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Did you know that most Americans did not eat tuna until the 20th century? On this week's episode of A Taste of the Past, Linda Pelaccio sits down with Andrew F. Smith, a food historian and author of the recent book, American Tuna: The Rise and Fall of an Improbable Food. Learn about how Mediterranean immigrant populations popularized the fish in the United States, and how the Japanese made it a staple of culinary culture. Hear about how American preferences in terms of tuna preparation have changed over the decades, from canned to raw. With all of the media attention concerning methylmercury, is tuna still safe to eat? Tune in to learn more about the different varieties of tuna, population levels, and the role of sport fisherman in the tuna industry. This episode has been brought to you by Hearst Ranch.

"Once you remove the oil from it, it's actually a very mild-tasting fish. You can use it as a substitute in pretty much all of your chicken recipes."

"80% of the Bluefin tuna stock that was around in the 1970s is now gone. The thought used to be if we restricted catching, then we would give the population an opportunity to recover... There's no evidence that supports that."

-- Andrew F. Smith on A Taste of the Past


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This week on A Taste of the Past, Linda Pelaccio delving into the history of soy sauce with Helen Roberts, the Publicity Manager and Creative Culinary Director at Kikkoman USA. Soy sauce has a rich history, dating back to 500 B.C. in China! Learn about the brewing processes that are used to make soy sauce! Tune in to learn about the Japanese standards for soy sauce, and why many soy sauces in the United States would not pass as authentic in Japan. Helen also shares some alternative uses for soy sauce; learn how to brine your turkey and make chocolate with soy sauce! Hear about the rich family history of the company, and its horizontal operating ideology. Check out the Kikkoman USA documentary trailer on their website. "Make haste slowly" - it's the Kikkoman way! This episode has been brought to you by S. Wallace Edwards & Sons.

"People haven't learned how to use soy sauce properly. A lot of times, it seems too salty because they have used way too much. You should use soy sauce as an umami ingredient to increase the flavors of everything else." [10:30]

-- Helen Roberts on A Taste of the Past


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With all of the focus on ethnic and regional cooking in the modern food movement, why is Russian cuisine so often neglected in the foodie canon? This week on A Taste of the Past, Linda Pelaccio sits down with Darra Goldstein, Professor of Russian at Williams College. Darra is also the founder and former Editor in Chief of Gastronomica, and the author of two books- A Taste of Russia and Georgian Feast. Tune into this episode to learn about the staples of Russian cooking. Why did Russian peasants crave sour foods? Learn how Peter the Great Westernized Russian cuisine for the upper classes. Tune in to hear Linda and Darra discuss some traditional Russian beverages such as vodka, kvass, and kefir. Listen in to learn about traditional Russian aversions to ocean fish and bears! This program has been brought to you by Bi-Rite Market.

"The new Russia is so fascinating... The capital cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg- you would hardly be able to recognize them if you lived there when it was the Soviet Union. There are many foreign chefs working there." [7:00]

"One thing that distinguishes Russian cuisine is the stove's falling temperature." [22:50]

-- Darra Goldstein on A Taste of the Past


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