface they’re a seething mass of genetic …

Aaron Vallance — 1dish4theroad

April 4th, 2022


Aaron Vallance’s writing at his website 1dish4theroad has twice been shortlisted by the Guild of Food Writers, not bad for someone who admits to …

Yes, we have no plantains

March 14th, 2022


Jessica Kehinde Ngo recently wrote an impassioned piece bemoaning the fact that “the plantain has long been eclipsed by its banana cousin”. That alarmed me a little, as did the question immediately afterwards: “Where …

Food Philosophy

February 21st, 2022


David Kaplan calls himself a taste realist. That means he really does think that there’s something there, in food or drink, that enables us to …

Unconditional cash to improve nutrition

February 7th, 2022


Despite large investments in aid programmes, poverty and hunger remain persistent problems in many parts of the world. Most aid, though, gives people what the donors think they need. What if you give poor people …

Ten thousand years of yoghurt

January 24th, 2022


Yoghurt is good for you, no doubt about that, although it probably will not confer eternal life.

High Art

December 20th, 2021


As an artist, looking down on Google Earth, Mishka Henner saw things that made him wonder — and that have the power to make all of us think, a bit.

A visit to an ancient Roman bakery

December 6th, 2021


Farrell Monaco has studied, and brought back to life, the canonical bread of Ancient Rome. Now she brings an ancient bakery back to life.

The true history of the potato in Europe

November 15th, 2021


It may not contain wily aristocrats or superstitious peasants, but the true history of the potato is much more interesting.

Rachel Roddy: An A–Z of Pasta

October 25th, 2021


Rachel Roddy had no intention of producing an encyclopaedia of pasta. Her book is more informative than that, and more readable.

Midnight’s chicken: Indian food evolution

October 11th, 2021


A dish that is today an icon of Indian food dates back only to 1947, using an ingredient that became widespread only in the 1920s


September 27th, 2021


The story of perhaps the greatest transformation in the history of food and how it continues today

Italian coffee: a temporary triangle

September 13th, 2021


"The cups might break, but the images recycle endlessly."

Food in post-independence India

June 21st, 2021


India gained independence in 1947 with nationalist politicians promising food for all and an end to the rapacious imperial administration. What …

The original global food system

June 7th, 2021


Diet for a Large Planet shows how the world is still living with free trade policies from the 19th century

Can Fixing Dinner Fix the Planet?

May 24th, 2021


Jess Fanzo takes a close look at what’s wrong with global food systems and how it might be possible to change them.

A very modern spice merchant

May 10th, 2021


Green Saffron is a new kind of spice merchant, that cares as much about how its spices are grown as their taste.

Coffea stenophylla tastes terrific

April 26th, 2021


Coffee that tastes of light black tea — a good thing — and is able to cope with warmer climates.

The Great Re-Think: What is agriculture for, really?

April 12th, 2021


Skill and craft over automation, complexity over simplicity, and diversity over monoculture

What is the value of functional foods?

March 29th, 2021


There’s one group of people that functional foods and superfoods can definitely help: the people who grow them.

Naomi Duguid: Exploring the World through Food

March 15th, 2021


There may not be a recipe, but there’s always someone sitting behind your shoulder going tsk, tsk, tsk.

The cost is too damn high

March 1st, 2021


Three billion people couldn’t afford a healthy diet even if they wanted to.

Still ticking

February 15th, 2021


These days, population is barely considered as a factor in food security. That doesn’t mean the problem is solved.

The quest to conserve rare breeds

February 1st, 2021


Using land that could be used to feed people to feed animals is a terrible waste, but for today’s modern breeds it is absolutely essential.

The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

January 18th, 2021


Emojipedia understands: 🍅 is both a fruit and a vegetable

Oh, poop

December 14th, 2020


Is our excrement simply a waste product, to be dumped out of sight and out of mind? Or is it a valuable resource that we squander at our peril?

How the Brits became a nation of tea drinkers

November 30th, 2020


Persuading people to drink tea from the subcontinent more or less created the modern propaganda machine

Where did the chicken cross the road?

November 16th, 2020


The DNA of chickens, sheep and cattle tells slightly different stories about their domestication

A Blissful Feast

November 1st, 2020


Her aunt’s gnocchi were enough to set Teresa Lust on a long and roundabout journey to learn more about Italian and Italian food.

Whole grain labels sow confusion

October 19th, 2020


We know what whole grain means. Whole grain food? Not so much.

Coffee leaf rust is bad news

October 5th, 2020


Coffee leaf rust is bad, but at least in the short term it may not be the threat you think it is

Carême at home in New Zealand

September 21st, 2020


Food for settlers in New Zealand used to be mutton, mutton, mutton and potatoes or potatoes. Not any more.

How the chilli pepper conquered China

September 7th, 2020


Chilli peppers took a few years to reach China after their initial encounter with Westerners, but rapidly became a very hot item.

It’s coffee, but not as we know it

June 29th, 2020


In Sierra Leone, a hunt for long lost species of coffee succeeds

Alexis Soyer

June 15th, 2020


A brief look at the life of one of the first celebrity chefs

Questions of Taste

June 1st, 2020


Are there any universals about more complex kinds of gustatory taste? And how do we learn to talk about taste?

