A. Giant prehistoric sloths

B. Thick-billed rainforest parrots

C. South American armadillos

D. Central American Howler monkeys


Lestodons were giant prehistoric sloths directly related to the sloths that live today. Weighing from 2 to 4 tons, lestodons roamed the grassy plains of South America during the Cenozoic era, eating grass and other foliage. Occasionally, lestodons ate avocados, pits and all, which is the only reason we have avocados today. The pits were then excreted large distances away from their original parent tree which allowed the plants to proliferate without competing for water and sunlight. The avocado pit is what’s called an “evolutionary anachronism,” meaning its size was favorably selected during evolution for avocado plants to reproduce. However, no sloth on today’s earth is large enough to be able to ingest and then expel such a large seed, yet the pit still exists.


A. A sticky fruit candy that predates Gummies

B. A traditional Scottish venison dish

C. A type of English biscuit

D. A strawberry ice cream sandwich found at baseball parks


If you drank as much English tea as I do (9 cups a day), you’d know that a Jammie Dodger is an English biscuit—specifically a shortbread one with a sticky jam filling. (Just right when it’s 3 pm, at least another two hours to go writing chapters for the third edition of The Wine Bible). Other classic English biscuits include: the Cadbury Finger, Fox’s Crunch Cream, the Hobnob, and the compellingly named Digestive.


A. Hot Dogs

B. Hoover Stew

C. Ice Cream

D. Donuts


Ice cream. In 1920 the Volstead Act was passed by Congress, prohibiting the “manufacturing and sale” of alcohol. The law caused many adults to look for alternatives to wine, beer, and spirits. Advancements in refrigeration had occurred simultaneously with the ban on alcohol, so with no beer to keep cool, ice cream became the number one tasty treat of the Prohibition Era. It has been estimated that between 1920 and 1929, ice cream consumption grew 40% in the United States. Prohibition also sparked new innovations in the ice cream world—single-serve frozen treats like the Eskimo Pie and the first ice cream bar on a stick from Good Humor were invented to meet the new demand for ice cream treats in public spaces.


A. The Dorian Scale

B. The Scoville Scale

C. The Richter Scale

D. The Beaufort Scale


The Scoville scale measures the amount of spiciness or “heat” in chili peppers, in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Scoville Heat Units are assigned based on how much dilution is required for the “burn” of a chili to no longer be sensed by taste testers. This point of dilution is determined when oil extracted from the dried chili is diluted with sugar water to a certain concentration level. If a pepper rates 5,000 SHU, this pepper must be diluted 5,000 times before its heat is no longer detectable. Bell peppers rate between 0 and 100 on the SHU scale whereas serrano peppers rate between 10,000 and 25,000 Scoville Heat Units. The scale goes even higher— where ghost peppers earn 750,000 to 1.5 million SHU and the mysteriously named Pepper X rates 1.5 to 3 million SHU making it one of the hottest chilis on the planet.


A. Eating peanut butter when you are a grown-up

B. Rubbing apples to shine them before eating them

C. Putting ketchup on red meats like ground beef

D. Walking around with large cups of coffee to go


According to a “Insider” survey, in most other countries and especially in Europe, coffee is consumed in small quantities, and usually quickly. Think of an Italian standing in a café taking one second to down an espresso. People in other countries find it strange that in the U.S. people drink huge cups of coffee and take them to go. For the record, we think it’s perfectly fine to eat peanut butter when you’re over 10 years old, but we draw the line at marshmallow fluff.


A. An international catalog of endangered foods

B. A history of the ways in which smell and taste have changed through human evolution

C. A term winemakers use for the way a wine can presents itself spatially on the palate

D. A compendium of foods mentioned in the Bible


The Ark of Taste is an international catalog of endangered heritage foods maintained by the global Slow Food movement. The goal is to preserve unique foods that reflect their culture and place, and to keep them from extinction by encouraging consumers to grow and eat those foods. Besides being rare, foods on the list must be “culturally or historically linked to a specific region, locality, ethnicity or traditional production practice.” The Ark of Taste was founded in 1996. Today, more than 5,000 products from more than 150 countries are on the list. Those foods include: Great Plains Bison from Canada; Bergamot Oranges from Calabria, Italy; Violet Asparagus from Liguria, Italy; Harrison Cider Apples from New Jersey; Meyer Lemons from California; White Strawberries from Chile; and Bull Boar Sausage from Australia. Slow Food publishes the catalog along with resources for those who want to grow or buy the foods on the list.


