Tacopedia – A sumptuous history of the taco

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Tacopedia by Deborah Holtz, Juan Carlos Mena and René Redzepi Phaidon Press 2015, 318 pages, 7.8 x 10 x 1.1 inches (flexibound) $20 Buy a copy on Amazon

Whenever I've been away from NYC for a while, the first thing I always want to do when I get back is to have a taco (or three). My mouth starts watering as soon as I see the skyline. Southwesterners and Mexicans will laugh at this and feel sad for me but a good North East taco is the best option I have. So when I discovered Tacopedia through an NPR review, I immediately put it on my wishlist.

The book offers a sumptuous history of the taco, beginning circa 1000-500 BC when a legendary hero first created “nixtamal,” a malleable dough made by soaking dried corn in water and a bit of quicklime. Once rolled out and roasted, nixtamal becomes a tortilla, an “edible spoon” that can hold a near infinite variety of fillings and salsas.

After the background chapters, the book is divided into 8-10 page sections on popular and specialized tacos, including: grilled, barbacoa (lamb roasted underground in agave leaves, served with broth), basket (morning tacos par-cooked in the container they’re delivered in), and – for the adventurous – insect (!) tacos. Each entry includes the region of Mexico where the variety originated and describes how it has evolved over the years. It then recommends a handful of restaurants – many of them, tiny stands that have been operating for generations – where you can find the best examples of these delicacies. Read the rest

How to make an edible virtual reality headset

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Caleb Kraft used the Google Cardboard design to make a working VR headset from graham crackers and icing. It's entirely edible, except for the lenses.

"Making an Edible Virtual Reality Viewer for Your Phone" (MAKE:)

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Making an edible Google Cardboard VR viewer out of graham crackers and icing

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Caleb Kraft used overlapping graham crackers and icing/glue to piece together a functional, edible Google Cardboard viewer whose only inedible components were the lenses (which Kraft says he could have made from edible material -- sugar? -- but lacked the time for). Read the rest

General Mills recalls some flours after 38 people become sick with E. coli

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General Mills today announced it will voluntarily recall various batches of its Gold Medal, Gold Medal Wondra and Signature flours that federal officials say may be linked to 38 people getting sick in 20 states from a strain of E. coli.

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73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden by Niki Jabbour, illustrations by Anne Smith, Elayne Sears and Mary Ellen Carsley Storey Publishing 2014, 272 pages, 8 x 10 x 0.8 inches (softcover) $15 Buy a copy on Amazon

Fittingly, the layout of Groundbreaking Food Gardens is similar to a community garden. Within the landscape of this one book, readers find 73 distinct plots, each neatly contained, each with its own character in the beds of text and image. In it, edible gardening expert Niki Jabbour curates 73 thematically diverse illustrated plans contributed by master food growers and writers with unendingly fresh perspectives. Each mini-chapter opens with three or four cornerstones of the design therein, and these points become headers for each section, like garden markers for the reader.

Even the most bibliophilic gardener has to admit, it’s hard to find a good gardening book that says or does something new. But within the first 24 hours of bringing home Groundbreaking Food Gardens, I had filled it with every bit of scrap paper in our bookmark pile. Though more of a design lookbook than a how-to, it still offers plenty of information. Woven throughout the plans, there are both practical tips and historical gardening factoids to appeal to new and seasoned gardeners alike. You wouldn’t use a bean pole to support a squash, and so the scaffolding of each design chapter changes slightly to reflect the 73 unique concepts. Read the rest

How to cook up some delicious deep fried water

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From Jonathan Marcus's YouTube:

water... frozen reverse spherification (calcium alginate membrane)... flour... egg... panko... 375ºF peanut oil

A dozen of these were prepared for and given away at the Stupid Shit No One Needs and Terrible Ideas Hackathon 2.0 ...

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Incredible build video of a goopy meal

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It starts with a simple ear of corn. Then, it is drenched in pools of viscous liquids, topped with layers of crumbled something, and sprinkled with spices. Over and over again.

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Inside a flavor laboratory where new tastes are invented

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Tom Vanderbilt, author of the classic book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, has just published You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice, about the science and business of personal preference. In a terrific excerpt on Wired, Tom visits a lab inside McCormick & Company, the global firm that creates "custom labor solutions" for their own seasonings along with myriad food brands and restaurants. From You May Also Like:

In a search for clarity, McCormick turns to what (McCormick VP of applied research Marianna) Gillette jokingly terms its “human chromatographs”: trained sensory panelists. I joined Jason Ridgway and Tess Aldredge, two of McCormick’s senior sensory analysts, in a small room that faces, via a two-way mirror, a dimly red-lit room with a round table, around which a number of people were slowly nibbling pretzels from small paper cups. “They taste under red lights,” Gillette had told me, “because if they taste two gravies and one is more brown than the other, our senses will say one is meatier and richer than the other.” The absence of light and color makes the tasters’ job harder, Aldredge said. “You don’t get the bias of ‘it’s red, it’s going to taste like strawberry.’ You have to think it through. It’s very taxing psychologically.”