You are what you drink

May 11th, 2020


Robert Walpole — like all great politicians — understood how to use his tipple to send a signal

Disputations about taste

April 27th, 2020


I know taste is entirely subjective. But I’m also willing to think about good taste and bad taste and even to use that as part of a value judgement. How about you?

The Man Who Tried to Feed the World

April 13th, 2020


Norman Borlaug gave birth to the Green Revolution, with little thought for the unintended consequences of his work.

Russian Food: Old and New

March 30th, 2020


Beyond the North Wind, the true heart of Russian Food

The book of the Book of Tasty and Healthy Food

March 16th, 2020


A young Russian woman blogs her way through the only cookbook her grandmother knew -- and gets her own book out of it

Orange-fleshed sweet potato to feed hidden hunger

March 2nd, 2020


A food people don't like, and don't even know they need, turns their lives around

Another cup of coffee culture

February 17th, 2020


It took more than a hundred years, but eventually the United States too developed a recognisable coffee culture.

Coffee culture in Italy and England

February 3rd, 2020


Espresso is the canonical coffee of Italy, even though the original espresso was something entirely different. How did espresso happen? And what happened when it got to England?

Why a spurtle makes a superior porridge stirrer

January 20th, 2020


With a bag of porridge oats in my baggage, I set off for Georgetown University and a date with science

Cow sharing in the European Alps

December 23rd, 2019


Unlike car sharing, when you buy a share in a cow, you are not free to drive her wherever you want. So what do you get?

Pasta Grannies

December 9th, 2019


Vicky Bennison set out to record Italian grannies making pasta and along the way created terrifically watchable videos

Cashews, the World Bank, and Mozambique

November 25th, 2019


Mozambique used to be the world's largest supplier of cashew nuts. Then along came the World Bank, to help.

How capuchin monkeys learn about food

November 11th, 2019


Capuchin monkeys are resourceful and smart, which helps them to select a good diet from all the potential food around them.

Fifty ways to cook a carrot

October 21st, 2019


You can't judge a book by its cover. 50 Ways to Cook a Carrot is not really about carrots.


October 7th, 2019


How did porridge go from a fine breakfast food, albeit one that's easily abused, to the stuff of foodie dreams?

Radish redux

September 23rd, 2019


"All the intrigue of a murder mystery and all the painstaking, arduous pursuit of an archeological dig." For a radish.

When in Rome

September 9th, 2019


Alfredo sauce, made famous in the 1920s, dates back to at least 1390. That, and other surprises of food in the Eternal City.

A sweet sour story

August 26th, 2019


A downturn in the house-building business set Maurice Gilbert at Ballyhoura Artisan Food Park on the road to award-winning apple juices.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold, or

August 12th, 2019


Ignorance, paranoia and greed have damaged the olives of the Salento almost beyond recognition.


May 13th, 2019


We all deserve a break from time to time.

Eating Alone

April 29th, 2019


Some people hate eating alone, others love it, but we all have to do it at times.

Celebrating Passover and Easter

April 15th, 2019


From the first last supper to the resurrection roll.

A historian of bread on the history of bread

April 1st, 2019


William Rubel doesn't think there is good bread or bad bread, but he knows what he likes.

Prehistoric food globalisation

March 18th, 2019


The first farmers and their crops moved much further, much earlier, than previously thought. As they did so they grew the confidence, the resources and the knowledge to move up into the mountains and down into the river …

We need to talk about meat

March 4th, 2019


Meat exercises the imagination in a way no other food can match. Some people have always wanted to ban carnivory. For others it is an essential fuel. And now, meat is central to nutrition, sustainability, health and …

Better baking through chemistry

February 18th, 2019


Fake news. A Senate bought and paid for. Newspapers printing press releases verbatim. And all more than 100 years ago.

Moxie Bread, Louisville, CO

February 4th, 2019


Insights into building and running a very successful small bakery, plus the "super colloidal suspension of fat and sugar" that is a specialty of the …

Food and diversity in Laos

January 21st, 2019


The staggering agricultural biodiversity that is such an important aspect of Lao food is on display at a new website.

Facts about Champagne: Part 2

December 31st, 2018


There's nothing new about persuading influencers to quaff your brand of bubbly

Facts about Champagne: Part 1

December 24th, 2018


From the all-seeing Dom Pérignon to the young bucks of London’s high society, champagne’s true history is absolutely intoxicating.

Good things from Nürnberg

December 10th, 2018


What makes the lebkuchen from Nürnberg so special?

Is that a pickle …

November 26th, 2018


Jan Davison has written Pickles: A Global History, the perfect accompaniment to her previous book, English Sausages.

What a bunch of turkeys

November 21st, 2018


Spaghetti Carbonara Day, read by the author. (I didn’t steal it; I set it free.)

Just that which is deserved

November 12th, 2018


Is dessert a pointless overindulgence, or perhaps the most interesting and creative part of a good meal out? I know what I think.

A communal oven in Christchurch, New Zealand

October 29th, 2018


A communal oven helps a community to bake bread and rebuild after two massive earthquakes.

