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Simon Majumdar Interviews Legendary Food Educator,

Food Network Personality and

Host of "Good Eats: The Return,"

Alton Brown

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Alton Brown Interview Notes

In this very special episode of Eat My Globe, our host, Simon Majumdar, challenges his good friend and culinary legend, Alton Brown (Good Eats: the Return) to propose 5 forgotten food heroes. It’s a very lively discussion with no quarter given. But, as always it will probably end with a martini or three.

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TRANSCRIPT

SIMON:

Hi everybody. This is Simon Majumdar and welcome to Eat My Globe, a podcast about things you didn't know you didn't know about food.

 

On this very special episode, I set out on a road trip to Atlanta where I was going to record with one of my very special friends.

 

Now let me tell you a little story. About 10 years ago, on my very first day working for the Food Network, I arrived on the set of a set of a show called, “The Next Iron Chef.” The very first person to introduce themselves to me was today’s guest. He’s since turned out not only to become one of my closest friends from the Food Network, but also one of the people I respect most of all, not only in the food industry, but across the board.

 

Not only do I consider this gentleman one of the great educators in food – up there with Jacques Pepin and Julia Child – I also consider him one of the great educators in any field. I would place him up with people like David Attenborough and Ken Burns. So I am delighted to introduce to you on this very special episode, my dear friend, the one and only, Mr. Alton Brown.

 

BREAK MUSIC

 

Alton, welcome to Eat My Globe.

 

ALTON:

Thank you for having me on Eat My Globe.

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

I want to, I wanted to be on for a while. Thank you.

 

SIMON:

It i. . . I'm very fortunate and I know we're going to have a fun conversation, but before we get into that, why don't you tell me a little bit about what you're up to right now so we can share some of that with our . . .

 

ALTON:

Wow.

 

SIMON:

. . . many listeners.

 

ALTON:

We're currently sitting on the set of, a, of Good Eats: The Return, uh, which is a, a real mess right now -- stands and cables and lights and all sorts of things. But we're slap dab in the middle of production on the new season. The first new season in six years, I think, uh, that you have been kind enough to appear in one of them. We won't give away what that is yet, but uh, Simon is the, the first Food Network person to ever, uh, guest appear on a, on a Good Eats episode. So . . .

 

SIMON:

I’m . . .

 

ALTON:

. . . so here we are.

 

SIMON:

I'm very honored. I have to say we've had a fun day and. . .

 

ALTON:

Yeah.

 

SIMON:

. . . you were very, very kind to give me just a small amount of time at the end and so we can record this. But I thought it'd be a great idea because one of the things that I find is whenever we've done shows together, we spend a lot of our time in between takes chatting about food history.

 

ALTON:

Talking about things that seems. . . that it seems that you and I are most interested in, but we've never been able to get Food Network to be interested in. I just want to throw that out there.

 

[Laughter]

 

SIMON:

Yes, we've always . . .

 

ALTON:

Which you managed to do with this podcast.

 

SIMON:

Well that's why one of the reasons why I wanted to do this, because I wanted to share it and one of the things we've talked about a lot are . . . are people in food history, not just events and creations and dishes, but the people who made it happen. So I thought when I came here to visit you, I would set you a little challenge and that challenge was to come up with five people in food history who you thought deserve to be talked about a lot more and had contributed to the things that we eat every day, but often take for granted.

 

ALTON:

Sure. Where the people not just even taken for granted. They just simply have faded into the midst of time, so to speak.

 

SIMON:

And there are so many of them in food history. . .

 

ALTON:

Oh god.

 

SIMON:

. . . so . . . so.

 

ALTON:

Myriad.

 

SIMON:

Let me, let me just ask you how you went about choosing five because I knew, know, you could've chosen, particularly with your knowledge, you could have chosen 500.

 

ALTON:

You know, um, some of them I think, uh, I chose, I chose a grouping that are really kind of the very, very tail end of the Victorian era. I think of a, not the English, I, I think I chose mostly Americans. Um, but, but people that were on the, um, the cusp were responsible for bringing in the modern age, the modern food age. I believe. Now I realized that there is a lot of time between some of them. And actually no, I shouldn't say they’re Victorian cause one of them certainly isn't. But that the things that they set into motion set larger things into it.

 

So these, these aren't people necessarily that touched the food, but it very much changed the way the rest of the world touched the food.

 

SIMON:

I get it. No, absolutely. And having seen the list, and obviously done some research myself. I think they all set in motion things that became. . .

 

ALTON:

Right.

 

SIMON:

. . . very big and which we indulge in kind of today, if indulge is the right word. But we. . .

 

ALTON:

I think in some cases, yeah.

 

SIMON:

But, we definitely experienced a day every day. So why don't we get into it.

 

ALTON:

Dive in.

 

SIMON:

Why don't you tell me who your first person is and then we can talk about it. I'm going to challenge you to tell me why you think that person is important, why they might need to be remembered again?

 

ALTON:

Okay. Got it. The first person I want to mention is Frederick Tudor. I want to talk about Frederick Tudor. Now I know that you have given thought to Frederick Tudor. But I bet you that other than you and I . . . Nobody ever mentions Frederick Tudor the Ice King.

 

SIMON:

The Ice King.

 

ALTON:

You know, ice and, and you and I have had this conversation. Ice is the only food that I can think of that went from an agricultural product to an industrial product. It was once only harvested and then it is only made. Nobody harvested anymore. So in Frederick Tudor was the one that turned ice into a commodity.

 

SIMON:

Certainly did. So, tell me a little bit more about his history because from what I have done in my research, he was a spectacularly bad businessman.

 

ALTON:

Was a horrible businessman.

 

SIMON:

But came up with one amazing idea.

 

ALTON:

Right. Which is to sell people frozen water off of lakes and rivers.

 

SIMON:

Particularly in the Boston area.

 

ALTON:

In the Boston area, and, um, and, and in that entire kind of neck of the woods, although he would go as far as the Hudson because the Hudson was, was gigantic. And of course, the poet Thoreau, talked about, um, Frederick’s guys coming down a hundred Irishmen, he called it, I. . . coming down from Boston to cut the ice off of Walden pond.

 

SIMON:

And they cut it out. Like they marked it up if, I remember, like a little chessboard.

 

ALTON:

Yeah, they scored it.

 

SIMON:

And cut it into big blocks.

 

ALTON:

Into little pieces. And they could like, they could haul like, it was some amazing tonnage that they could take out in a day. But then he, you know, he's, he's the guy who put ice in glasses. You know, if people don't think about, or I think most Americans don't think about the fact that for instance, the early days of cocktails, most of the cocktails were served warm.

 

SIMON:

Yes.

 

ALTON:

Because boiling water was a more, was number one available. Number two, safe. Number three could extract things. Ice didn't, you just didn't have it. Um, so even though ice, there had been a long history of snow harvest, glacial harvest for chilling things, the actual plunking of an ice cube into a glass was, was just not something that had, had ever really happened as far as I know.

