End-Of-Year Feast

Cheese science, cilantro phobia, and fork usage: we've covered it all on Gastropod. And, for our special end-of-year episode, we're bringing you updates on some our favorite stories. Join us to find out what happened next...

Ever wondered what happened to those researchers in Colombia who discovered they could grow five times more food by adding specially-bred microbes to the soil? Or what's new in cheese microbiology? This is your chance to find out! To celebrate the end of 2015, we've created a tasting menu to update past episodes.

Listen in for news from the front lines of fork etiquette and for the science behind Camembert's color change from minty-green to today's white rind. We've also included your stories of successful cilantro conversion techniques as well as your suggestions for state dishes—including plenty that we'd never even heard of, from Benedictine sandwiches to Cincinnati chili. There's even a mezcal-tasting party featuring Cynthia's mom.

And, as we share a toast and head into 2016, we'd love to hear from you. Do you have a question about some aspect of food history or science? Ever wondered why tonka beans are banned in the United States, despite being a popular spice in much of the rest of the world? Maybe your teeth feel weird after eating spinach, and you want to know why—and whether anyone else has the same reaction? Or perhaps you're curious about how tomatoes, which don't seem as if they should store particularly well for long boat-rides, succeeded in making the leap from the Americas to become a staple in European cuisine? Send us an email or a voice memo, or leave us a message at +1 310.876.2427, and we'll see what we can do!

Finally, a huge thanks to you, our listeners, for a great year. We wouldn't exist without you, and we're so grateful for your support. If you enjoy listening to Gastropod, please tell your friends and relatives: we need to build our audience in order to thrive in the future. You can also write a review at iTunes, which helps other podcast lovers find us. Don't forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and sign up for our email list. And, if you're feeling particularly generous at the end of the year, please consider making a donation to support future episodes of Gastropod. It's not tax-deductible, but you'll be helping to make sure we can serve up another year's worth of delicious food science and history.

Thanks for all you've done to help make this show a success, and here's to 2016!


The Golden Spoon

Our very first episode, The Golden Spoon, was a deep dive into the history and science of cutlery: you can listen to it here. For this episode, we spoke to Guardian columnist Tim Dowling about the shocking findings from a new survey on British fork usage.

The Microbe Revolution

Back in November 2014, we spoke with scientists Ian Sanders and Alia Rodriguez about their successful field trials, in which they found that coating cassava roots in a gel containing specially bred mycorrhizal fungi increased the final harvest by up to five times. Has this promising new technology made it out of Colombia yet? Listen in to find out.

Say Cheese!

Microbiologist Ben Wolfe starred in our Say Cheese! episode, all about the history and science of cheese. We went back to visit him in his lab at Tufts University to uncover the mystery of the mutant Camembert mold and learn the latest on cheese rind fungal superhighways.

The Good, the Bad, the Cilantro

Lots of you shared your stories in response to Cynthia's attempt at cilantro conversion therapy using the pesto method in this episode: thanks for giving us hope that she'll be able to enjoy a proper guacamole one day!

The Mushroom Underground

Fungi are fascinating, and our mushroom episode only touched the tip of the mycelial matrix. Here's an extra tidbit we couldn't squeeze in to the original episode: a project by Dr. Robyn Hudson of the National Autonomous University of Mexico to track male and female mushroom foragers using GPS. Listen in to learn how her findings have led to an improved diagnostic tool for ADHD in children.