Rank #1: The Pizza
Dan Saladino charts the rise, fall and rise of traditional Neapolitan pizza. He's joined by Daniel Young whose "Where to Eat Pizza" lists 1700 great pizzerias around the world. A common theme in the book, Daniel argues, is that after decades of competition from less authentic rivals, the Neapolitan style pizza is making an impact on restaurant scenes across Europe, Asia and north America. Professor John Dickie, the author of Delizia: The epic history of the Italians and their food, explains the birth of the Neapolitan pizza in the 18th and 19th centuries on the streets of Naples, then one of the most densely populated cities in the world. What emerged was a pizza that was quickly cooked at high tempertaures and was soft and moist enough to be folded and eaten on the streets. The current renaiisance of the pizza can also be seen in the UK. Dan meets some of the pizzaioli (pizza chefs) who have taken a centuries old food and taken it to new heights. Presented by Dan Saladino.
Rank #2: Ferment
Fermentation is one of our oldest methods for preserving food. All around the world people have been transforming food with the help of microbes for thousands of years. The problem is, this simple method has had an identity crisis. We tend either see it as a fashionable fad, or a strange science. But there are people who want things to change. So in this programme Sheila Dillon meets 'The fermenters'. Ukranian food writer and chef Olia Hercules, who grew up with fermented foods; Roopa Gulati, using fermentation to explore her Indian heritage; entrepreneur Deborah Carr, whose fermentation business is going from strength to strength; and seasonal chef Tom Hunt who is putting seasonal ferments back on his restaurant menu. In 2016, It's time to rethink fermentation.
Rank #3: The World's Most Popular Cheese: The Story of Cheddar
Dan Saladino reports on the past, present and future of what's thought to be the world's most widely produced and consumed cheese, Cheddar. Dan also meets producers who are trying to discover what cheddar might have tasted like more than a century ago, using some of the earliest known Cheddar recipes. Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.
Rank #4: Michael Pollan: Why Cooking Matters
Sheila Dillon speaks to the writer Michael Pollan on the craft, science and pleasures of cooking. In his new book, Cooked, "a love letter to cooking", Pollan who is one of the world's most popular thinkers on food reflects on the value of being a cook and preparing our own food. From understanding the physics and culture of the barbecue to the art of fermentation, Pollan has spent the last two years researching cooking techniques around the world to help explain how transforming food has influenced our evolution and development over millions of years. Cooking, says Pollan, is "baked into our DNA", we are "the cooking animal". For that reason he examines what we've lost as rates of domestic cooking have declined since the 1960's and what it will take for more of us to make a meaningful return to the kitchen. Producer: Dan Saladino.
Rank #5: Eating to Run: Part 2
Ultra-marathon champ and vegan Scott Jurek tells Dan Saladino how to eat and run 100 miles. Fermented food and Paleo diets are also put to the test in Food and Running Part 2.
Rank #6: A Fat Lot of Good
The range of fats and oils available to us is growing but the advice has changed dramatically. Sheila Dillon looks to cut through the latest thinking to help gain clarity of which we should be using when. She's joined in the studio by Dr Michael Mosley whose recent investigation looked into how the composition of saturated and polyunsaturated fats changed when heated with food and resulted in the production of dangerous aldehydes. Sheila finds out what response there has been since the programme and how he's changed his own cooking and buying habits but what questions should we be asking when we eat out? Over the past decades animal fats have lost out in popularity and newer products like coconut oil have risen in prominence. Yet a butcher from Clonmel in Tipperary has seen his dripping crowned 'supreme champion' in the Great Taste awards - could this signify a change of thinking on what was once classed 'unhealthy fats'. Meanwhile in parts of Italy a new disease is threatening olive trees. N.B. In this programme, mustard oil is used. Due to the high levels of the allergen erucic acid present in mustard oil, EU regulations state that the oil must be marked for 'external use only'. However, it continues to be widely used in Indian cooking and is often recommended by chefs to create authentic dishes.
Rank #7: Coffee and the God Shot. The Drinks Menu
Dan Saladino journeys into coffee's past, present and future. He discovers a world of new flavours, far from his formative espresso experiences in Sicily - and finds that things are more precarious than they may seem. Are we living in a golden age of coffee? Behind every cup of coffee is a story - or rather many stories. A whole chain, from people to processes, all of which make a difference to the taste and experience. Featured in the programme are Stephen Leighton - roaster and founder of Hasbean, James Hoffman - author of 'The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing', Barista Claire Wallace - Winner of the 2015 Scottish Aeropress Championships, Professor Robert W Thurston - coffee shop owner and Senior Editor of 'Coffee - A Comprehensive Guide', Alejandro Martinez - Coffee Grower in El Salvador and Sarada Krishnan - Director of Horticulture at the Denver Botanic Gardens and coffee scientist..... and Joe of Brew in Bristol who makes Dan's espressos when he takes a break from The Food Programme office. The podcast of this programme features extra material, including coffee businessman Kenfe Bellay on the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony and a new coffee story from the Ark of Taste. Producer: Rich Ward.