And then also you've got this, this ability of that, you know, his thing was, “I'm going to take ice to the tropics,” “I'm going to take ice to Australia,” which he did.

 

SIMON:

And to Martinique, and to India.

 

ALTON:

And to Martinique, in places that literally people had never seen ice before. They wouldn't have had a way to ever actually see or touch ice before.

 

SIMON:

And when you imagine that he was doing this in 1832. . . in the 1830s, and the 1840s.

 

ALTON:

Pre. . . pre civil war.

 

SIMON:

Pre civil war.

 

ALTON:

Yeah.

 

SIMON:

He was shipping ice to India, Martinique, Australia, and making a fortunate doing it. Now, first of all, the practicality of that. And I know as a food scientist, I'd love to know how he physically managed to get blocks of ice that didn't just . . . well, quite frankly, just melt en route.

 

ALTON:

Well, you know, he had, from what I understand, and I'm not an expert on the history of, of shipping, any more than I am anything else. But there, there was a lot of modification made to ship design and freighter design. And then he also used a metric crap ton of saw dust from what I understand, um, and, and other Excelsior and other shavings and, and installations. Uh, but then also worked on . . . cause as you well know, uh, the, um, the installations of, of, of boxcars and things for moving beef all came from “let's not let the ice melt,” right? Um, but some of his other, you know, you talk about him being a really bad businessman. I mean, he made the money and then didn't build the business very well at all. Although maybe, and you might know more about this, his sons, uh, I forget how many there were that inherited what was left in the business, but, but unfortunately by then there were so many advances being made so quickly and in industrial, mechanical refrigeration systems that it was just a matter of time.

 

There was no way he was going to beat it. And then there was the, the uh, the ice. Um. Failure. The failure of the crop, and I forget the year, I want to say it was 1869.

 

SIMON:

Yes.

 

ALTON:

Uh, where even the Hudson river didn't freeze over. And so, uh, people were bragging that, you know, the ice in Charleston was cheaper than the ice in New York City.

 

SIMON:

Ah.

 

ALTON:

Because down South they were already manufacturing. Whereas up North they had been relying on these natural agricultural harvests. And so when they fail, there was no more ice. And a lot of food went bad because of that.

 

SIMON:

So when he shipped it around the world, one of the things that I found, and I have actually seen this. One, uh, one time I was visiting the Tollygunge Club in Calcutta, which is one of the most famous gentlemen . . .

 

ALTON:

Say that word again?

 

SIMON:

Tollygunge.

 

ALTON:

Tollygunge.

 

SIMON:

Tollygunge. G, U, N, G, E. Tollygunge.

 

ALTON:

Okay. Tollygunge.

 

SIMON:

And it's one of the most famous gentlemen's clubs in India, one of the great Raj places.

 

ALTON:

Uh-huh.

 

SIMON:

And I actually looked at their purchasing register and one of the registers was for ice from Frederick Tudor from Walden Pond to put in the officers’ gin and tonics.

 

Now that to me is one of the most extraordinary things in food history that we were doing. . . Well, “we,” that people were doing this in the 1830s . . . was shipping ice there and then . . .

 

ALTON:

To India.

 

SIMON:

To India. At the same time, he was also clever. Although he was a bad businessman, he went bankrupt quite a few times.

 

ALTON:

Oh, numerous. Yeah.

 

SIMON:

He was also very clever as. . .

 

ALTON:

Which by the way is a trend as a modern businessman.

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

Cause it when. . .

 

SIMON:

Yes.

 

ALTON:

They used to be that . . . a business man went bankrupt and he jumped off a building or hung himself. But no, the truth is it's a really great strategy.

 

But you can do whatever you want and bankrupt yourself as many times as you want and still be fine.

 

SIMON:

But one of the things, uh, that I notice is when he went to new Orleans, he went to the places that really wanted cocktails where he thought it would work. And he was a great marketer to give ice away free. Like the first fix was free.

 

ALTON:

Sure. To drug, drug pressure.

 

SIMON:

Basically, with ice to all the cocktail makers in New Orleans. And really created the modern cocktail trend. So, I think, if for nothing else, if you said he was the big bang of something, would you say it was the big bang of cocktails?

 

ALTON:

Well, I don't think that you can have the modern cocktail world without ice. It is. . . And I think if you talk to any real bartender, I mean, they go through more ice than they go through booze. Right?

 

SIMON:

Absolutely.

 

ALTON:

Ice is absolutely . . . Um, and now we've, we fetishize it. I mean, we've, you know, oh my gosh, are perfectly clear, you know, clear, you know, um, uh, blocks and everything. So yeah, I would say without. . . Let's put it this way. Without Frederick Tudor in his, his particular and unique vision, which was the other reason that I really like him, he is a unique person. Um, yeah, I would say that that's true. I, I would say he's the progenitor. Without Frederick Tudor, the cocktail culture that we enjoy today wouldn't exist.

 

SIMON:

Okay, well in which case we are going to accept Frederick Tudor. We are going to accept Frederick “The Ice King” Tudor . . .

 

ALTON:

“The Ice King” Tudor. It always helps to have a middle name.

 

SIMON:

I think so.

 

[Laughter]

 

“The Ice King.” It could be WWE. Uh, but let's say, okay we are going to accept him into the world of the, un. . .

 

ALTON:

The pantheon.

 

SIMON:

The pantheon of unforgotten food heroes.

 

ALTON:

Yeah, he should be unforgotten.

 

SIMON:

So that one we definitely have in there.

 

So let's go onto number two in your list.

 

ALTON:

Cyrus McCormick.

 

SIMON:

Okay, now tell me. I had to go and do some work on Cyrus McCormick when you told me about him cause I didn't know much. Sounds like an incredible character.

 

ALTON:

Well you probably then know more than, than I do. Um, you know, but this is the guy that . . . the way I hear it and I've heard it put to me. So, harvesting wheat used to be a larger. . . used to be a very difficult thing to do. Very time consuming. Took a lot of people. There are a lot of deaths. It was, it was dangerous.

 

And so he comes up, well, someone say “stole.”

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

We're, we're, we're a little shady about this. The McCormick Reaper. A device that allows a single person with -- I forget how many horses, but not many -- to do a huge amount of, of harvesting of wheat. And I've heard it argued is, it is wheat, right?

 

SIMON:

Yeah. No.

 

ALTON:

What I've heard argued. . . Did making more grain available to the Northern States allowed for a switch in the balance of power of the allegiance of England during the Civil War, which may have been. . . may . . . sub positional history here -- been critical to the war being won by the Union?

 

SIMON:

I think there's definitely some truth to that. I know the two big things that England was concerned about during that period -- one was wheat and corn and different things of harvested like that and the other was cotton.

 

And one of the things Great Britain had done before the Civil War is they had actually stockpiled cotton for many years. So when the South threatened not to supply, uh, cotton to Great Britain, which they obviously needed for the textile industry, which was huge. . .

 

ALTON:

Huge.

 

SIMON:

. . . the British were able to have a few years where that wasn't as important.

