Ketchup, Fish & Chips – The history of the foods you love

Ketchup, Fish & Chips - The history of the foods you love |
Dan Jurafsky, a Stanford linguist and author of the fascinating new book – The Language of Food, says:
“What we think of as our culture’s foods — ketchup, or fish and chips — usually developed over long periods of time across many cultures.”
The word ketchup came from Chinese. It’s a mixture of the word “tchup,” which means “sauce” in certain Chinese dialects, and “ke,” which refers to preserved fish. And there’s a reason for that. Ketchup was originally a fish sauce.

Get Dan Juufarsky’s book – The Language of Food

Source: A linguist’s history of the foods you love – Vox

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How Does Food Influence Our Dreams?

Get the book, Your Brain on Food by Dr. Gary Wenk |
In his book Your Brain on Food, Dr. Gary Wenk, a professor of Psychology & Neuroscience at the Ohio State University and Medical Center, discusses how a person’s diet influences brain functioning.

Google “food and dreams,” and the results will convince you that everything from cheese to chicken tikka masala is a catalyst for memorable dreaming.

Although there appears to be no real formulaic, empirical connection between our day-to-day intake of food and its impact on our dreams, there is a link: One that’s deeply personal, encompassing not only our history with certain foods, but also our genetic makeup.

Get the book, Your Brain on Food by Dr. Gary Wenk here.

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How Hot Dogs Are Made and What’s Actually Inside

How Hot Dogs Are Made and What's Actually Inside |
After the steaks, chops, breasts, ribs, thighs, hams, tenderloins and briskets are removed, there’s a fair amount of gristle, fat and offal remaining on a butchered animal, and early on, people realized this could be put to good use. One of these products is the hot dog, a classic of pre-cooked, processed meat.

Source: How Hot Dogs Are Made and What’s Actually Inside

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Here Are 30 Commonly Mispronounced Food Words (and a Guide to Saying Them Correctly)

Here Are 30 Commonly Mispronounced Food Words (and a Guide to Saying Them Correctly) |
We can understand that people frequently mispronounce words like quinoa, gnocchi, and Sriracha–but how about “ravioli”? The menu at Giada De Laurentiis’ new Las Vegas restaurant phonetically spells out the pronunciation of each of her pasta dishes, like the Lobster Ravioli (“rah-VEEOH-lee”) and Rigatoni (“ree-gah-TOH-neh”) with Vegetable Bolognese.

De Laurentiis’s menu inspired us to think about the foods that we actually find challenging to pronounce at restaurants.

Source: Here Are 30 Commonly Mispronounced Food Words (and a Guide to Saying Them Correctly) |

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Why Do Asian Nations Use Chopsticks?

Why Do Asian Nations Use Chopsticks? |
Created roughly 4,000-5,000 years ago in China, the earliest versions of something like chopsticks were used for cooking (they’re perfect for reaching into pots full of hot water or oil) and were most likely made from twigs. While it’s difficult to nail down a firm date, it would seem it wasn’t until around 500-400 AD that they began being used as table utensils.

Why Do Asian Nations Use Chopsticks?

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Get Back in Kitchen With This Specialized Recipe Site features curated recipes from the top food bloggers and publishers around.

Tell what you like and how much time you have, and it will recommend the recipes that work best for you.

Let’s be honest—for many of us, cooking seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Why spend hours grocery shopping and slaving away in the kitchen when your favorite Chinese restaurant can deliver Kung Pao chicken to your door in less that 45 minutes?

According to, a unique and personalized recipe site, cooking is less of a drag than you think.

It’s common knowledge that preparing food at home is more nutritious and less costly than dining out every night. The trick to non-stressful cooking is having a plan. This is where comes in.

Tell about your skill-level, tastes and allergies and it provides you with curated recipes that make sense for you. You can sort through options by prep time, type of cuisine or even main ingredient, so you can cook with what you have on-hand instead of shlepping to the store. also asks whether you self-identify as a carnivore or herbivore—vegan, pescetarian, no red meat—to better select dishes that you’re sure to enjoy.

The site stresses that cooking and eating requires us to utilize all five senses, making it a truly human experience. Preparing food for others also allows us to share and connect in a way that’s not possible over a restaurant bread basket. currently focuses on recipes only, but intends to expand to provide grocery shopping and meal planning tips.

Source: Get Back in Kitchen With This Specialized Recipe Site

How to Take Great Food Photos

Here are five easy tips for taking better food photos to make your friends and family drool.
Don’t worry about what camera you’re using, these tips work for any camera from your mobile phone up to the big DSLRs.

1. Make sure the food looks good to start 

Look good

Who cares what it tastes like. If it’s colorful, shoot it.

