Feed Your Inner Nerd

By: Sam Burros

Are you fascinated by the millions of microbes that make your food feel alive? What if you’re really curious about local, heritage grains? Or, maybe you’re just looking for a coffee guru to teach you all the basics of the bean. 

Regardless of where your interests lie, this playlist will let you indulge in knowledge across the food world, from the curdy nerdy world of cheese, to the nooks and crannies of bread baking, to niche craft beers, and everything else in between and beyond! It’s the perfect way to get introduced to The Deep Dive, one of HRN’s content topics that listeners can explore to satiate any curiosity in the geekiest corners of the culinary world.

The Food Seen Episode 374: The Noma Guide to Fermentation with René Redzepi and David Zilber: On this episode of The Food Seen, when René Redzepi opened Noma in 2003, he couldn’t have imagined that a small Copenhagen-based restaurant would send a ripple through the food scene by way of Nordic cuisine. The same goes for what we’ve recently witnessed in the world of fermentation, an act of aging a piece of produce, or protein (see: chicken wing garum), is calculatedly manipulated, and matured, for maximum flavor through an ever-evolving relationship between microbes and humans, or that’s how David Zilber puts it. As head of Noma’s fermentation lab, Zilber tabulated his catalog of creation, now known as The Noma Guide to Fermentation, which documents the life choices of koji, kombuchas, shoyus, misos, vinegars, garums, lacto-ferments, and more… all which came to realization when somebody got drunk for the first time. 

Japan Eats! Episode 163: Born to Preserve the Koji Culture: Japan Eats! welcomes Koichi Higuchi of Higuchi Matsunosuke Shoten in Osaka, Japan. His business is to provide koji starters to manufacturers of traditional fermented foods in Japan, such as miso, soy sauce, sake… you name it! Indeed, koji, the beneficial mold, is a quintessential element of Japanese food culture. Koji is also becoming a buzz word in the global culinary industry. For example, René Redzepi of Noma, the renowned restaurant in Denmark, included koji in his recent book The Noma Guide to Fermentation. In this episode, Koichi discusses his 6th generation-old family business, what koji is, how to use it, and much, much more!!!

Fuhmentaboudit! Episode 240: Natto in Brooklyn? Fuhmentaboudit with Ann Yonetani: Chris, Mary, and Rachel are joined by Ann Yonetani of Nyrture, the only natto producer in New York. Ann talks about how natto is made, why it has that crazy texture, and how we can get more Americans to eat it! 

Speaking Broadly Episode 153: The Craft of Coffee: Chi Sum Ngai: In part 2 of Speaking Broadly’s coffee series, host Dana Cowin speaks to Malaysian-born Chi Sum Ngai, co-founder of Coffee Project New York. Cowin asks a lot of questions about coffee basics and gets an education in return—no surprise since Ngai not only runs several coffee shops and a roastery, but is also a quality expert (a certified Q grader, which is kind of like being a Master Sommelier except for coffee) and helps run a training center in Long Island City. If you want a shortcut to bean-geekdom, listen in! 

Agave Road Trip Episode 5: Fantastic Fermentation: Loa and Chava give a nutshell explanation of how agave turns from sugar to alcohol and are joined on the occasion by mezcalero Amando Alvarado Alvarez. They also talk about how growing agave helped a middle school in rural Oaxaca reduce violence in their community.

Beer Sessions Radio Episode 527: Cask Ale: A Niche of a Niche of a Niche: In this episode of Beer Sessions Radio, Jimmy puts the spotlight on cask ales. He is joined by Michael Paul Messenie of Dutchess Ales, Paul Pendyck of UK Brewing Supplies, Steve Hamburg of Cask Marque, Greg Engert of The Grand Delancey, and Tony Forder of Ale Street News. They discuss what made each of them fall in love with cask ales, and why they, nevertheless, remain “a niche of a niche of a niche.” From their lower ABV, soft mouth feel, natural fermentation and enhanced flavor, cask ales are great to enjoy in large portions but require proper attention and care. The group discusses what tools and practices are necessary for good cellarmanship, how to make cask ales more accessible in the US, and the organizations and festivals like CAMRA and NERAX that help highlight what’s special about this type of beer.

Modernist BreadCrumbs Episode 10: The Grain Revolution: Industrialization, and the semi-dwarf wheat developed during the Green Revolution, created a disconnect between farming and flour. But now, consumers are rejecting these commodities and rediscovering the foods, flavors, and farmers around us. This episode is about the growing movement to bring back heritage grains and strengthen local and regional food systems. In direct opposition of the Green Revolution, we’re going to the front lines of the “Grain Revolution." You’ll hear from author William Alexander, baker Ellen King of Hewn, Henry Blair of the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project, "The Grain Lady" Mona Esposito, miller Jennifer Lapidus of Carolina Ground, and, of course, co-authors of Modernist Bread, Nathan Myhrvold and Francsico Migoya. "It's one of the things that's very funny about bread, is that it has got a position in our minds and in our hearts and in our societies that's unlike any other food. We all love ice cream, but there's never been an ice cream riot in recorded history.  But there have been grain riots, all the damn time!" -Nathan Myhrvold, co-author of Modernist Bread  

Heritage Radio Network on Tour Episode 254: On the Rise 3: A Conversation on Microbiomes with Dr. Erin McKenney: Ever wonder how scientists analyze the microbiome of human and animal guts, or of sourdough starters and other cultured foods? We take a deep dive into the purpose and methods of microbial ecology with Dr. Erin McKenny following her keynote presentation. Whether or not you’re a trained scientist, you’ll learn some fascinating details about human and microbial cultures from this discussion, and if you have a super sniffer, you may be inspired to become a ‘sourdough sommelier.’ Dr. Erin McKenney studies how microbial communities form over time and how they adapt to their environments. Over the past 8 years she has collected fecal samples from over 140 animals belonging to 15 species housed at 4 different zoos, to investigate the effects of host diet and lineage. More recently, she has expanded her research to sourdough and other fermented foods. Microbial cultures lie at the heart of human cultures, and fermented foods provide accessible systems for studying microbiology and nutrition without formal laboratory equipment. By combining citizen science and global collaborations, Erin brings research into the classroom to empower students of all ages.

Eat Your Heartland Out Episode 11: Traditions and Philosophy of Midwestern Baking: Shauna Sever, author of Midwest Made, shares her insights into the philosophy of Midwestern baking. Journalist Salena Zito tells the story of the Midwestern Cookie Table tradition and her own personal experience making hundreds of cookies for her own daughter's wedding.

Pizza Quest Episode 10: The Fermento Guru: Ever since his best-selling, James Beard Award-winning book, The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz has been the go-to guy when it comes to all things fermentation. Here, he joins the Pizza Quest crew from his home in the Tennessee mountains to share his passion, as well as some very practical how-to tips for fermenting, well, practically anything. 

Cutting the Curd Episode 459: The Relationship between Bread and Cheese ft. Kingston Bread: On this episode, Cara will discuss with Aaron Quint, co-owner and head food guy at Kingston Bread and Bar, his bread making skills and how his love for cheese helps him create the ultimate pairings of bread and cheese combos. Crunchy bread with gooey cheese... nom nom.

Fuhmentaboudit! Episode 249: Contraband Ferments in Panemia: Mary and Chris catch up with friend and occasional co-host Cheryl Paswater to talk fermented nut cheeses and food preservation in a pandemic world. Put on your “Depression Era Grandma Helmet” and preserve those vegetables! 

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