Event: Masters of Social Gastronomy and the Rise of Chocolate

Chocolate by Windell Oskay

MSG PRESENTS The Rise of Chocolate: The Heated History of the World’s #1 Candy

Tuesday, March 25th
Doors @ 7:30
Littlefield, Gowanus, Brooklyn
This month MSG tackles the world’s most popular candy: chocolate!
We’ll track the history of chocolate from its roots as an ancient Mesoamerican beverage to its current world-championship status. You’ll learn how a yellow, football-shaped tropical fruit transforms into something Whole Foods can charge you $10 for, and what “Mexican Hot Chocolate” actually has in common with what Montezuma drank.
Peek at Europe’s decades-long war about British chocolate and uncover why the whole continent seems to have it out for its American counterpart. Burning questions of modern confectionery will be answered: What’s better, milk or dark? Why does Hershey’s have its own theme park? Do M&M’s actually melt in your hand?
And of course, it wouldn’t be spring without a discussion of Easter candy, including everyone’s favorite, the Cadbury Mini Egg. In fact, I may have just purchased $50 in mini eggs to share at the event…RSVP HERE!

Event: Burnin’ Down The Mouth: Sriracha, Ghost Peppers, and History of Heat

Masters of Social Gastronomy and the History of Heat!

Tuesday, February 25th
Doors at 7:30, talks at 8:00pm
@Littlefield (622 Degraw Street, in Gowanus)
RSVP here!

This month, the Masters of Social Gastronomy break into the secret world of hot peppers to pull back the curtain on everyone’s favorite Rooster-branded hot sauce and the worldwide affection for spicy, spicy food.

Follow sriracha from its humble baby-food-jar beginnings to its current status as a Tabasco-challenging juggernaut. We’ll take a behind-the-scenes look at its California factory and see how sriracha just might be as American as apple pie.

Once you escape the potatoes-and-cream tyranny of European cuisine, a culinary dedication to heat can be found everywhere. We’ll examine what makes Thai food tick and where Indian vindaloo gets its muscle. From mild jalapeños to record-holders like the Ghost Pepper and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, find out what makes a veggie pack such a powerful punch! RSVP here!

About MSG:

Food + history + science = this is a great thing.

Each month, Sarah Lohman of Four Pounds Flour and Jonathan Soma of the Brooklyn Brainery take on a curious food topic and break down the history, science, and stories behind it.

Events: Masters of Social Gastronomy Present Your Favorite Thanksgiving Foods

partyImage courtesy of The New York Historical Society.

Masters of Social Gastronomy is my monthly food & science lecture with Jonathan Soma of the Brooklyn Brainery. This month, come on over to The Brooklyn Kitchen on Monday, November 18 for a primer on all things Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the king of holidays: non-denominational, full of beer and good food, a purely American celebration. But where did did this turkey-centric feast come from?

I’ll school you on Thanksgiving’s history, and the origins of some the holiday’s most iconic foods. From the Pilgrims to pumpkin pie, and from President Lincoln to green bean casserole. We’ll even visit some formerly iconic dishes that time has forgotten–unless someone still keeps a “celery holder” on their Thanksgiving table.

Meanwhile, Soma will explore the havoc modernity has wreaked upon Thanksgiving. We’ll visit the twin terrors of turducken and Tofurkey, and see what deep-fried turkey has brought to this world (besides YouTube videos of out-of-control fires).

And, just in case you need another reason to celebrate, this year is the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday. 

All the details:
Monday, November 18, doors at 6:30pm, talk begins at 6:45.
The Brooklyn Kitchen, 100 Frost Street
Advance tickets recommended
$5, includes 2 craft beers

Events: Barbecues and Funeral Food

Image by goodiesfirst

The Masters of Social Gastronomy Get Barbecued

Tuesday, September 24th, 6:30-8:30pm
@ the Brooklyn Kitchen
Get tickets here!

Every month, our MSG lectures take on the history and science behind some of your favorite foods. Up this month: barbecue.

Have you ever wondered where the tradition of slow cooking generous hunks of fatty meat came from? From its roots in Spanish barbacoa, to massive Southern meat pits and the modern day backyard cook out, we’ll track the barbecue’s history.

Then, Soma will tackle the fiercely regional world of barbecue, from the sauces of the Carolinas to Austin’s brisket battles. We’ll look at some of the most fiery fights of the day: pork versus beef, spicy versus sweet, and the blasphemy of the Texas crutch, sharing DIY tips along the way.

Food of the Dead: A Culinary History of the Funeral

Thursday, October 17th, 6:30-8pm or 8:30-10pm
@ the Brooklyn Brainery
Sign up here!

At the end of an early American funeral, participants were given a cookie: spiced with caraway, and stamped with a special design, they were often kept for years as a memento of the departed.

Although mourning traditions have changed over time, and vary from place to place, what they have in common is food and drink.  In this talk we’ll look at the culinary traditions surrounding funerals throughout American history, and we’ll taste beer from Midas’s tomb, funeral cakes, and Mormon funeral potatoes.

Events: Masters of Social Gastronomy do Chinese Takeout!

image courtesy Bunches and Bits {Karina}

Wednesday, August 28th
@ The Brooklyn Brainery, 190 Underhill Ave.
Doors at 6:30
$5 Tickets HERE

Every month, our MSG lectures take on the history and science behind some of your favorite foods. Up this month: Chinese takeout.

Chinatown is perhaps the only neighborhood in New York where $1 can get a full meal; a century ago, the same was true of Chinatown’s chop suey houses, whose entrees were considered exotic by droves of hungry New Yorkers. At this month’s MSG, Sarah will cover the history of Chinese take out, from dim sum to tea houses to the Jewish connection to Chinese food.

