AS IT GLINTS IN THE afternoon sunlight, Newark, New Jersey’s Passaic River looks peaceful. But a plaque along the boardwalk has a warning for visitors. “The river remains full of life,” it reads. “Try to spot these creatures, but until the pollution is removed from the river, be careful NEVER to catch or eat any of them.”
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WHEN RELATIVES VISITED BRIGHTON KAOMA’S childhood home in the Copperbelt Province of central Zambia, they’d come bearing gifts: oblong brown chikanda, freshly dug from the earth of the family’s ancestral village.
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IN THE QUEST TO COMMUNICATE with life beyond our tiny blue planet, human beings have sent records of our most meaningful cultural expressions into space: Beethoven’s Fifth, a mother’s kiss, and now, queso.
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ALBERT AYENI WAS DISAPPOINTED. It was 1976, and he had just moved to the United States to pursue his PhD in agronomy at Cornell. Yet something was missing from his new country’s cuisine: “No hot pepper in the diet,” Ayeni says.
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DAVID DENKENBERGER WANTS TO BUILD a system to feed eight billion people in a world without sunlight. His inspiration: the humble mushroom. In 2011, Denkenberger was reading a scientific paper that suggested that after such a catastrophe, humans would die out, while mushrooms would thrive in the dark. According to Denkenberger, his reaction was, “Well, why don’t we just eat the mushrooms and not go extinct?”
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It started with suet. Some say camp administrators decided that Italian internees should cook with suet instead of olive oil to cut costs. Others say lower ranking internees, who had been crew members on the ships they were taken from, suspected that former officers were getting olive oil while they were stuck with beef fat. Either way, tensions hit a breaking point when a group of angry internees charged into the kitchen.
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“Those were just drops of honey, they were so incredibly sweet,” says German artist Uli Westphal. “Those were really magnificent. And they were tiny, like the red currant berry.”
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