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THE MYTHS ISSUE

A FOOD AND CULTURE JOURNAL ISSUE — 05

SPRING 2018

In this issue, we explore myths in food culture: how and why they originate, how they shape our relationships to the culinary world, and how they impact the ways in which we conceptualize the world around us.

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EDITORS 21

Anna Deen EDITOR IN CHIEF

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Max Bash EDITOR ABROAD

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Sasha Bash

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Desi Isaacson

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Claire Ma

DESIGN 2

Chantal Jahchan DESIGN DIRECTOR

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Maddy Angstreich

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Jack Frischer

WRITING 17

Neal Bansal Brenda Chen

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Eddie Ives

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Daun Lee Anna Lin-Schweitzer

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Stella Stephanopoulos

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Maddy Mueller

ART

DIRECTOR 6

Brooke Adler Samantha Brotman

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Lauren Fox Arno Goetz

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Katie Heider Yena Jeong

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Madeleine Underwood Carmen Maria von Unrug

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Amy Wang

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Christina Wang

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Annie Zhao

MARKETING 5

Katie Kim CO-DIRECTOR

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Emily Hanson

Illustration by Maddy Mueller


written by Anna Deen photography Annie Zhao _

Letter from the Editor

perhaps the mere mention of mythology conjures up faint elementary school memories of Odysseus trudging on an infinitely long journey in search of who-remembers-what. Or, if you’re not currently recalling Homer, you might be reminiscing about the beloved Percy Jackson book series and movie franchise. For me, when we initially began brainstorming content for our Myths issue, I immediately thought of an unfortunate discovery I had made only weeks prior: Vitamin C might not cure colds! But whether the myths you think of are ancient legends from 2,000 years ago or misconceptions that were circulated around the internet yesterday, they are hard to leave in the past: ancient heroes still star in blockbuster movies and I still reach for orange juice at the slightest indication of a sore throat. In this issue, we wanted to return to this question of mythology and really ask ourselves what myths mean in a modern world. What beliefs have stuck around for hundreds of years, passed down as folktales and family lore? How do myths and legends, misconceptions and misinformation shape how we approach our own lives? And what relationship does food even have to mythology in the first place? This issue brings readers explorations of the modern myth from every possible angle: Daun Lee examines how food acts as an allegorical symbol in Korean folklore while Sasha Bash debunks old adages about alcohol that no one would otherwise question. From an investigation into low-fat diets to a search for the best ice cream cone in St. Louis, the writers and artists in the Myths issue address how these long-held beliefs influence the world around us, often without our knowing. I am incredibly honored to work alongside such an incredibly talented executive staff and writing, art, design, and marketing teams to produce this issue. I hope you will enjoy reading this collection of work as much as I enjoyed watching it come together, and that perhaps this issue will let you consider the ways that myths impact your own life as well. Thank you for reading!


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Species-Altering Powers of Garlic The Moralizing Presence of Food in Korean Folklore

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T-Ravs, Pizza, & Gooey Butter Cake

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Yin & Yang

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The “Bleeding� Burger

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daun lee

claire ma

The Legends Behind St. Louis' Holy Trinity

brenda chen

Forces of Energy in Food

stella stephanopoulos

The Truth Behind a Vegan Burger That Bleeds

Dark Chocolate Cake A Recipe for Healing

maddy angstreich


on the cover For the cover of this issue, we wanted to shed light on the Greek myth that describes the cause for the seasons. As punishment for eating six pomegranate seeds, Goddess Persephone had to stay in the Underworld for six months, leading Demeter into heartbreak and creating the four seasons.

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The Invention of the Ice Cream Cone Were the Origins in St. Louis?

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The Moral Implications of Misconception

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Fat or Fiction

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Food Immortal

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desi isaacson

eddie ives

The Debate over Genetically Modified Organisms

anna lin-schweitzer

Debunking the Myth of the Low-Fat Diet

neal bansal

Everlasting Life in Mythological Texts

Tall Tales of Alcohol The Ultimate Drinking Guide

sasha bash


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written by Daun Lee illustration Katie Heider _

Species-Altering Powers of Garlic The Moralizing Presence of Food in Korean Folklore

because i grew up as an immigrant in Alabama, my parents were always adamant about keeping my Korean heritage and culture a part of my life. “No English in the house!” was a mantra that stuck with me until I was about thirteen or fourteen years old. It was really a combination of culinary traditions and celebratory events that helped define my cultural identity in the deep South. For instance, every Lunar New Year, my parents and family friends would cook for days, making traditional soups and mandus, Koreanstyle dumplings. Every birthday, my mom would stir up some mee-yeok-guk, Korean seaweed soup. Seaweed soup, in Korean culture, is a postpartum dish mothers eat to increase breast milk levels and replenish nutrients they lost during labor. Koreans eat this dish on their birthdays as a way of celebrating mothers and the hard labor they had to endure. On Saturdays from nine in the morning until noon, I attended Korean school and ran around outside during breaks with students who all looked like me and were speaking “Konglish,” a mixture of Korean and English. For breakfast, I ate soup, rice, and fish; I thought eating eggs, sausage, and toast was for the very upper class, and was something I had only seen on T.V., but had never experienced. And every night, my parents would read me bedtime stories. These were not the “Where the Wild Things Are”

or “Green Eggs and Ham” kinds of stories: these were tales of Korean folklore. Korean folk stories, like folk stories in many ancient cultures, were mostly passed down for thousands of years by word of mouth before finally being written down. Because Korean culture is largely rooted in its relationship to nature, many of these stories show strong interactions between specific plants and creation stories. One story was about a tiger plotting to eat a crying baby (one, because it was hungry; two, because the crying baby was annoying). The mom, trying to appease the baby, said, “Look, a fox! He’s going to eat you,” to which the baby responded by continuing to cry. The mom tried again with tigers and bears, but the baby, again, continued crying. The tiger was clearly impressed; he thought, “How is a baby not afraid of foxes and bears and tigers?” Then the mother said, “Look a kokam (dried persimmon in English)!” to which the baby finally stopped crying. Now, the tiger was nervous: “What is this kokam that was scary enough to stop the baby from crying?” Frightened, the tiger ran away thinking, “What will the kokam do if it sees me?” And returned to the mountains. This story was one of my favorites; considering that Korea is covered with forests and was previously populated by tigers, this tale offers a humorous