It needs to be stated: if the dish looks like something the dog just coughed up, your picture will too. So don’t bother taking a photo of any old food.

Some foods look better than others. Stews, curries and other foods may taste great but they don’t look that good.

Try to take photos of bright, vibrant and beautifully presented food with a variety of colors and textures. Fruit and vegetables as well as desserts and baked goods always look good.

Make sure the food looks good on the plate; I often rearrange the food, wipe the plate clean and rotate the plate to get the best angle.

The photo above is of a morning glory salad from the Thai cuisine kitchen of the Chiang Dao Nest mini resort in Chiang Dao, Thailand where I was invited into the kitchen to watch the chef prepare the local specialties.

2. Avoid the blur 


Sometimes teapots make great tripods, as in this picture.

Blurry photos are the result of a slow shutter speed and your hand shaking.

In an ideal world, you would use a tripod, but most people don’t travel with a tripod. Even if they did, setting one up on the restaurant floor can be tricky.

Essentially, a tripod keeps your camera stable for slower shutter speed shots so it can take in more light.

Without a tripod, I’ll pull a MacGyver and put my camera on a glass, cup or jug — whatever can keep my camera stable.

This photo was taken at a streetside breakfast stall in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Without a tripod and under the shade with only a bit of overcast light coming through the awning, I had to use a slow shutter speed.

My hands are quite shaky so I rested my camera against a teapot to keep it stable. I’ve been known to use a friend’s shoulder or even their head too.

Yes, it may look strange for a few seconds but photography has been described as “a few seconds of embarrassment but a lifetime of good memories.”

The food isn’t going anywhere, so you have lots of time to compose your shot and get the settings right. There is no excuse for blurry photos.

3. Learn the light


Lights, camera, Facebook.

My first piece of advice is to never use the flash; it is much too harsh and creates ugly shadows.

Since you’re traveling, you’ll most likely be using natural light, so experiment by taking food photos at different times of the day, and notice how the light shines in different directions.

Don’t be shy about moving to another table with better lighting. I like lighting that comes in at an angle or from the side as it helps create depth.

In this photo, I was served this appetizer at the Chiang Dao Nest restaurant and loved how the light played off the vegetables and dips.

4. Get in close

Get in close

A good eye can make the simplest things look great.

Food photography is very much about the composition and details. Experiment with different angles from shooting up above to getting in real close and filling the frame with the food.

If you’re using a point-and-shoot camera, you may have noticed a flower icon. That’s for macro photography which allows you to get very close (within a centimeter or less) to your subject to capture more detail.

In this photo, I was in a farmer’s home in Sichuan province and got in very close to a basket of wild, mountain-grown fiddleheads that were washed and ready for a quick stir-fry.

5. Set yourself up wide


Width adds context.

Food photography can be more than just food alone. I like to take wider shots of not only the food but also the table, the restaurant setting, sometimes even the chefs or waitresses. 

To do this you have to pay attention to the table and background environment. Don’t hesitate to move forks and knives, glasses and chairs that look out of place in the photo. 

With a wide angle shot like this one from the terrace restaurant of the Chiang Dao Resort, I had to make sure that the table setting was neat, my lighting was correct and there were no resort guests walking through my shot. 

Derrick Chang is a Canadian photojournalist based in Hong Kong. His work has appeared in Time, the New York Times, CNNGo, Huffington Post, and other Asian media outlets. He enjoys hiking from one mountain village to another, waiting for the golden light and dining on street food.
Source: How to take great food photos |

The 49 Bits of Booze Jargon Every Drinker Needs To Know

Jargon is technology. Language was created for communication, and sharing a set of slang makes it all the more efficient. A drink order to a bartender needs to be a particularly quick and clear statement. If not, you’re going to look like a novice, and you’re not going to get the drink you want. And the booze snobs will rub it in your face.

So learn these fundamentals of the saloon lexicon. You’ll look like a smart, sophisticated drinker, and more importantly, your libation will be served the way you want it.

It’s Friday afternoon, you’ve made it through the long week, and it’s time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo’s weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Increase your vocabulary and slur your speech more smarterly.

ABV: n. Stands for alcohol by volume, or the percentage of alcohol in the solution. ABV equals 1/2 of the spirit’s proof.

Back: n. A small, non-alcoholic drink, like water or soda. Sip it alongside a drink you ordered neat.

Bruised: adj. A drink that has been overshaken and thus has more water than normal. It may appear murkier.

Cask Strength: adj. Most often used with Scotch whisky, but can be applied to bourbons and other whiskys. When the spirit is in the cask, it is much, much stronger—typically 60 to 65 percent ABV. Water is added later in the process to bring it down to 40 percent. Distilleries sometimes sell smaller runs of cask strength.