 

ALTON:

Right.

 

SIMON:

But of course food, they weren't able to do that quite as much in advance. So that was . . .

 

ALTON:

Cause Frederick Tudor “The Ice King” wasn't taking care of their food supply.

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

So that. . . I think that's really interesting. I mean, this is a man who I think. . . we have to explain . . . to me, when I looked into it, that is truly. . . and again, I, I often hesitate with big bangs. But moving from the old agrarian system of just growing food, which was very kind of piece meal, more small scale. This was one of the inventions that I think moved it to a much larger scale.

 

ALTON:

Well, it's, it's the beginning of industrialization, of a product, and which then of course turns it into a commodity. So in a way he did a lot of what maybe Frederick Tudor did. Only a product that we still do actually harvest. So this, this ability of, of, of single smaller groups of people to be able to harvest much larger amounts of grain means all of a sudden “I've got a lot more grain to sell.” Um, and, and “I can sell it, you know, two people further away.” So I think that when you look at then the grain, uh, imbalances and the, uh, the wheat sales that kind of maintained to some degree of balance of power during the Cold War, as very often wheat sales were the big things that kind of kept, um, you know, a balance between, um, the US and the USSR and, and even, uh, China. Um, I, I think that if you draw that, that line back, you, you end up with, with Cyrus McCormick. Now, whether, you know, there's, there's disagreement as to whether, you know, people, patents. . .

 

SIMON:

Yup.

 

ALTON:

. . . you know, it is, it's another one of our people we're gonna tell, you know, patents are slippery. And, uh, you know, who files when and you know, who's got the money for the lawyer to draw up the images. You know, I, I believe that it has been implied that he, he may have, um, pirated some of his tech, uh, which is still fine, uh, by today's standards. I don't know. I'm not going to defame the man, but that, but the record is not clear and, um, unsmudged.

 

SIMON:

Even if he didn't -- wasn't the original creator -- what he certainly did though I think was take this thing, not just across the United States, but worldwide. And I, I believe looking, when I did the research, he took this to, uh, the London Exposition, which I think was in, in the 18, Oh, hold on. Let me look at my thing. In the 1860s to the London and then also to the Paris World Show. . .

 

ALTON:

Which was after that.

 

SIMON:

Which was after that and won first prizes in both. Even though they ridiculed it, it was called in, in London, it was called, uh, an Astley chariot, a wheelbarrow, and a flying machine. They called it a mixture of those three things in The Times of London, which I thought was a great description. But it caught on.

 

ALTON:

Yeah it did.

 

SIMON:

Even though he sold two reapers in his first year of making them, which is almost nothing. By the end of that year of winning those, he was selling 4,000 a year all around the world. And in fact, models almost identical to it are still being used in some developing countries now.

 

ALTON:

Yup.

 

SIMON:

So this was, I guess, another one we will have to accept, I think.

 

ALTON:

I just want to say that I think that the, The Times was right. That is what that machine looks like.

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

It is ungainly. Um, and, and peculiar looking.

 

SIMON:

If you go and see it, there's, uh, a sketch of it. If you go onto your search engine and you check for it, you'll find a picture of it that someone drew and it is extraordinarily odd.

 

ALTON:

Yes.

 

SIMON:

But it worked enough that it's still a hundred and something 200 nearly years later. It's still being used.

 

ALTON:

Well it’s robust.

 

SIMON:

Yes.

 

ALTON:

You know, and luckily, you know, wheat grows in flat fields and usually very specific kinds of soils. So it's not like, it wasn't like, you know, harvesting rice . . .

 

SIMON:

Yes.

 

ALTON:

. . . or something where, you know, while it's got to make it through the mud or it's got to be able to go up and down hills, you know. So I, I think it was a very, very, very, very specific design for a very specific problem and it worked.

 

SIMON:

So I think as someone who created something that is still in use today and probably was one of the first great Americans to sell something worldwide. . .

 

ALTON:

And interesting.

 

SIMON:

. . . and to show to show America as this nation of great adventure, which it has become and, you know, continues to be, I think he's, he's definitely got to be in there. So. . .

 

ALTON:

And, and you know when you think about, you know, images of, of, you know, the kind of ubiquitous images of plenty, you know, on the fruited plain and whatnot -- it's always one guy driving some big ass combine. . .

 

SIMON:

Yup.

 

ALTON:

. . . or some other gigantic machine. It's almost . . . the knowhow of the harvest and the machinery of the harvest is almost visually more potent than the harvest itself. You know, that gigantic machine, this ingenious thing that is allowing the land to be harvested in that way. And so I, I think that, that, that imagery also kind of begins with that device.

 

SIMON:

The American abundance.

 

ALTON:

Yeah, and the ability and technology to harvest it. It's not just the abundance, it's getting it.

 

SIMON:

So he's in.

 

ALTON:

I think he's in.

 

SIMON:

He’s in to the Pantheon.

 

ALTON:

I think he's in.

 

SIMON:

So who should we go to. . .

 

ALTON:

I don't know. You pick the next one.

 

SIMON:

Okay. You've given me a gentleman who, I think, was it, was it, let's just say he's a little bit strange. He gave us something that people eat every morning.

 

ALTON:

Yes.

 

SIMON:

But he had. . . I'm going to question his entry just because of who he is . . .

 

ALTON:

Okay.

 

SIMON:

. . . and you know who I'm talking about.

 

ALTON:

Sure. We're, we're talking about Harvey Kellogg. Doctor, doctor Kellogg. First off, nutcase.

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

Okay. Definitely a nutcase. And the more I read about him, the more I'm. . . I mean he, he is, especially when it came to him, clearly the guy had some sexual issues that, you know. . .

 

SIMON:

Baggage of them.

 

ALTON:

Baggage, you know, big, big, big, big bags of, of, of sexual issues because um, everything in his world pretty much came down to masturbation. I mean, let's just. . .

 

SIMON:

Let's give him his full name first.

 

ALTON:

Yeah, go ahead.

 

SIMON:

Doctor John Harvey Kellogg.

 

ALTON:

John Harvey Kellogg.

 

SIMON:

From  . . . born in 1852 to. . . Lived until 1943. So whatever he did obviously did it well cause he had a good long age.

 

ALTON:

The, the, the vegetarianism did him well, yeah it did.

 

SIMON:

But the rest of it. . . People will know the name Kellogg just in case anybody doesn't make the connection. What's his most famous invention?

 

ALTON:

Well that would probably be the cornflake.

 

SIMON:

Yeah.

 

ALTON:

Yeah, the Kellogg's cornflakes. Even though what his brother went over to the other side, right? And did the Post Oaties and all of those other things. So a big, uh, competition there.

 

To me, Kellogg is super important for two reasons. One, as really. . . I don't think we could say there was no one inventor of breakfast cereal. But there, there is one breakfast cereal that I think probably 90% of Americans, when you say name of breakfast cereal, they're going to say cornflakes. Um, so this idea that you can take a product that really before that was worth the most when you fermented it into bourbon, okay?