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portrayal of an animal that was considered to be the “king of the woods” for most Koreans. If there were ever any tigers lurking nearby, a simple kokam would be all I needed. However, as a child, I was more interested in the creation stories. These myths, called geon-guk-shin-hwa, explain the founding of Korea. In ancient times, these origin stories were often based on rarified Sun and Moon gods; following the medieval times, the stories explained that Korea’s founders were not actual deities but rather had divine lineages. My favorite one is called ong-nyeo, or “Bear Woman,” in old Korean. A tiger and bear, jealous of the human lifestyle, wanted to join society and so they prayed to Hwanung, son of the lord of Heaven, asking for help. He told them to go into a cave and eat only mugwort (called ssuk in Korean, this herb physically resembles parsley but tastes like grass) and twenty cloves of raw garlic for one hundred days, avoiding sunlight and any contact with other animals. The tiger, impatient and understandably hungry, left after twenty-one days, but the bear remained and later emerged a beautiful woman after one hundred days. The woman, happy at first, grew lonely and prayed to Hwanung for a companion. Taken aback by her piety and devotion, he married her and they gave birth to Dangun, who would later become the founder of Korea. To only eat garlic and mugwort for one hundred days takes dedication and mental strength that I’m not sure I could handle; I remember wondering who

I would be more like—the tiger or the bear—when I was little. Given my affinity for food, I think I would be more like the tiger. (Actually I probably would have given up a lot sooner unless I were really desperate, then maybe I would have persevered.) Nowadays, Korean food is often viewed as a fad, especially with the introduction of Korean barbecue. My vegetarian friends refuse to go to Korea, because they believe the concept of vegetables doesn’t exist outside of pickled cabbage and rice. But really, Korean food is deeply rooted in vegetables and natural greens... literal natural greens. As in, go-into-a-forest-and-lookfor-weeds-and-herbs sort of greens. Because Korean culture is more focused on simplicity and unrefined synergy, most of the food comes from tough tree bark and roots simmered for hours until deemed edible. In Korea, food is not traditionally viewed as something that fulfills our bodies’ biological needs. Rather, it is looked at as more of a medicinal treatment. The concepts of Yin and Yang, as well as balance, were strongly grounded in the Korean mentality; treating and taking care of our bodies from within was held to upmost importance. For instance, while garlic, a common supplement to Korean food, is stinky and smelly, it is also rich in antioxidants and allicin, which is known to significantly reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Further, garlic was known for repelling and expelling bad energy or other harmful matter from the body. Another example is mugwort, which is viewed as

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In Korea, food is not traditionally viewed as something that fulfills our bodies’ biological needs. Rather, it is looked at as more of a medicinal treatment.

a liver tonic and is useful for promoting circulation and soothing bone pain. If I were sick, my grandma would go into her garden and force me to eat fresh ginger and cherry tomatoes. “Eat!” she ordered, “Don’t take any pills, they never work. These tomatoes are magic tomatoes.” If I were ever low on energy, my mom would pull out the most-fermented soybean paste and cook dwenjang-gook, a Korean version of minestrone soup that replaces the tomato base with pungent soybeans. The influence of garlic was evident even during the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. One of the ten dishes advertised to tourists as being essential to Korean culinary heritage was garlic beef rolls, appropriately named dangun shinhwajeon, after the Bear Woman’s son, Dangun. The rolls are wrapped with well-fermented kimchi and beef sirloin, two foods known for creating harmony—a concept that goes along with the ideas of Yin and Yang. These two dishes, plus that of roasted garlic, are the epitomes of Korean foods, both historically and flavor-wise. I enjoyed ong-nyeo as a five-year-old not because I was fully aware of all the health benefits that come with garlic, but because I just thought it was really badass how much effort it took for a bear to transform into a woman, who would eventually give birth to the founding man of Korea.

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illustration Christina Wang

written by Claire Ma

photography Samantha Brotman


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st. louis may not come off as a particularly food-centric city, but don’t underestimate its culinary capacity: the “Gateway to the West” has incubated some of the yummiest, most-celebrated dishes this side of the Mississippi. What’s less well known, however, is how these weird and wacky dishes came to be oh-so-St. Louis in the first place. Why do we toast our ravs? Why are St. Louis-style pizza crusts so darn thin? And for god’s sake, who invented the calorie-dense treat we know as the gooey butter cake? If these questions keep you up at night, wonder no more: here’s the lore behind three of St. Louis’ most legendary foods.

The birthplace of toasted ravioli (which, I should mention, is actually deep fried, not toasted) is somewhere in The Hill, home to many Italian eateries and a fierce commitment to traditional cooking. Since many restaurants have been open for decades, the exact birthplace of t-ravs has been somewhat lost to history. Mama’s on the Hill, previously known as Oldani’s, is one of a few restaurants to tout the “Original” toasted ravioli, which they claim to have invented in the 1940s. According to legend, a chef took one too many sips of the red wine he was using in a dish and, in his tipsy state, accidentally dumped an order of ravioli into hot oil instead of hot water. Mama Oldani, thinking on her feet, decided to sprinkle a bit of parmesan on the now-golden pillows of ravioli goodness and see what the customers thought. Naturally, the new recipe was a huge hit, and the rest is deep-fried history. where to taste the legend: Mama’s on the Hill 2132 Edwards St St. Louis, MO 63110