Rank #8: Diet and Dementia
For the 850 thousand families in the UK living with dementia, the simple daily practise of eating a meal can escalate into a dreaded challenge. Spurred on by a listener's personal experience, Sheila Dillon meets people living with dementia to ask how their relationship with food has changed. American food writer Paula Wolfert has written award winning books on the food of the Mediterranean. In 2012, she was diagnosed with a form of dementia and after careful research she transformed her daily diet. As Paula prepares to release what will be her final book, Sheila speaks to her about what food means now. Sheila also meets James Ashwell, a young entrepreneur whose online business venture was inspired by caring for his mother who loved to cook. Sheila hears from Professor Margaret Rayman, who heads the nutritional medicine course at the University of Surrey. Her book 'Healthy Eating to Reduce the Risk of Dementia' draws on hundreds of academic papers into nutrition and the brain. And in an area which still requires so much research, Sheila speaks to an American academic embarking on what could be the 'gold standard' study into how what we eat affects the development of dementia. Presented by Sheila Dillon Produced by Clare Salisbury Photo credit: Alison van Diggelen.
Rank #9: That Gut Feeling: Part One
Dan Saladino discovers the world of the gut microbiota, the vast array of microbes within us all. From East Africa to the White House, it's a story that'll change the way you eat. Dan is joined by Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London, and author of The Diet Myth - The Real Science Behind What We Eat. Tim tells the story of how he became fascinated by the gut microbiome and our diet. The programme also features a Dutch draper named Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, co-founder of the American Gut Project Jeff Leach, evolutionary biochemist Dr Nick Lane, and Alexandre Meybeck - a Senior Officer at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. Presenter: Dan Saladino Producer: Rich Ward.
Rank #10: Tea: A Coffee Drinker's Guide
Hardened coffee drinker Dan Saladino investigates tea's past, present and future and finds out how our preference for the leaf has changed over three centuries. He visits the location of Britain's first tea retailer, hears the adventures of legendary tea hunter John Fortune and visits the site of an auction house which oversaw 85 per cent of all global tea trade. In south west India we hear from a team of tea pluckers and get an insight into the skill and labour involved in producing tea. Do we pay enough for a cup of tea? It's a question Dan will develop in the second instalment of this tea story. Presented by Dan Saladino and produced in Bristol.
Rank #11: Fish Farming
Fields of Fish - The huge rise in farmed fish and the people trying to make it sustainable. The world is now producing more farmed fish than farmed beef. Sheila Dillon discovers how fish farming works and hears concerns about its impact on the environment and fish welfare. Presented by Sheila Dillon and produced in Bristol by Emma Weatherill.
Rank #12: The Joy of Eggs
We were once told 'Go to work on an egg' but health warnings later saw us cut the number we eat. As the US Dietary Advisory Committee drops its advice on restricting egg consumption Sheila Dillon asks if we're falling back in love with the egg. Similar limits in the UK were lifted several years ago after evidence suggested their cholesterol did not have a significant effect on our blood cholesterol after all. The amount we eat in the UK is now continuing to rise and the trend for keeping hens at home or in community projects has seen many people collecting their own too. Sheila Dillon asks if the humble egg is breaking free of a tarnished reputation and proving itself to be a versatile protein provider worth celebrating. She hears reports from US where yolk-dodgers have demanded white-only 'heart healthy omelettes' and similar concoctions while in Silicon Valley a 'solution' to the egg has been created in a plant protein based alternative which they claim can mimic many of the egg's functions. But back in the UK she finds a more celebratory atmosphere - a major retailer has begun supplying guaranteed double yolkers, Neil Rankin, founder of 'Bad Egg' Restaurant has kept his supplier in steady business while Genevieve Taylor found her hens laid so many she had to create new recipes to use them all. Has the egg been given too much of a bad rap and is now breaking free and what does the future hold? Presented by Sheila Dillon and Produced in Bristol by Anne-Marie Bullock.