 

SIMON:

Absolutely.

 

ALTON:

You could put it in a box. You can make it into these flake things, which nobody had ever done before and you can put it in a box, people would buy it. Okay. People weren't buying foods like that. So, you know, cornflakes is super important because it's, it's one of the first steps into a dry good. A new dry good. And this isn't like grits or, or flour or, or anything like that. This is a consumer good. This is, this goes on the box on the, on the shelf of, of people living in the city. This, this goes everywhere. And because of the way it was advertised, um, became ubiquitous. And I think that's, that's, that's first and foremost what's important about, about Kellogg and that specific invention. This is the first real fad food in a way. I mean, if . . . that is still with us.

 

And then the other side is that he was the first health nut that got any traction with popular consciousness.

 

SIMON:

Wellness.

 

ALTON:

Wellness. So the people that flocked to his asylum, or his Sanitarium. Was . . . he called it a . . .

 

SIMON:

Sanitarium, yes.

 

ALTON:

Sanitarium. He called it a whatchamacallit Creek?

 

Battle Creek.

 

SIMON:

Oh.

 

ALTON:

It was in Battle Creek. It was outside Battle Creek. Um, people flocked there to have enemas and. . .

 

SIMON:

Of yogurt, no less.

 

ALTON:

. . .having. . . yes. The last thing that I really want to do is travel. . .

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

. . . to Michigan to have rotten milk put up my bum. You know what I'm saying? Um, and yet people did it.

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

So he had that kind of, um, of cult, health cult leader status that we've seen, you know, carried on culturally and in our own food culture by, by other people from Yule Gibbons day, whoever, uh, that's been done many, many times. And I'm also interested in third thing I'm going to say, then I'll shut up. Interesting, savvy and use of media.

 

SIMON:

Explain.

 

ALTON:

He talked a lot. And he knew how to be a raconteur for his, for his mission, a lot of talking to newspapers, a lot of use of the media. Um, I think that, that Kellogg would have been great on Twitter.

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

Uh, you know, I think he really would have gotten, uh, social media. So, um, he, I, I think that in turning himself into a public figure to be -- besides just the products but also himself -- he was a very modern food superstar.

 

SIMON:

Okay. I, I think the positives are definitely there in terms of what he achieved.

 

I'm going to play devil's advocate for a moment and throw a couple of things back at you and see if we can agree. Because I, I'm questioning his addition to the Pantheon, as we've discussed.

 

ALTON:

Okay. Okay.

 

SIMON:

Two things that I came across just on the very brief research that I did. One was he put the male, through having unanesthetized circumcision because he said that it would make. . . basically their penis is so painful that the pain of it would make them stop masturbating because as you said, he was obviously obsessed with masturbation.

 

And the women, he would use carbolic acid and put it on their clitoris. And the pain again was to stop them ever wanted to do that. And even at the time, I think that would've been a slightly, uh, something that people would have frowned upon. So there's that side.

 

And the second one, which I think is the, one of the other reasons, he was one of the first real believers in eugenics.

 

ALTON:

Truth.

 

SIMON:

And he actually founded something called the Race Betterment Society.

 

ALTON:

Yeah. That's true.

 

SIMON:

And so he left behind as part of that movement, I think. something that's perniciously evil, even though we're not, you know, it's hard to make those judgments historically and you're supposed to judge things by their time. But I think most people, uh, would look back at that. So wha. . . I mean, what do you think about that? That people who. . .

 

ALTON:

Well. . .

 

SIMON:

. . . do something that's very positive on one side. . .

 

ALTON:

So what we're saying is basically, um, we've got a, uh, genital mutilating Nazi.

 

SIMON:

Yes. [Laughter]

 

ALTON:

On one hand. So. . .

 

SIMON:

But he made a great breakfast.

 

ALTON:

All right. So, so here's a, an issue that, you know, continues on, uh, culturally, you know -- especially as we live in a time where we, we tear down the statues of anybody whose politics we don't agree with now -- is do we X out the accomplishments because we really think he was a horrible human being into terrible things. Do we? I don't know. I may. . . maybe. Maybe he didn't deserve it. But just because we know about that stuff doesn't mean that other people that we do put in the Pantheon weren't equally miserable but just not as well covered by the press.

 

SIMON:

Well, that's the. . . I think that's a fair point.

 

ALTON:

I mean, but the truth is, is that the more we know about people's monstrous sides, it makes it very difficult to laud their, um, the good things they've done or the impressive things or the groundbreaking things that they’ve done because we don't want to look like we condone the person as a whole. Yeah, I don't know what to say about that.

 

SIMON:

Well, can we accept. . .

 

ALTON:

I know this, I know that I don't want to visit with him.

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

I don't want to go to Battle Creek, uh, to go to his Sanitarium. And I don't. . . I don't want to deal with any of the. . . I don't want to be one of his children regardless of the potential inheritance. So yeah, I'm completely on the fence. Not a gotten, not a good guy. Important. . . and maybe irreplaceable? I, I, I, I don't know.

 

SIMON:

Let's put it. . .

 

ALTON:

I don’t know.

 

SIMON:

Let's put a question mark against him.

 

ALTON:

We don't really, we don't like them.

 

SIMON:

Well, he certainly wasn't. . .

 

ALTON:

Don't like him.

 

SIMON:

He was many things, but not a good man.

 

ALTON:

Who's not a good person.

 

SIMON:

Okay, well let's move on to two women now because we'll, we'll leave him with a question mark. Maybe people will write in and tell us what they think on the comments.

 

BREAK MUSIC

 

[SIMON ADVERTISING: It’s a mystery to many of us everyday. The hunger starts. It’s there. We fill our stomach with things we like to crave, cook, and taste. But what really happens in there, deep inside our guts, and how it’ll affect us. Well if you want to find out more about food science, go and listen to a wonderful podcast by my dear friend, Dr. Terry Simpson. Culinary Medicine is available on all podcast providers and is definitely worth checking out. That’s Culinary Medicine by Dr. Terry Simpson.]

 

SIMON:

 

We've had three men so far and I know that you've picked two really remarkable women for different reasons. And I do have a question against one of them, uh, that I would love. . .

 

ALTON:

Who’s that, who’s that gonna be?

 

SIMON:

Well, the, the first one is the only Brit that you put into the list.

 

ALTON:

I did, I put Mrs. Beeton into the list.

 

SIMON:

Mrs. Isabella Beeton.

 

ALTON:

Isabella Beeton.

 

SIMON:

So why don't you tell us. . . I mean, I grew up with Mrs. Beeton. So why don't you tell people who may not know much about Mrs. Beeton?

 

ALTON:

Well, Mrs. Beeton is kind of. . . I think of her. . . I think she's the creator of the modern cookbook. The household cookbook. The, the, the, the uh, she wrote for people in households and, and the, the kind of household management angle of things. You know, let's face it. People at home feeding the children, we're not looking up what Careme did. Okay?

 

SIMON:

No, absolutely not.