Food, power, pubs and politics in Ireland

October 15th, 2018


The law that protects pubs from the perceived challenge of restaurants was passed by a Parliament full of publicans

Making sense of modern recipes

October 1st, 2018


Unless you already know what you're doing, modern cook-books may be a recipe for disaster.

Food in prison

September 17th, 2018


"Food is essentially the sentence," says Clair Woods-Brown.

Winding Down

August 31st, 2018


What more is there to say? Plenty, of course, but not this time. This is the final episode of this run of Our Daily Bread.

A Perennial Dream

August 30th, 2018


"If your life's work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you're not thinking big enough." Wes Jackson

It’s a Hard Grain

August 29th, 2018


The qualities that make durum wheat so attractive for pasta have nothing to do with the size of the semolina particles from which it is made.

Anything but Grim

August 28th, 2018


"I began to dream of a binding machine. I dreamed of it at night and I dreamed of it during the day."

Bread and Political Circuses

August 27th, 2018


Sometimes people want bread more than they want democracy. Some governments can't deliver either.

Wheats and Measures

August 26th, 2018


Eight wheat seeds of silver gets you 5 pounds 10 ounces of bread.


August 25th, 2018


Nathan Myhrvold is right: "The best bread the world has ever had is being made today.”

Slow, but Exceedingly Fine

August 24th, 2018


Bakers who grind their own grain are all utterly in love with the flour they get. I'm jealous.

Brown v. White

August 23rd, 2018


If you are eating reasonably well, it probably doesn't matter which you choose. You can get great white bread, and you can get awful brown bread.

Sourdough by Any Name

August 22nd, 2018


It needn't actually taste sour. In fact, except in a few countries, it need not even make use of a natural leaven.

Breaking Bread

August 21st, 2018


All hail Adolf Ignaz Mautner von Markhof. And also Pope Leo IX, Michael Cerularius the Patriarch and assorted wise rabbis and scholars.

Back to Basics

August 20th, 2018


There's a fundamental tension between the time it takes to make a loaf of bread and the value of the final product.

The Bread that Ate the World

August 19th, 2018


Perhaps there's more to flour fermentation than the bubbles that lighten the loaf.

Allied forever

August 18th, 2018


A small bakery in Toronto, Canada, became a behemoth that bestrides global bread and beyond. Phew!

Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’

August 17th, 2018


St Anthony Falls powered the sawmills that created the financial capital that laid the foundations for General Mills.

Water and Power

August 16th, 2018


A large slave-driven mill could grind seven kilograms of flour an hour. A watermill multiplied that twenty times or more.


August 15th, 2018


Ferragosto and the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary; connected, perhaps, by a sheaf of wheat.

The daily grind

August 14th, 2018


Bashing wheat with a hammer will not give you flour. What you need is a shearing force, which you get by grinding the grain between two stones.

Bread from the Dead

August 13th, 2018


How Delwen Samuel, an archaeologist, replicated the bread of Egyptian workers of 3000 years ago. This is the episode that should have been called …

The inside story

August 12th, 2018


That kernel of wheat isn't actually a seed or a berry, at least not to a botanist. The rest of us can call it what we like.

It’s not natural

August 11th, 2018


Synthetic wheat; it isn't natural, but it is a very good thing.

Dwarf wheat: On the shoulders of a giant

August 10th, 2018


Credit where credit's due: The Father of the Green Revolution had an unacknowledged father himself.

Red Fife

August 9th, 2018


Today's Red Fife would not qualify as an official Canadian Western Red Spring Wheat, but that doesn't matter. People want Red Fife because it is Red …

Nikolay Ivanovich Vavilov

August 8th, 2018


"In order to improve cultivated plants it is necessary to have the 'building material' required ... And to use their most valuable qualities for …

Bake like an Egyptian

August 7th, 2018


In all probability, the original source of Kamut was a market stall or a small farmer in Egypt, where it had survived as an obscure grain grown by peasant farmers.

Hulled wheats

August 6th, 2018


Farro is not spelt. It isn't einkorn or emmer either. Farro "is an Italian ethnobotanical concept".

At last: agriculture

August 5th, 2018


Very quick or slightly slower, in just a few hundred years, domesticated wheat spreads all over the Fertile Crescent.

What exactly is wheat?

August 4th, 2018


How, and when, did modern wheat arise from its the wild ancestors?

Crumbs; the oldest bread

August 3rd, 2018


Maybe you heard about the oldest crumbs of burnt toast in the world. But have you stopped to wonder how the archaeologists found those crumbs?

Boil in the Bag

August 2nd, 2018


It's a trick scouts and survivalists know: you don't need a heat-proof container to boil water.

The Abundance of Nature

August 1st, 2018


Gathering enough wheat to eat probably wasn't all that difficult.

Our Daily Bread 00

July 26th, 2018


It's magic, I know. First a pretty ordinary grass becomes the main source of sustenance for most of the people alive on Earth. Then they learn how to turn the seeds of that grass into the food of the gods.