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Whether you love it or hate it, one thing’s for sure: St. Louis pizza is iconic. What would our fair city be without this pizza in all its thin-crusted, provel-covered glory? But believe it or not, pizza wasn’t always a culinary celebrity. The first pizzeria in St. Louis, Melrose Pizzeria, was opened in 1945 by Amedeo Fiore, an Italian opera singer who had initially moved to the Lou in order to sing with the Muny. Banking off of Americans’ growing love of Italian food, Fiore decided to serve up a relatively unknown dish: pizza. Diners were immediately hooked on its rich, yeasty dough, flavorful tomato sauce, and creamy provolone. Fiore even cut his pizza in squares—a shape that would define countless St. Louis pizza slices to come. However, pies at Melrose Pizzeria certainly didn’t have the cracker-thin crust nor the Provel cheese. Our modern idea of St. Louis pizza has been greatly shaped by local legend Imo’s Pizza. In 1963, Ed and Margie Imo bought a used oven, two refrigerators, and a stove for $75 with the intention of opening their own pizza restaurant. Instead of making traditional pies, the Imos tried something unusual: they not only rolled out their pizzas to be ridiculously thin, but they also topped their crust with Provel cheese (well, cheese product), which tastes like a cross between Provolone and Mozzarella and has the consistency of a thick sauce. The result was a resounding success; today, Imo’s has almost 100 locations across the St. Louis area, and eight years ago, the mayor of St. Louis even recognized April 8th as “Imo’s Day.” Time to mark your calendars! where to taste the legend: Imo’s Pizza 23 N Bemiston Ave Clayton, MO 63105

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It’s ooey, it’s gooey, it’s got three sticks of butter in it: say hello to St. Louis’ favorite dessert (and your dentist’s worst nightmare). Most people agree that gooey butter cake originated somewhere in South St. Louis during the 1930s, back when the neighborhood was mostly composed of German immigrants. Although its exact origins are unclear, legend has it that a local baker accidentally mixed up the proportions of a coffee cake he was making. The result: a sticky, super-sweet cake with a dense, cakey bottom and a soft, pudding-like filling. This incident took place during the Great Depression, so the baker, not wanting to waste any ingredients, decided to sell the cake anyway, and it was an immediate hit. Today, the fact that you can grab a slice of gooey butter cake at almost any bakery in the city proves there’s no such thing as mistakes—only happy accidents. where to taste the legend: Piccione Pastry 6197 Delmar Blvd St. Louis, MO 63112


etween the million classes, clubs, and social activities that inundate us as college students, there are of course times when we don’t feel 100%. In such dire moments, my go-to remedies have usually included chugging two packets of Emergen-C or taking Nyquil and just hoping for the best. After talking on the phone with my mom recently, though, I was reminded of how she used to approach health remedies. Back in high school, she would often take one look at me and offer oddly specific foods, whether it be bitter melon for a breakout, or mango for light-headedness. Back then, none of her prescriptions really held much meaning for me. My mom just somehow had the superhuman ability to know which foods could fix any problem—an ability I took for granted. After the time away from home, I’ve started to both reflect on and explore these beliefs that I’d forgotten about. It turns out that this seemingly arbitrary specificity stems from the belief that the forces of “Yin” and “Yang” exist in food, and that the two must be balanced in one’s body.

written by Brenda Chen illustration Jack Frischer _

When one thinks of Chinese food, the concepts of “Yin” and “Yang” are probably not what first come to mind. However, this idea of balance maintains an integral role within Chinese philosophy, influencing both the culinary and medicinal worlds. Traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes the balancing of Yin and Yang forces in one’s body to be healthy. Even more, food—beyond simply acting as a form of nourishment—plays an essential part within Chinese culture in its relationship to medicine and healing. Because of this existent relationship between food and medicinal practices, it is only logical that the concepts of Yin and Yang apply to food and its effect on the body. In relation to food, “Yin” translates to “cold,” while “Yang” translates to “hot.” “Cold” and “hot” do not refer to the temperature of the food, but rather to the cooling and heating properties. For example, one cooling property is the ability to clear toxins from the blood. Some Yin foods include soy products, fruits such as apples and strawberries, vegetables such as cucumbers and carrots, and green tea. Their cooling properties can calm the blood and bring moisture back into the body.


Forces of Energy in Food

In contrast, “Yang” foods include most spices, fruits such as guava and peaches, vegetables such as leeks and onions, and most animal proteins. Their “heating” and “drying” properties can improve circulation and dispel the cold. Eating too much food from one side will destroy the body’s natural harmony and lead to adverse health effects. In terms of healing purposes, “hot” and “cold” do not only refer to types of food one should eat, but also to the manner in which foods should be cooked and the time of year they should be eaten. Traditional Chinese medicine believes it is possible to ameliorate any health condition simply by eating the foods that correspond to one’s lacking energy level. To illustrate, let us say that somebody has accumulated too much “Yang” energy from eating too many fried foods (in fact, a popular Chinese saying is that a person can be “on fire,” or “shang huo”), an act that could potentially result in issues such as high blood pressure, skin rashes, or hot flashes. To restore balance, the person should simply incorporate more “Yin” foods into their diet and avoid anything in the “Yang” category. Changes in the weather can affect our health, which is why it is encouraged to eat more “Yin” foods during warmer months and “Yang” foods during cooler months. One

example of a seasonal cure is dong gua, which is literally translated as “winter melon” (though it is also known as wax gourd, white gourd, or ash pumpkin). Winter melon belongs to the Yin category and is often made into a soup for the summertime. It is also believed that the concept of balance extends into food preparation in order to sustain a healthful lifestyle. In Chinese cooking, it is customary to maintain balance between flavor, texture, and cooking styles, as well as to include a good mix of vegetables, a meat, and a starch (such as rice or noodles). In fact, Chinese people commonly say that if one does not have rice with the meal, she will not become full or satisfied. Most vegetable dishes will include diced meat, which provides contrast in color, texture, and flavor (but also makes becoming vegetarian or vegan in China near impossible). Not only do such methods appeal to the tastes of Chinese people, but they are also thought to bring harmony to one’s family and relationships. While there is no exact science when it comes to the Yin and Yang energies in food, many Chinese people—including my mom—continue to swear by this approach. Rather than making a trip to the drug store the next time you start to feel a little funny, maybe you can look to the Yin and Yang in your diet first.

