Kenji Lopez-Alt is managing culinary director of Serious Eats, author of the James Beard Award-nominated column "The Food Lab," and a columnist for Cooking Light. His first book is The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. Robin Lubbock/WBUR hide caption

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Modern, domesticated rice comes in a range of colors, usually described as white, red and black. But collectors have never found black grains in more than a thousand samples of wild rice stored in gene banks. Now geneticists have traced this rare grain's origin and spread. Courtesy of Takeshi Ebitani/Takuya Yamaguchi. hide caption

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"Probably females are better at accessing olfactory memories, but I don't know why," says Robert Bath, a wine and beverage studies professor at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. "Maybe men don't pay as much attention?" Maria Fabrizio for NPR hide caption

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For 3-D food printers, chocolate is a good material to start with, because it's fairly simple to make it liquid inside the printer cartridge and solid once it drops out. Courtesy of Smart Gastronomy Lab, University of Liège hide caption

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A cabbage butterfly caterpillar. For tens of millions of years, these critters have been in an evolutionary arms race with plants they munch on. The end result: "mustard oil bombs" that also explode with flavor when we humans harness them to make condiments. Courtesy of Roger Meissen/Bond LSC hide caption

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A slice of pork belly, with a thick layer of fat. "If we confirm that fat is a basic taste quality, it's the equivalent of saying chartreuse is a primary color," Richard Mattes of Purdue University says. "It changes our basic understanding of what taste is." Xiao He/Flickr hide caption

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Steve Kudlacek is an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine who helped Professor Greg Weiss develop a way to unboil an egg. Steve Zylius/UC Irvine Communications hide caption

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"Flavor is the most important ingredient at the core of what we are. It created us," John McQuaid writes in his book Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat. Getty Images hide caption

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Environmental cues — like the color, size and shape of the dinnerware, the music playing in the background and the lighting in the dining room — can alter how we experience food and drink. For example, research suggests that serving food on a red plate tends to reduce the amount diners eat. Ariel Zambelich/NPR hide caption

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Mattheos Koffas (left), a biochemical engineer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Andrew Jones, a graduate student in his lab, with a flask of microbe-produced antioxidants. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

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