Food as Power

May 28th, 2018


In 1946 Geoffrey Pyke, an eminently sane scientist, put forward the idea of using what little coal there was to refine sugar rather than feeding it …

Food safety and industry concentration

May 14th, 2018


How do farmers' markets and concentrated food industries that depend on long food chains stack up when it comes to food-borne illness? Truth is, nobody really knows.

Who owns whom in the food industry

April 30th, 2018


The number of firms that own the food brands you see is much smaller than you think. That's not good for consumers or suppliers.

Whatever happened to British veal?

April 16th, 2018


Time was when veal calves were kept in the dark. These days, it may be the shoppers who have helped to solve the problem of surplus male dairy calves.


April 2nd, 2018


A hop crop flop in Europe made the fortunes of growers in the Pacific north west of America, none more so than in Oregon's Willamette valley. Ezra Meeker, the hop king, promoted the gemütlichkeit of hop-picking in the …

A visit to Hummustown

March 19th, 2018


Eating is a political act, as Wendell Berry reminded us. Which is why I was very happy to sample the food on offer by Syrian refugees in Hummustown.

Barges and bread

March 5th, 2018


Even before the Romans, grain arrived in what was to become London by water, and it continues to do so today, although the mechanics of the trade have changed beyond recognition. One of the last people to move grain by …

The Hamlet Fire

February 19th, 2018


The Imperial Food Products fire wasn't really an accident; circumstances conspired to make it extremely likely If it hadn't happened in Hamlet, it …

From little seeds …

February 5th, 2018


A second visit to Scariff in County Clare, Ireland, to hear from the people working hard to save Ireland's vegetable heritage and make seeds available to a new generation of gardeners.

Bread as it ought to be

January 22nd, 2018


Jonathan Bethony is one of the leading artisanal bakers in America, but he goes further than most, milling his own flour and baking everything with a …

Little bits of 2017: Part IV

January 8th, 2018


Tom Nealon on the plague-stopping power of lemonade.

Little bits of 2017: Part III

January 1st, 2018


Jaan Altosaar on his practical approach to food

Little bits of 2017: Part II

December 25th, 2017


Rachel Laudan on the rise and fall of white bread

Feeding people is easy

December 4th, 2017


First let's decide what kind of food supply system we want, then use that to bring about a renaissance in real farming.

A cheese place

November 20th, 2017


A trip to the Sheep's Head peninsula in West Cork and one of the pioneer cheesemakers there, Jeffa Gill.

Rethinking the folk history of American agriculture

November 6th, 2017


Many of the things you might believe about the history of agriculture in America just aren't true.

Ireland’s apple collection

October 23rd, 2017


Apples picked to perfume a room. Undocumented apples and apples with false papers. Foundlings that could give a supermarket apple a run for its …

Antibiotics and agriculture

October 9th, 2017


Antibiotic resistance is one consequence of feeding animals large amounts of antibiotics -- about three times the amount given to people in the US. …

1000 days of noodle soup

September 11th, 2017


How an empty kitchen in Boston triggered a breakfast obsession and a new book on noodle soup.

Pushing good coffee

August 30th, 2017


If you really want to do good by spending more on your coffee, you need to look beyond Fair Trade and other certification schemes.

It’s putrid, it’s paleo, and it’s good for you

August 14th, 2017


John Speth on how food we may consider disgusting is essential for survival in the Arctic, with added disgusting goodness from Paul Rozin.

Back to the future for the wheat of tomorrow

July 31st, 2017


Wheat growers are making use of hugely diverse evolutionary populations to give them the seeds they need.

Getting to know the cinta senese on its home turf

July 17th, 2017


A breed of pigs, well known as far back as 1338, almost vanished in the 1960s. Now it's back, and it's delicious.

A brief survey of the food of Corfu

July 3rd, 2017


Signs of the Venetian occupation are everywhere, as are the imprints of French and British rule. But there are also unique aspects to food and …

Changing Global Diets: the website

April 24th, 2017


A picture is worth way more than 1000 words when it reveals food trends over the past 50 years for more than 150 countries.

Australia: where healthier diets are cheaper …

April 10th, 2017


Australians devote almost 60 cents of every dollar they spend on food to unhealthy stuff. They could eat better for less money, but "affordable …

Mistaken about mayonnaise — and many other foods

March 27th, 2017


Alternative food facts tramp across the landscape the hordes of the undead. Tom Nealon's new book Food Fights & Culture Wars aims to lay some of …

A computer learns about ingredients and recipes

March 13th, 2017


Perhaps you’ve heard about IBM’s giant Watson computer, which dispenses ingredient advice and novel recipes. Jaan Altosaar, a PhD candidate at Princeton University, is working on a recipe recommendation engine that …

How much does a nutritious diet cost?

February 27th, 2017


You can eat a perfectly nutritious diet for a lot less money than the US government says you need. But would you want to?

Food and status

February 13th, 2017


Food has always been a marker of social status, only today no elite eater worth their pink Himalayan salt would be seen dead with a slice of fluffy …

In praise of meat, milk and eggs

February 1st, 2017


Giving up on animals as a source of food is a luxury that many people cannot afford. For poor people in developing countries, a bit of animal source food can greatly improve their health and wellbeing.

India’s bread landscape and my plans here

January 16th, 2017


I recommend a podcast and share some plans for Eat This Podcast in 2017.

