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The Sporkful

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The Sporkful

Dan Pashman and Stitcher

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We obsess about food to learn more about people. The Sporkful isn't for foodies, it's for eaters. Hosted by Dan Pashman, who's also the inventor of the new pasta shape cascatelli. James Beard and Webby Award winner for Best Food Podcast. A Stitcher Production.
 
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Jacques Pépin has spent his career defying expectations. By 1958, at the age of 23, he had cooked for three French presidents. But he left that life to work at a high-end restaurant in New York, then gave that up to cook at Howard Johnson's, making food for the masses. After a life-altering accident, Jacques found his next love: teaching other peop…
 
Comedian Margaret Cho has struggled with eating disorders for most of her life. When she was starting out in comedy, she used alcohol and drugs to mask her hunger, and later resorted to other methods of controlling her weight. When we received a note from a teenage listener struggling with her own eating issues, we invited Margaret to share her sto…
 
Should you eat fast food on vacation, or should every meal be at a special local place? Is soup bar food? Does ice belong in milk? Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings join Dan to answer your questions — and to settle some long-standing food disputes of their own. Brittany and Eric co-host the podcast For Colored Nerds, a show about Black culture. They’r…
 
Mandy Naglich is an award-winning home brewer who also writes and teaches about beer. Now she wants to become a Master Cicerone — basically the beer equivalent of a master sommelier. There are only 19 in the world, and just three are women. If Mandy wants to be number 20, she’ll need to pass a grueling two-day exam that includes identifying beers b…
 
What foods do Sporkful listeners resolve to eat more of in the new year, and why? And what’s Dan’s New Year’s food resolution for 2022? All is revealed in our annual year-end spectacular. Plus we replay one of our favorite episodes of the year… It’s not for foodies, it’s for lovers! Earlier this year we put out the call for Sporkful listeners looki…
 
Sebastian Maniscalco is one of the top-grossing comedians in America, beloved for his stories about the food-obsessed family he grew up in, and his constant irritation at just about everyone around him. Now he’s parlayed his love of food into a new Food Network show, Well Done. Sebastian talks with Dan about what it’s like going from a working-clas…
 
Professor Steven Alvarez believes you can read a taco. Look at the meat, the spices, and the tortilla. Each ingredient has a story that unlocks something about Mexican and American history and culture. This idea is the basis for Steve’s “Taco Literacy” course at St. John’s University in New York City. This week, we go on an end-of-semester taco cra…
 
TikTok is the wild west of the food media world. It’s less professionalized than Instagram and YouTube, and it holds the promise of virality from the very first time you post. So we wondered: What actually makes a food TikTok go viral? To find out, we consult Bettina Makalintal, a food journalist and culture critic, and Professor Emily Contois, who…
 
The Library of Congress is the biggest library in the world. It has 500,000 food books alone. A library with that many books has a lot of librarians, with expertise in just about every region, culture, and period of history you can think of. Since 1949, the library’s cooking club has drawn on that diversity of knowledge to bring together foods from…
 
“So often when we talk about veganism, we don't imagine Black people,” says Bryant Terry, the James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, chef, and educator. But Bryant sees veganism as deeply rooted in Black communities and traditions. And, he points out, veganism is growing faster among Black Americans than among any other group. After publishing …
 
We’re back with the latest on Cascatelli, the new pasta shape that Dan invented. Now that the chaos around Cascatelli’s launch has died down, Dan has to make some big decisions about what to do next — with help from his cousin Carrie and die maker Chris Maldari. Then while Sfoglini upgrades their factory and tries to get the pasta into stores and r…
 
Patti LaBelle is not just a music icon, she’s also a food icon. She’s written best-selling cookbooks, hosted a food TV show, and even cooked for Elton John, The Rolling Stones, and Prince. Back in July, she released the 20th anniversary edition of her first cookbook, LaBelle Cuisine. She talks with Dan about touring the segregated South in the ‘60s…
 
Pati Jinich has always had to move between worlds — as a Jew growing up in Mexico, and as a Mexican immigrant to the US, where she first worked as a policy analyst. “It wasn’t until I switched to cooking,” she tells us this week, “that I was finally able to make sense of all the pieces of myself.” Since that transition she’s spent a decade document…
 
A few months back, we got an email that set us off on an adventure. It came from Sara Bir, an author and recipe developer who’s obsessed with pawpaws, the largest fruit native to North America. “Pawpaws are tricky in the kitchen,” Sara wrote. “You can't buy them in stores. Occasionally they cause people to vomit. But pawpaws are truly beguiling, re…
 
