The Salt

The SaltThe Salt

What's On Your Plate

King cakes come in various interpretations around the world. In New Orleans, the baked treats are sugared with the official colors of Mardi Gras: purple, green and gold. And during Carnival season, the entire city falls under the sway of king cake obsession. Judi Bottoni/AP hide caption

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Clockwise from top left: French copper pate mold circa 1870, potato steamer c. 1950, poacher for turbot fish c. 1960, Earthenware tripiere pot c. 1920, terracotta toupin for simmering stews and soups from c. 1940. Courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America hide caption

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Loose-leaf green tea of the modern variety. Archaeologists have discovered ancient tea in the tomb of a Chinese emperor who died in 141 B.C. It's the oldest known physical evidence of tea. But scientists aren't sure if the emperor was drinking tea as we know it or using it as medicine. iStockphoto hide caption

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Teela Magar and Cing Neam prepare the roti dough as part of Edible Alphabet, a program in Philadelphia that folds English lessons for new immigrants to the U.S. into a cooking class. Students also learn about seasonality and healthful eating on a budget. Bastiaan Slabbers hide caption

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The words "sherbet" and "sorbet" derive from the Persian sharbat; biryani comes from biryān; and julep started as the Persian gul-āb (rose water), then entered Arabic as julāb, and from there entered a number of European languages, with the "b" softened into a "p." my_amii/Flickr, Jay Galvin/Flickr, Justin van Dyke/Flickr hide caption

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Amigo Bob Cantisano and his partners believe these chestnuts come from a Marron de Lyon tree, originally from France. He thinks the tree was one of many varieties of fruit, grape and nut plants introduced into California by Felix Gillet, a French nurseryman, in the late 1800s. Lisa Morehouse/KQED hide caption

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Ayesha Mumtaz inspects food during a raid on a backyard sweets factory in Lahore, Pakistan. Her campaign to clean up the kitchens and food factories of Pakistan has earned her the nickname "The Fearless One." Philip Reeves/NPR hide caption

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At the end of Charles Dickens' 1843 classic, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge and his long-abused employee, Bob Cratchit, enjoy a mug of Smoking Bishop. It's a drink loaded with English history, politics and class identity. Illustration by John Leech, 1817-1864. Culture Club/Getty Images hide caption

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La Caja China CEO Roberto Guerra. Guerra says his father first spotted the wooden cooking boxes in Havana's Chinatown in 1955. In 1985, the two decided to re-create the devices, and La Caja China company was born. Greg Allen/NPR hide caption

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Across India, several Christian communities prepare sweet homemade wines for the festive season from a rich array of local fruit, roots and grain. Above, a glass of golden pineapple wine. Courtesy Merwyn Mascarenhas hide caption

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Ivan Day shapes his mince pies using traditional patterns from hundreds of years ago. Rich Preston hide caption

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The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans began holding afternoon tea in 1984. A representative says the hotel held daily afternoon tea times until Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. It still serves afternoon tea a few days a week. Sara Essex Bradley/Windsor Court Le Salon hide caption

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John Schulz/John Schulz Photography

Kofenya Coffee in Oxford, Ohio, has been operating a token-based pay-it-forward scheme for around six months. Customers pay for a cup of coffee in advance for a stranger. Courtesy of Tim Stiffler-Dean hide caption

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Phila Hach (standing, center) and her husband, Adolf Hach, are seen here with Minnie Pearl (right) of Grand Ole Opry fame, and an unidentified woman. "What the Grand Ole Opry did for country music, she has done for Southern food," one food writer wrote about Hach. Courtesy of the Hach Family hide caption

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Mimi Cheng's Dumplings, a restaurant in New York City, has a November special: Thanksgiving dumplings filled with turkey, stuffing and gravy and served with cranberry sauce. Courtesy of Mimi Cheng's hide caption

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Though it's considered a classic Midwestern dish, Green Bean Casserole was actually born in a Campbell's test kitchen in New Jersey 60 years ago. Love it or loathe it, the dish has come to mean more than just a mashup of processed food. Bill Hogan/TNS /Landov hide caption

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