Long live the Carolina African Runner

January 9th, 2017


Is the Carolina Runner No.4 peanut "the first peanut cultivated in North America" and does it matter anyway?

A deep dive into cucurbit names

December 31st, 2016


Continuing the short season of bits and pieces that didn't quite fit in the year's episodes by getting to grips with the origin of "gherkin" and other names we give cucurbits.

The Great Epping Sausage Scandal

December 26th, 2016


Starting a short season of bits and pieces that didn't quite fit in the year's episodes with a look at the Great Epping Sausage Scandal.

We need to talk about diets

December 13th, 2016


Bad diet is now the number one risk factor for disease. Is the world going to tackle the problem?

The Culinary Breeding Network

November 28th, 2016


If you going to breed vegetables for flavour -- perish the thought -- you need someone to help you decide what's good. Enter the Culinary Breeding …

Foie gras

November 14th, 2016


Foie gras offers a fascinating insight into the role of politics in food — which happens to be the subtitle of a new book by Michaela DeSoucey, a …

Wine and cheese

October 31st, 2016


A new technique for asking how one taste affects another confirms a recent change of opinion. White wine is often a better choice than red to accompany cheese.

English sausages

October 17th, 2016


Who knows what evil lurks beneath the wrinkled skin of an "economy" English sausage? And what delights won for the Cumberland and the Newmarket their coveted status of Protected Geographical Indication? Jan Davison, …


October 3rd, 2016


Did you know that malt whisky owes its existence in the marketplace to the stock market crash of 1973-74?

Neither did I, so when one of the people I interviewed for the craft distilling episode a few weeks back made that …

A far from dismal scientist

September 19th, 2016


Speculators are responsible for food price spikes? Food price spikes are responsible for riots in the streets? First-world hipsters are responsible …

When is a zucchini not a zucchini?

September 5th, 2016


A story of exploration, aristocracy and promiscuity, all in the service of better food. What more could you want?

Small-scale spirits

August 22nd, 2016


Perhaps the most astonishing thing about craft distilleries is how fast they're spreading, at least where they're allowed. British Columbia has gone …

A visit to Elkstone Farm in Colorado

August 8th, 2016


It’s all very well trying to eat local in a place like Rome or San Francisco, where the climate is relatively benign all year round and you can grow …

Xylella is here and it could be dangerous

July 25th, 2016


Climate change and global trade combine to make it ever more likely that new pests and diseases will threaten food supplies. A classic example is playing out now in Puglia, the region that includes the heel of Italy's …

How the Irish created the great wines of Bordeaux (and elsewhere)

July 11th, 2016


You can thank the Irish Wine Geese for many of the Grand Crus of France.

Back to the mountains of Pamir

June 27th, 2016


In 2007, Frederik van Oudenhoven travelled to the Pamir mountains in Central Asia to document what remained of the region’s rich agricultural …

Sweetness and light

June 13th, 2016


Before I read Christopher Emsden’s book Sweetness and Light: Why the demonization of sugar does not make sense I had no idea that the statistical …

The True Father of the First Green Revolution

May 30th, 2016


Today’s show is something of a departure; I’m talking about someone who is crucial to global food security and yet who is almost unknown.

It’s true, as Jean-Henri Fabre, the French naturalist wrote, that “History ... …

A brief history of Irish butter

May 16th, 2016


The Butter Museum in Cork, Ireland, features on some lists of the world’s quirky etc. food museums but not others. It ought to be on all of them. This is a seriously interesting museum for anyone who likes butter, and …

Where’s the latest episode?

May 9th, 2016


By rights, there should have been an episode last week, but there wasn't because I was just back from New York and the James Beard Awards, and I just …

It is OK to eat quinoa

April 18th, 2016


Quinoa -- that darling of the health-conscious western consumer -- came in for a lot of flack a few years ago. Skyrocketing prices caused some food activists to claim that the poor quinoa farmers of the high Andean …

Welcome to the Wonderbag

April 4th, 2016


At this year’s Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food I talked to Jon Verriet, who’s been researching the history of the haybox. That’s an …

The evolution of food culture in Mali

March 21st, 2016


When it comes to cradles of agriculture, West Africa does not often get a look in. The Sahel is better known as a place of famine than of feasting, …

Crackers about Indonesian food

March 7th, 2016


I'm on what the real professionals call a mission, or, failing that, duty travel. And once again I've bitten off more than I can chew. So, rather than admit defeat and just leave well enough alone, I decide to record a …

Chewing the fat about chewing the fat

February 22nd, 2016


Karima Moyer-Nocchi is an American woman who teaches at the University of Siena. When she had been here almost 25 years she developed something of an obsession. On the one hand, she watched “a bewildering decline in the …

The haybox through history

February 8th, 2016


   Huffduff it

This year’s Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food was dedicated to The material culture of cooking tools and techniques and was …

An English woman’s take on Italian cooking

February 1st, 2016


Rachel Roddy, after about 10 years of hard slog, is an overnight sensation.

