7 Foods to Eat on Kentucky Derby Day

Saturday marks the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby. But the real joys of the day are gustatory, not equestrian.

The Derby’s mix of nostalgia, gallantry, and hedonism is unmistakable in the delicacies served around Louisville this time of year, which go far beyond the Kentucky clichés of fried chicken and bourbon.

So before you hop into your rose-pink Cadillac and start making bets, invest in these treats that prove the Kentucky Derby is both decadent and delicious:

Benedictine

This isn’t the herbal liqueur made by monks, but rather a cucumber-cream cheese spread invented in Louisville over 100 years ago. With the unexpected zip of onion, Benedictine can be ...

Eating With the Aztecs on Cinco de Mayo

When a smallish army of ragged Mexicans defeated a much larger and better-equipped contingent of Napoleon III’s French troops on this day in 1862, few people imagined that Cinco de Mayo would be celebrated so widely with music, parades, parties, piñatas, beer, and of course, food.

Traditional Mexican cuisine is so scrumptious and unique that it has been added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. There, it’s in good company, along with the Mongolian camel-coaxing ritual, Slovakian bagpipe culture, Balinese dance, and Korean kimchi-making.

But while Americans have embraced Cinco de Mayo as a day to celebrate Mexican culture, the U.S. versions of the country’s ...

How Italian Cuisine Became as American as Apple Pie

If you’re wondering about how and why food gets appropriated—i.e. when Americans consider it their own—think about this: Eating Italian food was once considered “slumming.” So what does it take for a foreign cuisine to melt into America’s pot? We talked to Krishnendu Ray, the director of NYU’s Food Studies program and author of The Ethnic Restaurateur, a book about how immigrants to the U.S. shape the food culture, who gave us a step-by-step breakdown of how a cuisine can go from unnoticed to avant-garde; from popular to prestigious.

Immigrate and introduce a new cuisine—ideally with a few notable dishes.

In the late 19th century, says Ray, most restaurant food ...

Entrepreneurs Hook Up Home Cooks With Customers

What if you could pick up a homemade pulled-pork sandwich on a brioche bun, or Vietnamese “broken rice” with braised honey chicken, or Baja-style fish tacos made by a home cook in your neighborhood instead of a faceless corporate chef or a strip-mall restaurant?

If you live in certain pockets of Oakland, Berkeley, or San Francisco, you can.

Here’s the idea behind a website operated by a start-up called Josephine:  You place an order for a reasonably-priced home-cooked meal nearby, then a few days later, you walk into your neighbor's house and pick up your dinner. The deal? You get home-cooked food, made by a real human with a family and a name, and ...

Supermarket Beef Is Battleground for Deforestation Debate

One of Brazil’s largest supermarkets, Pão de Açúcar, has agreed to stop selling beef produced on deforested land or with forced labor by June 1. But while advocates hailed the announcement, they also questioned whether the retailer was being realistic about the promises it’s making.

In late March, the retailer announced it would nix contracts with suppliers who do not follow two basic requirements. First, that the beef they sell has not been produced on ranches created by cutting down Amazonian rainforest. While deforestation for cattle has slowed in recent years, roughly 60 percent of Amazonian land that has been clear-cut is now used to raise cattle.

And, second, ...

Coaxing Art Out of the Produce Cart

It may be tempting, but don’t call the art of fruit and vegetable carving playing with food. These skilled carvers may be playful, but one look at their intricate creations makes clear that the ancient craft is serious work.

This ephemeral art has been practiced in Thailand, China, and Japan for centuries. Historians are divided over which of these nations was the first to develop the ornate creations of melons, papaya, radishes, yams, carrots, tomatoes, and more (and today, of course, you can find fruit and veg rosettes adorning plates the world over), but it’s a particularly revered practice in Thailand, where children learn to skillfully yield carving knives in school.

There, ...

Hide That Bread; The Passover Police Are Watching

Security guards at building entrances may be a common sight in Israel, but for one week every year, they search bags for something much less dangerous than weapons—sandwiches.

During the week of Passover, observant Jews do not consume chametz, or leavened food. Since the holiday commemorates the story of the Israelites' hasty departure from ancient Egypt, the rule prohibits any food made of grain and water granted time to ferment and "rise." (See The Crummy History of Matzoh.) Religious people do not eat bread, cereal, cake, cookies. Some also avoid legumes, like beans, peas, lentils, although American views on this have recently expanded.

But Israel has no separation between religion and state. A special Chametz Law exists for Passover, which states: "A business owner will not ...

Russian Vegetarian Cooking Shines During Lent

During the Russian spring, the sun transforms into a pancake.

At least, that’s the folk story mothers tell their children while cooking blinchiki for breakfast. This flat, circular cake, which can be served for any meal of the day, is a symbol of the sun’s return to the cold, dark climates of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s served crepe-style, rolled up and slathered in honey or jam. Every bite tastes like a ray of sunshine.

But there’s more to blinchiki than folklore. The pancakes are the signature food item for the season of Lent, a time before Easter when many Russians give up eating meat. That alone isn’t surprising, but ...

Breadfruit and ‘The Bounty’ That Brought It Across the Ocean

April 28 is the anniversary of the mutiny on The Bounty, possibly the most famous mutiny in history, and probably, when it comes to mutinies, the only one that most of us can name.

On that fatal date in 1789, the crew of the H.M.S. Bounty, led by first mate Fletcher Christian (a distant relative of poet William Wordsworth), revolted against their tyrannical captain, William Bligh. The upshot was that Bligh and 18 loyal supporters were sent off to sea in a 23-foot open boat, presumably to their deaths, while Christian and followers, after a brief stop in Tahiti to collect women, retired to isolated Pitcairn Island in hopes of ...

Is Moderate Drinking Even Moderately Good For Us?

Recent studies have shown that alcohol, coffee, and chocolate are probably good for you, which almost makes up for the fact that bacon, doughnuts, and anything covered with that diabolical orange dust are probably bad.  So it’s quite a blow that one of them might not be good after all.

It’s alcohol.

The benefits of moderate drinking have been widely accepted, and new information that questions those benefits has to be looked at in the context of all the old information that established them. But when two new studies, each coming at the question differently, conclude that the benefits of moderate drinking may be illusory, it’s worth taking a closer ...

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