Munchies feed for https://munchies.vice.comenTue, 11 Dec 2018 17:55:58 +0000<![CDATA[The First-Ever Insect Vaccine Is Designed to Protect Bees from Devastating Diseases]]>, 11 Dec 2018 17:55:58 +0000Honey bees may soon eat their way to safety from disease, thanks to new developments from the University of Helsinki. Researchers Dalial Freitak and Heli Salmela are now using edible sugar patties to create the first vaccines for bees. As pollinator populations decline globally, this is good news for bee colonies who face the threat of widespread bacterial diseases.

Through this vaccine, which they’re calling PrimeBEE, Freitak and Salmela have found a way around a roadblock in insect immunological research. Insect immune systems lack antibodies so they can't have immunological memory, which is what happens when mammals are exposed to pathogens.

To accommodate this immune weakness, Freitak and Salmela are putting the vaccine into edible sugar patties—which will then be eaten by the queen bee—in order to take advantage of a protein called vitellogenin that functions in egg development. Freitak wrote in an email to MUNCHIES, “The vaccine will consist of a specific mixture of components and incorporate aspects of the pathogen that will elicit an immune response.”

When the queen eats the sugar patty containing the vaccine, the vitellogenin binds to that information from the pathogen and carries it into queen's eggs. “This information on the immune response-eliciting aspect of the pathogen is then passed on to the next generation and will enable them to develop higher resistance against the disease,” Freitak told MUNCHIES. She added that, although the percentage of the next generation that will be protected by the vaccine depends a lot on the size and the dosing, “our aim is to provide protection for the entire hive.”

The mechanism behind the vaccine was identified three years ago, but the vaccine is just now being tested in the laboratory as the researchers prepare for regulatory approval.

Most pressingly, Freitak and Salmela are hoping to use the vaccine to target American foulbrood, a disease that infects and kills bee colonies. A fear of beekeepers worldwide, American foulbrood has been called the most destructive disease in its class by the United States Department of Agriculture. In a recent interview with NPR, Toni Burnham, president of the D.C. Beekeepers Alliance, called the disease a “death sentence” for hives and colonies.

Because American foulbrood is spread by way of bacterial spores, any infected bees, honey, or equipment can spread the infection. Its spores are particularly hardy and long-lasting, too: Burnham told NPR that 100-year-old samples pulled from storage could still pose a risk for infection. Able to live in extreme cold and heat, the spores can only be killed by burning or irradiating any elements that have been exposed to the infection.

“If a colony is diagnosed with AFB—regardless of the level of infestation—it burns. Every bit of it burns; the bees are killed and the woodenware burns, and it’s gone,” Burnham told NPR.

Diseases like American foulbrood have contributed to the shocking decline in pollinator populations over the past few decades. Over 25 years, the number of managed bee colonies in Pennsylvania had decreased by more than half, found a 2006 report. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, almost half of all American beehives died. In late 2016, seven kinds of bees native to Hawaii were declared endangered.

This large-scale decline could have devastating effects on agriculture worldwide, given that pollination-dependent plants make up around 35 percent of global crop production, according to the New York Times.

Freitak acknowledged that there's a lot more affecting bees than American foulbreed alone, but sees the vaccine as a small step towards progress. “Of course, the honeybees have many other problems as well: pesticides, habitat loss and so on, but diseases come hand in hand with these life-quality problems,” she said in the press release. “If we can help honey bees to be healthier and if we can save even a small part of the bee population with this invention, I think we have done our good deed and saved the world a little bit.”

As far as when and how beekeepers might be able to procure the vaccine, Freitak told MUNCHIES in an email, “It is too early to say right now, but it definitely will take a few years.”

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

9k4gk5Bettina Makalintalbeesagriculturevaccinesinsectbee decline
<![CDATA[Chocolate Mousse Is Easy If You Just Pay Attention]]>, 11 Dec 2018 16:44:49 +0000Stephanie Prida makes chocolate mousse look simple. While that’s probably because she makes a lot of it as the Executive Pastry Chef of NYC’s The Grill, The Pool, and The Lobster Club, it’s also true that chocolate mousse is essentially a simple dessert.

“This is kind of our workhorse mousse,” Prida says, as she readies a station in the MUNCHIES Test Kitchen. “We make a lot of it at once.”

Some versions rely on egg whites, whipped enough to give the whole thing its signature lift. Prida's uses egg yolks instead.

chocolate mousse made by stephanie prida

RECIPE: Easy Chocolate Mousse

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

vba35yBettina MakalintalRupa Bhattacharyacustardchocolate moussedessert recipequickies
<![CDATA[Easy Jambalaya Recipe]]>, 11 Dec 2018 15:31:36 +0000Servings: 4
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 2 hours


1 pound chicken legs and thighs
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 ribs celery, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh cayenne pepper, stemmed and minced
6 cups chicken stock
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 cups long grain rice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced


1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add the chicken and cook, flipping once, until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

2. Heat the remaining oil in the saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until dark brown (like the color of chocolate), 6 minutes. Add the celery, bell pepper, and onion and cook for 1 minutes, then stir in the garlic and cayenne pepper. Cook 1 minute more, then stir in the stock. Bring to a low simmer over medium-low and stir in the 2 tablespoons salt. Simmer for 1 hour, then stir in the sausage and rice. Nestle the chicken on top, cover, and bake 30 minutes.