She's just scooped the André Simon award for best food book in 2015, a very big deal indeed for a first book. I'd been warming up this second …

Egyptian street food in London

January 25th, 2016


As promised, another second helping from one of 2015's episodes, before we get to the new stuff. This time, I'm remembering my trip to the little place in St Martin's Lane in London that serves a couture version of …

Tulip bulb soup

January 5th, 2016


As ever, I’m taking a little break and bringing you some repeats from 2015. This one is prompted by an episode of NPR’s Planet Money that I’ve just listened to. They decided to cook a peacock for reasons that I think …

An experiment in sound and taste

December 21st, 2015


Irish music and its influence on the taste of Irish beer

Aquae Urbis Romae

December 7th, 2015


Following the ancient aqueducts to trace the history of the waters of Rome

How to measure what farms produce

November 23rd, 2015


How should we measure what farms produce? The answer drives some pretty important trends. For the past 60 years and more, the key metric has been …

The Dark Ages were a time of prosperity

November 10th, 2015


The Dark Ages ran for about 400 years, from around the fall of the Roman Empire, in the middle of the 6th century, to around the 10th or 11th centuries. It was dark because the light of Rome had been extinguished, while …

Going further than food miles

October 26th, 2015


“Forget organic. Eat local.” Nice, simple advice, from the cover of Time magazine. But more or less pointless. There’s so much more to food systems than just the distance the food travels. Tim Lang coined the phrase …

Fifth quarter: Rachel Roddy’s Rome

October 12th, 2015


That sink is where Rachel Roddy, an English woman in Rome, prepares meals to share with her partner Vincenzo, their young son Luca, and a horde of appreciative readers of her website and, now, her first book.

Five …

Just Mayo and justice

September 28th, 2015


It’s hard to know what this episode is really about. Government bullying private enterprise? An evil conspiracy to crush a competitor? Confused …

A year of cooking almost everything from scratch

September 14th, 2015


Megan Kimble -- that's her on the left -- is a young journalist in Tucson, Arizona. Back in 2012, she set out to stick it to the processed food man, by eating only unprocessed food for a year. Her book Unprocessed: My …

The military-culinary complex

August 31st, 2015


Have you ever stopped to wonder what drives the incessant innovation in processed food? Who thought that an energy bar would be a good thing to …

100% food insecure: poor people in a rich country

August 17th, 2015


The O-Pipin-Na-Piwin Cree Nation have suffered generations of maltreatment at the hands of various official entities. Moved from their homelands further south, they now occupy small scattered settlements in northern …

Larder inessentials

July 20th, 2015


The heat here in Rome has been something the past couple of weeks. Not up to 2003 of blessed memory, but hot nevertheless. The last thing I needed was for the fridge to start playing up, but it did, making horrible …

Culture and agriculture in the Pamirs

July 6th, 2015


The Pamir Mountains of Central Asia hold a fascinating diversity of food crops. Exploring the area in the early years of the 20th century the great …

How to eat well in Italy

June 22nd, 2015


People looking for a good place to eat in Rome can choose from almost as many opinions as there are restaurants. Truth be told, though, a lot of …

These aren’t the pests you’re looking for

June 8th, 2015


Day after day, week after week, special agents keep a look out for invaders that they really don’t want to find. And we, the ordinary public, give them barely a second thought. Worse, we sometimes provide the means for …

Lead poisoning of hunters and game

May 18th, 2015


This episode of Eat This Podcast is only tangentially about what people eat. At its heart, though, it is about how what people leave behind affects the other animals that eat it.

Hunters routinely clean up the animals …

Enjoying life on a rather restricted regimen

May 4th, 2015


By great good fortune, there is nothing I cannot eat. There are a couple of things I'd prefer not to eat, but nothing, at least as far as I know, …

Grass-fed beef

April 20th, 2015


What kind of business wants customers to buy less? The beef business, or at least, one tiny corner of the beef business.

Mark Shelley is an environmental film-maker turned cattleman who raises grass-fed beef near Carmel, …

A second helping of citrus in Italy

April 6th, 2015


This episode is a repeat of one first published in October 2014, and the reason is that it has been nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award. I'm utterly thrilled by the news, and gratified that more people have …

A visit to Koshari Street

March 23rd, 2015


Street food is big. Not just in places where eating on the street is the only place many people can afford, but in happening neighbourhoods around the rich world too. Burrito trucks, Korean barbecue in a taco, ceviche, …

An Italian wine education

March 9th, 2015


Drinking Italian wine anywhere -- even in Italy -- can be fraught with complications. Is that wine from the area in Piedmont known as the Langhe? Better not say so on the label, unless you have express permission to do …

A little about allotments

February 23rd, 2015


Allotments seem to be a peculiarly British phenomenon. Small parcels of land, divided into smaller still plots, furnished often with a shed and …

Food, hunger and conflict

February 9th, 2015


A couple of weeks ago I was at the 2nd annual Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food, and a very interesting meeting it was too. The topic was …

Agricultural foundations

January 26th, 2015


One of the things I find most frustrating in agricultural research is that, despite the subject matter, it often bears little relationship to the …

Future of agriculture

January 20th, 2015


Will biotechnology feed the world? Can organic agriculture? Ford Denison is a research scientist who has thought clearly about the future of …

