Corsica: Island of Legally-Protected, Exceptional Charcuterie

If to the victor go the spoils, then to the vanquished go the cuisine.

When the Roman philosopher Seneca was banished to live in exile two millennia ago, he was sent to Corsica, a mountainous island with rugged beaches surrounded by the clear Mediterranean Sea off the coasts of France and Italy. There are worse fates.

Just don’t call it France. Although the island is officially part of that country, Corsicans are fiercely independent, with graffiti of “This is not France” scrawled frequently in Corsu, the ancient Tuscan dialect that many residents still speak. Perhaps because of that spirit, most Corsican foods—singular and delicious beyond belief—rarely leave the island and ...

5 Weird Food Facts from World’s Fairs Past

World's Fairs, like the one going on now in Milan, are places to show off new technology and ideas for the future. (Check out our series on food at the Milan Expo). They’re also places where hundreds of thousands of people need to eat in a hurry, often while walking. So while the last 150 years of global expositions have filled countless brains with visions of the future yet to be realized, world's fairs have also filled stomachs.

Here are some interesting food-related "facts" about various expos, and the truth behind them:

1. The 1958 Expo in Brussels was shaped like a food source.

Like many of its predecessors, Expo ...

A Brief History of Cooking With Fire

For most of human history, over an open fire was the one and only way to cook a meal. People started cooking in this fashion nearly two million years ago, according to anthropologist Richard Wrangham, author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Humanprobably, early on, by simply tossing a raw hunk of something into the flames and watching it sizzle.

This may make modern chefs wince, but, Wrangham argues, it was likely a giant evolutionary step for mankind, providing us not only with tastier dinners, but with the extra nutrition and surplus energy necessary for generating big brains (see What Makes Us Human? Cooking, Study Says).

By the ...

What to Do With Puerto Rico’s Invasive Iguanas? Eat Them

When video producers Jean-Paul Polo and Isabel Perez Loehmann were growing up in Puerto Rico in the 1980s, they remember the constant presence of big green iguanas strutting around, chomping on leaves, and getting underfoot. They had no idea they used to be pets, or that the iguanas were destroying the island's crops and busting up asphalt by burrowing under roadways.

In fact, for the last several decades, green iguanas have been the island's most notorious pests, eating their way through fields of farmland and repopulating like crazy. Think of them as the lionfish of the land (see Man v. Lionfish). Polo and Perez Loehmann discovered when researching the National Geographic video below that Puerto Rico is welcoming bands of hunters who will come and voluntarily shoot the pesky critters ...

Your Shot: Ripe Tomatoes for Summer’s End

For food lovers, summer brings a bounty of luscious fruits and vegetables: peaches, plums, zucchini, okra, watermelons … the list goes on. But perhaps no hot-weather fruit is more beloved than the tomato (and yes, it is indeed a fruit—though it is generally considered a vegetable for culinary and statistical purposes).

Ripe, juicy tomatoes, with their rainbow colors and sometimes bizarre, bulbous shapes, steal the show at the summer farmers market. And as the season wanes, tomato fans are in a mad rush to enjoy these savory-sweet beauties before they’re gone (because every tomato lover knows out-of-season tomatoes are a pale comparison to their summer cousins).

But the tomato ...

“Making Groceries” in a New Orleans Food Desert

What if you had to take three city buses on a half-day round trip to buy groceries? Burnell Cotlon’s neighborhood, New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward, was in just that situation.

Cotlon was born and raised in the L9, as it’s called, and except for a stint with the U.S. Army in Germany, he lived there his whole life. After Hurricane Katrina, he realized his neighborhood was a food desert—there were no grocery stores, and chains didn’t think they could make enough profits to move in. So he decided he was going to build an oasis.

Describing himself as “an average guy with above average dreams,” Cotlon put his life savings ...

A Calif. Olive Oil Maker Thrives, Despite the Drought

California is in the middle of a historic drought, but nearly half a million olive trees are thriving in the state. What’s more, the trees have been planted on land previously used to grow crops that required thousands of gallons of water.

The olives are being grown by California Olive Ranch (COR), which manages over 14,000 acres across Northern California. CEO Gregg Kelley says before olives, much of the land was being used for unsustainable agriculture. An example of that—the west side of the Sacramento Valley was previously planted with rice. “That land is in a very marginal water district,” Kelley says. Rice prefers to grow in clay soil ...

Europe’s Olive Trees Are Dying. Here’s Why You Should Care

Olive oil, staple of the much-ballyhooed Mediterranean diet, is about to get a little more expensive. 

The world’s top producers, Spain and Italy, have faced a series of plagues that led one Italian newspaper to refer to 2014 as “the black year of Italian oil.” Ninety-five percent of the world’s olive trees are in the Mediterranean. Italy’s woes have knocked it down to third place in production, behind Spain and Tunisia, but it remains the world’s largest olive oil exporter. (A quirk in Italian labeling laws allows Italy to ...

Bakery Bolsters a Long-Neglected Corner of New Orleans

Can food evoke both tradition and bestow an identity upon a new New Orleans neighborhood, rising not from ashes but from asphalt parking lots?

That’s a lot of pressure to put on buttermilk honey biscuits, but Willa Jean, a bakery and café opened just a few steamy weeks ago (August 6) in the northern reaches of the Crescent City’s Central Business District (CBD), is aiming to try.  New Orleans’ restaurant emperor, chef John Besh, and his executive pastry chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White, have conspired to bring back the notion of the corner bakery to a corner that, two years ago, didn’t even exist. But it’s so much more than a bakery.

The area ...

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