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written by Stella Stephanopoulos illustration Madeleine Underwood _

The “Bleeding” Burger The Truth Behind a Vegan Burger That Bleeds

can a meatless burger really bleed? According to Impossible Foods, apparently it can. Meet the Impossible Burger, a patty made from plant-based proteins—including wheat, coconut oil, and potatoes—that has recently made its way onto the St. Louis food scene. How can it possibly bleed? Only meat from an animal, not the biomolecules of grass, has the capacity to bleed. Alas, here lies the Impossible Burger’s magical ingredient producing its bloody core—heme. Heme is an iron-containing molecule released when certain chemical reactions take place while cooking a burger, and is responsible for the characteristic taste and aroma of meat. Scientists at Impossible Foods have found a way to genetically engineer heme into a plant-based patty so that this patty mimics the “red core” and texture of a beef patty, in turn evoking an eating experience similar to that of one any meat eaters might have when indulging on a medium-rare burger. So, you may be asking, why would I eat a fake burger that “bleeds” when I can just eat a juicy one made of real meat? The answer is simple—not only is adopting a vegan lifestyle healthier, but it is better for our environment. Efforts to reduce our human footprint on the environment—especially those pertaining to food sustainability and the ways in which humans produce and consume agricultural products—have long been

concerns of the general public. Over the past decade, there has been an increasing amount of attention towards educating Americans about the detriments of the meat industry on our environment. Some of the environmental effects that develop from raising cattle include pollution through the burning of fossil fuels, animal methane, and increased water and land consumption. Additionally, there has been a push in our culture to adopt vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. The beauty of the Impossible Burger is that it is not targeted towards vegans. Instead, it markets itself to meat consumers as an alternative to meat burgers in that it mimics the same meat-eating experience without the cost of negatively impacting the environment. Its intended audience of meat-eaters, coupled with its low environmental impact in using 95% less land, 74% less water, and creating 87% less greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to a cow-based burger, makes the Impossible Burger the perfect alternative. To test whether or not the impossible burger was simply a myth or if it could really achieve the impossible, I decided to head out to Frida’s, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in University City, and give the bleeding burger a try. The restaurant had a friendly, colorful, and clean ambiance, emphasizing the organic nature of their food. I ordered an Impossible patty with cheese,

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It was juicy, firm, and composed of a meat-like texture while maintaining a red inner core, just like any authentic burger.

mushrooms, and avocado on a brioche bun, with baked fries on the side. To my surprise, the patty definitely tasted like a viable alternative to eating a meat burger. It was juicy, firm, and composed of a meat-like texture while maintaining a red inner core, just like any authentic burger. Although I am not vegetarian, I do follow a meat restrictive diet every so often for my personal health and to lessen damage to our environment. After eating an Impossible burger, it is apparent

that food production technology is revolutionizing the consumers’ experience, making it hard to conclusively determine the fallacies of food myths. Although I cannot confidently say that I will revert to solely eating Impossible patties in the future, I definitely found the experience of eating a vegan burger that seemed to be “under disguise� enthralling, and am hopeful for the future of bettering the environment.

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the metamorphosis issue

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written & illustrated by Maddy Angstreich _

Dark Chocolate Cake A Recipe for Healing

a few weeks ago, I was flipping through my grandma’s old cookbooks at my mom’s childhood home. The nostalgia of the faded pages, dated photos, and scribbled notes in the margins was intoxicating: those books were loved and used long before they fell into my hands. A recipe card fell out of one book as I turned the page, and I immediately recognized the scrawl on the back as my grandmother’s elegant handwriting. I had almost placed it back in the folded pocket of the book jacket when the card’s title caught my eye. The card must’ve been at least forty years old, but I knew I had made that recipe before. I remember being eighteen, melting a pot of chocolate chips in the kitchen of my dad’s apartment. We would perform the same ritual every weekend when I drove from my mom’s house to visit him; he would make dinner, I would do the dishes, and then we’d both bake chocolate cake together for dessert. My childhood relationship with him before my parents’ divorce was chaotic and unstructured, so I was grateful for the balance that this newfound ritual had brought to our relationship. I would melt the chocolate chips, he would break the eggs. I would measure the flour, he would stir the batter. We didn’t need to talk: the act of cooking—of creating—together spoke enough for the both of us. Baking that dark chocolate cake formed the bridge that had been broken between me and my dad. It allowed us to be collaborative, inventive, and creative together, and it mended our relationship ten years after he had left my life. I felt that this baking ritual was almost a private healing ceremony just for the two of us. But, as I sat there in my grandma’s basement reading her handwritten recipe card for dark chocolate cake, I realized that while my dad was mending his relationship with me through baking, he was also sharing his mom’s recipe with me during this process. The way that my grandma’s recipe was able to weave through the generations and leap across the rift between my parents in order to heal the one between me and my dad still mystifies me. It showed me that making and sharing food has the unique ability to restore relationships that have been broken by time. That card felt magical in my hands; my divided family felt whole and connected for the first time in a decade.

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written by Desi Isaacson photography Brooke Adler _

The Invention of the Ice Cream Cone Were the Origins in St. Louis?

in st. louis, we are surrounded by the remnants and memories of 1904. Large sections of Forest Park and our very own Francis Field are devoted to the memory of the Olympics held in St. Louis that year. But the other notable event that St. Louis hosted that magnificent summer was the World’s Fair—the one place where citizens from around the world would come together to share their greatest ideas and inventions. Some of those ideas were about foods you might even be familiar with. Ever had a hot dog? Maybe you always pick hamburgers instead? But what I do know is that you like ice cream, and that the best way to get ice cream is in a cone. There are myths that all three of these foods were invented, or at least introduced, right here in St. Louis back in 1904. But are these stories true? Internet rumors have circulated saying that the hot dog was invented at the World’s Fair, but this assertion seems to be false. According to a hot dog historian with a Ph.D. at Roosevelt University (yes, I swear you read that correctly), the hot dog was definitely popularized and introduced to the American public for the first time in 1904, though similar sausages and meats in rolls had been eaten in Europe long before. The hot dog was likely invented in Germany in the 1800s. The same is true of the hamburger—though it became far more popular after the St. Louis World’s Fair, it wasn’t

invented there. The hamburger was more likely invented in Hamburg, New York at a fair in the summer of 1885. Unlike the hot dog and the hamburger, the ice cream cone was actually invented at the World’s Fair… sort of. Though the ice cream cone is sometimes credited as being created by Italo Marchiony in New York in 1903, the cone was independently invented and introduced to the world at the 1904 World’s Fair. Marchiony’s invention differed slightly from the waffle cone we now know and love, leading most to believe the true ice cream cone was both created and popularized in St. Louis. There are several accounts of who first invented the ice cream cone at the Fair. The International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers gives credit to Syrian immigrant Er-nest Hamwi. When the ice cream booth next to his pastry booth ran out of cups, Hamwi had the idea to roll his waffles into cornucopia shapes and dump the ice cream in. The Library of Congress, on the other hand, credits Charles and Frank Menches with the invention, claiming that when a woman wanted a more “lady-like” way to eat ice cream, he rolled up one side of an ice cream sandwich into a roll. Whichever story you believe, it seems highly plausible that the true ice cream cone, the one we think of today, was invented right across the street in Forest