Ridgway flipped a switch, and audio from the other room filtered in, like a transmission from a distant spaceship. The panel’s director was asking the panel about “persistence of crisp,” which Ridgway defined for me as the “time to change in total quality during chewdown.” A “persistence of crisp” scale was provided to the panelists, ranging from cornflakes all the way up to Pringles potato chips.

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Make: "Pie Another Day," a no-bake James Bond Oreo pie

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“Pie Another Day“: James Bond No-Bake Oreo Pie Recipe by Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (aka @ThePieous) (more geeky pie goodness) Read the rest

Watch a fake head of cabbage and other fake food being made

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Watch this talented guy make realistic food by pouring melted wax in a water bath. He's making the samples seen in Japanese restaurant windows.

Gujo town in Gifu prefecture of Japan is the place where technology of making these ultra-realistic food samples used to show menu in Japanese restaurants began. These samples are made out of plastic, wax and other materials, and then painted. It is also possible to try making some simple samples by yourself.

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How to bake a Pie-Ger: the HR Giger Pie

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"HR Pieger" Recipe by Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (aka @ThePieous) Read the rest

Taliban condemn Pakistan city's first McDonald's: "we don't even consider it as a food."

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The first McDonald's in Quetta, Pakistan has opened in Millennium Mall, in the militarized Police Lines neighborhood, prompting an official position from the Taliban. Read the rest

McDonalds testing new Chicken McNugget, with 32 ingredients presumably including chicken

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McDonalds is testing a "cleaner-label" version of its legendary Chicken McNugget, reports Peter Frost, with an eye to replacing the current model nationwide in time for the Summer Games.

If you're eating in Portland, Oregon, you may already have eaten the upgraded McNugget, which has 32 ingredients and a "simpler recipe," according to the restaurant chain. It declined to provide the full list while it's in beta, but one presumes it includes chicken.

The cleaner-label McNuggets come as McDonald's combats the perception that its food is overly processed and laden with preservatives. Other restaurants and packaged-food companies also are rushing to respond to changing consumer tastes. Last year, McDonald's unveiled ads on TV and in stores that played up the fact that its Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwiches are made with freshly cracked eggs. It also ran a marketing campaign in late 2014 called “Our food. Your questions,” in which it enlisted former “MythBusters” co-host Grant Imahara to debunk myths surrounding McDonald's food.

I suspect the reason McDonalds is testing a new Chicken McNugget is simply that they made the current ones in 1983 and have finally run out. Read the rest

Watch this young woman eat 50 Krispy Kreme donuts

"It honestly took every bit of strength in me to get through all 50 donuts as they were incredibly sweet but I'm so glad I did," said competitive eater Nela Zisser.

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Bake: An amazing space-themed Hubble cake

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Baker/cookbook author Heather Baird was so inspired by a book of photos from the Hubble space telescope that she created a "Black Velvet Nebula Cake" that is studded with edible white confetti sprinkles to create a starscape that shoots right through the whole cross-section, while the surface is intricately painted with gorgeous nebulae made from tinted edible gels. Read the rest

Do fries go with that home?

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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.:

It looks like a Hopper painting plunked incongruously down on a busy commercial street in West Los Angeles — The Apple Pan, home to freshly-baked pies and what hamburger aficionado George Motz says may be the best burger in America. But the affection Angelenos have for The Apple Pan only starts with the food. It’s an oasis, a rock, a spot out of time, essentially unchanged since the day it opened in 1947. It may not be the kind of place where everybody knows your name, but if you’ve been going there for a long time, as it seems like most of its customers have, it is the kind of place where the countermen most likely know your order. Warmth, familiarity, stability in a rapidly-changing landscape… aren’t these some of the things that make a place a home?

With this episode HOME wraps up its second season. We'll be back in June with an all-new season; subscribe now and you won't miss a thing. 

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The chemical burn of Burger King's bizarre Angriest Whopper

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"It had a slightly antiseptic burn as if you spritzed the burger with some sort of acid spray," says Dustin "UPSO" Hostetler.

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