Eat your heart out Bon Appetit: Only Ars has BBQ science, li


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The collard green grilled cheese at Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans

Within the Conde Nast universe, we typically leave the Thanksgiving stuff to our colleagues at Bon Appetit (though s/o for their continued restaurant recommendations as we navigate tech conference season). But as a group of humans, we do enjoy food and all things culinary. And occasionally, it even crosses our desks outside of lunch hour.

Ars' food media legacy includes such hits as "Maybe it needs to be called almond drink?" after the FDA's strong feelings about lactation and "Don't let your beer explode" as scientists dug into a few less-than-thought-out effects of dry hopping. We've documented the process for creating your own autumnal hard cider and making ice cream with the most affordable of Amazon impulse buys. And you've read about what it's like to sustain yourself off Soylent for a week (and the related food philosophical reawakening), right?

So with a week-and-change left to plan this year's first winter holiday meal menu, this week's Orbital Transmission shifts focus entirely to the kitchen. Ars may never be the place to get dinner recommendations or a recipe for green bean casserole, but we'll willingly eat fake meat White Castle or test smart sous-vide machines in the name of journalism.

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Orbital Transmission 11.13.2018
Brisket at Snow's BBQ in Lexington, TX

Better BBQ'ing through science

Look... ovenroasted is kinda boring. BBQ, in contrast, never is—and this artform relies heavily on sound science. So while many of us may never be able to recreate the brisket from Snow's BBQ (the No. 1 spot in Texas, therefore the world?), scientists like Greg Blonder at Amazing Ribs have simple tips to up your backyard grill/smoker game. Tinfoil, pre-salting, and something called pork-us interruptus (which lets you prep the day before) can all be your friend this year. (Science is also ready to help you properly break spaghetti in half if you're looking for a meatless main course.)

Apollo 8 astronaut James Lovell's bottle of space brandy

Drink like the astronauts: Brandy and altar wine

NASA released thousands of hours of backroom conversations from the historic Apollo 11 mission this week, which reminded us... we need to start listening to see if Buzz Aldrin mentions the wine. Pending the validity of Russian vodka on the ISS rumors, Aldrin's altar wine stands as the only official space booze via NASA missions. Since they flew over the holidays, the folks riding Apollo 8 were once offered brandy (determined by a study as the best suited liquor for space), but they ultimately declined. "If there's any problem with this spacecraft, they're going to blame the brandy," Commander Frank Borman declared.

Getting excited for custom-made Kit-Kat bars

A 4hr train for elusive, liquid-nitrogen-made Kit-Kats

We may have written way more about Android 4.4, but that OS's namesake is one of the few things that will truly excite a veteran tech and culture reporter. While in Japan, Ars' Sam Machkovech caught wind of a new Nestlé Chocolatory, essentially a store offering made-to-order, liquid-nitrogen-hardened, custom Kit-Kat bars. Naturally, he hopped a four hour train ASAP. His TL;DR? "I'd never had a candy-bar bite like that in my life." May society's rich history with chocolate continue.

Mealworm breakfast pie

Eat bugs because they're a delicacy (sustainably is a bonus)

When it comes to sustainable food sources, a third of Americans are willing to eat lab grown meat—but it's pretty difficult to convince most to try entomology (aka eating bugs) instead. The future of food since at least 2014recent science says presenting insects as an exotic delicacy or a luxurious indulgence, rather than a healthy protein source that is more environmentally responsible than consuming meat, stands as the best way to currently convince an anxious eater. That worked for Ars Science Editor John Timmer (ooo, black ants?), but we'd still suggest Pecan will be more of a crowd-pleaser than Breakfast-Mealworm in this year's pie competition.

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