Soma will reveal the stories behind our modern American Chinese food experience, from the man behind General Tso’s to who put the magic in your fortune cookie. We’ll also take a step across the Pacific to see how American food adapts to the Chinese palate: what happens when Colonel Sanders meets General Tso?

And! We’ll be raffling off a copy or two of Diana Kuan’s The Chinese Takeout Cookbook.

(tickets here! Doors at 6:30pm, talks start around 7pm. This is a standing-room lecture; some limited seating will be available but get there early! $5 includes admission + a raffle ticket.)

Events: Sriracha & Ice Cream

Image by kattebelletje

Sriracha: A History

Thursday, August 29th, 8:30-10PM
@ the Brooklyn Brainery
$17 Sign up here!

A pungent sauce, produced in California by a Korean immigrant of Chinese descent, intended for Thai consumers. A sauce that has somehow crossed over into the American mainstream, popular enough to merit its own potato chip flavor.

That is Rooster Sauce–as American as apple pie.

In the class, we’ll explore the fascinating history of Sriracha and you’ll learn how to make your own version of this spicy sauce. Then, we’ll go beyond Pho and explore the versatility of Sriracha by taste-testing some unexpected flavor combinations.

I’m also teaching Homemade Ice Cream Class at the Brooklyn Brainery on Thursday, August 15th, 8:30-10PM. Sign up here!



Events: Cocktail History and Chili Powder History!

I’m back! And I’ve got two events coming up in the NYC area: The history and future of COCKTAILS and an exploration of the evolution of Chili Powder!

Masters of Social Gatronomy do COCKTAILS

Monday, July 29th, 6:30 PM
@ the Brooklyn Kitchen
$5 gets you admission, two free beers and 10% off purchases at the Kitchen. Buy tickets here!

Each month, Sarah and Soma take on a curious food topic and break down the history, science, and stories behind it. Up this month: **cocktails!**

The cocktail is credited as one of America’s greatest inventions. But where did it come from, and how did it evolve into the endless combinations we find today? Sarah will examine the dawn of the cocktail and trace the origins of some of our country’s most beloved imbibements. You’ll walk away with a new appreciation for the drinks that got your ancestors drunk.

Soma will tackle our modern-day obsession with the cocktail. Rules will be broken and assumptions shattered: water vs whiskey, shaken vs stirred, and the One True Way to craft a martini! Find out how egg whites got from your breakfast plate to your highball glass, and whether baseball sized ice cubes make your drinks a sure home run.

BIG IMPORTANT NOTE!: MSG mooooving on over to Brooklyn Kitchen this month, where your $5 admission will get you 2 drink tickets and 10% off anything your heart desires. Doors at 6:30, talks shortly thereafter! Awesome? Yes. You can buy tickets at the door but there is a limited capacity; buy in advance here.

Image courtesy Marx Foods.

Chili Powder: A History

Thursday, July 25th, 6:30 PM
@ the Brooklyn Brainery
$18 Buy Tickets Here

What was chili’s path from a local dish of the Southwest to an easy weeknight meal for millions of Americans? There was an era when black pepper was considered spicy; but today, we make ourselves sweat with the hottest chili pepper blends. Why? Can science offer an explanation for our obsession with heat?

From traditional spices to national chili cook-offs, we’ll discover how the distribution of commercialized chili powder affected our eating habits and how it fits into our national pantry.

We’ll look at the roots of chili in Mexican cuisine, as well as the “Chili Queens” of San Antonio. We’ll learn how chili made its national debut at the 1893 world’s fair, and how this Tex Mex dish became a part of Americana from Washington DC to Cincinnati to Texas.

This class will include a tasting of chili cooked from a recipe in the first Mexican-American cookbook published in 1908. Buy tickets here!




Events: Masters of Social Gastronomy Face the Future!

Intuitive Antipasto – New York Times

Banning pasta in Italy, pre-WW2 molecular gastronomy and high-concept dinner parties: Welcome to The Futurist Cookbook!

Published in 1932 by F.T. Marinetti, it aimed to transform everyday meals from stodgy, sleep-inducing traditions into multi-sensory, scientific experiences appropriate for the modern world.

The evening will include an interactive tasting of Futurist cuisine! Join us as we abandon silverware, caress sandpaper, and craft meat skyscrapers, all in the name of recreating the cuisine of futures past.

This month, we’re in the back room at Public Assembly. Doors at 7, talks a bit after, and bring an ID. MSG is always FREE, but PLEASE RSVP here so we bring enough samples!

Edible Alphabet and Cubist Vegetable Patch – Image courtesy italianfuturism.org

Events: Learn to Cook Over an Open Fire!


Campfire Cuisine Beyond Hot Dogs: An Introduction to Hearth Cooking
Saturday, June 1st, 11am-2pm TICKETS

The Old Stone House & Washington Park, Park Slope, Brooklyn

In this hands-on class, you’re going to learn how to cook a meal over an open fire.   But what you’ll really learn are the primal cooking skills that will make you a better cook in your daily life.

We’re going to cover the four basic cooking techniques: baking, roasting, frying and boiling.  While preparing a meal on an outdoor hearth, you’ll learn how to tell temperature without a thermometer, how to tell the doneness of food by using all of your senses, and how to build a bad-ass fire.

The skills you will learn in this three-hour session will allow you to amaze your friends on your next camping trip; put on an old-timey costume and cook at a historic house; or simply become a better, more intuitive home chef.

The cost of the class includes a light meal you will help to make: A vegetarian soup; Rusks, a fried bread; a grilled meat (moose or venison); and dessert. Buy tickets here!