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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

272 - We'd Like to Teach The World to Slurp: The Weird and Wonderful Story of Ramen's Rise to Glory
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  • 272 - 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

    Tue, 26 Sep 2023
  • 271 - 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

    Tue, 19 Sep 2023
  • 270 - 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

    Tue, 05 Sep 2023
  • 269 - 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

    Tue, 22 Aug 2023
  • 268 - 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

    Tue, 08 Aug 2023
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