Link Buffet: Eculent Investigations

If you love winter squashes, you’ll love this charmingly illustrated guide to gourds at Lucky Peach.

I am always here for new research on multisensory or synaesthetic experiences of eating. At the New Yorker, Nicola Twilley (of Edible Geography, which I often link here) covers the sensory experiments of Charles Spense, including how perception of crunch affects the taste of potato chips and how musical accompaniment affects a dark beer.
At the end there’s a quiz, which I answered with about 50% accuracy, but as I was drinking coffee at the time I can attest that it tasted… deeper, somehow, when listening to music at a lower pitch.

I’ve admired the gorgeous photographs of Ingredients, which have been making the rounds on all my favorite food feeds, but I didn’t feel compelled to learn more about the book or link to it until I read this take by a food chemist at Penn State. John Coupland was impressed by the photography but also by the way authors Dwight Eschliman and Steve Ettlinger simply demystify the chemical additives in commercial food, rather than sensationalizing or reviling it. Ingredients shows what the components of, say, Campbell’s soup look like when broken down into little piles of powders, and that can be an unpleasant way to think about the food we eat, but they provide not only a visual reference but an explanation of what each compound does.

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Penn’s Language Log translates some rather evocative terms for levels of spiciness on a Korean menu.

I generally enjoy content posted by The Plate, but I was perplexed by this piece on whether Blue Apron teaches its customers how to cook–not least because I don’t recall that claim ever being made by the company. Their handle is more about making cooking “fun and easy”–and having cooked a few of their kits with a friend who subscribes, I can confirm. And, sure, even as an experienced cook, I did learn a few new things: I had never cooked with farro, for example, nor had I ever preserved lemon. But education is not the problem companies like Blue Apron is trying to solve. I’m not likely to sign up for meal prep kits myself, since I am content with my current food management systems of CSAs and farm stands, but a meal kit service would definitely appeal if I took on employment with hours that preclude convenient food shopping, or if I moved away from my convenient neighborhood with great public transit and grocery store access.
Meanwhile, I gleefully read everything about meal kits that I come across, because pro-and-con pieces provide such an interesting cross-section of contemporary attitudes about cooking–which are frequently weighted with yearning toward authenticity and self-improvement.

By Tom Gauld at the Guardian:

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This made me laugh because yeah, a kale smoothie doesn’t go along with our idea of the classic hard-boiled detective–usuallly a man who lives so much more in his mind than in his body that he does appear to subsist only on coffee and cigarettes. But as this older BBC article points out, modern fictional detectives actually revel in good food, especially the food of specific regions or cultures where they are investigating. As author Martin Walker put it, “the food is a means of intelligence gathering.” So today’s fictional criminal investigator might study the evidence with a glass of good wine, or stop to chat with a vendor while trying out the region’s best street food.

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