Food & Cooking Podcasts

Food with a side of science and history. Every other week, co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode exploring the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food- or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. We interview experts, visit labs, fields, and archaeological digs, and generally have lots of fun while discovering new ways to think about and understand the world through food. Find us online at, follow us on Twitter @gastropodcast, and like us on Facebook at


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Food with a side of science and history. Every other week, co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode exploring the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food- or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. We interview experts, visit labs, fields, and archaeological digs, and generally have lots of fun while discovering new ways to think about and understand the world through food. Find us online at, follow us on Twitter @gastropodcast, and like us on Facebook at




We'd Like to Teach The World to Slurp: The Weird and Wonderful Story of Ramen's Rise to Glory

Savory, chewy, and, above all, slurp-able, a delicious bowl of ramen is one of the triumphs of Japanese cuisine. That's also a bit odd, because, for most of Japanese history, heavy, meaty, wheaty noodle soup would have had no place in the archipelago's otherwise bland and mostly pescatarian cuisine. This episode, we bust ramen myths and reveal ramen secrets, with the story of how Chinese influencers, U.S. food aid, and an economic boom built the quintessential Japanese soup—and how ramen was transformed from a quick street-food bite for workers to both the three-minute staple of students everywhere in its instant form and the craft ramen that has people standing in lines for hours. Plus: how ramen noodles helped prevent a prison riot, and Cynthia and Nicky go head-to-head in an epic (failure of a) slurp-off. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


First Foods: Learning to Eat (encore)

How do we learn to eat? It may seem like an obvious question, but it's actually quite a complicated process. Who decided that mushed-up vegetables were the perfect first food—and has that always been the case? What makes us like some foods and hate others—and can we change? Join us to discover the back story behind the invention of baby food, as well as the latest science on flavor preferences and tips for how to transform dislikes into likes. (encore) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


All Aboard the Tuna Rollercoaster! Join the King of Fish for a Wild Ride that Involves Ernest Hemingway and (of course) Jane Fonda

A bluefin tuna can grow to the size of a car, weigh twice as much as a grand piano, swim as fast as a running lion, and keep its muscles at human body temperature even in the ocean's coldest depths. It's also wildly delicious, with a sweet, briny, but meaty taste and a melt-in-your mouth texture that has made it the most expensive fish in the world, with a single bluefin selling for a record-breaking $3 million in 2019. Not bad for a fish that, until recently, New England fishermen used to have to pay to dispose of. This episode, we've got the story of how the king of fish went from the coin of the realm in ancient Byzantium to cat food before bouncing back, in a tale that involves Alexander the Great, Ernest Hemingway, and a couple of Canadian coffin-makers. But popularity has proven a double-edged sword for the bluefin: in the past few decades, it's been fished almost to extinction, while also becoming the poster child for saving the oceans. These days there's big news in tuna world, and, for the first time in years, environmentalists and scientists have hope for the bluefin's future. So is it time to start ordering maguro again at the sushi bar? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


The Keto Paradox: Fad Diet *and* Life-Saving Medical Treatment

What do some epilepsy patients have in common with tech bros, bodybuilders, and Joe Rogan? The high-fat, carb-shunning diet known as keto, whose history dates back much further than its 2010s rise to fame. In this episode, Gastropod traces how a medical treatment pioneered more than 2,500 years ago was refined in the 1920s to treat seizures. We trace its wild ride in and out of fashion, with cameos from Robert Atkins, the 80s exercise craze, and Meryl Streep. And, of course, we've got the myth-busting science on what ketosis and ketones really are, the dangers of eating this way to lose weight, and the reason this diet can be life-saving—for people with a very specific medical condition. Bust out the butter (but please don't put it in coffee) and join us down the keto rabbit hole. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Secrets of Sourdough (encore)