Stanley Tucci nearly broke the internet last year when he made a Negroni on Instagram. But long before that, the award-winning actor built his career around his love of food. He created the iconic food film Big Night, he’s written best-selling cookbooks, and he eats his way through Italy in a new CNN series. Now he’s released a memoir, Taste: My Li…
 
In the last 15 years, Nashville hot chicken has become a hot trend. But for decades before that, hot chicken was well known among Nashville’s Black community. For generations, you could only get it at the place where it was invented: Prince’s Hot Chicken. Now with attention from the likes of Beyoncé and Guy Fieri, Prince’s has gone from being a nei…
 
Chef Joe Flamm grew up in a big Italian family, where there was always sauce bubbling on the stove. The rule of the house was: if you walked in the kitchen, you stirred the sauce. Since then Joe has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, won Season 15 of Top Chef, and now opened his first restaurant in Chicago, Rose Mary. It’s named after his two …
 
Since we first had Padma Lakshmi on The Sporkful in 2016, a lot has changed — in the world, and for her. She’s become a vocal activist, speaking out on immigration and women’s rights, and sharing more of her own personal experience in the process. She created and hosts a food travel show, Taste the Nation, that looks at the immigrant experience thr…
 
For two decades, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos has been one of the most popular snacks in America. In recent years its legend has grown, as word spread that they were invented by Richard Montañez, a Mexican-American janitor at Frito-Lay who went on to become a company executive. The story made Montañez something of a Latino icon, with two memoirs and a soon-…
 
Antoni Porowski wasn’t the obvious choice to be the food expert on Queer Eye — he’s not a chef and he has no formal culinary training. When the show debuted in 2018, many people asked, “Can this guy actually cook?” Not the most reassuring reaction for a person who already struggled with impostor syndrome. In the years since, he’s alternated between…
 
Lindy West is a leading voice of the fat acceptance movement, a position that's earned her a lot of devoted fans — and a lot of enemies. Dan sits down with Lindy, author of the best seller Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, at a New York City diner, where they get into the issues that fat people face when eating in public. Lindy explains why she stil…
 
Jake Cohen didn’t care much about Jewish food when he went to culinary school and worked in high end restaurants. But when he met his future husband, Jake was introduced to the Middle Eastern Jewish recipes of his in-laws, like tahdig and kubbeh. Soon, he was mining his own family’s Eastern European Jewish recipes, and putting his spin on matzo bal…
 
“Literally all pasta shapes are wonderful except bucatini. Bucatini can go get effed.” Francis Lam’s strongly-worded tweet inspired Dan to organize a live event in 2018, where he, Francis (host of The Splendid Table), and Evan Kleiman (host of Good Food) could debate the merits of various pasta shapes. It was called “The Bucatini Dialogues” — and y…
 
For the first 40 years of her life, Amy Pearl was a card-carrying member of the meat club; she literally had a credit card from the famous Brooklyn steakhouse Peter Luger. Then one day she ate a porterhouse steak, and nearly died. This week we join forces with our friends at Radiolab to tell the story of how Amy's mysterious allergy was identified …
 
Does Ratatouille accurately portray restaurant critics? What’s the lamest food trope in cinema? And what’s Dan’s favorite eating scene from The Godfather? We’re talking food in movies this week, with Kristen Meinzer and Rafer Guzman, hosts of the podcast Movie Therapy (Kristen also co-hosts the podcast By The Book). Plus we hear from listeners look…
 
Over the course of fifty years and a dozen books, Dr. Jessica B. Harris has uncovered the ways that West African food, and African American people, have fundamentally shaped American cuisine. In 2011, when she published her book High on the Hog, this idea had received little attention. Today it’s getting more recognition, including with a new Netfl…
 
What kinds of NSFW chocolates does comedian and Nailed It host Nicole Byer mold for her cohost Jacques Torres when the cameras aren’t rolling? She tells us, plus she talks with Dan about the parallels between a restaurant kitchen and comedy club, and why she makes her own favorite cake for her late mom’s birthday. And you’ll definitely want to be l…
 
When Nadiya Hussain competed on The Great British Bake Off in 2015, it seemed like all of Britain — from self-proclaimed #Nadiyators to the prime minister — was rooting for her. Since then, she’s hosted TV shows, written best-selling books, and become a household name in the UK. But the transformation we focus on in this conversation is the one tha…
 
To say that hydration is an invention is only a slight exaggeration. Water bottles have become a crucial accessory — a status symbol. How did that happen? This week we bring you an episode from our friends at the Slate podcast Decoder Ring. They investigate how bottled water transformed itself from a small, European luxury item to the single larges…
 
Just as summer is really starting to heat up, so is the classic debate: Is a hot dog a sandwich? We revisit one of The Sporkful’s most popular episodes — one that has come to define Dan’s career (and still dominates his Twitter mentions). In front of a live audience in 2015, Dan staked his bold claim that the hot dog is indeed a sandwich, while com…
 