Rank #13: Raw Milk
With a Food Standards Agency consultation underway, Sheila Dillon and guests discuss the controversial subject of raw milk. Banned in Scotland in 1983, the current system in England allows raw unpasteurised milk to be sold directly from the farmer. Raw milk producers are subject to stringent and regular laboratory tests and their products have to carry a warning on the label that the milk may contain properties that are harmful. But there is a growing demand for raw milk in the UK and means of supply are testing the current rules ; The FSA recently threatened prosecution over the presence of a vending machine selling raw milk in Selfridges. Advocates argue that raw milk has many positive health benefits that are lost with pasteurisation. The debate for some is about the right of the individual to choose what risks they take. Balancing that demand with the need to protect public health is the challenge the Food Standards Agency faces. In America, the libertarian argument is even more polarised. With the prices paid for pasteurised milk being on a seemingly downward trajectory in the UK, and with internet shopping making a mockery of distribution rules, Sheila will get the views of all the interested parties. The passion this subject stirs, and the big questions it raises will make for a lively and engaging listen to everyone - raw milk and non raw milk drinkers alike.
Rank #14: Is There a Place for Salt?
Salt has long been prized, but in recent years it has become, for many, something to be avoided: to reduce or even eliminate. At the same time, there are new salt making businesses popping up all over the UK, celebrating salts with - they claim - unique characteristics due to their location and methods of production; they are salts of a place. In this edition of The Food Programme Sheila Dillon asks if there is a place for salt - in our kitchens and on our plates. Featuring chef and writer of 'Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat' Samin Nosrat, lexicographer and etymologist (and Dictionary Corner resident) Susie Dent, Senior Health Correspondent for online news site vox.com Julia Belluz, salt makers Alison and David Lea-Wilson, and the chef and author of 'Salt is Essential': Shaun Hill. Presenter: Sheila Dillon Producer: Rich Ward. The reading of 'Sugar and Salt' in the podcast and Monday's broadcast is by Vicky Coathup.
Rank #15: The Future of Cheese
Dan Saladino finds out what the future holds for cheese, including the role of raw milk. It's a story of microbes, mystery, discord and symphony. Dan is joined by Bronwen Percival, cheese buyer for Neal's Yard Dairy and contributor to the new Oxford Companion to Cheese. Also featuring John Gynther from Arla Unika, cheesemakers Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore, food writer Patrick McGuigan, researcher Dr Mélanie Roffet-Salque from the University of Bristol, and epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector. Presenter: Dan Saladino Producer: Rich Ward.
Rank #16: Barbecue
From the 'slow and low' tradition of the American south to the village of Llantwit Major in South Wales, Dan Saladino explores the revival of one of the food world's most misunderstood words; barbecue. A world away from the burnt burgers and charred sausages of the British barbecue experience, the 'barbecue belt' of the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee to Texas captures a story that goes beyond food. From politics and class to race and gender: barbecue has become a vital American institution. A cooking technique requiring endless patience, effort and care, Dan Saladino talks to some of barbecue's biggest enthusiasts about how their modern approach is shaping our oldest form of cooking. Producer: Anna Miles.
Rank #17: Greek Yogurt: a global love affair
In the Great Taste Awards last year, a yogurt from a small British dairy beat over 10,000 competitors to win the Supreme Champion title. This surprised many, not least because it was a simple, plain, 'Greek-style' yogurt. This type of fermented milk product, often strained to remove whey, is a relative newcomer in the UK - but is on the rise. In fact, Greek and Greek-style yogurt is the fastest growing sector of the UK yogurt market. It has also been at the centre of a High Court battle, an American health craze and a multi-billion dollar yogurt war. In this edition of the Food Programme, Sheila Dillon discovers the secrets of making this thick, creamy... and delicious cultured food. It was originally made in this country by immigrants such as the founders of Tim's Dairy, now run by four brothers whose Greek Cypriot uncle started making yogurt in a small London workshop in 1949, and now make around five to ten thousand litres of Greek-style yogurt a day. Collete and David Strachan are dairy farmers, but after losing cows (even though none were infected) during BSE and with the price of milk spiralling ever downward, the future of their Suffolk farm was in question. Ten years ago they started to experiment with yogurt-making, and along the way, as Sheila discovers, they have been joined by two of their children James and Katherine- and it's their plain Greek-style yogurt made at Marybelle Dairy that has just won the Supreme Champion award. So what is 'Greek' yogurt? With the help of BBC producer Aylin Bozyap-Hannen who learnt how to make yogurt from her Turkish mother, Sheila reveals a traditional, regional food that has been on an incredible, controversial, and tasty journey. Producer: Rich Ward.
