Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Food’

How taste works

December 01, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Science No Comments →


A flavor experience may begin with a past meal: The memory (1) activates dopamine reward centers, leading us to crave the flavors to come. We salivate.


A brain primed for pleasure begins to receive sensory impulses from the food as we move it (2) to our mouth, see its colors and shapes (3) and inhale its aromas (4).

Read Beyond Taste Buds: The Science of Delicious

Brains! Yummy brains! Red velvet brain cake for Halloween

October 23, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Food No Comments →


Here’s a treat for the zombies who knock on your door next week.

How to cake it. via 3QD.

It’s aliiive! Mmm, stinky cheese. Mmm, mold.

October 02, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Food No Comments →

Some mold attacks milk and spoils it. Other mold helps make cheese, like Camembert, because it protects the cheese from contamination. Credit: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

The cheese they buy is alive with fungi; indeed, many cheeses require a particular species of mold to properly ripen. To produce Roquefort blue cheese, for example, cheese makers mix Penicillium roqueforti into fermenting curds. The mold spreads throughout the cheese, giving it not only a distinctive blue color but also its (acquired) taste.

To produce soft cheeses such as Camembert or Brie, on the other hand, cheese makers spray a different mold species, Penicillium camemberti, on the curds. The fungus spreads its tendrils over the developing cheese, eventually forming the rind. When you chew on a Camembert rind, you’re eating a solid mat of mold.

Read Carl Zimmer on Stinky Cheese.

Reminds us of the time the nuns at a Catholic school summoned our friends to school to reprimand them for giving their kid “rotten food”. Her recess time snack was Roquefort, crackers and grapes. Technically, the nuns were correct: cheeses contain mold and fungi. That’s why they’re so yummy.

At home, the cats keep trying to steal our Brie.

The ex-most beautiful cafe in the world: Caffe Florian in Venice

May 11, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Coffee, Food, Places, Traveling 1 Comment →


Venice is atrociously overpriced, crowded and touristy and we still love it. It has extracted our pound of flesh (which we have gained back plus plus). The second we board the vaporetto from Tronchetto (the car park) we feel weirdly happy, knowing full well that we will be gouged, swarmed and our senses assaulted with kitsch. Incidentally, the answer to the question that gets asked a lot is: No, we don’t smell anything.


Caffe Florian on the Piazza San Marco is the city’s most famous cafe, and it turns 300 in 2020, making it the oldest cafe in the world. Every would-be ruler of the planet has stopped by, from Napoleon to Hitler. The cafe probably overcharged them, too.


Nine euros (Php 414) for a cup of coffee! 13 for a croissant with ham in it. And if the orchestra is playing outside, 6 euros for the music.


The waiters are more elegant than the diners and you feel like you have to mind your manners or be judged.


But what an exterior (and the interiors aren’t plain, either). After coffee, you are compelled to conquer something.

Is the New York Cafe in Budapest the most beautiful cafe in the world?

May 08, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places, Traveling 6 Comments →


While wandering around the city, we heard that the New York Cafe in Budapest is the most beautiful cafe in the world. We don’t know who gives out these titles, but after hearing it many times we were intrigued enough to go. It’s one of the stops on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour we took (Most efficient option for people with no sense of direction who would otherwise waste hours looking for their destination, or end up taking taxis).


More beautiful than Caffe Florian in Venice? we thought. What nerve. (Just because our name was invented for The Merchant of Venice, we think we’re linked to Venice haha.)


Then we shut up because holy crap, this is what greeted us.


It’s two centuries younger than Florian, but it’s vast, light and airy and holy crap, those walls and ceilings. Built in the 1900s, it was recently renovated. At one point it was the world’s most beautiful warehouse.


In the early 20th C its regulars included the writers Gyula Krudy and Deszo Kosztolanyi (Thank you, NYRB Classics, or we would never have read them), and the filmmakers Alexander Korda and Michael Curtiz (Casablanca).


For our very late lunch we had a latte macchiato and a spaghetti with a very rich beef sauce that made dinner redundant. We like Hungarian home cooking. How you feel about it depends on how you like goulash (like a soupy mechado) and paprika, and we love the stuff. It’s so filling, you have to walk across Budapest to digest it.

So you dine under a fresco, and the cost of spaghetti and coffee: 6,370 Hungarian forints, or PHP977, which is cheap for that splendor.


Outside, bustling streets. The lamps are held up by devils.

To tip or not to tip

April 08, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Food 8 Comments →

Waiters, Alfred Eisenstaedt

Tipping is confusing, and paradoxical. We tip some people who provide services but not others who work just as hard for just as little pay. It is insulting to leave any tip in Tokyo but offensive not to leave a large one in New York. It is assumed that the purpose of tipping is to encourage good service but we leave one only after the service has been given, when it is too late to change it, often to people who will never serve us again. Tipping challenges the sweeping generalisations of economists and anthropologists alike. To understand how and why we tip is to begin to understand just how complicated and fascinating we human beings are.

Read To Tip Or Not To Tip in Aeon.

Do you tip waiters? How much? In some places you have to leave a 15 percent tip or the staff will run after you. Some argue that since Manila restaurants already add a 10 percent service charge to your bill, you don’t have to tip. Others say that if you eat there regularly and don’t tip, hala ka. And what do you do about a really obtrusive waiter who interrupts your story as you’re getting to the punchline, to ask, “How is your food, sir?” Or a waiter who seems to be listening too closely to a very private conversation?