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Whichever story you believe, it seems highly plausible that the true ice cream cone was invented right across the street in Forest Park.

Park. So, if we are just steps from the conception of the handheld edible ice cream eating device, where is the best place today to enjoy this Midwestern delicacy? I went on a hunt through St. Louis to find the very best cone in the city of its birth. The first place I stopped at was Jeni’s, close to the heart of the Central West End. It fits right in with the West End vibe: sleek and modern. I went up to the counter, and when I asked to try the salty peanut butter with chocolate flakes, I was given my sample in a long metal spoon—total gamechanger. I had never gotten a sample in anything other than a plastic mini-spoon. The flavor had extra pop against the cold metal. I loved the flavor, so I got one scoop in a waffle cone. Unfortunately, this move was a $1.50 upcharge, but it ended up being absolutely worth it. The cone was light and flaky, with a somewhat subdued taste that didn’t overpower my choice of ice cream—the perfect compliment. The cone was wrapped around one extra revolution at the bottom, allowing for extra cone and minimal ice cream spillage. While the cone flaked away at the top, this massive cone still had a terrific crunch to it once I reached the bottom, and held its own flavor well enough to make even the dry bites enjoyable. My overall experience at Jeni’s was great, and it left me excited

for my next stop. I would give it 4 stars for the cone, 3 stars for the shop ambiance. My next stop was The Fountain on Locust. I walked in alone because I am a serious reporter (and because I have no friends), expecting to be able to go up to the counter and order an ice cream like at any other spot. However, this place is not like the average ice cream shop. It’s a full-service restaurant with seating, and has a huge menu full of desserts (perfect for a date). The place felt like an old-fashioned diner or a soda bar with an “Art Deco interior.” Their menu has several types of cones, including the “World’s Smallest Ice Cream Cone” for only 95 cents, but I went ahead and tried the pretzel cone with their monthly special flavor, which was described to me as some sort of Snickers flavor. You could order ice cream to go at the bar, so I took mine and went—I felt uncomfortable standing around the restaurant. The pretzel was rounded and flat at the top (it was not wrapped around, just formed in a perfect cone), so it was somewhat difficult to get the first bite, but once I did, it was incredible. The cone was not flaky at all; it was thick and had a hard crunch. The entire outside of the cone was covered in salt, like a ballpark pretzel. I could imagine the salt being quite overpowering if you

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had a plain flavor like vanilla or chocolate, but with my Snickers, it was an awesome addition. I imagine this isn’t what the inventors had in mind when they rolled up a waffle in 1904, but I’m always down for progress and experimentation. When I got to the end, the cone was pretty tough to eat without any ice cream to balance out the salt. However, it was definitely worth it for the first three quarters of my eating experience. While the ice cream cone was worth 3.5 stars, the restaurant itself turned the whole thing into a 5 star dessert experience. I was planning to go try one more ice cream shop, but I hadn’t been able to stop myself from finishing the first two cones, and now my stomach was hurting like hell, so I called it quits. I had already learned my lesson and come to my conclusion. Ice cream cones are completely different all over St. Louis, and the best depends on what flavor you pick, and what you go into the experience looking for. And I mean, it’s ice cream, can you ever really go wrong?


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written by Eddie Ives photo illustration Arno Goetz _

The Moral Implications of Misconception The Debate over Genetically Modified Organisms

when i wrote for Simple Syrup last semester, I explored the future of fake meats and alternative proteins, focusing on the Impossible Burger, a fake burger that contains genetically modified organisms. Largely seen as a way to alleviate the environmental pressures of livestock agriculture, I was quite surprised when many of the people I talked to expressed nervousness about eating a lab-made meat-like product. Something that was plant based, FDA approved, and relatively common where I lived did not strike me as something to be afraid of, especially given that this product was being served in restaurants I frequented. Even though the Impossible Burger was genetically modified, it was only recreating naturally occurring compounds found abundantly in animal cells. I spoke with people who voiced doubts about the ethics of what they perceived as trying to play God, who worried about the general implications that messing with nature could have, and who feared the major consequences that could ensue (such as the spread of diseases or the possibility of poisoning large numbers of people by tampering with a batch, intentionally or not). Others cited worries about a particular study that linked GMOs to cancer (even though this claim was later retracted). Some misunderstood the difference between growing an animal from stem cells and

genetically engineering specific ingredients found in animals. Because there seemed to be so much contention surrounding this issue—some of which was rooted in fact while some of which was fueled by myth—I figured that exploring this issue as a follow up to my previous article would be a worthwhile endeavor. Every time we put something into our bodies, we like to know what it is, where it comes from, and whether or not it is safe. As global food demand increases and methods of food production change, it has become more and more difficult to fully understand where our food comes from and how it’s made. Reduced transparency, ethical concerns, and countless rumors and studies have all cast doubt on the safety and viability of genetically modified (GM) foods. The emergence of GM foods, however, is not without reason. They have an incredibly large potential to alleviate so many of the concerns that threaten the global food supply, so much so that people are willing to risk all of the consequences, foreseen and unpredictable, that come with GMOs. Vast numbers of myths concerning practices like modifying and synthesizing food remain; these concerns, whether valid or rooted in misconceptions, have the power to seriously alter the future of food. To begin, it’s necessary to understand exactly what GM foods have to offer, why they’re relevant, and how