Rank #18: Mexican cooking and the food adventures of Diana Kennedy
Dan Saladino meets the world authority on the food of Mexico, the British born writer Diana Kennedy. Diana Kennedy's life reads like an adventure story. Born in Loughton, Essex in 1923, after serving in the land army she set off on a journey that would take her to Canada, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. She stopped off in Haiti, met the New York Times correspondent Paul Kennedy, fell in love and they moved to Mexico. Soon after arriving she became fascinated by Mexican food. A maid looking after the home was also a cook and the regional dishes made Diana Kennedy curious about the ingredients and recipes of other regions of Mexico. After Paul Kennedy died in 1966 Diana found herself living in New York, with no income and an uncertain future. The Food Editor of The New York Times, Craig Claiborne encouraged her to use her knowledge of Mexican food and give cooking lessons. To research recipes and find ingredients she'd travel to remote parts of Mexico, into villages, to markets and into kitchens with domestic cooks to learn more about traditional foods. That research has continued for five decades. It has produced nine books, and a body of work that is now regarded as the most authoritative account of Mexico's cuisines ever created. In the programme Diana Kennedy explains her life in food. In the programme food writer and editor of Swallow magazine, James Casey visits Diana Kennedy in her home in Michoacan to see how she's also created a garden containing varieties of fruit and vegetables from all over Mexico. Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.
Rank #19: Comfort food for dark days
Sheila Dillon celebrates the power of food to comfort us in hard times, especially during these dark days of the year. Dumplings, marshmallows, chicken soup, fried chicken, curried goat: all the things we long to eat when we're sad, or sick, or homesick. She talks to Antarctic explorers about the food they miss from home, and eating marshmallows at the South Pole; to teenagers in a Fried Chicken shop; to homesick Polish emigres eating proper Polish dumplings, and to a class of eight-year-olds about what their parents cook for them when they're sick. Chef Raymond Blanc goes into an almost mystical trance as he remembers the puddings his mother cooked for him as a child and their trembling caramel; he confesses this is what he craves now when he's sick. Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner reveals the secret of "Jewish penicillin", or chicken soup; Dr Rupy Aujla reflects on what you might call the culinary placebo effect; and Reggae singer Levi Roots explains about the consoling power of curried goat. Not forgetting Jill Archer's famous flapjacks - the Food Programme presents a comfort feast for February! Presenter: Sheila Dillon Producer: Elizabeth burke.
Rank #20: Japanese Whisky: A Beginners Guide
Dan Saladino goes on a journey through the history, culture and flavours of Japanese whisky. Why and how has this nation taken a drink so strongly associated with Scotland and made it their own? In 2001, the drinks world started to pay attention to Japanese whisky after one if its distillers scored top marks in an international whisky completion. In the years that followed, the awards and the global attention for Japanese whiskies continued to grow. Critics have described some Japanese whiskies as the "work of genius" and, just last year, one whisky produced by a small, new-wave distillery in the north of the country was voted the world's "Best Single Cask Whisky". With the help of whisky writer and author of the award-winning 'Way of Whisky: A Journey Round Japanese Whisky', Dave Broom, Dan asks: what lies behind the rise and rise of Japanese whisky and who are the people who helped make all this global recognition possible? The story has its origins in the 1860s when a recently opened up Japan started to forge close trading links with Scotland, paving the way for whisky imports. Once the taste for the spirit developed, distillers and chemists within Japan started to work on ways of producing a home-grown version of the drink. A breakthrough came in 1919 when a young student called Masataka Taketsuru travelled to Scotland, worked inside some renowned distilleries, married a Scottish woman and returned home with the secrets behind Scotch. Another pioneer, Shinjeero Torri, would put that know-how to good use and create the Suntory distilling empire and brands such as Yamasaki and Hakushu. Taketsuru would go on to found another respected and award winning whisky brand, Nikka. After record whisky sales in Japan throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the industry fell into decline for the next quarter of a century, with drinkers switching to other spirits and beer. A range of factors lie behind the recent whisky revival and boom, ranging from Japanese innovations in fermentation, distillation and barrel aging as well as the drink that brought whisky to the attention of a younger generation - the High Ball, a mix of whisky and soda. As Dave Broom also explains, the resurgence has encouraged a new generation of distillers to enter the whisky world, including Chichibu, an operation run mostly by people in their twenties, now winning awards. To explore the unique flavours on offer in Japanese whisky, Dan travels to the Highlander pub in Craigellachie, Scotland, where he meets landlord Tatsuya Minagawa and samples a "next to impossible" to find bottle of whisky. Recommended reading: Dave Broom: The Way of Whisky - A Journey Through Japanese Whisky. Dominic Roskrow: Whisky Japan - The Essential Guide To The World's Most Exotic Whisky Brian Ashcraft: Japanese Whisky - The Ultimate Guide to The World's Most Desirable Spirit Stefan Van Eycken: Whisky Rising Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.