Pasta laid bare

January 12th, 2015


Why is arrabbiata sauce always served on penne pasta? What's wrong with my spaghetti cacio e pepe? Maureen Fant, co-author of Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way first explained all back in February 2014 in one …

Cheese in aspic

January 5th, 2015


There's a thin line between protecting the authenticity of a fine traditional food and preventing the kinds of living changes that allowed it to survive long enough to become traditional. Zack Nowak, a food historian, …

Bread remembered

December 29th, 2014


Back in January I talked to Suzanne Dunaway about Buona Forchetta, the bakery she and her husband Don started and eventually sold. An early social …

Garibaldi and citrus in Italy

December 22nd, 2014


One of my treats this year was sitting down with Helena Attlee to talk about her book The Land Where Lemons Grow. Part of that interview didn't make it into the final podcast, so here it is now. And if you missed the …

Another helping of turkey

December 15th, 2014


The conservation of the wild turkey was triumph, but it left ornithologists scratching their heads. How many species were there? And where did they …

A partial history of the turkey

December 1st, 2014


For a nomenclature nerd, the turkey is wonderful. Why would a bird from America be named after a country on the edge of Asia?

Talking turkey

November 27th, 2014


As people in North America prepare to give thanks and devour unimaginable quantities of food, we go to the heart of the matter. Why are turkeys called turkeys?

In next week's show, more about the American contribution …

The festa dell’uva of the 1930s

November 17th, 2014


These days, every little town and village in Italy has its sagra or festa, a weekend, or longer, in celebration of a particular local food. Although …

Looking forward to the festa dell’uva

November 10th, 2014


In the 1930s the Italian fascists decided that floats laden with giant grapes would be the vehicle to drive forward Italian nationalism. Hear how in …

Exploring Kazakhstan’s apple forests

November 4th, 2014


Kazakhstan stretches across Central Asia from the Caspian Sea in the east to China in the west. The country is famous for many things – it is the largest landlocked country in the world, says Wikipedia – but among food …

Bears and apples

October 27th, 2014


Ben Reade recently got back from a trip to Kazakhstan, in search of the original wild apples. Last time we spoke, he was sharing bog butter. This time, bears, and how they may have helped to domesticate those apples.

A novel approach to food security

October 20th, 2014


It is so easy to forget that very few people know anything about plant breeding and how vital it is to having enough to eat. The time it takes, and the resources it needs -- financial, genetic, human -- are just not …

Citrus in Italy

October 6th, 2014


Citrus, thanks to what writer Helena Attlee calls their great “suggestibility,” confound the botanist and the shopper alike. What is the difference between a clementine and a mandarin? That was one of the few questions …

What’s cooking in Tasmania?

September 22nd, 2014


What better to do with a surplus rooster than turn him into a delicious meal. And share the process. Stir-fries, curries, Ethiopian wats, loaves of bread: John Grosvenor, a software developer, posts delectable images of …

Garum brought up to date

September 8th, 2014


Garum is one of those ancient foods that everyone seems to have heard of. It is usually described as “fermented fish guts,” or something equally unappealing, and people often call it the Roman ketchup, because they used …

Rice from Randall’s Island, New York

August 25th, 2014


Randall’s Island is a small piece of land just east of 125th Street in New York’s East River. It is also around 2 degrees further south than the …

Japanese food through Canadian eyes

August 11th, 2014


I’m fascinated by Japanese food, but from a position of profound ignorance. I’ve never been there and I’ve never having eaten anything I could …

Who invented dried pasta?

July 29th, 2014


The history of pasta, ancient and modern, is littered with myths about the origins of manufacturing techniques, of cooking, of recipes, of names, of antecedents. Supporting most of these is a sort of truthiness whereby …

Vermont and the taste of place

July 14th, 2014


What do artisanal cheese and maple syrup have in common? In North America, and elsewhere too, they’re likely to bring to mind the state of Vermont, which produces more of both than anywhere else. They’re also the …

What makes Parmigiano-Reggiano Parmigiano-Reggiano?

June 30th, 2014


Great wheels of parmesan cheese, stamped all about with codes and official-looking markings, loudly shout that they are the real thing: …

Bones and the Mongol diet

June 16th, 2014


The growing popularity of “Mongolian” restaurants owes less to Mongolian food and more to, er, how shall we say, marketing. To whit:

"It’s actually …

Edible aroids

May 26th, 2014


A Dutch food writer tries to discover the origins of pom, the national dish of Suriname. Is it Creole, based on the foodways of Africans enslaved to …

Food tours and cooking classes

May 12th, 2014


It is quite amazing how popular food tours and cooking classes are in Italy. When in Rome, many people seem to want to eat, and cook, like a Roman. …

Rambling on my mind

April 28th, 2014


This episode of Eat This Podcast is something of a departure. With nothing in the pantry, so to speak, I had to make something with what I had: myself. So I hooked myself up to the audio recorder and went about some of …

Food prices and social unrest

April 14th, 2014


“If you can tell your story with a graph or picture, do so,” says Marc Bellemare, my first guest in this episode. The picture on the left is one of …