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they work. The term “genetically modified organism” refers to any organism (most commonly corn and soy) whose genes have been altered using biotechnology. Modifying the DNA of crop seeds makes these organisms immune to insects and pesticides, and tolerant of extreme temperatures; modifications can also greatly increase yield and nutritional value. One famous example is Golden Rice, a project that seeks to modify rice to include large amounts of Vitamin A, reducing the millions of cases of Vitamin A deficiency that can cause blindness and death in children in “developing” countries. Modifications also serve more cosmetic purposes like removing seeds from grapes and watermelons or making fruits more colorful—simple changes that help make eating these foods slightly more pleasant. An especially important application of GMOs is the reduction of acreage for livestock agriculture (like factory farms), which is often unethical and has devastating consequences for the planet. In fact, the greenhouse gas emissions associated with meat production are greater than every form of transportation combined. A single disease outbreak could greatly disrupt the global food supply; further, bad growing conditions due to climate change could threaten the

cheap availability of crops that people depend on to survive. Producing food in a lab limits the threats of disease and weather, stabilizing the global food supply. With all of these potential benefits, the case for GMOs is quite compelling. While the ability of GMOs to combat these pervasive issues makes genetic modification a tempting solution, these modifications do come with incredible risks. Currently, more countries in the world prohibit GMO cultivation than actively grow GM crops. Fears about adverse health effects, economic and social costs, and the unknown have all contributed to skepticism on their implementation. Such an internationally scaled shift towards GM foods would have extreme and largely unavoidable consequences. For instance, developing seeds that are increasingly resistant to a herbicides has led to an issue called superweeds. Farmers will use herbicides in addition to herbicide-resistant GMOs to kill weeds. Over time, the weeds become more resistant, the fertilizers become stronger, and the process repeats until larger volumes of more potent chemicals begin to run off into waterways, threatening the safety of everything that relies on these sources of water. Not to mention, St. Louis based company Monsanto is one

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Currently in America, producers are not required to label products that contain GMOs, an issue that many hope to change.

of many businesses that produce both the seeds and the herbicides, leading to the farmers’ total economic dependence on their products. Even though farmers are producing more food, they can’t keep up economically with the high seed costs. But unfortunately, without these newest seeds, their plants will die due to increasingly resistant weeds. Despite these tangible impacts that GMOs have, there is still misinformation, hypocrisy, and fear-mongering circulating around what GMOs actually are and how they work. One famous study from 2013 that linked GM corn to cancer in rats made its way around the internet, stoking fear in the minds of millions who ate GM corn all the time, wittingly or not. Even though the study was soon retracted because of an insufficient sample size, among other procedural deficiencies, its effect was still great and led to the common rumor that GMOs cause cancer. In a broader scope, there is also concern as to whether or not GM foods are safe for humans to consume at all. The majority of scientists have found that there are no adverse health impacts from genetic modification; this being said, on an individual basis, specific foods could be dangerous if not researched and tested properly. Navigating these issues can be incredibly hard, especially without complete or honest information. GMOs permeate so many of the things we buy, as much as 70% of all items sold in grocery stores are genetically engineered, according to the Center for Food Safety, and we hardly even know it. Currently in America, producers are not required to label products that contain

GMOs, an issue that many hope to change. Internationally, many countries have bans on growing GMOs, yet legally allow the importation of them. Exacerbating the issue, few people have the time to research every single thing they put in their body, causing many to rely on word of mouth and common sense. Unfortunately, this gap in information leaves room for myths and misconceptions to run wild. It’s also incredibly difficult to decide if satisfying the global food supply while polluting our waterways, or reducing Vitamin A deficiency at the expense of thousands of farmers, are ethical choices. Ideally, we can have one without the other, but in the case of GMOs, everyone including governments, consumers, scientists, executives, and farmers face these decisions everyday and have to balance their own economic situations with their morals and with the greater needs of the planets. So many factors influence these decisions on both sides, but the greatest threat to our decision-making abilities is the prevalence of misinformation. Information asymmetry—a pervasive market failure—has flooded the body of common knowledge surrounding GMOs and has caused extreme inefficiencies in markets around the world. There are myriad reasons as to why GMOs are effective and similarly as many reasons as to why their risks may be much more costly than we can even anticipate. Ultimately, governments, producers, and consumers will make the necessary decisions about GMOs and the greatest threat to the effectiveness of these decisions is how completely (mis)informed they are.

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75%

of Americans are concerned about GMOs


or Fiction

Debunking the Myth of the Low-Fat Diet

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written by Anna Lin-Schweitzer photo illustration Carmen Maria von Unrug _

nobody thinks of “triglycerides” as unhealthy. Then why do we think of their shorter, more concise label— fat—as being such a bad word? Perhaps it was a dieting friend’s mantra, or you found a helpful list of “low-fat snacks” in a magazine, or you just went grocery shopping and ended up torn between two equally priced items: original and low-fat. Regardless of which one you chose, this byword pervades our consciousnesses—I challenge you to find a grocery store that does not sell at least one item that boasts a “low-fat” label. I admit it myself: I didn’t buy an avocado until I was 21 years old. When I heard many years ago that they were high in fat, this three-letter word automatically blacklisted them. To me, “fat” was the pizza oil I had been conditioned to mop up with a napkin, or the oil coating my fingers just a few French fries in. This attitude is far from healthy, but somehow it was normal. I was certainly not alone in claiming that reduced-fat options “tasted better” when, really, they just soothed the agitation that rose in my chest at the frighteningly delicious smell of bubbling cheese. Three friends at my eighteenth birthday party refused to eat another delicately crafted cucumber sandwich when they found out I had spread them with a thin layer of margarine. I haven’t buttered a sandwich since.