Which kind of stove do you like better: gas or electric? This debate, and the ad campaigns that have fueled it, have been raging for over a century. While more people in the U.S. today have electric, gas stoves have won the battle for prestige -- chefs prefer it. But now, the gas stove is at the center of a much bigger fight about climate change, a…
 
We open the phone lines to settle your most contentious food disputes this week. Eliza wants to wipe her oily hands on her bare legs — is her boyfriend Connor right to object? Then, Natalie thinks she’s entitled to half of what her husband Josh cooks, even though he’s generally hungrier. What’s the fairest way to divvy up meals? To answer these que…
 
Growing up as a Black kid in Chicago, Dr. Marcia Chatelain says she learned more about Black history from McDonald’s than from her fancy prep school. Now, as a professor of history and African American studies, Dr. Chatelain is exploring the role that McDonald’s has played in Black communities since its founding in the 1940s. In many places, McDona…
 
McDonald’s ice cream machines break down so often that it's a meme. Enter Jeremy O’Sullivan and Melissa Nelson, two entrepreneurs who thought they'd hacked a solution — until McDonald’s told its franchisees not to use it. This week we talk with Jeremy, Melissa, and Andy Greenberg, the Wired reporter who first broke this story of ice cream intrigue.…
 
When Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez was 18, he was sent to prison for the first time. When he arrived, the other incarcerated men wanted to know if they could trust him — so they handed him a plate of cheesy tacos, and got to know him over that shared meal. From there, Goose learned all kinds of prison cooking tips, including how to use razor blades to bo…
 
Tom Colicchio bristles at the idea of a “celebrity chef.” He’s also the lead judge on Top Chef, one of the most iconic cooking competition shows of all time. This week we ask Tom: What role should TV play in a chef’s career — and does a chef need to go on TV to be successful? Plus, we talk about the future of restaurants, our national food supply, …
 
At 32, Ayesha Curry has built a food empire. She’s written cookbooks, hosted food TV shows, released a cookware line, and opened restaurants. Her cookbooks are influenced by her Jamaican heritage, her teenage years in North Carolina, and raising a family today in the Bay Area. This week she talks with Dan about her advice to young entrepreneurs, wh…
 
In colonial times, lobster was routinely served to prisoners. It was called “the cockroach of the sea.” So what changed? On today’s show, we’re bringing you an episode from our friends at Gastropod, a podcast that looks at food through the lens of science and history. They take a deep dive into the fascinating history, and biology, of the lobster. …
 
The first run of cascatelli sold out almost immediately. In the weeks that followed, the pasta basically went viral. In this update, you’ll hear how Dan and his family reacted. Then, Dan weighs his options for the future of cascatelli. For help, he turns to die maker Chris Maldari, and Cara Nicoletti and Ariel Hauptman from Seemore Meats & Veggies.…
 
The indie musician Michelle Zauner (who records under the name Japanese Breakfast) always had a complicated relationship with her mother, Chongmi. Michelle was born in Seoul and raised in Oregon, where she never felt like she was truly Korean or truly American. While it was sometimes hard for mother and daughter to understand each other, the thread…
 
In 2016, the Library of Congress posted Rosa Parks' personal documents online for the first time. Buried under postcards from Martin Luther King and lists of volunteers for the Montgomery Bus Boycott was a pancake recipe, written on the back of an envelope — which included the addition of peanut butter to the batter. On this week's episode, we visi…
 
How does a traumatic brain injury affect the way you cook and eat? Filmmaker Cheryl Green, who has a brain injury, satirizes her own experiences in the kitchen in a short video called “Cooking With Brain Injury.” This week Dan talks with Cheryl about what it means to live with an invisible disability, how it affects her cooking, and why asking for …
 
In this episode we have special guest co-host Virginia L discussing the moments when we ask ourselves how did I get here? We analyze why women accept more in a relationship, we bring up Derrick Jaxn, we discuss boundaries and ask ourselves how did our parents influence our current relationships.--- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/makeupbrea…
 
After months of revisions, Dan thinks he’s got his shape. But he’s been working on this for so long, he’s not sure he knows what’s good anymore. So he brings in an all-star panel of taste testers, including Sohla El-Waylly, Francis Lam, Dorie Greenspan, Christopher Kimball, Claire Saffitz, Jet Tila, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Then J. Kenji López…
 
The first test batch of Dan’s pasta rolls off the presses, but problems crop up almost immediately. In order to save his shape, Dan has to make some big decisions that come with a high price tag. Then just as things start coming together, a die redesign goes very wrong. Want to see photos and videos from Dan’s journey? Follow The Sporkful on Instag…
 
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