A. Whale blubber

B. Beef tallow

C. Emulsified calf belly

D. Rendered chicken and duck fat


Margarine, consisting of beef tallow churned with milk, was first patented in France in 1869. It was created by French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès, using acide margarique, a fatty acid discovered in 1813 by fellow chemist Michel Eugene Chevreul. The substance contained lustrous, pearly deposits so Chevreul named it after the Greek word margarites, meaning “pearly.” Mège-Mouriès came up with the butter substitute in response to a challenge by Emperor Napoleon III to create a less-expensive option for the military and the lower classes. Jurgens & Co., an established Dutch butter trader, purchased the patent, dyed the stuff yellow, and popularized its use. Production was limited by the availability of beef tallow until 1902 when Wilhelm Normann in Germany patented a process to harden oils by hydrogenation.


A. Orchid tubers

B. Saffron threads

C. Grape seeds

D. Lentil hulls


In Turkey, winter is the season of salep, a hot, milky drink traditionally made from ground orchid tubers. A beloved street food, salep is the consistency of eggnog and usually topped with cinnamon. Five hundred to 2,000 orchid plants are needed for a single pound of salep flour. Unfortunately, habitat loss, climate change, and over-harvesting have damaged the orchid supply. Protections under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) have done little to stop collection, though do make legitimate export difficult. Turkish expats around the world turn to cheap imitations or online black markets for supposedly “pure” salep flour. A packet of 75 grams (about 2.6 ounces) sells for almost $60.


A. Spain

B. Turkey

C. Croatia

D. Italy


Stretching across the north of Italy in the Po River basin is a vast rice and corn belt, with the result that risotto and polenta are as customary as pasta. Piedmontese risottos made with rich meat broth, wild mushrooms, and arborio rice grown locally are fantastic with a glass of Barolo or barbera. Italy is the largest producer of rice in Europe with a total of 543,600 acres (220,000 hectares) cultivated. The crop is grown mainly in Piedmont (the largest source), Lombardy, and the Veneto. Roughly 80% of EU rice production takes place in Italy and Spain. European rice-growing areas resulted from the drainage of swampy regions in preparation for agriculture. Often planted as a “pioneer crop,” rice would leach excess salt from the soil, making it suitable for other crops such as grapevines and grain crops.


A. Peanut Butter

B. Venison

C. Haggis

D. Seaweed


Though it may only be a matter of time, as whiskeys redolent of chocolate, salted herring, jalapeno peppers, and snake have all hit the market. The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), defines whiskey with vague precision as:

“a spirit distilled from a fermented mash of grain at less than 95% alcohol by volume having the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to whiskey and bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).”

Lately, distillers have been taking colorful advantage of the TTB’s relatively lax parameters for taste and aroma. When Ocean Beach, CA, bar owner Steven Yeng turned his predilection for slathering peanut butter on everything into a massively popular whiskey shot, Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey was born. New Hampshire-based Tamworth Distilling recently added The Deerslayer, a whiskey flavored with smoked venison, to its lineup of spirits including a whiskey flavored with beaver musk oil. Across the Atlantic, where whiskey must age in wooden casks to earn the name, Irish distillery Origin Spirits released the world’s first whiskey finished in seaweed-charred oak barrels, Currach Single Malt Irish Whiskey.


A. To preserve a lady’s lipstick

B. To keep a gentleman’s mustache wax from melting into his tea

C. To protect wooden teeth from staining

D. To strain botanicals from herbal tea


The Detachable Mustache Guard was designed to be affixed to the rim of cups, tumblers, and wine glasses, in order to protect well-waxed whiskers from tea steam, beer foam, and red wine stains. Patented by, the presumably long-suffering and hirsuit, C. H. Barrows on May 28, 1878, the invention’s popularity spread throughout Europe, until potters began featuring a cup with a mustache guard built right in. For many decades, famous china manufacturers such as Limoges, Meissen, Royal Bayreuth, and others created their own versions. Mustache cup production slowed after 1920 and finally faded from cups altogether by the later 20th century. However, as facial hair returns to fashion, a plethora of protective paraphernalia has hit the market including the “Mo’ Guard”, “Whisker Dam,” and “Lipmaster.”


A. Author of the first published cranberry sauce recipe

B. Inventor of the electric carving knife

C. Advertising executive who created the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line

D. Magazine editor who campaigned to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday


Sarah Josepha Hale was editor of the influential Godey’s Lady’s Book for 40 years, from 1837 to 1877, during which time she published numerous editorials extolling the virtues of a national day of Thanksgiving. Inspired by a sentimental account she read about the 1621 feast shared by the Pilgrims and Native Americans, Hale published recipes for turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie and invented colonial “traditions” out of whole cloth, earning her the nickname the “Mother of Thanksgiving.” Over the course of 36 years, the prolific writer (credited as a co-author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”), she sent a flood of letters to governors, senators, presidents, and other politicians in pursuit of her quest. In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln finally took Hale’s request to heart, and to “heal the wounds of the nation,” proclaimed the final Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

Eagerly celebrated for 76 years, the holiday was unexpectedly moved up a week in 1939 by president Franklin D. Roosevelt, in an ill-conceived attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. After passionate public outrage, he compromised by legally fixing the date as the fourth Thursday in November (some years there are actually 5), when we have feasted ever since.


