Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

An Old Trick Holds New Promise For Tastier Tomatoes

Jul 20, 2016

Scott Stoddard is an expert when it comes to tomatoes. He plants rows and rows of tomatoes outdoors on farms across central California for the University of California Cooperative Extension.

They're the kind of tomatoes that "end up on sandwiches at Subway," Stoddard says. "Also, at any of your common hamburger places, In-N-Out, McDonald's, you name it."

I suspect I was about eight years old at the time I'm remembering. I had to go to bed at 8:00 on school nights, except that one night a week, I could stay up until 8:30. I got to pick the night, and I generally picked Tuesdays, because that's when Happy Days was on.

Amadeo Esposito's first sight of the island of Castellamare is "a low and brooding thing on the horizon, no more than a rock on the water." On one side, the lights of Sicily are visible; on the other side, pure black stretching all the way to Africa.

Lindsay Hatton's novel Monterey Bay bobs somewhat awkwardly in the wake of John Steinbeck's 1945 classic, Cannery Row. In Hatton's tale, a boyishly attired 15-year-old named Margot Fiske works as a helpmeet for her father, an eccentric entrepreneur, in the scenic enclave "that splits the difference between Monterey and Pacific Grove" on California's coast.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Comic Mike Birbiglia's new film, Don't Think Twice, was inspired by an observation his wife made when she came to one of his improv shows.

"She goes, 'It's amazing that everyone is equally talented in this show, and yet this one person is on Saturday Night Live and this one person is a movie star and this one person lives on an air mattress in Queens,' " Birbiglia tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And I thought: Not only is that true and a great observation, but it's also a movie."

QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About War And Food?

Jul 19, 2016

When we think of tools of warfare, we tend to think of spears, guns and other types of militaristic weaponry. But throughout history, food has often been a critical component of war — inspiring conflict and, in some cases, delivering victory. War and peace? More like war and peas.

We've created a quiz to test your knowledge of just a few examples of how the history of food and war are intermingled. Can you defeat the questions?

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In the summertime, the air is thick with the low humming of bees delivering pollen from one flower to the next. If you listen closely, a louder buzz may catch your ear.

Maggie O'Farrell writes novels in which you can happily lose yourself. She is fascinated by women who refuse to conform, by the secrets withheld even from our nearest and dearest, and by the unpredictable, serendipitous nature of life, the way a chance encounter can change everything and come to feel inevitable. Her lushly emotional books are filled with strong characters and unexpected convergences and revelations that unfurl across decades and continents.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

If you're a taxpayer, you're in on this system.

We — the U.S. taxpayers — help subsidize farmers by paying part of the premiums on their crop insurance. This helps ensure that farmers don't go belly up, and also protects against food shortages.

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