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.

A Lotta Latkes

It’s our wonderful, Holiday special! But we’re not talking about Christmas this year. We’ve got a whole episode on Hanukkah, and more importantly, why people eat latkes at Hanukkah. Join us as we discuss the different kinds of cooking fats, why you have to eat fried foods at Hanukkah, and whether or not latkes are even traditional. Finally, we answer the age-old question: what are cheese pancakes?

Liberté, Egalité, Sucre

Get ready with your favorite Victor Hugo novel, because we’ve got Francophone revolutions on our mind this week. But we’re not talking about any revolutions in France. Instead, we dive into the complex history of the Haitian revolution and the ties between the French sugar trade and the first country for black folks in the New World. Also, Faye casts Denzel Washington and Chadwick Boseman in her upcoming Hollywood Oscar-bait film dramatizing the Haitian revolution.

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)

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.

They Got Lost Again: Corn in Africa

We’re kicking off a mini-series on corn this week with a return appearance from the world’s worst navigators. That’s right, Vasco Da Gama and crew are back on the podcast as we trace the path of corn from the New World to Africa. We discuss how corn followed European expansion into Africa and helped build European, African, and R&B empires. Finally, Faye has a PSA about Beyonce.

Chop Suey! An American Tale

This week, we’re rushing to California to find gold. We’re discussing how the 1949 Gold Rush created the San Francisco we know and love, and the Chester A. Arthur we know and hate. Plus, we discuss how the uniquely Chinese-American dish Chop Suey came to be, and the role New York Jewish Americans played in making Chinese food famous. Finally, Ria gives some important cooking tips to guarantee you always make good food.

 

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.”