Chaser: n. A small, tasty drink to take directly after shooting something straight.

Cocktail: n. People call any mixed drink a cocktail, but that’s not actually accurate. Sugar, water, spirits, bitters. Technically a cocktail needs those four elements and it has been that way since long before Prohibition. A vodka and soda is not a cocktail. A Manhattan is a cocktail.

Cup: n. A punch-type drink that is made in smaller quantities to fit in cups or glasses (not in a big punch bowl). For example: “I’d like a Pimm’s cup, please.”

Dirty : adj. Means “with olive brine,” typically in reference to a martini.

Dry: adj. Very little vermouth in a martini. May refer to less mixer in a mixed drink.

Finger: n. A very informal measurement. It’s typically about an ounce. Put your finger horizontally on the side of the glass and pour your booze until it reaches the top of your finger. That’s one finger. “Barkeep, gimme three fingers of brandy, see? Mrah!”

Finish: n. Refers to wine. After you swallow, the finish is the vapors you continue to smell and taste.

Highball: n. Any spirit served with ice and a mixer in a tall glass (typically a highball glass).

Jigger: n. As a unit of measurement, a jigger is typically 1.5 fluid ounces. A jigger also a tool for measuring precise amounts of liquid. It looks like an hourglass and has two sides, for two different measurements. Jiggers typically range in size from .5 ounces/1 ounce, up to 1 ounce/2 ounces.

Lace: n. A half ounce of whatever you want on top. Or it may refer to the final ingredient of a drink that is pour on top and not stirred in. (It’s like a “top,” defined below.)

Legs: n. You swirl wine around your glass and watch as the “legs” slowly streak down. The French call it “tears.” It is supposedly a measurement of the wine’s quality. But it isn’t, it’s just physics. It just demonstrates how much alcohol is in the wine. The alcohol in the wine has a faster evaporation rate and a lower surface tension than the water in the wine, so it basically forces the alcohol to evaporate at a faster rate. It tries to climb, the water pulls it down, and it looks beautiful. For what it’s worth, Scotch has prettier legs.

Lightning: n. Often referred to as moonshine or white dog, lightning is basically unrefined whiskey that comes straight out of the still. Because it was traditionally produced in illegal stills, time was of the essence, so it was not allow to age in barrels like whiskey. Since the barrels give whiskey its color, lightning is clear. There are a lot of legal distilleries that are making it now, however, and some are quite tasty.

Long: adj. Means served in a tall glass. Generally mixed with juice or water. “I’ll take a dark and stormy, long.”

Mash: n. This is a distilling term for the combination of all the grain (malted barley, rye, wheat, etc) with water as it’s heated in a tun. This breaks down the starch and turns it into sugar. The resulting liquid is known as a wort.

Malolactic Fermentation: n. You may see this on some wine bottles. Grapes grown in cooler regions tend to be more sour, largely due to increase malic acid. Malolactic fermentation converts malic acid to lactic acid, which tends to be rounder and smoother.

Neat: adj. A spirit served straight out of the bottle and into a glass, unmolested. No ice, water, nothin.’ “Lagavulin, neat.”

Nose: n. The aroma, or the bouquet, of the wine.

One and One: n. A liquor and mixer, neither of which are specific brands. (ie. Gin and Tonic, Rum and Cola).

Over: adj. Means “on the rocks,” or poured over ice.

Peaty: adj. Peatiness is the smokey quality of a Scotch. Peat is the organic material you find in boggy, marshy places like Scotland. The Scots dried it and used it as a fuel source because it burns hot and fast. When the barley is being dried, Scotch distilleries use burn peat to aid in the drying process, and the smoke gets infused into the barley. Different companies let it smoke for different lengths of time (some don’t use peat at all). Laphroaig smokes theirs for 18 hours, which is why some liken it to drinking a burning tire.

In Scotland, many of the rivers pass through a lot of peat, giving the a sort of golden, “peaty” color. That water gets used in the whisky. In terms of flavor, peatiness is a sort of earthy and smoky flavor. It gives Scotches, especially Islay Scotches, a distinctive flavor which differs from region to region.

Proof: n. A measurement of strength in spirits. It’s double the ABV.

Rinse: n. A small amount of liquid that is used to coat the inside of the glass and give a hint of flavor. “She made an amazing Sazerac with an absinthe rinse.”

Rocks: n. Ice. On the rocks would be over ice.

Short: n. Served in a short, rocks glass. “I’ll take a negroni, short.”

Shrub: n. Somewhat antiquated but making a comeback in the classic cocktail movement, a shrub is a vinegar-based refresher, generally fermented or with alcohol added. Used similarly to bitters.