Today, you can find a huge variety of breads on supermarket shelves, only a few of which are called "sourdough." For most of human history, though, any bread that wasn't flat was sourdough—that is, it was leavened with a wild community of microbes. And yet we know surprisingly little about the microbes responsible for raising sourdough bread, not to mention making it more nutritious and delicious than bread made with commercial yeast. For starters, where do the fungi and bacteria in a sourdough starter come from? Are they in the water or the flour? Do they come from the baker's hands? Or perhaps they're just floating around in the foggy air, as the bakers of San Francisco firmly believe? This episode, Cynthia and Nicky go to Belgium with two researchers, fifteen bakers, and quite a few microbes for a three-day science experiment designed to answer this question once and for all. Listen in for our exclusive scoop on the secrets of sourdough. (encore presentation) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Watch It Wiggle: The Jell-O Story (encore)

It's been described as the ultimate status symbol for the wealthy, as the perfect solution for dieters and the sick, and, confusingly, as a liquid trapped in a solid that somehow remains fluid. What could this magical substance be? In case you haven't guessed, this episode, we're talking about Jell-O! Or, to be more precise, jelly—not the seedless kind you spread on toast, but the kind that shimmers on your plate, wiggles and jiggles on your spoon, and melts in your mouth. Jelly's story is as old as cooking itself—it is one that involves spectacular riches and dazzling displays, as well as California's poet laureate and some very curious chemistry. (encore presentation) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Where's the Beef? Lab-Grown Meat is Finally on the Menu

Can we really have our burger, eat it—and never need to kill a cow? Growing meat outside of animals—in a lab or, these days, in shiny steel bioreactors—promises to deliver a future in which we can enjoy sausages and sushi without guilt, and maybe even without sending our planet up in smoke. For years, it's seemed like science fiction, but it's finally a reality: this month, Americans will get their first chance to buy cultivated meat in a restaurant. But how exactly do you get chicken nuggets, BLTs, and bluefin sashimi from a bunch of cells growing in large metal vats? Does this new cultivated meat taste any good? Can enough be grown to replace industrial meat? And, if so, is this new technology actually an improvement on industrial animal agriculture and fishing? Gastropod is on the case! Join us this episode as we sink our teeth into a whole lot of lab-grown lunches, uncover the science behind the sci-fi, and investigate whether the companies making cultivated meat can actually fulfill the lofty promises they make. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


The Incredible Egg (encore)

We love eggs scrambled, fried, or poached; we couldn't enjoy a quiche, meringue, or flan without them. But for scientists and archaeologists, these perfect packages are a source of both wonder and curiosity. Why do eggs come in such a spectacular variety of colors, shapes, and sizes? Why are we stuck mostly eating chicken eggs, when our ancestors feasted on emu, ostrich, and guillemot eggs? This episode, we explore the science and history of eggs, from dinosaurs to double-yolkers! (encore episode) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Good Shit: How Humanure Could Save Agriculture—and the Planet

For most of us, when we sit on the porcelain throne to drop the deuce, priority number one is flushing and never having to think about it again. But it might be time to rethink our stink: all around the world, people are talking about using human waste for good, applying it as fertilizer to grow our food instead of just washing it down the miles of pipes that undergird urban sewage systems. "Ew" is a common response, along with "yuck!" Is using poop to grow food a good idea—or even safe? We’re getting our shit together to find out! On this episode of Gastropod, how human waste went from being so valuable you could go to jail for stealing it, to causing such a stench it shut down Parliament in Victorian London and led to the invention of the modern sewage system—and why figuring out how to start saving our poop (and pee!) once again could give us cleaner energy, healthier waterways, and lots of delicious food. Listen in now: if you like to eat, it's time to start giving a crap about your crap. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Gettin' Fizzy With It (Encore)