 

ALTON:

Um, and so I think that Mrs. Beeton, you draw a direct line from, from Beeton to Julia Child to probably every single person on Food Network. And when you go out that line, I don't know who's before her.

 

SIMON:

In terms of cookbooks like that, no, I think certainly not.

 

ALTON:

She's ground zero. Which. . . When did she do most of her writing? Can we put a date on that?

 

SIMON:

Well, I think, I think. . . So, uh, the first book was published in 1861.

 

ALTON:

Okay. What was going on in England around that time?

 

SIMON:

I mean, you were still . . .

 

ALTON:

What was life like in 1861?

 

SIMON:

Well, it was the beginning of the growth of the middle class. So that's the key. So we are moving from a period where people had cooks.

 

ALTON:

Servants.

 

SIMON:

And servants.

 

ALTON:

To not having them.

 

SIMON:

To cooking for themselves.

 

ALTON:

Right.

 

SIMON:

Or at least overseeing.

 

ALTON:

So all these women -- and they were women who were we becoming, for the first time, a word that didn't exist yet: Housewives.

 

SIMON:

Absolutely.

 

ALTON:

The word did not exist at the time.

 

SIMON:

No.

 

ALTON:

But it was like they weren't just playing, you know, whatever. And going, having teas and visiting with each other and like crocheting, they were all of a sudden having to make a home and cook food and grocery shop and all of these things. And Mrs. Beeton was there to show them how to do that.

 

SIMON:

Well, just to let people know that the book she wrote, which first came out in 1861, was called the Book of Household Management. And it's come in not just recipes. . .

 

ALTON:

But everything about the household -- laundry, every everything, even basic bookkeeping, if I remember correctly?

 

SIMON:

Bookkeeping.

 

ALTON:

. . . and a lot of chore related things that, that we don't do anymore.

 

SIMON:

The two things that I think really came out for me when I was reading about a one, well, there were a number of things. One, people often think of it because of the way the books were illustrated with an older woman that she was an old woman or, but she actually died very, very young at the age of 28 so she got her work done, uh, that really changed the world. Certainly in the UK, Mrs. Beeton has become a kind of almost a synonym for things that, you know, cooking and doing all of those kinds of things of running your house, your first cat, your rabbit and all those, those jokes that we used to tell the kids.

 

I think she did it. She achieved a remarkable amount in a short time. She died a very sad death. She died. It was actually covered up in the sense that people said that she caught an infection when she had her fourth child. What they. . . And they said she, yeah. What they actually believe is that it was a symptom of syphilis from her husband, Samuel, who was a publisher and first published her work who was heartbroken when she died, but had been known to frequent prostitutes. And so some of the more recent records say that she was, uh, uh, sh that she suffered. . .

 

ALTON:

But she didn't frequent . . .

 

SIMON:

She absolutely did not.

 

ALTON:

. . . prostitutes.

 

So we like her better than Harvey Kellogg. Right. Right away we call it.

 

SIMON:

But she, uh, but it was, it's something that wasn't infrequent in Victorian society. Um, so she died very young. She left. . .

 

ALTON:

Is that because of the very complicated underwear?

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

I have no idea about women's Victorian underwear. You probably know a lot more.

 

ALTON:

I've just, I've read things, a lot of things carved out of Whalebone and you know, a lot of, I think it was a lot of work.

 

SIMON:

Which she couldn't hardly breathe. She did actually write about corset tightening and all kinds of other things as well.

 

ALTON:

Um, do you have any photographs?

 

SIMON:

I have no photographs. Do you want to do, are you going to have a Mrs. Beeton calendar? You love miss July?

 

ALTON:

Well, it's my birth month and this is frolicking meadow. It's bucolic. Anyways, so I, I don't think that that you can go. . . You can. . . I think that all of the kind of modern householding -- both magazines and books -- owe a huge debt to Isabella Beeton.

 

SIMON:

So I have to, again, I'm going to play devil's advocate. But I think I tend to. . .

 

ALTON:

I'm not going to go down easy on this.

 

SIMON:

No, no, no. But there were a couple of things. One is that her fame really happened long after her death. The book sold well, uh, but really didn't become a huge success until it was promoted. And in fact, her husband and the publishers didn't let people know she had actually died for a number of years after she had actually passed away.

 

ALTON:

So how did they pull that off? How did she become more popular in death?

 

SIMON:

They created, I think, and this is perhaps. . . kudos to them. They created what I think, the first culinary brand, or one of the very early culinary brands. Mrs. Beeton became a thing. They changed. . . they created imagery for her. They created, designed. . .

 

ALTON:

Like Betty Crocker.

 

SIMON:

Exa. . . exactly, in a way. So I'm, I'm wondering whether they had great source material? The real Mrs. . .

 

ALTON:

Does it matter?

 

SIMON:

No. Doesn't matter? That's the question.

 

ALTON:

Then as far as I'm concerned. . .

 

SIMON:

Defend your case, sir.

 

ALTON:

. . . it's even more. . .

 

SIMON:

Defend your case.

 

ALTON:

. . . because I would say that as an ideal, it was strong enough to exist without her and to grow and flourish without her.

 

SIMON:

Good answer.

 

ALTON:

So I think that as, let's, let's say she wasn't even a person. Let's say she was a brand. Let's call it that. And she was a brand that flourished and gave birth to a lot of other brands, when you think about it. Not directly, but certainly in kind of the, um, those of us perhaps in the, in the shade of that particular tree. So yeah, she did great work, but then turned into a complete brand at, at the, at the hands of publishers. . .

 

SIMON:

Yes, I'd definitely have. . .

 

ALTON:

. . . with syphilis and syphilitic publishers.

 

SIMON:

“Syphilitic Publishers” -- great band.

 

SIMON:

So, um, her first book actually sold, well 60,000 copies.

 

ALTON:

Which, at the time, huge monster hit.

 

SIMON:

But by 1868, after her death, it had sold over 2 million copies.

 

ALTON:

And been translated into how many languages, I wonder?

 

SIMON:

Ah yes, a great many. And the other thing that. . .

 

ALTON:

But I bet all, for all colonies of, of British colonies.

 

SIMON:

Very definitely. And certainly the American editions as well.

 

ALTON:

Okay.

 

SIMON:

But what are the other things I think with that is that, um, she created over 2000 recipes. And the way that we write recipes today, whether it's in your cookbooks or a number of, you know, our Food Network colleagues, still use that same ingredient, method. . .

 

ALTON:

Software, hardware.

 

SIMON:

Software. . .

 

ALTON:

Software, uh, procedure, yeah.

 

SIMON:

So I think from that point of view, I would definitely include her. But I do have one question. So there is, um, let me find it. So in, in about 2006, uh, a lady called Catherine Hughes wrote a biography of Mrs. Beeton. Even her very short life in which she talks about the amount of work that she actually plagiarized. So a lot of the recipes and a lot of that work had already been done. So does that put a question mark against her being in our Pan. . . our Pantheon?

