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Just in time for the holiday season best known for binge eating, the National Geographic Channel, also known as Nat Geo, offers an epic look at the history of FOOD. This epic six-hour mini-series event called Eat: The Story of Food, promises to bring its viewers on an unbelievable and unforgettable culinary voyage through time. Though many TV shows and even entire networks revolve solely around cooking, never before have they asked when we ate what, why we ate it and how it's made us who we are.

Chef Boyardee

“I think it actually does draw the line and say, this is the history of food,” says Simon Majumdar, famed food author and broadcaster. “Not many people have done that. Not many people have drawn that line and said, ‘let’s look at food, let’s look at how it’s impacted our culture, how it’s impacted our religion, how it’s impacted sexuality. Food has impacted every single aspect of our human existence’.“

This November 21-23, 2014 at 9 pm et, Eat: The Story of Food will attempt to answer all of these long-pondered questions. The story of food, how it's prepared around the world and how it's evolved, is told in a way only National Geographic attempts, with grueling research, attention to detail and accuracy, and a thoroughness no other network even attempts.. Every element of our culinary history will be explored, from cave people throwing hunks of meat over a fire to teams of lab-coated scientists perfecting the crunch of a potato chip. This is a tale of how we have made food, and how it has made us.

“It happened partially organically and in the moment, and partially in pre-production and research,” said Executive Producer, Pamela Caragol Wells, on what inspired the series. “That’s the whole idea of the series, not just to make you hungry and want to eat, but it’s also to make you hungry to want to learn more because we are just delving into the surface here.”

One of the episodes focuses on what the producers call “Food Revolutionaries”, including Anna Maria Boiardi. Interestingly enough, her grandfather  Mario Boiardi, and uncle Hector Boiardi, after immigrating to America from Italy, started the legendary canned pasta company known to every American alive as Chef Boyardee.  

Boiardi explains her ties to the famous company, saying, “The thing is, it’s not my achievement. It’s the achievement of a family that I’m incredibly proud to be part of. My grandfather started working in a kitchen when he was 8 years old. My uncle Hector started working around the same age. They have no formal education. My uncle Hector ran the kitchen of the Plaza Hotel in New York City when he was 17 years old.” She adds, “Chef Boyardee was started in 1928, when It was not chic to be Italian. None of the finer restaurants were Italian restaurants, they were all French. Italian food was sort of considered like peasant food, and was looked down upon. They were just very passionate about what they were doing. They certainly never could have envisioned that 87 years later, it would still be a product that everyone knows and loves in the entire United States.”

 

Each of the EAT: The Story of Food’s six one-hour episodes is centered around a different theme, including the aforementioned food revolutionaries, meat, sugar, seafood, junk food and grains. A top-notch group of what the producers are calling “food ambassadors” accompany each episode, discussing not only the historical significance of certain foods now, but the cultural impact of our future food consumption.

 

Julia ChildFood Revolutionaries

Premieres Friday, Nov. 21, 9/8c

Nat Geo kicks off its first episode of the series with a bang! This episode explains how “food revolutionaries” changed the way the world looked at food, prepared food and ate food. People such as Julia Child, who kicked off the vast food entertainment industry simply by appearing on TV to promote her new cookbook, are discussed in-depth, showing what it takes to make an impact on society. From Christopher Columbus's voyage for spices in the New World to Chef Hector Boiardi's influence on mass-produced pasta sauce, these larger-than-life food icons changed the world with the power of food.

 

MeatCarnivores

Premieres Friday, Nov. 21, 10/9c

The story of meat and the story of mankind go hand in hand. In fact, one primatologist claims that cooked meat may have started it all: Once prehumans heated their food, their bodies obtained more energy, allowing them to reproduce better and survive longer. In some ways, not a lot has changed. Grilling steaks on the back porch and cooking hot dogs over a campfire are still major American pastimes, so much for civilized! This episode follows humankind's insatiable appetite for meat: how the Romans learned to salt meat for transportation, how spam kept soldiers fed during World War II and how Americans discovered a way to mass-produce chickens and hamburgers.

 

SweetsSugar Rushes

Premieres Saturday, Nov. 22, 9/8 c

About 10,000 years ago, somewhere in the heart of Asia, sugar cane was first discovered, then farmed, and later, in India, the sweet stalks were turned into “khanda”, or as better known to us, “candy”. People have been going bananas over the delicious substance ever since. As sugar spread like wildfire across the world, via the legendary Silk Road, it quickly became a top selling item and a valuable cash crop. This episode explores the human obsession with sweets and the effect sugar has had on world events throughout history. Nat Geo even shares the dark side of sugar production, as the introduction of sugar cane sparked a massive slave trade in the Caribbean.

 

SeafoodSea Changes:

Premieres Saturday, Nov. 22, 10/9c

This one's all about seafood. Some hate it, some love it, but either way, it's been an important component for human consumption throughout history, and a major staple in the development of nations. High in protein and omega-rich, seafood is naturally healthy and full of nutrients. It drove the Viking hordes, funded the American Revolution, gave hope to the Allies during two world wars and increasingly fuels our brains and muscles today. The ocean is so vast it's easy to think that there's plenty of fish for everyone, but unsustainable practices are forcing us as a species to rethink, and redefine our commercial practices in the ocean. For example, newly developed techniques of 3-D ocean farming of oysters, mussels and sea kelp, may not only sustain us but heal the oceans as well.

 

Guilty PleasureGuilty Pleasures:

Premieres Sunday, Nov. 23, at 9/8 c

For this episode, Nat Geo tackles the issues surrounding processed foods. It has transformed what we eat today to such a degree, that our ancestors would probably hardly even recognize it as food. The industrial revolution paved the way for this modern incarnation of food, as soldiers overseas, women in factories and infrastructures around the world required (and still do) quick, convenient meals. Though processed foods revolutionized the way we eat, concerns over nutritional value in recent years may challenge our perceptions of the” junk food” industry, and possibly change the future of fast food.

 

GrainsStaffs of Life:

Premieres Sunday, Nov. 23, at 10/9 c

The final show of the series hones in on the mother of all food groups, grains. In fact, the enormous importance of the discovery of how to grow and cook grains lead human beings to move from hunter/gatherer tribes to agricultural communities, creating what we know today as the first civilizations. In the past 80 years, man’s attempts to refine this once-perfect food have resulted in the unintended consequence of making some breads lacking nutritional value, and causing gluten to arise as the newest enemy among food warriors. But today, thankfully, grains in their purest form have risen again with renewed vigor, as the public becomes more and more concerned over the quality of what they put in their mouths, and swallow..

 

In addition to this television special, National Geographic Channel and the National Geographic Society are exploring the future of food, and celebrating humanity's connection with food, through a major, multi-year cross-platform initiative. This initiative has grown out of an eight-month series in National Geographic Magazine, which is exploring how we can feed a growing, global population. The initiative also includes two new books, a website, an education curriculum, events and exhibitions. 

Check out this world food initiative at www.natgeofood.com

For more information on the miniseries, visit http://NatGeoEat.com

DO NOT MISS PART 2 of our special holiday EAT content, produced by Nat Geo in association with Creative Differences,  of “Eric Greenspan is Hungry”and more, in our upcoming Special Holiday Issue, which will arrive through the magic of technology from December 1-30, 2014 on computer screens of all sizes world-wide!

 

 

 

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 164 - September 2018
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