'Tis the season for a refreshing glass of bubbly—but this episode we're not talking wine, we're talking seltzer. America is in the throes of a serious seltzer craze, with consumption of the bubbly stuff doubling in only a decade, from 2004 to 2014. But where does seltzer come from, and why is it called "seltzer," rather than simply "sparkling water"? Is there any truth to the rumors that seltzer can combat indigestion—or that it will rot our teeth? Why are all the hipsters crushing cans of LaCroix, and what's the story behind Polar's ephemeral sensation, Unicorn Kisses? (Encore presentation) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Who's Eating Who: Pineapples and You

What was the hottest accessory for late 1600s European dining rooms? The pineapple! Explorers had recently brought this spiky tropical fruit over from the Americas, and in short order it became the Gucci purse of its day—so exciting and desirable that it not only commanded big bucks, but led to a sort of gardening arms race to figure out how they might be grown in chilly northern Europe. In this episode, we get to the core of how this "king of fruit" inspired obsession and invention—plus, we head back to Hawai'i to learn how it transformed the islands, and, in the process, was itself transformed from an exotic rarity to a pantry-staple topping for pizza and cottage cheese. If you like piña coladas and fruits that can dissolve your skin, join us for all of the juicy details! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


You've Lost That Hungry Feeling

Whether it's via TikTok or the morning news, you’ve probably heard the recent hype (and hand-wringing) about new prescription weight-loss medications with names like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro. These drugs were originally developed to treat diabetes, but, in some patients, they've had a surprising side effect: they seem to silence feelings of hunger, leading to significant weight loss. This episode, Gastropod goes behind the headlines to ask: What is hunger, anyway? And what do we know about how to switch it on or off? Join us for a story that involves lizard saliva, synthesizer shopping, and a disorder that can lead people to eat until their stomachs burst, as we explore these universal feelings—hunger and fullness—that shape our lives, and bookend every meal. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Fish & Chips: Uncovering the Forgotten Jewish and Belgian Origins of the Iconic British Dish

Fish & chips: a golden hunk of battered cod, accompanied by thick-cut French fries, lightly sprinkled with malt vinegar, and wrapped up in a newspaper.... It's as British as cricket, cream teas, the class system, and colonialism, but it's actually the relatively recent marriage of a Jewish fish-frying tradition and a Franco-Belgian potato snack. What's more, in something of a twist, the fish itself—cod, a burly bottom-feeder with tender, flaky white flesh—ended up helping fuel U.S. independence. This episode, we're telling the peculiar story of how two non-British foods became such a quintessentially British dish—and how our appetites transformed international relations, as well as an entire ocean ecosystem. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


What Connects Bones, Bird Poop, and Toxic Green Slime? Hint: Without It, Half of Us Wouldn't Be Alive Today

It’s the 13th element on the periodic table, it glows in the dark, and it spontaneously combusts if it gets any hotter than 80 degrees Fahrenheit; little surprise, then, that phosphorus is known as “the devil’s element.” But this satanic substance is also essential to all life on earth, which is why it's a key ingredient in fertilizer—without which, researchers estimate, we could only grow enough food for half as many humans as are alive today. The incredible crop-growing powers of phosphorus have led humans to do some pretty extreme things to get it—from seizing Pacific islands to scavenging bones from Europe’s most famous battlefields—but they’ve also created a devilish paradox. The world is running out of phosphorus, and yet there’s way too much of it running off farm fields into rivers, lakes, and oceans, where it fuels toxic algae blooms. This episode, we've got the story behind the phosphorus paradox, as we ask: is there any way to fertilize the planet without sending it to hell? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


All the Feels: How Texture Makes Taste

The squish of bananas, the squeak of mushrooms, the pop of a grape: for some people, these textures are a delight—but for others, they’re a total nightmare. Texture plays a huge role in how we experience food, and yet it’s kind of a scientific conundrum. Why do people—and entire cultures—experience the feeling of food differently, and what’s going on in our mouths when we do? To find out, we talk to scientists who've experimented with tooth-mounted microphones, tongue twists modeled after pro swimmers, and all-you-can-eat buffets. Plus, we go on a New York City Q adventure (mochi doughnuts and boba tea!), and hear from lots of you listeners about the feelings that make you squirm and swoon. Join us this episode and get up in your mouthfeels. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


