4 Important Foods of America’s Civil Rights Movement

There are some foods that have achieved iconic status—think apple pie, coq au vin, and sushi. Yet there are many other humble foods that have played an important, but less flashy role in history.

The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. recently hosted an event to focus on how some pretty low-key foods were critical to America’s civil rights movement in the 1960s. Jessica Carbone, a curatorial associate of food history at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History says food—what you ate and where you ate it—played an integral role in strengthening and shaping black empowerment.

“By focusing on the ...

What Ever Happened to Emu, the Next Red Meat?

In the 1990s, emu was billed as America's next red meat. Environmentalists touted its eco-friendliness, nutritionists gushed over its health benefits, and chefs praised its tender meat.

But more than a decade later, emu still can't compete with beef when it comes to space on the dinner plate.

What's contributed to the downfall of emu farming? Insufficient marketing, farmers aging out of the business, the lack of emu-meat processing facilities, and an unstable consumer base, for starters. Like kangaroo meat, (see Kangaroo: The Next Alternative Meat?) it seems to suffer from image problems.

There are only 13,300 emus in the U.S.—a 72 percent decrease in ten years. That's in comparison to the ...

Spook Yourself With These 5 Weird Food Superstitions 

Pay attention to what you’re eating this Halloween or you could end up penniless, friendless, soulless, lifeless, or—even worse for some—your in-laws might come over for a visit.

Food is a big component of every aspect of our lives, so it makes sense that certain foods are tied in with superstitions. These are the quirky traditions that make each community unique and hold it together over time. Most of the time, they’re a tad kooky—way more fiction than fact.

But there are still true believers who watch out for noodles, never spill salt, and hold onto their tortillas. Read on:

Long Live Noodles! 

In China, noodles are meant to be devoured whole. Long noodles represent a ...

Kangaroo: The Next Alternative Meat?

Kangaroo has been on the menu for thousands of years in Australia, serving as the fuel in native diets and spotlighted on menus in pricey Sydney restaurants as a sustainable alternative to beef. Down Under, kangaroos are pests, invading golf courses, farmland, and even urban areas. But the meat hasn't been widely embraced in its native country, or in other parts of the world, just yet.

That's not to say you can't find it. You can buy kangaroo meat in American cities like San Francisco and New York. You can get kangaroo in the U.K. And just recently, kangaroo made its way into supermarkets in Lima, Peru.

While Peru's meat counters are no strangers to what we might ...

Ancient Alcoholic Drink’s Unusual Starter: Human Spit

You never forget your first fermented spit drink.

In the rainforest of Peru, locals chew yuca and spit the masticated root into jars for fermentation. The resulting alcoholic beverage is a local staple called masato, and a few weeks ago, I was offered my first cup.

The masato smelled like pickle juice spiced with cloves. Refusing a drink is social suicide in Amazonia, so I smiled and took a pathetic, thimble-sized sip. It tasted fruity, like sherry. Then I knocked back a more confident gulp, probing the murky drink with my tongue for any hint of saliva. Instead I came away with a cedar aftertaste. The jungle beverage was shockingly refreshing.

Masato, only one of its ...

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 ...

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