Liked Your Weird Pandemic Meals Are Probably Fine by Amanda Mull (

In the dieting (excuse me, biohacking) trend known as intermittent fasting, people compress their calories into a limited window of hours. But that’s not what Big Meal is at all. It’s not a diet. I snack whenever I feel like it—Triscuits with slices of pepper jack, leftover hummus from the Turkish takeout place that sometimes provides Big Meal, a glob of smooth peanut butter on a spoon. The phrase started as a joke about my inability to explain to a friend why I was making risotto in the middle of the afternoon, or why I didn’t have an answer to “What’s for dinner?” at 6 p.m. beyond “Uh, well, I ate a giant burrito at 11 a.m. and grazed all afternoon, so I think I’m done for the day.” Now I simply say, “It’s time for Big Meal,” or “I already had Big Meal.”

Replied to Eat This Newsletter 141: Too good to waste (

Hello I’ve noticed in the past how, when I am thinking about some topic, I am much more likely to notice things related to that topic, and so it was with…

Jeremy, reading this newsletter about excrement and listening to your conversation with Donald Worster reminded me of this segment I saw on ABC about cochroach farms. Not only do they provide a food source, but they also help dispose of various waste products.


Bookmarked Vale Sizzler: the cheese toast king couldn’t keep up with dining trends (

Our notion of what constitutes “good value” has also evolved.

Until Sunday, a standard Sizzler all-you-can-eat salad bar will cost you $27.95. You can add $4 and get a rump steak, or $2 for a “Malibu Chicken Supreme” (think parmy-meets-Chicken-Cordon-Bleu).

But “value” now lies in the quality rather than quantity of one’s meal. As Australians’ idea of value is shifting, we are inclined to pay more for food we consider to be good quality – so $30 for an average steak and salad now seems rather steep.

Along with Smorgys and Pizza Hut, I remember going to Sizzler in the 90’s. I wonder if what has changed is not only our appreciation of quality, but also the appropriateness of gorging ourselves?
Bookmarked Grapefruit Is One of the Weirdest Fruits on the Planet by Dan Nosowitz (Atlas Obscura)

From its name, to its hazy origins, to its drug interactions, there’s a lot going on beneath that thick rind.

Dan Nosowitz takes a dive into the world of the grapefruit. The fruit has its origins in the Caribbean, however how it came to be labelled ‘grapefruit’ is not clear.

Before that it was known, probably, as the “shaddock,” which is especially confusing, because shaddock is also a word used for the pomelo. (The word may have come from the name of a trader, one Captain Philip Chaddock, who may or may not have introduced the pomelo to the islands.) As a larger, more acidic citrus fruit with an especially thick rind, the pomelo is what provides the bitterness for all bitter citrus fruits to follow, including the grapefruit. In the earliest and best history of the fruits on Barbados, written by Griffith Hughes in 1750, there are descriptions of many of the unusual hybrids that littered Barbados. Those trees include the shaddock, a tree he called the “golden orange,” and one he called the “Forbidden Fruit” tree. It was the latter that Hughes described as the most delicious, and when the grapefruit eventually became easily the most famous and popular citrus of the West Indies, it was widely believed to be the one once called the Forbidden Fruit.

One of the challenges with tracing the history of the fruit is the tendency for citruses to hybridise easily.

This is largely guesswork, almost all of it, because citrus is a delightfully chaotic category of fruit. It hybridizes so easily that there are undoubtedly thousands, maybe more, separate varieties of citrus in the wild and in cultivation. Some of these, like the grapefruit, clementine, or Meyer lemon, catch on and become popular. But trying to figure out exactly where they came from, especially if they weren’t created recently in a fruit-breeding lab, is incredibly difficult.

The weird part of the story are the compounds found within the fruit and the impact that this has on the way in which the body absorbs drugs.

Grapefruit has a high volume of compounds called furanocoumarins, which are designed to protect the fruit from fungal infections. When you ingest grapefruit, those furanocoumarins take your cytochrome P450 enzymes offline. There’s no coming back. Grapefruit is powerful, and those cytochromes are donezo. So the body, when it encounters grapefruit, basically sighs, throws up its hands, and starts producing entirely new sets of cytochrome P450s. This can take over 12 hours.

This rather suddenly takes away one of the body’s main defense mechanisms. If you have a drug with 10 percent bioavailability, for example, the drugmakers, assuming you have intact cytochrome P450s, will prescribe you 10 times the amount of the drug you actually need, because so little will actually make it to your bloodstream. But in the presence of grapefruit, without those cytochrome P450s, you’re not getting 10 percent of that drug. You’re getting 100 percent. You’re overdosing.

What is interesting is that I remember growing up my grandparents would split a grapefruit for breakfast each morning. Pretty sure they had their cocktail of medication at the same time. I am left wondering if this was at all intentional?

via Jeremy Cherfas

Replied to How COVID-19 Could Kill The All-You-Can-Eat Buffet (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

As we try to find new ways to be communal, we ultimately are going to have to leave some things off to the side. And restaurants that offer unlimited helpings on tiny plates are likely to be one of them. Shed a tear for the chocolate fountain.

