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

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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

How Did Cahokian Farmers Feed North America’s Largest Indigenous City?

Food

JUST OUTSIDE ST. LOUIS, VISITORS can witness the monumental earthen mounds that mark Cahokia, the largest indigenous city north of Mexico. There’s a persistent myth that the original inhabitants of what is now the United States were all hunter-gatherers living in small communities. Yet these mounds—likely used for ceremonial and housing purposes by people of the Mississippian Culture—reveal an often-neglected history: an organized, socially diverse, Pre-Columbian city.

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: Adam Dutton/Unsplash

The Swap-a-Fish Program That Traded Tilapia for Seafood Contaminated by Agent Orange

environmental justice, Food

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.”

Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo: Rowan Heuvel/Unsplash.