A. China

B. Russia

C. Greece

D. Japan


XO sauce is a luxe umami-rich condiment created by a chef at the exclusive Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon, Hong Kong, in the early 1980s. Named after the wildly popular and premium aged cognac (XO is slang throughout Hong Kong for anything of high quality considered a luxury), XO sauce is a complex combination of finely chopped dried shrimp and scallops (called conpoy), salty Chinese cured ham, shallots, garlic, chili, and oil—but no actual Cognac. Ubiquitous in southern Cantonese cooking, XO sauce is slathered on just about everything. But despite being nicknamed the “caviar of the Orient,” the sauce is often most delicious eaten alone with a simple bowl of noodles or rice. The chunky jam-like condiment takes hours to make and calls for pricy ingredients (just one pound of conpoy can cost up to $100). Fortunately, jarred versions are now available online and at Asian food markets—expect a price tag at least 10 times higher than soy sauce.


A. 250 million pounds

B. 10 thousand pounds

C. 200 thousand pounds

D. 1 million pounds


According to the National Association of Pizza Operators, pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the U.S. That might explain why we have a national holiday dedicated to it—September 20 is National Pepperoni Pizza Day. The fact that only 1 in 50 people surveyed hate pizza, may also have influenced the tribute. Pizza Hut, one of the world’s biggest pizza chains, uses 14 billion pounds of pepperoni worldwide. Pepperoni is actually an American creation—first appearing in Italian-American markets following World War I. Its popularity as a pizza topping was driven by economics. When pizza chains Pizza Hut and Domino’s started their delivery businesses in the 1960s, they were looking for toppings that were inexpensive and “traveled well.” While making a very humble pie, pepperoni served its purpose valiantly and has risen to the top of the toppings.  For a great, affordable pairing with this spicey, meaty pie try the VIETTI “Tre Vigne” Barbera d’Asti 2017 or the MASSERIA LI VELI Susumaniello 2018.


A. Soufflés

B. Popovers

C. Baguettes

D. Macarons


Although no bread was recorded as being called a baguette (French for “wand” or “stick”) before 1920, long loaves of crusty wheat bread have been typical in France since the era of Louis XIV, when they often reached lengths of a yard or two and were quite wide. One origin story of the modern slender shape claims that Napoleon Bonaparte passed a law decreeing that bread for his soldiers should be made in long slim loaves of exact measurements to fit into a special pocket on their uniforms. Another points to a growing interest in bread that didn’t need to be cut with a knife. For some time, a loaf of bread was regulated by weight, so in order to make it thin enough to be easily torn, it ended up being long and slender. A final theory gives credit to a 1920 French law forbidding bakers from working between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. With less time to prepare the traditional, often round, loaf or boule (hence bakers in French are called boulangers) before the morning rush, bakers turned to the baguette, likely because its thin form allowed it to cook fast. The bakers loved it because it went stale quickly and the customers would come back for more later in the day!


A. Pear juice

B. White peach purée

C. White fig syrup

D. Sun-dried moscato bianco grapes


While cocktail bars today may often substitute Champagne, the Bellini was most definitely born from Prosecco—celebrated yesterday on National Prosecco Day. The first Bellini was poured in the summer of 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder and barman of the legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice. Inspired by the region’s fragrant white peaches and world-famous sparkling wine, Cipriani pushed the fresh fruit through a sieve to create a purée, then combined it with crisp, bright Prosecco. The official recipe is one-part pureé to two-parts Prosecco. According to Arrigo Cipriani, current bar owner and Giovani’s son, Cipriani named his refreshing concoction after 15th-century local Venetian artist Giovani Bellini, whose landscapes glowed with similar pale pink shades. Harry’s Bar opened in Venice in 1931 and was declared a national landmark by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs in 2001.