 

ALTON:

No. No. Because. . .

 

SIMON:

Copied recipe, that's just fine.

 

ALTON:

. . . but the truth is . . . there's no law against it. To this day, you can't copyright a recipe ‘cause you can't copyright a list. So, you know, to this day we considered extraordinarily bad form and hopefully there are enough people kind of watching those things. But you would actually have to copy and -- you know this ‘cause you were a publisher -- you have to copy the exact procedures in order to have it be plagiarism. So maybe she was a really great packager. But I still, I'm still not going to say that she doesn't deserve to be there for it.

 

SIMON:

Yeah, I, I, I do. I've, as I said, playing devil's advocate, but I do.

 

ALTON:

I don't blame you. I blame him.

 

SIMON:

I would definitely put her in there. Certainly no question mark as we've had against. . .

 

ALTON:

At least her as the brand, if not the person, then the embodiment of her thing.

 

SIMON:

And the writing is unusual. I think it's of its time. But do you think. . .

 

ALTON:

It doesn't translate incredibly well. I mean, I find it ponderously boring, uh, a good bit of the time except for the parts about, you know, cleaning coal scuttles and thing. I mean, I, I, you know, because it's such a reflection on day to day life, which quite frankly made her kind of a diarist, at the same time.

 

SIMON:

Yes.

 

ALTON:

If you think about it.

 

SIMON:

Absolutely.

 

ALTON:

She not a Samuel Pepys. Not at the level of introspection. But certainly when you look back at those, it's a, it's a fine document of understanding English home life.

 

SIMON:

Yes, I'm absolutely. And the way you read that and the way you look at the recipes, you can see what was available.

 

ALTON:

Sure.

 

SIMON:

What was part of it. I think so after, after deep reflection on my part, she definitely, she is definitely added to the Pantheon. So, so far we've got three in; one very big question mark.

 

ALTON:

Yeah. One, one very big baby because. . .

 

SIMON:

[Laugher]

 

ALTON:

. . . I just think the right . . . we should just say that mutilation of genitalia rules you out.

 

SIMON:

I, I think so.

 

ALTON:

This is kind of an automatic thing.

 

SIMON:

Yeah, I think so. I have to say. Um, and let's go to your fifth person.

 

ALTON:

This is, this is the odd man out.

 

SIMON:

This is someone who I just didn't know. . . at all.

 

ALTON:

Um, so Ms. Knight.

 

SIMON:

Yes. So . . . Sorry.

 

ALTON:

Um, I think that people ought to know for a lot of reasons. Her contribution of food is okay. Perhaps a reach. She was an inventor. A prolific inventor, um, who lived and you have her, her dates there. Yeah, she was born. I always think of her as living a slightly later than that, 1838 to 1914. So she did a huge amount of innovation of, of, of uh, things like a rotary engines. Um, but she also invented the machine that made the first paper grocery bag.

 

SIMON:

Which is a remarkable thing.

 

ALTON:

And when you think about the significance of the paper bag and its shape and its construction, you are really looking at the entirety of grocery history in this country ever since. Because we were still using those bags formatted and made on the machines for which she held the patent for up until we made the move to plastic bags.

 

So I was a bag boy after high school. There were no, you know, there were no plastic bags. We were still bagging in paper.

 

And, and one of the things that I noticed as a bagger is that every single manufacturer of a food product in this country took into consideration the dimensions of that bag.

 

SIMON:

And did that bag remain the same size, the same, more or less within reason?

 

ALTON:

From what I understand, it changed a few times, but the basic ratio remained the same because it became defined by the machine. And the more machines that got made. And she later went on with some other business partners to start a larger company just to make those machines. It was harder to change the bag because you didn't want to have to change and retool the machines. So yeah, going back as far as I've dug into it, which goes back to, you know, the, the first days of uh, Piggly Wiggly and A and P and markets like that. Um, is it that the bag was, was pretty

standard for a really long time unless you know something that I don't know.

 

SIMON:

One of the things I think then is not just its impact obviously on food, people carrying food home, but as you said, you were a bag boy. A lot of people work their way through high school and colleges earning their, you know, allowances or whatever they did.

 

ALTON:

Right.

 

SIMON:

So they'd become absolutely part of American culture.

 

ALTON:

Yeah.

 

SIMON:

For a generation.

 

ALTON:

And the fact that, okay, this, this, this box of microwave popcorn, the people that are designing the box or taking that bag into consideration because they want to be able to fit within the pack of the bag. So it influenced everything. Now is that enough to get somebody into a Pantheon? Maybe not, but it is certainly food for thought and I am. . . feel certain that Ms. Knight is not examined as closely as she should be because she was a prolific woman inventor at a time when women where no one, no one, got away with that. I mean it just wasn't done. And we're talking about the majority of the 19th century.

 

SIMON:

I would definitely agree with that. And I'm actually not going to put any question marks against her for this because I think she was, she was an extraordinary woman. The more I've read about her. And I didn't know anything about her at all. We didn't have these bags in the UK. . .

 

ALTON:

Yeah.

 

SIMON:

. . . and so it was very new to me. So the fact that she was a woman inventor who not only just invented this is that rotary engines, she actually invented a machine for spindles in the linen industry that no. . .

 

ALTON:

Because she worked as a child in, in the mills and apparently, I don't know if you read this, apparently witnessed a terrible accident.

 

SIMON:

Yes.

 

ALTON:

. . . from a loom spindle. Um, and, and then she ended up creating a device to keep it from happening, that was adapted by, by the rest of the industry. So. . .

 

SIMON:

Yes, a spindle, broke . . .

 

ALTON:

Um-hm. Is that what it was?

 

SIMON:

. . . and it came off and basically stabbed a young man and killed him.

 

ALTON:

So she watched somebody actually be impaled.

 

SIMON:

She actually watched. . .

 

ALTON:

. . .on part of a loom.

 

SIMO:

So Margaret Knight actually saw someone being stabbed by a spindle and thought . . . and she was 12 years old. She designed something to stop that happening, to save children being injured in this way that then got taken on a news by every other mill. Now part of this is a, is another question that I re, one of the reasons why I really like what I read about her, because she was ferocious as a business person. She made no money from that. She was too young to hold a patent. She couldn't and she didn't know enough about it at that day.

 

ALTON:

And somebody stole the patent from her for, or took away the, uh, the, the engineer that built the first machine for her from her designs actually stole the design and got a patent on it. And then she had a win it back in court, which takes huge gumption.

 

SIMON:

And that's was, that was my next reason is this guy Charles Annan. . .

 

ALTON:

Annan.

 

SIMON:

Right. He basically, as you said, tried to make the machine with a full . . . what made the machine for her, patented it quickly and she went after him and won it because she had every piece of paperwork. She was a remarkable, remarkable woman. Um, and she founded, it was called the Easter Paper Bag Company.

 

ALTON:

Yup.

