Entries by Grant Alkin

Sanshool Seduction: The Science of Spiciness

One of the most aggressive flavors we can experience is spiciness. Imagine a bright red chili pepper whose color gives us fair warning of its propensity to ignite a fire. In fact, a common physiological response to eating spicy food is analogous to the way our body responds to an elevation in internal body temperature. […]

The Science of Sous Vide

“Sous vide,” or “under vacuum,” refers to a style of cooking in which food is sealed in a plastic bag and submerged in a water bath that is held at a controlled temperature [1]. This technique originated in ancient times when humans wrapped their food in salt, fat, animal leaves, and animal bladders before cooking […]

Chocolate Fountain Physics & Jell-O Composition

Ever looked at a chocolate fountain and wondered why the flowing chocolate slopes inward, instead of falling straight down? Adam Townsend and Dr. Helen Wilson from the University College London developed mathematical equations to explain this sweet, physical phenomenon. If wobbly desserts are more up your alley, take a look at the ingredients list for Jell-O. You […]

Juliet Han

Juliet Han graduated from UC San Diego before moving to Washington D.C. for a music policy internship. She eventually switched to coffee and has now been working in the coffee industry for over a decade. Han has been a judge for regional barista competitions and represented Intelligentsia Coffee in the 2012 U.S. Cup Tasters Championship, where she placed third. […]

Space Whisky & “Natural Foods”

A vial of unmatured malt whisky was sent into space three years ago, and has recently returned to Earth for a taste test. This space whisky was compared to the same whisky that was matured (on Earth) in charred oak barrels. Guess which whisky contains aromas of antiseptic smoke and rubber. While we’re comparing two things, […]

Anatomy of a hot chocolate

Hot chocolate: it’s a winter staple. Amidst falling temperatures and dreary skies, there’s nothing quite like taking a swig of this sumptuous beverage and seeking warm refuge in the delights of a steaming mug. Hot chocolate is as straightforward as drinks go: at its core, it’s milk, cocoa powder, and sugar. Despite its simplicity, this […]

Stinky Tofu

You may be familiar with stinky tofu’s strong, pungent odor that makes you wrinkle your nose in disgust. Although this dish certainly lives up to its name, taking a bite into its crunchy, deep-fried exterior that gives way to warm, firm tofu might just make you a stinky tofu convert. A popular street food in […]

Futuristic Cranberries & 1959 Cranberries

In the future, cranberries may be sweet enough to snack on without sugar, thanks to the efforts of biologists and geneticists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Going back in time to 1959, a few cranberry batches tested positive for aminotriazole, an herbicide, causing a nationwide panic and collapsing the cranberry industry almost overnight.

Maple Syrup

Nothing sets the tone for a drowsy Sunday afternoon like a breakfast that features maple syrup. This sticky and wonderful syrup fills the nooks and crannies of our nation’s waffles with the taste of autumn and the smell of Canada. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the science that makes maple syrup and its confectionery […]