So many great memories of buffets and all-you-can-eats: Smorgys, Sizzler, Melba at Langham, Pizza Hut, Cuckoo, Hungry Jacks, Costco. However, in addition to the germs and viruses, it feels like the time of gluttony and indulgence may have passed?
Listened 🎧 Disputations about taste by Jeremy CherfasJeremy Cherfas from

Episode summary: Taste is a very curious thing. We understand that how we taste something is almost entirely subjective, that while it depends to some extent on the physical and chemical properties of the things we’re tasting, the sensation is overlaid with all sorts of cultural and personal memories. Unless you have access to all of those, there’s nothing you can say about my taste. Except, we do that all the time. We slip easily from taste being indisputable to good taste and bad taste and from there to making taste the basis of moral judgements. What’s more, this is nothing new. These thoughts, and many more, were prompted by a new book: Food Fights: How History Matters to Contemporary Food Debates. It contains two chapters that cover taste directly (and a third that considers food choice from a slightly different point of view). In an effort to straighten myself out on the subject, I talked to the two chapter authors, and they’re going to be the guests in at least the next two episodes. In the first instance, Margot Finn…

Jeremy, I was intrigued by the discussion of the taste for chilli food.
Listened Russian Food: Old and New North of the Acrtic Circle, the Roots of Russian Food by Jeremy Cherfas from

Darra Goldstein combines a scholar’s knowledge of history and literature with a cook’s interest in recipes and ingredients. She had already written extensively on food across the vast Soviet empire, but more recently turned her attention to a search for what she calls “the true heart of Russian food“. She found it on the Kola Peninsula, a wild and forbidding part of Russia right at the top of Scandinavia. Our conversation, prompted by her new book, went further afield to include glimpses of food revivals and innovation in Russia today.

Interesting as always Jeremy.
Replied to Where I grumble about food… (Bianca Hewes)

It’s not just dinner, either. It’s lunch, right? Like breakfast is fine cos you can get away with cereal and toast and a tea and the kid is happy (I’ve been skipping breakfast in a sort of weak attempt at that 16-8 thingy where you try to clean your blood, intermittent fasting?) but lunch sucks. I’ve tried making extra dinner to have as left-overs, I’ve tried the meal-planning in small boxes that some seem to have success with. To be honest preparing five meals on a Sunday just makes me worry for the Friday when I’m left with almost off food for lunch. Gross. I start off OK on a Monday and Tuesday – making a sandwich with the bread that’s still fresh and ingredients that have been bought on the Sunday (via the shopping I have to think about each week – don’t get me started on that annoyance!). By Wednesday I’m getting the youngest a lunch order and I’m taking whatever I can scrounge from the cupboard. Nutrition has disappeared, and for dinner I’m trying to convince myself that the mushrooms from Sunday don’t smell like unwashed feet and can definitely still be used for dinner (which I won’t eat because mushrooms that are over a day old gross me out).

I really enjoyed this reflection Bianca. I too dread the thought of what to cook for tea, especially as my wife has handed over that responsibility of late. Sometimes I feel guilty about our Thermomix, however one of the positive side effects has been the variety of foods we are eating that neither my wife nor I had the time for.
Listened How ultra-processed food took over your shopping basket from the Guardian

An ultra-processed food can be reformulated in countless ways, but the one thing it can’t be transformed into is an unprocessed food. Hall remains hopeful that there may turn out to be some way to adjust the manufacture of ultra-processed foods to make them less harmful to health. A huge number of people on low incomes, he notes, are relying on these “relatively inexpensive tasty things” for daily sustenance. But he is keenly aware that the problems of nutrition cannot be cured by ever more sophisticated processing. “How do you take an Oreo and make it non-ultra-processed?” he asks. “You can’t!”

I am not sure I realised how much of my diet is made up of processed food. I actually feel that the Thermomix has changed that and provided an entry point to cooking more foods.
Listened Orange-fleshed sweet potato to feed hidden hunger – No-one wakes up saying ‘I crave vitamin A today’ by Jeremy Cherfas from

Marketing campaign for orange-fleshed sweet potato
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 27:33 — 22.1MB)
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podcast cover artwork There is more to good nu…

Jeremy, this is another intriguing episode. You always leave me thinking and seeing the world differently.
Listened Cashews, the World Bank, and Mozambique A misguided policy that did nobody any good by Jeremy Cherfas from

Jeremy Chefas discusses the history of cashews and the arrival in Mozambique via the Portuguese. He then discusses the challenges associated with production and cheaper labour in India. The catch with ‘cheaper’ is that this comes with an often hidden cost to the women when do the processing with the support of their children.
Bookmarked Revenge of the Lunch Lady by Jane Black (

What McCoy had done in Huntington was exactly the kind of thing Republicans claim to celebrate. She wasn’t a Washington bureaucrat telling people to do it her way, or no way at all; she was a well-intentioned local who had figured out what made sense for her community and acted on it.

Jane Black explores the complexity associated with school meals. Although Jamie Oliver argued that it was simply about providing students with healthy food, Black explores the challenges of standards, funding, equipment, and training.
Listened Is that a pickle … Let’s not argue about definitions by Jeremy Cherfas from Eat This

To me, a pedant and a purist, a pickle by rights ought to have gone through a proper fermentation. It might have been pasteurised afterwards and bottled, but at some stage it needs to have supported microbial activity. And yet, I don’t think of kombucha as pickled tea or yoghurt as pickled milk. Maybe that’s because they aren’t salted. Just being boiled in vinegar or soaked in brine doesn’t qualify either, for me.

Luckily Jan Davison, author of Pickles: A Global History, has a much more open mind, which is great, because I learned a lot from her little book. And it gave us plenty to talk about.