The American taste for beef is on the rise again. Oxford University scientist Marco Springmann discusses the impact of a hamburger-heavy diet on the planet, and what it would take to make a dent in our food-related emissions. Then we look closer at the promises of grass-fed beef. And then, we asked you, our listeners, why you became vegetarians. Some of your answers were pretty standard—and some were totally wacky.
80 – Helen Oyeyemi's Delightfully Sinister Gingerbread
Helen Oyeyemi's novel “Gingerbread” is a smart, fantastical story about three generations of women who share a recipe. The tea cake is at times delicious—and at times sinister. Oyeyemi tells us that she was drawn to "the mix of safety and danger all combined in one seemingly innocuous foodstuff." Later in the show, the Bite hosts get baking tips from an in-house expert.
79 – The Words This Food Critic Will Never Use
San Francisco Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho won’t use the word “ethnic” in her restaurant reviews: “The assumption that it doesn’t apply equally to people and cuisines associated with Europe or white America gives me such a headache,” she writes. Ho and guest Victoria Bouloubasis are part of a crowing crop of restaurant reviewers who are rethinking food criticism, and increasingly dealing with the bigger societal issues diners and food workers confront, from racism to labor to identity politics and environmental concerns. They talk with Tom about this new approach. And they discuss more food words that are outdated.
78 – How Slavery's Brutal Legacy Lingers in American Cooking
Archaeologist and historian Kelley Fanto Deetz talks to Tom about her deep dive into the world of enslaved cooks on antebellum Virginia's plush plantations—and she makes the case that the first celebrity chef was a slave. Plus: Maddie interviews Jonathan Townsend, a colonial reenactor, about his popular cooking channel and the early American recipes he endorses. And we hear a dispatch from Jordan Gass-Poore, who attended a Prohibition-themed event in New York City.
77 – "Bao" Director Domee Shi Gives a Sweet Dumpling a Dark Twist
Domee Shi, director of Pixar's Oscar-nominated short film "Bao," was afraid that people "would be too upset" by the shocking turn in her fantastical tale about a cute, little Chinese dumpling. But it ended up being her secret ingredient. Plus: How food plays an essential role in the year's best films.