 

SIMON:

So I don't think, uh, I don't think I would have any question about her including in this because she's one of those odd. . . I say odd people in the sense that she did one thing that had, as you said, this huge impact on the world. And I think if she had been a man in those times, we'd remember her far more, and she actually said, no, I'm gonna a quote ‘cause I thought this was really powerful. She said, “I am only sorry I couldn't have had as good a chance as a boy and have been put to my trade regularly.” So we, what that tells us is throughout her life, she was constantly being challenged, not because of the quality of her work, which was remarkable. . .

 

ALTON:

Yeah.

 

SIMON:

. . . but because of her agenda.

 

ALTON:

Yup.

 

SIMON:

And for me, the fact that she fought all the way through that to her death just before the first world war . . .

 

ALTON:

Right.

 

SIMON:

. . . was really remarkable. So I would definitely add her in. So I think. . .

 

ALTON:

Never married, by the way.

 

SIMON:

Never, oh?

 

ALTON:

She never married, which I found really interesting for that time because she was a looker.

She's a very attractive woman. And I liked the fact that she was like, no, I don't need a man. I don't have to, I don't have to get married. Or maybe she just didn't want to. Or maybe that wasn't her cup of tea, but she was an outlier. She had total social ally because women that weren't married were kind of in raising children, were kind of ostracized from the rest of society during that time. She, she fought a lot of fights.

 

SIMON:

So I think we totally agreed on her.

 

ALTON:

Modern woman.

 

SIMON:

So I think four and, and four in, one out.

 

ALTON:

The Kellogg thing is, is super bothersome because um, the guy should've been locked up. Um, and, and certainly should not have had the influence that he did for the reasons that he had them. Or do we need cornflakes? No.

 

SIMON:

It's like, thanks for the breakfast -- now bugger off -- is very much my view of Dr. Kellogg.

 

ALTON:

Um, but you know, his influence, you know, and really he’s the first famous vegetarian, well, maybe not the first famous vegetarian. It's, this bothers me. It does. Because I don't like him. I don't want to laud his accomplishments, but, um, monsters occasionally do great things and it's hard. It's hard to do. On top of that, if somebody's like Ms. Knight. . . We also just really like her and we liked the fact that she was a modern, independent, smart woman that fought. She's a hero.

 

SIMON:

Yes. She really is a hero.

 

ALTON:

She's a hero even though could we have lived without the paper bag? It’s kind of like cornflakes, you know, maybe yes, maybe no. But the point is, we like her, we like her a lot. We liked the kind of person she was and we would, we'd like our children to grow up to be like that. Not like him.

 

SIMON:

We'll, we'll let the, we'll let the listeners comment. . .

 

ALTON:

I agree.

 

SIMON:

. . . and come back and tell us. . .

 

ALTON:

I agree.

 

SIMON:

. . . ‘cause I think it's a wide discussion.

 

BREAK MUSIC

 

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SIMON:

Alton, all of the, these choices that roughly from the same period, from the kind of beginning of the industrial age through to about the beginning part of the 20th century. Why does that period of time fascinate you so much?

 

ALTON:

I've, I've always been fascinated by the advancements in. . . of that period and also the kind of the emerging of the world that we now live in. And you know, the food world, the world in general that we live in came out of the industrial revolution. We, we look, we can look at that and recognize things. Okay. Are cars and machines and things that fly over overhead and there's food in boxes on shelves and, you know, and in bags. So I, I think that I'm always interested in kind of who created the world that I directly live in perhaps, um, and how they navigated technology because it was the first. . . We're talking about a generation defined to a great extent by technology . . .

 

SIMON:

Yes.

 

ALTON:

. . . and technological advancements, um, and business and patents and lawyers and the press. These are modern concepts to me. So I think that each one of these people, um, play a role during that particular, um, time that, that I, I just, I am constantly interested in. There's so much going on during basically this hundred year period where the modern age, emerged out of

previous era, I guess. I don't want to put a name on it, like a period, like era. Um, but everything before that was antiquity in a way. And everything since is the modern world that we live in.

 

SIMON:

Yes. That acceleration of development, that. . .

 

ALTON:

Hugely accelerating.

 

SIMON:

. . . and they have to fit, feel their way through it. . .

 

ALTON:

Right.

 

SIMON:

. . . without any of the benefits we have now with computers and things like that. They have to just. . . They were the first people to be doing a lot of that, which I think is. . .

 

ALTON:

. . . and to a great extent, self-made.

 

SIMON:

Yes.

 

ALTON:

These aren't people necessarily that came from gigantic money. You know, when it used to be to, to make huge advancements in the business world without having the, the, the, the bloodline of it was uncommon, you know. Um, and most of these people, you know, even Frederick Tudor, I don't not believe was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and Kellogg was, but I don't think anybody else was. But I think most of these people were self-made.

 

SIMON:

Excellent choices. Now before we go, I always like to ask. . .

 

ALTON:

There’s going to be a test, isn't there?

 

SIMON:

There’s a test.

 

ALTON:

It's always like a speed test. So like a speed round. Tuna.

 

SIMON:

And it involves yogurt.

 

ALTON:

[Laughter]

 

Great. I'm just gonna bend over now.

 

SIMON:

It involves yogurt and a tube.

 

ALTON:

Fantastic.

 

SIMON:

Um, now, before we go, there are three fun questions that I'm going to ask you. . .

 

ALTON:

But it's not a speed round.

 

SIMON:

It is not a speed round.

 

ALTON:

Okay good. I don’t respond well. . .

 

SIMON:

. . .that I ask at the end. Okay. And it's these, uh, I think. . .

 

ALTON:

I do know about this because I've listened to your show.

 

SIMON:

So with. . . So.

 

ALTON:

So I was expecting this. I'd be disappointed.

 

SIMON:

That’d be. . .

 

[Laughter]

 

Now, if you could attend any one meal in history, what would it be?

 

It could be a period, it could be a specific meal, something that you've seen in art, but if you could attend any one meal and go, I want to go back and sit in there. . .

 

ALTON:

Okay. Um, it's, it's not a specific meal, but it's kind of a range of meals is okay to do that?

 

SIMON:

Of course.

 

ALTON:

Um, I would love to have gone back to the, uh, um, the 70s and had one of those legendary lunches with Orson Welles at Ma Maison in Los Angeles. The lunches where he, he always said to my doctors, told me I have to quit having lunches for four unless I invite three more people.

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

Um, I, I always had a cultural hero of mine. And I just always wanted to be able to have lunch with Orson Welles.

 

SIMON:

Okay, well that's, that is a perfect answer and I love Orson Welles anyway.

 

So, now, if you have to choose, and I know this is going to be impossible for you, the only thing I know is it won't be a unitasker.

 

What is the greatest invention in food history? You could choose one thing. I know it's almost impossible.

 

ALTON:

Refrigeration.

 

SIMON:

Okay.

 

ALTON:

Mechanical refrigeration.

 

SIMON:

Because you think . . .

 

ALTON:

Because without it we don't have any fricking food. Well, without that we would be just walking out and either picking something or shooting something. Um, mechanical refrigeration, changing the entire course of, of mankind, of, of, of a human life.

