Yosemite Park: Come for the Views, Stay for the Food

Food will never be what draws 293 million visitors to America’s national parks each year. The waterfalls, wildlife, canyons, and forests get full credit. But those people gotta eat, and they’re what the industry calls a “captive audience.” They are in the middle of the wilderness, at the mercy of the park’s offerings, with no other food options except what is in the cooler, backpack, or RV fridge. (Eating found berries and such is usually OK, as long as you don't poison yourself or "harvest" or "collect," like this guy. As I've written before, you just don't want to go to prison for being a mushroom poacher.)

So national parks could ...

Where Do Food Trucks Go at Night?

After serving their last customers, food truck employees around the country typically have one more stop on their itinerary: a commissary. That’s where they park the truck for maintenance, cleaning, and restocking for the next day or shift.

Whether trucks are required by law to park at commissaries—as is the case in many cities—or use them for convenience, commissaries provide many services. They've been around for decades, working with traditional commercial food trucks, but with the rise of gourmet trucks, commissaries are in the spotlight.

While reporting on L.A.'s food trucks for National Geographic magazine, I found one of the largest commissaries in L.A., La Raza Foods, a three-acre ...

Your Shot: It’s Time To Scream For Ice Cream

What's the proper way to eat ice cream?

In the U.S., of course, there's a long-standing debate between the bite and lick camps. But the real answer to this timeless question may depend on where in the world you live.

In Italy, where the colorful cases at the gelateria verge on works of art, you'll be handed a shovel-like spoon with which to enjoy your gelato, often served up in a tulip-shaped cup. In Turkey, dondurma (literally, "freezing" in Turkish) has such a chewy texture, it's sometimes eaten with a knife and fork. And in the Philippines, you could enjoy your sweet treat on a cone—but wouldn't you rather eat it stuffed in a bread roll? ...

Going Beyond the Pisco in Peru

There’s more to Peru than Machu Picchu, and there's much more to Peruvian cuisine than just ceviche and Pisco.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, held this year from June 24-28 and July 1-5 in Washington, D.C., introduces visitors to more authentic aspects of Peruvian culture, such as Chinchero weaving techniques, the national Marinera dance, and regional recipes that go beyond our one-dimensional perceptions. And you don't even need a plane ticket if you live nearby.

In a country where the landscape fluctuates between beaches, mountains, and rain forests, it’s no surprise that Peruvian food can’t be explained in just one dish. Here are three specialties featured at the ...

Kiki or Bouba: What Is the Shape of Your Taste?

There’s more to taste than just placing a dab of something on the tongue. Even the sound of the food name and the shape of the plate it’s served on affect the taste of what we eat.

Our experience of food, some researchers hypothesize, may involve a form of synesthesia, a rare neurological condition in which certain senses seem to be cross-wired. True synesthetics may see musical notes or letters of the alphabet as colors, or associate tastes or sounds with shapes. Author and synesthetic Vladimir Nabokov, for example, heard letter sounds as colors: n was oatmeal; k, huckleberry; and s a mix of azure and mother-of-pearl. Composer Nikolai ...

Capturing the Cinnamon Harvest in Sumatra

Many people have probably never heard of cassia, but the everyday spice is tucked away in kitchen cupboards across North America. Commercially branded as cinnamon, cassia is the most commonly sold type of cinnamon in U.S. and Canadian supermarkets.

In February, documentary filmmakers and brothers Michael and David Hanson ventured to the Indonesian island of Sumatra to document coffee and tea cultivation. While there, they heard about an upcoming cassia harvest in the island’s lush Kerinci Valley, and jumped at the opportunity to film it, providing an intimate window on the people who cultivate the spice. (more…)

Crete’s Motto May Be Live Long, Eat Well, and Prosper

The people living on the Greek island of Crete have reaped the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet since long before it became popular with the rest of the world. Enjoying olive oil, fresh herbs, and seafood, all grown, gathered or caught from their surroundings, has made Cretans happy and healthy.

As part of our Future of Food series, photographer Matthieu Paley went to eight remote parts of the world to document the evolution of diet. Our video team captured his lectures about this work in a series of videos.

Watch as Paley experiences a joyous, never-ending Cretan meal complete with snails, dozens of wild herbs, ...

Sorting the Shifting Facts on Trans Fat

Humans have a very complicated relationship with fat. We’re kind of obsessed with it, but we are only vaguely aware that eating foods containing fat doesn’t necessarily make us fat. It’s all about the kind of fat we’re eating, and the amount we’re eating in balance with everything else. We’re confused, and it’s no wonder–the science and the diet fads have shifted over time.

Take trans fats, for example. Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made a long-awaited announcement it would clear most trans most fats from our diets by 2018. The science shows its bad for our hearts, and the Obama administration says it ...

Lionfish and Friends: How Chefs Tackle Invasive Fish

The pretty ones get all the attention—even when it comes to invasive species. The eye-catching but dangerous lionfish has been grabbing headlines for years. However, there are plenty of less attractive invasive species decimating local marine ecosystems in the U.S. and other parts of the world. And chefs are doing their part to draw attention to the problem.

Whiskered, dull-eyed blue catfish are native to the Ohio and Mississippi river basins, but were introduced to Virginia’s James, Rappahannock and York Rivers in the 1960s as an alternative catch for recreational fisherman. The plan backfired. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, which focuses on restoration and protection of ...

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