Tequila’s Savior May Be the ‘Bat Man’ of Mexico

For the last 20 years, scientist Rodrigo Medellin has worked to protect a particular endangered species of bat that just might help protect something else in danger – your tequila.

Growing up in Mexico City, Medellin always knew he wasn’t like other children. His first word was “flamingo.” He kept vampire bats in his bathroom. And don’t tell his kids, but he almost flunked out of junior high because he spent so much time with animals.

“There was a deformity in my brain,” he tells The Plate on a recent visit to Washington, D.C. to promote a BBC documentary about his work called “The Bat Man of Mexico.”

Tools: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Spatulas

I’m a woman who likes order. This may be why cooking appeals to me. I enjoy what the French call mise en place—the extremely satisfying process of prepping ingredients and arranging them into neat piles on a board.

Call me a weirdo (it wouldn’t be the first time) but even a perfectly folded napkin or a tightly lidded pot can bring me a certain amount of joy.

You know what else brings me joy? Spatulas. They are every neat cook’s dream. A spatula can help you flip a piece of sautéing chicken without tearing the slightest bit of skin. It makes quick, clean work of scraping batter or sauce from ...

The Filipino Food Wave Is Coming

Three years ago, T.V. chef Andrew Zimmern proclaimed Filipino food to be the next big thing–but how come it hasn't really happened yet?

While Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants can be found in any respectable-sized U.S. city and many random shopping malls in the suburbs, it’s just not the case with Filipino food. It's a little hard to pin down something that originates from somewhere among 7,100 islands hugging a low corner of the South China Sea known as the Philippines. One challenge is, it's very hard to describe.

Chef Yana Gilbuena is trying. She has a wide smile and a half-shaved head topped by spiky blonde or green hair, depending on ...

Caffeine: The Buzz That Keeps Us Coming Back

March is Caffeine Awareness Month, and - depending on what and who you read – it’s either time to up your coffee intake or drop it altogether in favor of fruit smoothies or herbal tea.

Caffeine – though certainly not the most flashy - is possibly the world’s most popular psychoactive drug. People have been hooked on it for at least 5,000 years, ever since the legendary Chinese emperor Shen Nung - also known as the “Divine Farmer” – discovered naturally caffeinated tea.

The ancient Mexicans were getting a caffeine buzz from cacao at least 3,500 years ago, according to Murray Carpenter’s comprehensive Caffeinated; and coffee has been with ...

As Appetite for Meat Grows, Farm Antibiotics Use Will Soar

Recently, it looked like antibiotic use in agriculture in the United States was trending down–the result of decades of pressure by consumers on companies such as McDonald's and Perdue Farms. But a new analysis by academics who study antibiotic use predicts that the drugs may not actually be going away. They might just be relocating.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Ramanan Laxminarayan of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) in Washington, D.C. and colleagues predict that global use of agricultural antibiotics will rise by two-thirds by the year 2030—and that use in emerging economies such as China and India will double.

The authors, who hail ...

Lembas and Butterbeer: Your Favorite Fictional Food

The results of our  fictional food survey are in, and it’s clear that the place we’d all most like to picnic is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Earlier this month, we shared a series of posts on food and literature, including  Our Books, Ourselves: What Fictional Food Says About Us and Want to Know an Author? Read Her Menu, where we waxed poetic about everything from Charles Dickens’ roast goose  to young Francie Nolan’s stale bread in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Then we asked you to tell us your favorites. Hands down, most of you went with hobbits and friends.

From the

Deforestation Threatens Peru’s Food System, Environment

Biting the head off a four-inch grub comes with a unique set of challenges.

These wrinkly white insects—offspring of the Rhynchophorus palmarum beetlehave viscous guts the consistency of melted butter and stringy skin that sticks in your teeth like cooked celery. In the rainforest cities of Peru, locals call this grub suri and consider it a delicacy. 

As an after-dinner snack one evening, I purchased a couple from a street vendor, their plump bodies impaled on a skewer along with two lightly fried chunks of plantain. Severing head from body is a process best avoided on a date night. Upon first bite, I only succeeded ...

Why Indian Cuisine Breaks All The Flavor Science Rules

Everything we Westerners thought we knew about flavor pairing was recently turned on its ear by a study of the delicious and contradictory jumble of sensation known as Indian cuisine.

But let's step back a minute and look at how we decide what tastes good. Why do we choose certain flavor combos and refuse to touch others with a ten-foot pole? Why not liver-flavored jellybeans, for example, or fish ice cream? Evolutionarily, regional cuisines are the result of a complex mix of influences – climate, geography, history, and culture – but at rock-bottom, taste is all about chemistry.

Many factors affect how good a given food tastes, among them color, ...

Sniffing Out What’s ‘Edible,’ Legal in Marijuana Dining

Last fall I received a media invitation to a cooking demonstration. Nothing strange there: A charismatic chef advocated using the best locally grown ingredients to an enthusiastic audience reaching for samples of tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, and truffle popcorn.

But this demo came with a uniformed police officer ensuring that samplers had a government-issued card allowing patient access to the medical marijuana program. That's because every dish contained marijuana’s intoxicating compound, THC, extracted from the cannabis plant and heat-infused into butter and oil using a straightforward, precise kitchen technology appliance. (More on that later.)

This is the story of an ingredient and its power to turn any food, from ...

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