The Fruit that Could Save the World

Can bread really grow on trees? This episode, meet the all-star, super productive, low-maintenance, gluten-free carbohydrate of the future. Did we mention it's also delicious? How can one fruit—that's also a vegetable and a staple starch—become chips, crackers, and cheesecake, while also serving as the perfect platform for sour cream and cheese when baked like a potato? And, if it's so great, why in the world did the mutineers on HMS Bounty throw its seedlings overboard? Today, believers say this one tree could be a potential solution to climate change, deforestation, food insecurity, and world hunger. Join us as we taste this wonder fruit for ourselves, and find out whether the hype is real. Can breadfruit really help save the world? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Meet Taro, the Poke Bowl's Missing Secret Ingredient

When Polynesians first arrived in Hawai'i some 1,500 years ago, they found islands that were lush, beautiful...and nearly devoid of anything to eat. Luckily, those sailors had packed a very special snack for their 2,500-mile voyage: a starchy, carbohydrate-rich root called taro, which ended up becoming as essential to the isolated Pacific archipelago as rice or wheat elsewhere. It was the original partner to cubed fish in Hawai'i's traditional poke bowl—which today has become super popular (minus the taro) around the world. Join us on a tropical adventure as we discover why this revered plant nearly died out on Hawai'i, even as it popped up in chip form at Whole Foods, and what it might take to bring it back. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Always Coca-Cola: Coca, Kola, and the *Real* Secret Formula

Coca-Cola's red and white logo is so iconic that supposedly nine out of every ten people on Earth know it on sight. Nearly two billion servings of Coke are sold a day, enough for one out of every four people on the planet. Yet while a glimpse of a billboard or bottle might start you humming one of their catchy jingles, this legendary brand was actually created by a morphine-addicted, down-on-his-luck pharmacist desperate for a big break. In fact, the first Coca-Cola product was actually a knockoff of the Pope's favorite drink, a concoction featuring red wine and cocaine. So how did Coke transcend its dubious origins to become one of the world’s biggest companies, not to mention a globally recognized symbol of all things American? It’s a story that involves Sigmund Freud, US military assistance, international drug treaty loopholes, and a New Jersey facility that extracts and burns piles of cocaine (yes, really, cocaine!) just miles from Manhattan. Gastropod’s here with Coca-Cola’s real secret formula for success, and we didn’t even need to break into their vault to get it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Here Comes Truffle

This episode, join us on a hunt for buried treasure at a super-secret location in North Carolina. We follow a million-dollar dog wearing adorable slippers, and then get down on our knees, butts in the air and noses in the dirt, on the trail of a fungus that drives both pigs and people wild. The smell's been described many different ways—cheesy, earthy, garlicky, even sweaty—but there’s only one thing in nature that can make it: truffles. So, how did this knobbly, brown, potato-shaped fungus come to be one of the world's most expensive foods—and is there any science behind its reputation as an aphrodisiac? Listen in this episode as we get down and dirty hunting truffles, exposing truffle fraud, and getting the scoop on one of the world's oldest and most equal partnerships. Just what you wanted for Valentine’s Day! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Museums and the Mafia: The Secret History of Citrus (encore)

A slice of lime in your cocktail, a lunchbox clementine, or a glass of OJ at breakfast: citrus is so common today that most of us have at least one lurking on the kitchen counter or in the back of the fridge. But don't be fooled: not only were these fruits so precious that they inspired both museums and the Mafia, they are also under attack by an incurable immune disease that is decimating citrus harvests around the world. Join us on a historical and scientific adventure, starting with a visit to the ark of citrus—a magical grove in California that contains hundreds of varieties you've never heard of, from the rose-scented yellow goo of a bael fruit to the Pop Rocks-sensation of a caviar lime. You'll see that lemon you're about to squeeze in a whole new light. (This is an encore presentation.) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit