Smoke’s Soulful Side

Much thanks to Gastropod for reminding us of culinary considerations:

Where There’s Smoke, There’s … Whiskey, Fish, and Barbecue!

As anyone who’s spent time by a crackling campfire or a barbecue pit can attest, the scent of smoke is unmistakable—and surprisingly mysterious. Smoke clings to clothing but vanishes in the breeze. You see it, but you can’t hold it. It’s fantastic in whiskey and terrible in toast. So what exactly is smoke—and what does it do to our food and drinks? What’s the difference between cold and hot smoked salmon—and what’s a red herring? Is Liquid Smoke made from real smoke? And how did barbecue— smoked meat, cooked low and slow—become a uniquely American tradition?

This episode, we get to grips with the world’s most ephemeral and elusive ingredient: smoke. With the help of Harold McGee, author of Nose Dive, we look at the prehistoric origins and molecular makeup of this wispy aerosol. Soul food scholar Adrian Miller tells us about the mysterious origins of barbecue and how African Americans wielded smoke as both method and ingredient over centuries of development. And Great British Bake Off star Tom Gilliford sends us off with a five-smoke cocktail created just for Gastropod…

Listen to the episode here.


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