A. Hazelnut

B. Anise

C. Orange

D. Sour Cherry


These orange liqueurs appear in classic cocktails like the Margarita, Sidecar, Long Island Iced Tea, and Cosmopolitan—no respectable home bar should be without at least one. Liqueur is not the French spelling of “liquor” but a combination of a liquor (a distilled spirit such us vodka or brandy) with added sugar and flavorings. Curaçao was first made by Dutch settlers on the island of Curaçao in the 19th century. A traditionally rum-based liqueur, it ranges from 15-40% abv and is made with tropical oranges. Avoid cheap versions appearing in artificial orange, blue, and green hues—true Curaçao is clear. Grand Marnier was created in 1880 by Frenchman Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle from a mix of Cognac, distilled bitter orange essence, and sugar. At 40% abv, Grand Marnier is the incendiary ingredient in Crêpes Suzette, the quintessential French dessert made by dousing a crêpe, or buttery pancake, with it and flambéing briefly. Triple sec is a drier style of orange liqueur, whose name is thought to be a translation of the words “triple dry.” The drink was first released in 1875 and is made using a mix of sweet and bitter orange peels and sugar beet alcohol. Cointreau claims to be the world’s first triple sec producer and is 40% abv.


A. The fattiest portion of the tuna, used for sushi and prized in Japan as a pairing to sake

B. A dish from the Piedmont region of Italy, composed of tuna and carpaccio of veal

C. The meat from a bull killed in a bullfight, eaten throughout most of Spain

D. A thick round cut of beef tenderloin, wrapped in boar bacon and grilled over a fire of used oak barrel staves in Argentinian asados


Toro de lidia is the meat of a bull raised for bullfighting. Bull meat stewed in red wine for several hours is a culinary specialty in the southern Spanish province of Andalusia. Historically, it was believed that eating the meat of a bullfighting bull would imbue the eater with the bull’s strength, courage, and virility. In much of central and southern Spain, cattle were used primarily for utility, pulling ploughs, or transport. In every herd there were some bulls, described as bravos, who were too aggressive for these purposes. Instead, they were sacrificed during bullfighting festivals, which the Spainish call corridas—or “runs” (the most famous being Pamplona’s annual running of the bulls which begins this Sunday, July 5)—culminating with the standoff between bull and matador. Once killed, some of the bull’s meat was given to the triumphant bullfighter, who would take the meat back to his hometown, where it would be made into a stew for the whole village, providing a rare opportunity for poor rural communities to eat beef. Currently, bullfighting is illegal in Catalonia and in the Canary Islands, although it remains well established in many parts of the rest of Spain. The fattiest, and most expensive portion of the tuna is known simply as toro or otoro and is prized because it literally melts in your mouth. The classic Italian dish of raw veal in a tuna sauce is called vitello tonnato. And thick round end pieces of beef tenderloin are called tournedos, the leanest cut of meat, which requires the extra flavor that the fatty bacon provides.


A. She is credited with writing the country’s first restaurant review, published in 1861 in the now defunct Philadelphia Inquirer.

B. She brought a lawsuit against a Los Angeles restaurant, effectively ending the existence of “ladies menus.”

C. She was the first restaurateur to introduce the idea of adding a gratuity to the bill for distribution among staff.

D. She operated the country’s first food truck, during the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915 in San Francisco.


Yes, there were once “ladies menus.” (Yours truly was given such a menu several times in New York back in the day). Ladies menus were the same as men’s but did not include prices. Virtually extinct today, “ladies menus” were a fixture of upscale restaurants throughout Europe, but fairly rare in the United States. However, in 1980, Kathleen Bick sued the Los Angeles restaurant L’Orangerie (owned by Parisian émigrés Virginie and Gerrard Ferry) for giving her a ladies menu when she took her business partner, Larry Becker, out for dinner and discovered that only he was privy to the prices of the dishes, since only his menu listed them. Bick’s suit stated that the restaurant’s policy was discriminatory and violated California’s Civil Rights Act. Bick’s well-known feminist attorney, Gloria Allred, explained that the sanitized menu “insulted businesswomen, as well as married women, who might want to have a say on what was being spent on their meal.” L’Orangerie’s owners, meanwhile, defended the practice as “a tradition done in the same spirit as lighting a cigarette or standing up when [a woman] enters the room.” After much public scrutiny, the suit was eventually dropped, as were the ladies’ menus.


A. Baguettes

B. Crème Brûlee

C. Cheese

D. Dijon Mustard


Terre de Lait, an organization for the French dairy industry, has created the “Fromagissons” campaign, a combination of fromage (cheese) and agissons (let’s act). The campaign asks people to start buying traditional cheeses in support of French cheesemongers who have seen sales fall as much as 60 percent since the crisis began. French magazine Agri Culture reports that only 500 tons of an anticipated 2,000 tons of cheese were sold in April. Terre de Lait is urging it’s countrymen to “work together” so that France remains the country of over 1,000 cheeses.