food science food science

The Oscar For Best Snack Goes To ... Popcorn, The 6,000-Year-Old Aztec Gold

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A block of Tomme de Savoie cheese ages with a sweater of Mucor lanceolatus fungal mold. Mucor itself doesn't have a strong taste, but more flavorful bacteria can travel far and wide along its hyphae — the microscopic, branched tendrils that fungi use to bring in nutrients. Benjamin Wolfe/Benjamin Wolfe hide caption

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Benjamin Wolfe/Benjamin Wolfe

Cloud eggs: It's not just Instagrammers who find them pretty. Chefs of the 17th century whipped them up, too. Then, as now, they were meant to impress. Maria Godoy/NPR hide caption

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Maria Godoy/NPR

Cloud Eggs: The Latest Instagram Food Fad Is Actually Centuries Old

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NadaMoo!'s Birthday Cake Cookie Dough vegan frozen dessert uses coconut milk as its base. Because of its fat and sugar content, many vegan dairy producers say coconut is simply the easiest vegan platform to build a milk or cream out of. But almond milk is also a common choice, in part because it's so popular with consumers. Courtesy of NadaMoo! hide caption

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Courtesy of NadaMoo!

Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods has taken a high-tech approach to creating a plant-based burger that smells and tastes like real meat. At the company's headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., chef Traci Des Jardins served the Impossible Burger (pictured uncooked) with vegan mayo, Dijon mustard, mashed avocado, caramelized onions, chopped cornichon, tomato and lettuce on a pretzel bun. Maggie Carson Jurow hide caption

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Maggie Carson Jurow

The John C. Sullenger Vineyard at Nickel & Nickel Winery, Napa Valley, Calif. Nickel & Nickel collaborated with scientists to collect wine samples and identify the bacteria and fungi in them by sequencing microbial DNA. Jason Tinacci/Courtesy of Nickel & Nickel hide caption

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Jason Tinacci/Courtesy of Nickel & Nickel

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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Robin Lubbock/WBUR

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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Courtesy of Takeshi Ebitani/Takuya Yamaguchi.

"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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Maria Fabrizio for NPR

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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Courtesy of Smart Gastronomy Lab, University of Liège

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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Courtesy of Roger Meissen/Bond LSC