Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Twenty-Four Hour Loaf

In the opening episode of the BBC’s new three-part series, “Inside the Factory: How Our Favourite Foods Are Made,” we spend an hour watching a loaf of supermarket sliced white get made. There is a short diversion into the history of bread-making (including Victorian-era DIY tests for alum adulteration) and a brief interlude in an […]

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Improbable Salt

The illicit thrill of carrying vials of expensive white powder around town is just part of the charm of owning your own Improbable Salt. I am no salt expert (yes, there is such a profession: meet salt sommelier Sommai Wooniem) but, astonishingly, the salt from a Hawaiian-French improbable ocean tastes distinctly different to that of […]

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Supply Chain Seasoning

Salt is essential. Globally, humans eat an average of 10 grams a day and we each contain roughly 250 grams, without which we would die. IMAGE: Photograph courtesy Ryan Dewey. As Mark Kurlansky explains in his book, Salt, the extraction of salt has inspired many of the world’s most ambitious public works projects, while the […]

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Gastropod: Savour Flavour

Why does grape candy taste so fake? What on earth is blue raspberry, anyway? And what is the difference between natural and artificial, at least when it comes to flavour? Join us as we taste the rainbow on this episode of Gastropod, from artificial flavouring’s public debut at the 1851 Crystal Palace exhibition, to the […]

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Pear Bulb

IMAGE: “Die Glühbirne,” 2015, from “The Light Inside,” photograph by Radu Zaciu. German slang for light bulb is “die Glühbirne,” or “the glow pear.” As Romanian photograph Radu Zaciu explained to Petapixel, his latest series, “The Light Inside,” was originally inspired by this word play. IMAGE: Photograher Radu Zaciu preparing a cauliflower; photograph via Petapixel. […]

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Holy Radish Water, Scientists!

IMAGE: Bottles of holy water (available at the Sacramentals Foundation of Omaha, Nebraska) and a radish. In a paper published in the journal Psychological Reports in 1979, Sandra Lenington measured the mean growth of 12 radish seeds watered with holy water against that of 12 radish seeds watered with tap water. It was not, Lenington […]

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100 Shades of French Fry

For just two days this weekend, a gallery on New York’s Lower East Side hosted a pop-up French fry exhibition. IMAGE: A French fry on the Bowery. All photos in this post by Nicola Twilley. It was a PR stunt put together by craft condiment contender Sir Kensington, but, as someone who has never successfully […]

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Proustian Greengrocers

IMAGE: Memory Lane, courtesy Grove Care, Ltd. Among the facilities at the Blossom Fields care home near Bristol is “Memory Lane”: a reconstructed 1950s street where residents, many of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, can mail letters in a George VI Post Box, make calls from a restored phone box, enjoy a pint (or, […]

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The Photosynthetic Habits of Highly Effective Plants

As far as we know, the plant kingdom has not developed its own genre of productivity literature. There is no plant equivalent of Six Sigma, GTD, or Lifehacker — an absence made all the more alarming by the recent discovery of the existence of a subterranean plant “internet.” The result? Despite being the main thing […]

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Ten Landmarks of the Chinese Cryosphere

“The Price of Cold” — the story of my recent adventures exploring China’s artificial cryosphere — is now online in The New York Times Magazine. In it, I visit the world’s first and only frozen dumpling billionaire, hang out with the chef leading a one-man refrigeration resistance movement, and visit refrigerated warehouses and R&D labs […]

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