Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley

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 read less

Our Editor's Take

Gastropod reveals fascinating historical and scientific research about food. Hosts Nicola Twilley and Cynthia Graber are award-winning writers and food enthusiasts. They promise this podcast isn't another cooking show. They met at UC Berkeley's 11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellows program. They share interests in the various ways humans grow and consume food. That includes the tools they use to eat it.

In one episode of Gastropod, they interview Bee Wilson, who wrote Consider the Fork. Wilson shares fun facts about cooking utensils. People once used seashells as spoons. Before clocks existed, cooks timed recipes by the number of prayers recited while cooking them. Watching kids eat spaghetti with their hands was a tourist attraction in Naples. Italians sold postcards of children dangling noodles into their mouths. That sounds messy with pasta sauce. But tomatoes didn't arrive in Italy until 1548. Another 300 years passed before Italians made tomatoes into sauce.

Gastropod exposes a misconception about fish and chips. People often think the meal is British. But it has Jewish, French, and Belgian origins. Twilley is British, and Graber is Jewish, so they add unique insight to this podcast episode. The fish frying method came to England with Sephardic Jews. They developed the technique to preserve fish for the Sabbath when they didn't cook. Listeners hear why the type of fish they fried became a global commodity. They also learn why cod developed a sexual connotation for Catholics.

The hosts express hope to eradicate hunger and environmental issues with breadfruit trees. The plants can grow 80 feet tall and produce 600 fruit per year. The trees live 50 to 100 years with little maintenance. One farmer says they taste like potatoes and are so durable that one can hear them hit the ground from 100 feet away.

Another Gastropod podcast episode studies Coca-Cola's history. The creator had a morphine addiction. His original recipe included wine, cocaine, and kola nuts. Listeners learn how that became the drink sold in 200 countries, consumed by 1.8 billion people per day. Like each informative episode on this podcast, the content is historical yet forward-thinking.

read less