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.

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.

Transformers Take Over Europe: The Chocolate Saga Continues

This week, chocolate does a reverse Columbus by leaving the New World and landing in Europe. From the ships of unbathed merchants to the courts of royalty become the next big thing, and from there, the whirlwind romance between Europe and chocolate began. We discuss how the Industrial Revolution, H.H. Holmes, and condensed milk are all connected through this beloved dessert. Finally, we have an important message for you about democratic responsibility (VOTE)

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate! AACK!

We’re back in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, but we’re not talking about corn this week. Nope. We’re talking about something even better – cocoa. This week, we discuss one man’s very famous cocoa-on-the-go pot, why Moctezuma drank gallons of chocolate every day, and why cocoa drinks in Mesoamerica were way stronger than any hot cocoa we have today. We also explore the connections between cocoa and religion in Mesoamerica. Finally, we assess our drink-pouring skills (or the lack thereof).

Praise the Corn Gods! Corn, Pt. 2

We’re wrapping up our corn mini-series by going back in time. We start by following the mystery around the domestication of corn in Mesoamerica. Then, we explore the importance of corn in pre-Columbian life, particularly in Mayan and Aztec religions. We discuss the Mayan Maize God and Centeotl, the role of corn in the creation of the universe and mankind, and the real reason why the Aztecs followed the Spanish around with incense. Finally, we discuss the ancient Mayan sport of xbalanque.

The Great French Lie: A Croissant Expose

Inspired by a discussion with our very favorite executive producer, Mary Vo, we decided to explore a great misconception about everyone’s favorite breakfast pastry. Turns out, croissants aren’t French at all. We trace the known history of croissants and speculate wildly about how medieval crescent rolls became the buttery, flaky rolls of heaven that we know and love today. We also discuss the life and times of the extraordinary baking pioneer/newspaper mogul August Zang.

 

Thomas Jefferson, the OG Hipster

The Thomas Jefferson Trilogy ends with an discussion of the third President’s very expensive tastes that eventually made him go into heavy debt. We explore Jefferson’s famed cattiness, including his snide comments about whiskey-drinkers. We also discuss how Jefferson, though a smart farmer, was pretty terrible at it, unlike George Washington. But, apparently, Jefferson was a great gardener and vegetarian. Finally, Faye takes issue with Thomas Jefferson’s dinner menu for a Tunisian diplomat.

 

Hot Takes and Hot Cakes: The James Hemings Story

We continue our story of the Founding Fathers and food by taking a deep dive into America’s third President’s very expensive, very European food and drink habits. We discuss Thomas Jefferson’s crazy party-planning skills/booze-purchasing habits. More importantly, we trace the origin story of one of America’s first chefs, James Hemings (brother of Sally) and this unsung hero’s rise to the top of French and American cuisine. Finally, Faye has some thoughts on the name “Benedict.”