 

SIMON:

I guess with transportation. . .

 

ALTON:

Yes.

 

SIMON:

It . . . it also totally changed our diet here.

 

ALTON:

Of course.

 

SIMON:

Fruits from tropical regions. . .

 

ALTON:

Of course.

 

SIMON:

. . . export and import food. Okay. Great answer. Final one, final question.

 

ALTON:

Thin mints. Sorry. It wasn’t that?

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

No, that, that definitely wasn't.

 

ALTON:

Oh, I'm sorry.

 

SIMON:

Uh, well maybe. Maybe it is.

 

ALTON:

[Laughter]

 

SIMON:

If, if Alton Brown was a meal, what would it be?

 

ALTON:

Fricking thin mints. I just told you.

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

No, no, no. Okay. I have to get to that. If I was a meal. . .

 

SIMON:

What would it be?

 

ALTON:

An entire meal or just a dish?

 

SIMON:

It could be a dish. It could be a dish.

 

ALTON:

Wow.

 

SIMON:

And no making a joke about something old and bitter.

 

ALTON:

[Laughter]

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

ALTON:

Um, I would be a dry martini.

 

SIMON:

Perfect.

 

ALTON:

I would. It embodies kind of everything that I am. I'm simple but incredibly complicated and fuzzy.

 

[Laughter]

 

Um, cold a good bit at a time and um. . .

 

SIMON:

But shouldn't be shaken.

 

ALTON:

Yeah, I’m stirred. Um, I'm sorry, Bond. Uh, it's, it's, yeah. And besides vodka is, does not a, a, a martini make. Um, and you know, any other thing is that, um, I, I like standards. I like the, not necessarily the adherence, but the respect of standards.

 

SIMON:

I love that. I. . . did you know, just a little bit of extra information to throw in -- a shaken martini is actually a separate cocktail and it's called a Bradford.

 

ALTON:

I did not know that.

 

SIMON:

It's actually classed as a . . .

 

ALTON:

A Bradford? Have you ever just walked in some place and ordered a Bradford and have them look at you like. . .

 

SIMON:

I must do it. I have never done that.

 

ALTON:

A Bradford. In and of itself?

 

SIMON:

In and of itself, a shaken martini is a Bradford.

 

ALTON:

Is that an American invention?

 

SIMON:

I have never got to the bottom of it yet. So if anyone hears this and wants to tell me why any of our great cocktail historians who listen, I know some of them have kind enough to do and I'm going to interview some, so I'm going to ask them when they do they need to.

 

ALTON:

I need to know more about that.

 

SIMON:

Yes, but it's known as a Bradford.

 

But I think this is then the perfect point to finish up and go and have a martini.

 

ALTON:

Which you, I just want to say, after years of chiding them for being a ruffian and. . .

 

SIMON:

A scoundrel.

 

ALTON:

. . . a scoundrel, and a rapscallion for putting olives in martinis, I have gone over to the, the bracing, refreshing nature of the, of the twist.

 

SIMON:

The citrus twist.

 

ALTON:

Of the citrus twist.

 

SIMON:

So, so what we can just agree at the end of this is that I have won.

 

ALTON:

Yes, you have won. But by winning, I now win as well.

 

SIMON:

[Laughter]

 

Everyone wins.

 

ALTON:

We all win. Go with, go with the lemon twist. Yeah.

 

SIMON:

Fantastic.

 

ALTON:

London dry gin. I'm a big . . . Beefeater 24 . . . [inaudible].

 

SIMON:

Beefeater 24 or Plymouth are my two favorites.

 

ALTON:

I think the viscosity of Plymouth is better for other drinks.

 

SIMON:

Oh, okay. That oiliness . . . it is an oiliness . . .

 

ALTON:

It makes a fantastic Negroni. It makes a great gin and tonic. It makes a lot of great things, but it's just not quite light enough for me.

 

SIMON:

If I could recommend one other to try. There is a wonderful spirit maker, called Simon Ford who used to be, I think the brand ambassador to Plymouth. And he worked and I met him when he worked at Beefeater.

 

ALTON:

Um-hm.

 

SIMON:

. . . and he has created a gin called Ford's gin. They've just released a reserve. . . officer’s reserve.

 

ALTON:

Is that in the UK? Or is it. . ?

 

SIMON:

You'll see it in a lot of bars in the US. It's called Ford's gin. Ask for it if you go into a bar. It makes a wonderful martini cause he's a great martini maker. He's from the bar trade. It's been created. . . You can buy it at retail, but it's been created for the mixology trade. So maybe if we see a Ford’s gin, we’ll have to give it a try.

 

ALTON:

We've got a major sponsor now for the podcast.

 

[Laughter]

 

SIMON:

So, yes, Simon, if you're listening. . .

 

ALTON:

So. . .

 

[Laughter]

 

SIMON:

I'll, I'll post you my address uh, you could send. . .  just send the odd case or two. No, but it is seriously, it's a fantastic gin, give it a try.

 

ALTON:

I’ll try it.

 

SIMON:

Alton, thank you so much for being a. . .

 

ALTON:

Thank you for having me.

 

SIMON:

. . . a very honored guest on my very humble podcast.

 

ALTON:

I would love to try to do the list thing again.

 

SIMON:

We'll do it again.

 

ALTON:

Yeah, next time. I'll try to stump you.

 

SIMON:

Okay. We'll get, we'll take it from there. Thank you very much.

 

OUTRO MUSIC

 

SIMON:

Do make sure to check out the website associated with this podcast at www dot Eat My Globe dot com where we will be posting the transcripts from each episode, along with all the references and resources we used putting the episodes together, in case you want to delve deeper into each subject. There’s also a contact button, so please do let us know if there are any subjects that you would like us to cover.

And, if you like what you hear, please don’t forget to subscribe, recommend us to your family and friends and give us that all-important good rating on your favorite podcast provider.

Thank you and goodbye from me, Simon Majumdar, we’ll speak to you soon on the next episode of EAT MY GLOBE: Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know About Food.

 

CREDITS

 

The EAT MY GLOBE Podcast is a production of “It’s Not Much But It’s Ours” and “Producer Girl Productions”

[“April will cut that out”]

and is created with the kind co-operation of the UCLA Department of History. We would especially like to thank Professor Carla Pestana, the Department Chair of the Department of History and Nicole Gilhuis for their notes on this episode. Also, a huge thank you to Sybil Villanueva for her help with research and the preparations of the transcripts for this episode, which can be found on the website.

 

[Ed. Note: We would also like to thank Jim Pace for his help in the recording of this episode.]

[Ed Note: We talk about Federick Tudor on our episode on The History of Gin.]

[Ed Note: We talk about John Harvey Kellogg on our episode on The History of Breakfast Cereals.]

[Ed Note: We talk about Isabella Beeton on The History of Breakfast Cereals  and The History of Lobster.]

Published Date: November 17, 2019

For the annotated transcript with references and resources, please click HERE.