Single-Malt Scotch: n. Scotch that is made at one distillery. Malted barley is the only grain that can be used (hence single-malt), and it must be distilled and aged for at least three years in Scotland.

Sling: n. A cocktail without bitters, so it’s just sugar, water, and spirits. Sweeter, generally.

Sour: n. A short drink consisting of liquor, lemon/lime juice, and sugar.

Sour Mash: n. When a mash is started using part of an old mash as its base. The old mash has active yeast in it, and it kickstarts the fermenting process. Sour mashes do not produce sour whiskeys.

Spirit on Spirit: n. A drink that has only spirits—no juice or sugar added. Strong.

Squeeze: n. A piece of citrus (lime, lemon, orange) that is squeezed over then dropped in.

Stirred: adj. A drink that is stirred, not shaken, and then strained. There was a fine article on the science of shaken vs. stirred drinks.

Straight Up: adj. Straight = Cold, without ice. Up = stemmed glass. Straight up = a drink that is shaken or stirred with ice, then strained in an empty stemmed glass. Often confused with “neat,” but not the same.

Sweet: adj. Extra simple syrup in a drink or extra sweet vermouth in a Manhattan.

Tannins: n. Tannins are astringent biomolecules found in grape skins that produce a bitter effect, leading to a wine’s dry flavor.

Toddy: n. A drink made with liquor and hot water, often sweetened, spiced and served in a tall glass.

Top: v. A half ounce of whatever you want on top.

Topless: adj. No salt on the rim of your margarita glass.

Tot: n. A small amount of spirit. “Just a tot of brandy, please.”

Twist: n. A citrus peel twisted over the drink, to express the oils, and then dropped in.

Unleaded: adj. Non-alcoholic. Sans booze.

Up: adj. Served in a stemmed glass.

Virgin: adj. A mixed drink without alcohol.

Well: n. A well drink is one make with the house booze, i.e. the least expensive liquor behind the bar. Some bars have nice, known labels as their house booze, and some have rotgut. Generally to be avoided.

Wet: adj. Extra mixer or extra vermouth in a martini.

Source: The 49 Bits of Booze Jargon Every Drinker Needs To Know

Why we go for doughnuts when we’re sleep-deprived

A bad night’s sleep makes people less resistant to unhealthy foods, and even results in more pleasure from indulging, according to two new studies.

In one study, researchers scanned people’s brains while the people looked at pictures of food. The “reward center” in sleep-deprived participants lit up more when they looked at unhealthy foods than at healthy foods, and also lit up more than the reward center of well-rested people looking at unhealthy foods.

“Our data strongly suggests that if you’re trying to control your weight, being sleep-deprived is not good for you,” said study researcher Marie-Pierre St-Onge of the New York Obesity Researcher Center.

In St-Onge’s study, 25 participants of normal weight spent five nights in a lab, alternating between getting nine hours of sleep, and four hours.

Participants were shown photos of foods generally perceived to be healthy (such as fruits, vegetables and oatmeal) and unhealthy (such as candy, pepperoni pizza and doughnuts).

The researchers found that when allowed to choose their own food, people ate 300 more calories per day, on average, after a night of four hours’ sleep.

In the other study, 16 participants were observed after getting either a full night’s sleep or staying awake for 24 hours. Participants were shown pictures of food and asked to rate their desire for that food.

Sleep-deprived people said they were more interested in the unhealthy foods, and brain scans also showed impaired activity in the frontal lobe and other brain regions associated with complex decision-making.

“When you’re sleep-deprived, you might not make appropriate food choices,” said study researcher Stephanie Greer, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. The brain can no longer convince itself that a healthy food is the right choice due to the health benefits, and instead it focuses on taste, the researchers said.

This study did not look at actual decisions people make about what to eat. However, the idea that people would act on their desires for unhealthy food is a “realistic possibility,” said Michael Walker, a sleep psychologist at UC Berkeley.

The results of the new studies are in line with previous work but go beyond what’s known to show howthe brain reacts to sleep deprivation, said sleep epidemiologist James Gangwisch of Columbia University, who was not involved in the research.

Gangwisch suggested the link between getting little sleep and eating more has its root in evolutionary biology: Human ancestors slept less during summer months, when they had to eat more to fatten up for the winter.

Now “we’re fattening up, year round, for a wintertime that never does come,” he said.

Research has shown many times that sleep is critical to helping the brain make healthy choices, Wall said.

“I think people are always surprised that sleep isn’t just a dormant state, but performs a lot of functions,” he said.

Both studies were presented June 9 at a sleep researchers conference in Boston.

Source: Why we go for doughnuts when we’re sleep-deprived
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