With a country high in obesity levels and correlating health problems, the impulse to eliminate fat from our bodies and our diets seems logical. Senator George McGovern from South Dakota sounded the alarm bells in 1977 when he issued the first Dietary Goals for Americans, bringing to the national consciousness studies proving the link between fats and heart disease. This triggered the production of reduced-fat and low-fat options that still dominate supermarkets. Today, you can find pretty much low-fat everything— low-fat cheese, low-fat crackers, low-fat ice cream, low-fat dressing. Chinese scientists even genetically engineered a pig who could regulate its body temperature by burning fat in cold months, resulting in a leaner (lower fat) meat. (This is not yet approved for human consumption in the US. Only the genetically engineered Atlantic salmon has this privilege.) Peanut butter, for example, always lays claim to several supermarket shelves to exhibit its extensive variations: creamy, crunchy, super-crunchy, salted, unsalted, natural, and more. Skippy even makes a “grape stripe peanut butter” so that you can have your peanut butter and your jelly in a single spread. Within each of these variations are also high-fat (although not overtly labeled as such) and reduced-fat options.

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There’s even an almost-no-fat version, “PB2,” which has been squeezed and dehydrated and sucked clean until all that remains is a pale powder. Turns out, though, that low-fat peanut butter is not the healthier option you might think it is. Take out some fat, and you have to replace it with something—specifically, something that will maintain its creamy texture. And what better to serve this purpose than good old corn starch and sugar? So, no—less fat does not necessarily equal more health. A spoonful of peanut butter containing only peanuts is far healthier than a spoonful of some concoction featuring a fusion of corn syrup solids, sugar, and various -ide’s and -ate’s that reject smooth pronunciations. But what you’re missing in the almost fatless PB2 is far more than the delicious crunch of nuts between your teeth, or the thick spread on your tongue. For one thing, you lose a major source of energy: typically, fats provide more than half of the energy the body needs. This macronutrient breaks down slowly in the gut— more slowly than carbs or proteins—and can take up to six hours to convert into a usable energy form.

Less fat does not

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While carbs can only be stored for a short amount of time, resulting in a sugar high and a subsequent crash, fats remain in the body for longer and provide a more consistent, smooth-burning energy. This means that the right kinds of fats at breakfast might still keep you going into the afternoon. Anything unused is stored in fat cells—storage banks that the body can draw from later, converting fat tissue into energy when other energy sources are scarce. Furthermore, the body will only absorb necessary fat-soluble vitamins—including A, D, E, and K—when they are consumed alongside fats. Without fat, these vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissues, and do not serve their intended purposes. While none of these vitamins are required in large amounts, they are essential in promoting vision, bone strength, muscle health, and blood function—four categories that are pretty central to a working body. This being said, not all fats are created equal. An appropriate stigma already exists around hydrogenated oils and trans fats, which do not break down in the body. Because they maintain their structures, they can penetrate the lipids that make up cell membranes,

necessarily equal more health.

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Saturated fats pervade most Americans’ diets, and are found in the meat and dairy products that dominate the dinner table.

making these membranes less permeable and effectively solid. When the membrane can neither bring requisite nutrients into the cell nor get rid of waste, the cell is no longer functional. In fact, it can never be functional again; trans fats irreversibly disrupt cell behavior, damaging these essential units of survival. Furthermore, they send your bad cholesterol skyrocketing and your good cholesterol plummeting, ultimately creating inflammation that is linked heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. Saturated fats, however, are very controversial. They pervade most Americans’ diets, and are found in the meat and dairy products that dominate the dinner table. Some researchers have found that they link closely to increased cholesterol and heart disease, as a diet rich in saturated fats can drive up total cholesterol. And yet many studies have found no link between this macronutrient and heart disease. The debate goes on, but the American Heart Association recommends limiting consumption until more research becomes available. In the meantime, look out for the “good fats”—the plant-based ones. Monounsaturated fats, for example, are key in the infamous Mediterranean diet, where longevity supposedly stems from red wine and olive oil. As their name suggests, they have just one double

bond in their molecular structure. Polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, have more than one double bond in their structure. They are similarly important as essential fats that your body can’t create itself. These fats build cell membranes and protect nerves, as well as help with blood clotting (so that you don’t bleed out), muscle movement, and inflammation. Included as polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with various health benefits and can be found in fatty fish, walnuts, flax seeds, and canola oil. While they differ in the number of bonds, both fats are unsaturated and thus maintain lower melting points that help increase cell membrane fluidity and function. All this being said, don’t overthink it. Life is too short never to eat the trans-fat donut, or to subsist only on nuts and seeds. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: everything in moderation. Focus your energy on the good fats, but don’t let the bad ones ruin your day!

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written by Neal Bansal illustration Yena Jeong _

Food Immortal Everlasting Life in Mythological Texts

in many mythological texts, food plays a central role in regards to eternal life and immortality. Constantly, food is used to turn back time for those deemed worthy. But, interestingly enough, each of these mythological narratives places varying levels of importance on food. Some represent it as a plant unobtainable by humans. Others portray it as being readily available. And still others use it to symbolize the life blood of the gods themselves. But how does this representation of food compare across texts? What can these stories tell us about attaining immortality? Let’s start at the beginning with the earliest surviving work of literature: Epic of Gilgamesh. The first half of this tale weaves through countless battles against a number of beasts. But the second half focuses on death and Gilgamesh’s search for the secret to eternal life. His final journey is in search of the “Plant of Heartbeat” with which “a man can regain his vigor.” To Gilgamesh, the plant represents the final fruits of his journey: he has finally secured the answer to the secret of eternal life. As the tale goes, though Gilgamesh is skilled enough to obtain the plant, he becomes sidetracked and the plant is stolen by a snake. Coming up empty handed allows him to come away with the greater lesson that eternal life is not meant for the common man—it is a unique gift only granted to those who are deserving.

