food

RadioActive Bites Into Food Culture

Jul 23, 2015
Julia Furukawa enjoying the RadioActive potluck
KUOW photo

In today's podcast, we explore the deep connection between food and culture. Jon Rubin of the Conflict Kitchen in Pittsburgh and the rest of the RadioActive team provide insight into that connection.

Detox diets come and go, like any other fad. In South Korea, one popular diet has staying power. It has been around for at least 1,600 years, ever since the founding of the Jinkwansa temple in the mountains outside of Seoul.

This Buddhist monastery sits at the convergence of two streams, amid twisting leafy trees and soaring peaks. It's one of many temples in the countryside outside of South Korea's capital. Each temple has its own specialty. Jinkwansa is famous for two reasons.

The next time you pop a Popsicle in your mouth, think about this: You're enjoying the fruits of an 11-year-old entrepreneur's labor.

Back in 1905, a San Francisco Bay Area kid by the name of Frank Epperson accidentally invented the summertime treat. He had mixed some sugary soda powder with water and left it out overnight. It was a cold night, and the mixture froze. In the morning, Epperson devoured the icy concoction, licking it off the wooden stirrer. He declared it an Epsicle, a portmanteau of icicle and his name, and started selling the treat around his neighborhood.

Green beans at the Ballard farmers market.
KUOW Photo/Ross Reynolds

Ross Reynolds goes to the Ballard Farmers Market with author, blogger and restaurateur Molly Wizenberg to find what's fresh  this week --green beans! -- and learn a simple recipe.

As Dan Charles reported on Monday, yogurt has a way of igniting passions. In his story of arson, the flames were literal.

Once you start looking, it's really not hard to find people — even entire countries — deeply attached to this nourishing and calming food.

Shoppers peruse produce at the University District farmers market.
KUOW Photo/Ross Reynolds

Ross Reynolds interviews Chef Edouardo Jordan of Salere about picking tomatoes at the University District Farmers Market and making a warm tomato salad.

Jordan says  he likes them "just ready to explode in your hand." Farmers come to his restaurant to sell him produce, but Jordan explains why it's important to come to the market to meet them instead.

Two years ago, in the middle of the night, a fire broke out in a commercial building on the northern edge of the city of Dallas. It destroyed a small yogurt company called Three Happy Cows.

Two months later, Edgar Diaz, the founder of Three Happy Cows, confessed that he'd set the fire. Yet people who knew Diaz, and had worked with him, could not believe it.

"I was like, Edgar did that? No way! No way. No way," says Ruth Cruz, who worked at Three Happy Cows.

"No. No. It was his baby. Couldn't imagine," says Don Seale, who supplied milk to the factory.

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: A stress-free way to make a classic — and unruly — French sauce that's a variation of hollandaise.

Zucchini blossoms at West Seattle Farmers Market
KUOW Photo/Ross Reynolds

Ross Reynolds explores the West Seattle farmers market with food writer Cynthia Nims where the two discover fresh zucchini blossoms.

Most aspiring chefs long for the white hat, the gleaming kitchen, the fancy menu.

But Nigeria-born Tunde Wey stumbled into a different version of the (American) chef's dream. He wanted to see the country and share the food of his West African childhood with friends and strangers along the way.

So a few months ago, he packed up his knives and his spices at his home in Detroit and started crisscrossing the U.S. by Greyhound bus.

Chocolate might be headed toward a crisis, depending on whom you ask.

That's at least what the 2015 Cocoa Barometer has to say. It's an overview of sustainability issues in the cocoa sector, written by various European and U.S. NGOs, and was released in the U.S. this week. And what they're really worried about is the people who grow the beans that are ground up to make our beloved treat.

The U.S. government's system for regulating the products of biotechnology, including GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, was born in 1986, and it has been controversial from the start. Now, it will be getting a makeover — in part to assure the public that GMOs really are adequately regulated.

crab Puget Sound
Flickr Photo/Dana (CC BY ND 2.0)

David Hyde talks Puget Sound crabbing with Landgon Cook on the first day of the season.  

Rainbow chard is the star of this stir fry.
Courtesy of Hsiao-Ching Chou

Ross Reynolds finds out what’s fresh at the South Lake Union branch of the Pike Place Market with Hsiao-Ching Chou, cooking coach and former food editor at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 

Matthew Bell 

Texas native Robert West used to lament that many of his Muslim friends, even those who had spent most or all of their lives in the Lone Star state, had never even tried real Texas-style smoked BBQ.

“It’s an atrocity,” West recalls saying. “You cannot live in Texas your entire lives and not have BBQ. Somebody’s got to do something.”

West grumbled about this often enough that his friend, Jason Bones eventually told him, “Let’s actually do it. Or just shut up about it.”

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