Welcome to Off-Menu , where we'll be rounding up all the food news and food-adjacent internet ephemera that delighted, fascinated, or infuriated us today.
- Last September, a Swiss cheesemaker named Beat Wampfler started a lengthy experiment, one that involved him spending long nights in his basement, playing various styles of music to Emmental cheese wheels. For six months, some of his cheeses heard Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” some got A Tribe Called Quest’s “Jazz (We’ve Got),” and others were soundtracked by Mozart or techno or ambient choirs. “Bacteria is responsible for the formation of the taste of cheese, with the enzymes that influence its maturity. I am convinced that humidity, temperature or nutrients are not the only things that influence taste," he told AFP last fall. "Sounds, ultrasounds or music can also have physical effects.”
On Thursday, a group of cheese experts and cheese enthusiasts sampled his cheeses during two separate tasting events, and they decided that the Tribe cheese was the best of the group. “The hip hop cheese was perceived as sweeter and fruitier,” Wampfler said, adding that the response to his research gave him “a push to keep going.” I didn’t think I had any plans this weekend, but it looks like I’ll be pushing my AirPods into a wheel of Jarlsberg.
- If you’re an older man in the United Kingdom, it seems like your hobbies often include complaining about rubbish collection schedules, writing strongly worded letters to the town council, and finding other people’s teeth in your food. In January, a 94-year-old Surfleet, England man discovered a human tooth in his supermarket-brand cod filet, and he knew it hadn’t fallen out of his own mouth, because he only has false teeth. Meanwhile, Philip Nixon of Derry, Northern Ireland, says that not only did he bite into someone else’s tooth in a Cadbury’s Eclair, but it also got lodged in his throat. “I thought it was the sweet that choked me but when I coughed it up I heard something bounce across the floor,” he told the Belfast News Letter. “So I went over to the fireplace and the tooth was lying on the floor. I then realised I had just coughed it up. I had swallowed a tooth!” The tooth had a crown on it, and Nixon confirmed with his own dentist that it wasn’t one of his, and he’s even willing to take a DNA test to confirm it.
A spokesperson for Mondelez International, which owns Cadbury’s, has shrugged him off, insisting that there’s no way a tooth would’ve gotten past its quality control, but Nixon is adamant. “I want some sort of compensation from them, that’s all I’m saying,” he said. They didn’t even send a rep. I think I got a raw deal with them.” You got a free tooth, Philip! What more do you want?
- Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago has recently updated its cocktail menu, taking the extra step of printing the ABV of each beverage right beside its ingredients list. The bar’s current offerings range from the 13 percent ABV Fuhgetaboutit, It's a Fugazi to the Big Hunk of Love and Don’t Fall Into the Horno, which both clock in with 32 percent ABV. (Sable also serves two non-alcoholic cocktails). Head bartender Jenee Craver told Plate that the decision to add ABV percentages was to both better educate her staff and to give customers the opportunity to use something other than “flavor profile” when they were selecting a drink. Calculating the ABV, though, sounds like a word problem that you’d get on a standardized test. “Let’s say the gin is 40 percent,” she said. “Use the decimal form and multiply that by the total volume of the gin that's going into it. So two ounces times .4 is 0.8. Then you do the same thing for vermouth, which is typically around 0.18, so we’ll multiply that by one, and add it up. So that’s 0.98 at that point.” Is it? I have no idea, I have a theater degree—and that’s exactly why I’d like two Big Hunk of Loves, please.
- Yesterday, a Redditor named HYPHYMUDNEEDNOLEAN posted a photo of a sealed bottle of something called Captain Morgan Gold, which its label described as a “premium malt beverage with the natural flavors of Captain Morgan and Gold Cola, caffeine, and caramel.” His original post just asked for information about the drink and when it was discontinued, but BECAUSE REDDIT, he was quickly talked into drinking it.
(His follow-up post had the encouraging title “Well here you go. Stomach ain’t feeling too well tbh. Let you guys know when I shit myself.”)
He shared a seven-minute video of the experience and, despite the fact that Captain Morgan Gold was discontinued in 2002, it seems to have gone mostly OK. “Well I’ll be damned,” he said, after taking his first sip. “It’s actually not… it’s not bad. It does not taste rancid.” Congrats! Next time, try to find one with a stranger’s tooth in it.
- According to a recent survey of 2,000 Americans, we’re spending a ridiculous amount of time feeling bad about whatever we just shoved into our open gobs. Respondents said that they feel guilty about 29 percent of the food that they eat, and they experience food guilt, on average, about five times each week. After dinner (36 percent) and after snacking (42 percent) were the times when the survey participants most frequently asked themselves what the fuck they were doing, and the list of the most guilt-inducing foods weren’t exactly shocking. (Ice cream, chocolate, candy, cookies, and potato chips made up the top five.) What was surprising was that almost half (49 percent) of those questioned believed that foods were “gendered” and that those gender stereotypes have made them less likely to eat certain foods, like salad (too feminine) or beef jerky (too masculine). Honestly, that’s the part that should make them feel guilty.