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Greek mythology tells a different story. The Greeks use ambrosia as a divine sustenance only meant for the gods. For instance, ambrosia is referenced (in conjunction with nectar) throughout Homer’s poems as the food (and drink) of the gods. In The Odyssey Book 18, the power of ambrosia is seen as an antidote to aging; while Penelope sleeps, Athena uses the ambrosia to make her look younger, causing Penelope’s suitors to lust after her more than before. To the gods, ambrosia is only a gift to be given, and not to be taken. The implications of this unspoken rule can be seen when the hero Heracles is gifted ambrosia by the goddess Athena, while Tantalus is banished to Tartarus for eternal suffering because he tried stealing ambrosia to give to other mortals. Additionally, ambrosia is not only consumed as a food, but is also constantly highlighted in botany and medicine. In Greek mythology, ambrosia is everywhere: instead of being the rare, unobtainable plant we saw in the Epic of Gilgamesh, ambrosia is constantly mentioned, eaten, and wielded by deities. Norse mythology focuses on the interplay between immortality and divine power. Instead of telling tales

of humankind’s quest to attain everlasting life, these stories focus on the gods’ struggles to preserve their own supply of sustenance. In Norse mythology, golden apples parallel ambrosia. But instead of being readily available like the ambrosia, these apples are only cultivated and cared for by the goddess of spring, Iðunn. The story goes like this. Loki is dragged away by a giant disguised as an eagle. As Loki is flown across gravel and trees, he asks the giant to come to an agreement with him. The giant asks for Loki to bring Iðunn and her apples to a certain location, so he can carry Iðunn away for himself. Loki agrees and performs the task. The gods notice Iðunn’s absence quickly as they start to turn old and grey, their power fading. They order Loki to bring her back, so Loki turns into a falcon and saves Iðunn, but the giant follows as an eagle. The gods, on their last legs, are able to take down the eagle and save Iðunn and their golden apples, thereby restoring their immortality and perpetual youth. But, interestingly,

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The gods chose food and plants to house their immortality rather than something that could be more easily safeguarded.

Norse mythology does not detail any story of humans trying to steal away golden apples from the gods—only a single giant tries such a trick. Humans have no possibility of attaining immortality. In these three texts, we have seen three perspectives on immortality. Gilgamesh uses a plant that is nearly unobtainable, and ultimately stolen away. The Greeks use ambrosia as a readily available substance only meant for the gods, but with the possibility that it be bestowed upon anyone worthy. And finally, the Norse gods eat golden apples that they struggle to keep for themselves, and are only cultivated by one god. But what’s fascinating across all three of these stories is what the food says about immortality itself: the gods chose food and plants to house their immortality rather than something that could be more easily safeguarded, or that was in their blood. Instead of eternal life being an innately inheritable quality, it is a fleeting quality that must be consumed. In other words, immortality must be earned. So, while stories of mortals attempting to attain immortality through quests or trickery are common, these endeavors are futile. The myths tell us that immortality can’t be achieved by simply eating some fruit or plant. The key to immortality is, instead, living a life worth remembering.

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to what extent are the colloquial sayings and cultural beliefs about drinking alcohol actually true? I am here to unpack these common misconceptions and debunk any tall tales. So here it is, your new ultimate guide to drinking‌

written by Sasha Bash

photography Lauren Fox


the myths issue

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You have probably heard your parents or friends repeat this saying about the order in which you should drink types of alcohol. But this old adage is not the be-all or end-all. If you drink beer before liquor, you will not automatically get sick; if you drink liquor before beer, you could still very well become ill. What really matters here is the amount and pacing of the alcohol consumed, rather than the order in which you consume it. Because alcohol is a diuretic (meaning that it is dehydrating), the tricks to not getting sick are drinking a glass of water for each alcoholic beverage you imbibe and sticking to one drink per hour. Just remember, drinking should be a marathon rather than a sprint. This myth is officially debunked!

Another common myth is that there are ways to sober up quickly, such as by eating fatty foods. However, the amount you eat only affects your sobriety levels before you start drinking. As alcohol enters your stomach, it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach lining and small intestine. If you eat a good meal before you start drinking, the alcohol will be absorbed into your blood more slowly. But if you have already been drinking, the alcohol will be absorbed into your bloodstream in just ten minutes: at this point, nothing can stop the effects of alcohol except time. Because our bodies metabolise one unit of alcohol per hour, give or take (depending on factors such as whether you ate prior to drinking), drinking coffee—or anything else for that matter—will not change this process!

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Beer is traditionally talked about in the context of being unhealthy (dubbed as the source of “beer bellies,” especially for men). But is beer really that unhealthy and is hard liquor any healthier? Are these beliefs simply illusions? In terms of calories, a regular twelve–ounce beer is 150 calories, a light beer is 105 calories, and a 1.5 ounce serving of hard liquor is around ninety-six calories. In just looking at calories, light beer and hard liquor are around the same. What people frequently forget is that hard liquor is often accompanied by sugary chasers or by juices in mixed drinks; one Minute Maid Lemonade contains 260 calories, not to mention the sixty-seven grams of sugar. On the other hand, when looking at carbs, hard liquor does not contain any. Beer, unfortunately, contains around thirteen grams of carbs (six for a light beer). Further, when comparing light beer to regular beer, it is important to note that light beer has a lower alcohol content. So the question is, will you really just be having one light beer? Probably not. In the end, you will likely end up drinking the same number of calories and carbs that you would when drinking regular beers. There is really no good way to slice it: alcohol is unhealthy all the way around. Nevertheless, avoiding beer and using healthier chasers such as seltzer will help.

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Lastly, there is always the problem of the hangover. Do certain drinks cause worse hangovers? Can anything be done to prevent a hangover? First, mixed drinks with a lot of sugar will cause a bad hangover. Second, the sugar might mask the taste of alcohol, leading you to drink more and further cause a hangover. Finally, darker drinks, such as wine or rum, contain more congeners, which is a chemical that exacerbates hangovers. Drinking water throughout the night and drinking on a full stomach will help dampen any unwanted aftereffects.

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e believe in food as a discourse.

we believe Millennials are interested in more than just #foodporn.

we believe in the power that lies in the universality of food: everyone eats.

we believe that food is capable of forming deep, meaningful connections.

we believe that food scholarship of quality should be widely accessible.

we believe that eating is one of the most profound, yet quotidian, acts we engage in and with.

we believe that Coke vs. Pepsi can be a relationship dealbreaker.

we believe that just as simple syrup forms the foundation for myriad food and drinks, our Simple Syrup will form the foundation for diverse food and art thought.

_ nikki freihofer, founder of simple syrup

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Profile for simplesyrup

Simple Syrup Issue 5  

Simple Syrup Issue 5  

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