Jollof Rice Wars 101

We missed a few weeks because we messed up the math and something about Labor Day, but we’re going to be back on track. In this episode, we’re discussing a beloved West African rice dish, the Wolof Empire’s rise and importance, and how the ingredients that make jollof rice came to Africa. Finally, we discuss the intensity of the culture wars around which jollof rice is the best.

Shawarma al Pastor

We’re back in Mexico! This week, we dive into the very non-Mexican roots of the beloved taco al pastor. We discuss the collapse of the silk industry in Lebanon, the Ottoman Empire’s consulate program, and how tacos al pastor represent the classic immigration to America story. Finally, we learn about Spain’s jamon obsession.

Scream for Ice Cream

We’re back! And we’re starting season 3 off on a far more cheerful note than we ended season 2. In honor of July, heat waves, climate change, and sweating, we’re starting off this new season with an ode to ice cream and how a snack for the 1% became the people’s dairy confection. We discuss Roman shaved ice, Marco Polo and Catherine de Medici revolutionizing European food (yet again), and the mechanics of refrigeration. Finally, we hypothesize why sundaes got their name.

An Arabian Tale: Biryani Goes West

This week, we return to one of our favorite dishes, but we’re not talking about it in India. Instead, we delve into why and how this flavorful mix of rice, spices, oil, and meat became so popular in the United Arab Emirates. We discuss the historical ties between the Arab world and South Asia, the prevalence of South Asians in the UAE, and the history of pearl diving and how these pieces fit into our biryani mystery. Finally, Faye reviews a play.

The Best Pies in Hanoi

This week, we’re going to a part of the world we haven’t really talked about yet: southeast Asia. And, of course, we have to talk about colonialism. We discuss the basic tenets of Vietnamese cuisine, the fabled origin story of puff pastry, and how pate chaud traveled from the streets of revolutionary France to kitchens all across Vietnam. Finally, we discuss the universality of meat in wrappers.

I Want Candy

This week, we have four sweet vignettes about candy, society, and history. We discuss how the military ended up with a large shipment of tootsie rolls, the origin story of jelly beans, why British kids liked cockroach candies, and  how capitalism did not capitalize on Halloween for candy sales. We provide a literary analysis of Turkish delight, and finally, Ria accidentally drags St. Patrick.

Pod Save Georgia… or Georgia Save the Pod?

To kick off February, we’ve got an episode on an overlooked story of a woman who helped feed countless activists during the Civil Rights Movement. We explore how food creates spaces for activism, the connection between a small restaurant and the Freedom Riders, and why Georgia Gilmore is an unsung hero of a pivotal time in American history. Finally, we remind listeners to avoid overthrowing governments in coffee shops.

The Codfather

As the title of this week’s episode suggests, we’re diving into the fish trade and the immigrant story that gave rise to cod-related black markets. We discuss why Portuguese immigrants came to Massachusetts, how they became the backbone of the American cod industry, and how this lucrative market developed fishy practices. Finally, we make fun of Herman Melville.

The Great Molasses Flood

It’s a new year so we’ve got a new episode. This week, we cover one of the great food tragedies of the Gilded Age and its effects on how to make cities safe from industrial accidents. Of course, that means we’re covering one of our favorite topics: the moral failures of capitalism. We also discuss what molasses is, why it was being stored at a distillery and the best places to get cannolis in Boston.