The Global Standard Diet

March 31st, 2014


We’ll have what they’re having has taken on a whole new meaning

In a world in which you can get pizza in Tokyo and sushi in Rome, diets have become …

Food and finance

March 17th, 2014


Sure, you've seen Trading Places. But do you know about the history of futures contracts, or why some things are traded on commodities markets and others aren't? I didn't, not really. So I spoke to Kara Newman, food …

Culture and Cuisine in Russia & Eastern Europe

March 3rd, 2014


About a month ago I got wind of a conference called Food for Thought: Culture and Cuisine in Russia & Eastern Europe, 1800-present, at the …


February 17th, 2014


There’s supposed to be this whole mystique surrounding “proper” pasta: how to cook it, which shape with what sauce, how to eat it, all that. And if …

Food — and bombs — in Laos

February 3rd, 2014


A bombie cluster munition on a farm in Khammouane Province, Laos.©2010/Jerry Redfern

Karen Coates is a freelance American journalist who writes about …

Baking bread: getting big and getting out

January 20th, 2014


Ah, the self-indulgent joy of making a podcast on one of my own passions.

“They” say that turning cooking from an enjoyable hobby into a business is a …

A tasting menu

January 13th, 2014


The first episode of 2014 is a look back to some of the topics I covered in 2013, and for what I hope is a good reason. With a podcast, unlike a piece of writing or an image, it is very hard to decide quickly whether …

Fermentation revisited

December 18th, 2013


Apologies for the delay in publishing this podcast. One of the joys of not being tied to "proper" radio is the freedom to give a story the length it …

Hunger and malnutrition

December 2nd, 2013


One week jam, the next global hunger and malnutrition. That’s the joy of Eat This Podcast; I get to present what interests me, in the hope that it interests you too. It also means I sometimes get to talk to my friends …

Jam tomorrow?

November 18th, 2013


Vivien Lloyd about to add warm sugar to her simmered fruit.

What is jam? “A preserve made from whole fruit boiled to a pulp with sugar.” Lots of …

Backpackers and their food

November 4th, 2013


When you’re on holiday, or just away from home, do you seek out the “authentic” local food, or look for a reassuringly familar logo? Backpackers, …

Pecans and history

October 21st, 2013


The Guadalupe River that flows through Texas used to be known as The River of Nuts, a fact that Wikipedia does not confirm. The nut in question is the pecan, Carya illinoinensis, and the pecan tree is the state tree of …

Why save seeds?

October 7th, 2013


What, really, is the point of conserving agricultural biodiversity? The formal sector, genebanks and the like, will say it is about genetic resources …

How to bake bread in a microwave oven

September 23rd, 2013


Say you wanted to bake bread in a microwave – I can’t think why, but say you did – you could go online and search the internets for a recipe. And you …

Crispy crunchy mega-munchy

September 9th, 2013


I am reliably informed that the taste of a soggy potato crisp – or chip, if you prefer – is identical to that of a crispy one. But the experience falls far short of enjoyable. A crisp needs to be, well, crisp. If it …

Backyard vegetable breeding

August 26th, 2013


Carol Deppe was a guest here a few months ago, talking about how most people misunderstand the potato, which is about as nutritious a vegetable as …

Industrial strength craft beer

August 12th, 2013


What matters is not how little beer you make, but how carefully you make your beer.

Knives: the new bling

July 29th, 2013


Bling, the Urban Dictionary tells me, is an onomatopoeic representation of light bouncing off a diamond. Or a Bob Kramer original hand-made chef’s knife, which goes for $2000 and up. Of course some people might be able …

What’s the beef with frozen meat?

July 15th, 2013


Good beef frozen is better than bad beef fresh.

Early agriculture in eastern North America

June 24th, 2013


This history of domestication and agriculture encompasses North America too.

Sugar and salt: Industrial is best

June 10th, 2013


Not all progress is bad. Rachel Laudan makes a powerful case that modern methods of making sugar and salt are far superior.

Spam: a special edition

June 6th, 2013


I did not know that that the famous Monty Python spam sketch was recorded on 6 June 1970. At least, that's the claim of a Tumblr obsessed with Minnesota in the 1970s. (Wikipedia says only that "[i]t premiered on 15 …

Seed Law

May 27th, 2013


The big question is, why do amateur growers and those who choose not to care even need the protection of EU seed legislation?

Potatoes are (almost) perfect

May 13th, 2013


Most of what you think you know about potatoes and nutrition is wrong.

Neanderthal Diets

April 29th, 2013


From a wilderness survival trick to a new theory on Neanderthal cooking.

OZ97a — a great British hop

April 15th, 2013


A bit of history about a new, old hop.

Do good chocolate

April 1st, 2013


The world of fine chocolate has seen some major change in the past few years, much of it focused on the rise of so-called “bean to bar” chocolate …

Air-cured sausages

March 18th, 2013


Among the more miraculous edible transformations is the one that turns raw meat, salt and a few basic spices into some of the most delicious foods …

Bog Butter

March 4th, 2013


Peat diggers in Ireland and elsewhere have occasionally unearthed objects, usually made of wood, that contained some kind of greasy, fatty material with a "distinctive, pungent and slightly offensive smell".

Butter. …

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