The Scholar Mapping America’s Forgotten Feminist Restaurants

Food, Gastro Obscura

THERE ARE NO WAITRESSES AT Bloodroot restaurant. There’s no meat, either. When a small collective of women founded the Bridgeport, Connecticut, café and bookstore in 1977, they eliminated both meat and table service as part of a sweeping feminist vision.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: LES Library, Public Domain

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German Researchers Are Investigating the Science Behind Soft-Pretzel Scent

Food, Gastro Obscura

WORKING NINE TO FIVE IS no way to make a living, so why not quit your job and become a professional food smeller? These highly trained sensory savants are regularly hired by food manufacturers and scientists. They analyze the subtle pepper notes in coffee, the juicy, pear-like aroma of fine white wine, and—as in a study recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry—the delectable whiffs of sweat and malt in freshly baked soft pretzels.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: Wesual Click, Public Domain

After Hurricane Katrina, Home Gardeners Saved New Orleans’ Iconic Squash

Culture, Food, Gastro Obscura, social justice

“WE NORMALLY DON’T HAVE A spring crop,” says Paul D’Anna, a home gardener in Metairie, Louisiana. But this year—maybe it’s the weather or, though he’s loathe to talk himself up, maybe it’s his green thumb—he got lucky: His backyard vines have already produced around 70 fruits.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo:  David Monniaux, CC BY-SA 3.0

Can Nigerian Drumming Teach You to Pick the Perfect Watermelon?

Culture, Food

FOR OGBODO NKIRUKA, THE SLAP of a hand hitting a watermelon is a welcome melody. A fruit vendor who’s been selling watermelons from a roadside stand in the Nigerian city of Enugu for 15 years, she identifies the ripeness of her wares by ear. Each melon has its own music, a deep, hollow thump—ba ba, ba, ba— indicating a fruit that’s perfectly ripe.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: Kenogenic/CC BY-SA 4.0

Australia’s Growing Camel Meat Trade Reveals a Hidden History of Early Muslim Migrants

Food, labor

THERE IS A CAMEL IN Hanifa Deen’s kitchen. He looks down at her as she cooks, eyes proud yet warm, delicately flared snout smelling dinner. While the creature is merely an image on a poster, Deen, who has written several books on Islam in Australia, regards him affectionately.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: National Museum of Australia/Public Domain.

This British Colonial Report Offers a Rare Glimpse Into India’s Historic Cannabis Cuisine

Food, India

THICK, SUGARY, AND CREAMY, RICH with saffron and almonds, bhang thandai is so sweet that at first it’s hard to pinpoint the drink’s secret ingredient. After a sip or two, however, the telltale taste lingers: spicy and slightly musky, it’s the signature whiff of cannabis. After a few minutes, the high comes, dreamy as the rainbow play of Holi colors.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: San Diego Museum of Art/Public Domain.

How Lesbian Potlucks Nourished the LGBTQ Movement

Food, Sexuality

JEN MARTIN AND LIZ ALPERN lived in “that house.” Many queer friend groups have one. It’s the kind of place where a pot of soup is always boiling, where bread is always in the oven, where someone is always willing to read your tarot cards. Friends stopped to visit the Brooklyn apartment on weeknights. It was a space to cook and eat, to work and relax.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: Brooke Lark/Unsplash.

The Girl Who Jumped Out of a Pie and Into a Gilded Age Morality Tale

Food, Sexual violence, Sexuality, trauma

ON MAY 20, 1895, 16-YEAR-OLD Susie Johnson, wearing nothing but gauze and haloed by a flock of live canaries, burst through the crust of a giant pie. It was polo player John Ellliot Cowdin’s 10th wedding anniversary, and the dinner was lavish: 16 courses from clams to coffee, each punctuated by champagne. Two models entertained the male guests. There was a later rumor—likely apocryphal—that their hair color was coordinated with the wine, the brunettes pouring red, the blondes pouring white. Susie Johnson, dancing out of double-crust pastry, served herself.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: Hugo Aitken/Unsplash.

The Promise and Perils of Resurrecting Native Americans’ Lost Crops

Food

ELIZABETH HORTON NEVER INTENDED FOR Plum Bayou to become a testing site for recovering lost crops. By planting historical staples such as Chenopodium berlandieri, a type of goosefoot and a cousin of modern-day quinoa, she sought to teach visitors about the agriculture of the Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park’s original inhabitants. Yet Horton’s plants aren’t originals—they’re wild cousins of the crops that fed North America since at least 3900 BC.

Read more at Atlas Obscura/Photo: Christophe Maertens/Unsplash