3. Carefully remove from the oven and stir in the butter and scallions. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

d3bg77Isaac ToupsNew Orleanshow toRecipeeasycajunjambalaya recipe
<![CDATA[Chile's New Food Labeling Laws Have Created Creepy, Faceless Chocolate Santas]]>, 11 Dec 2018 15:31:12 +0000Despite the summertime temperatures, Christmas in Santiago, Chile means plenty of festive decorations adorning stores and products—and seasonal symbols like Santa abound. But one thing you won’t find on shelves in Chile this year is any Santa-fied chocolate or candy. That’s because in October, the country’s highest court banned depictions of Mr. Claus on junk food.

“It’s too much. They look ridiculous,” Camila Reid, a Santiago native, told MUNCHIES recently of the chocolate figures that are pointedly not Santa Claus. She used to buy Christmas chocolates for her nephews, but she added, “if they don’t look like Santa, what’s the point.”

In the Supreme Court’s ruling, a representative from the Chilean Society of Pediatrics was quoted saying that Santa Claus is being used as a “commercial hook” to convince children that unhealthy, high-sugar products are “more tasty.”

Which, according to a relatively new Chilean law, is illegal.

Under the so-called “Food Labeling Law,” which was approved in 2012 and went into full effect in 2016, snack food companies can no longer advertise to minors on television or the internet. Additionally, brands like Kinder are banned from placing toys in their products and are required to remove kid-friendly advertising—which means nixing images of iconic mascots such as Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger; Pringles’ smiling, mustached face; the Easter Bunny; and now Santa Claus.

Coca Cola bottles with black labels indicating high sugar content.
Coca-Cola bottles with black labels indicating high sugar content.

Diana Pineda, a mother of two in Santiago, agrees. “At first, I found this law to be somewhat exaggerated,” she said. “But my two-year son wants everything and if he sees some entertaining figure in the store, he will love it without even knowing what is inside. For me, it’s better that these products are no longer enticing him with these catchy figures.”

But Rodrigo Álvarez, who heads AB Chile, the country’s largest lobbyist group for the food and beverage industry, told MUNCHIES that this prohibition around holiday characters like Santa Claus is “extreme” and “absurd”.

“We believe that any rule that seeks to reduce the rates of obesity and overweight should focus on those aspects that really impact such indicators,” he said, adding that traditional festive sweets do not do that. “We need a law that helps improve food habits in its entirety and not a rule that does not allow consumers to differentiate or stigmatizes certain foods.”

AB Chile claims that since the Food Labeling Law passed, 20 percent of the entire industry has modified their products to adhere to the new regulations. Coca-Cola alone, according to their own self-reported numbers, has reformulated 32 of its products to lower the sugar levels. Now only 5 percent of Coke products in Chile have the black mark of high sugar labels.

“We reduced the amount of sugar that went to consumers in our products by 33,000 tons—for a small country that is a lot. It’s very huge,” Daniel Vercelli, the General Manager of Coca-Cola in Chile, told MUNCHIES. “And that was not achieved because we sold less, but by growing and maintaining volume.”

Advocates say it will take years to see whether this law is having an impact on people’s overall health. But in the meantime, many neighboring countries have taken notice. So far, Peru and Ecuador have adopted similar policies and Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay are currently looking into it.

Some of the bigger food and beverage companies, like PepsiCo, continue to push back against these regulations in the courts, claiming that the marketing restrictions infringe on their intellectual property rights. Girardi thinks these lawsuits will ultimately will ultimately fail, “because I think the entire world is going in the other direction. What do the citizens want? increasingly more and more they want a decent and healthy life, they don’t want deception.”

The issue of Kris Kringle imagery arose when a retailer who was fined for Santa-shaped chocolates appealed the decision and it wound its way to the top of the Chilean judicial system. There, the Supreme Court ruled that St. Nicholas-style marketing specifically violates this ban on "commercial hooks" designed to make high-calorie junk food appealing to children. Which means—for now if not forever—all the sweets in Chile this season will have be fully de-Santa-tized.

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

439b3nPaige SutherlandHannah KeyserLAWSchristmasjunk foodchilechocolateobesity
<![CDATA[Sweden's Disgusting Food Museum Is Bringing Bull Penis and Baby Mouse Wine to Los Angeles]]>, 11 Dec 2018 11:00:00 +0000 The Guinness Book of World Records has been known to hand out an award for the Most Dangerous Cheese, a record that is currently held by a Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese called casu marzu. Although Guinness gets the country of origin wrong—Sardinia isn’t part of the United Kingdom—the rest of the details are both accurate and rancid. The name itself roughly translates to “rotten cheese,” because it’s produced by leaving a wheel of Pecorino cheese outside to rot.

The cheese quickly becomes infested with cheese flies, which lay their eggs on its surface. When the maggots hatch, they eat the cheese and introduce enzymes that help it to ferment. For casu marzu aficionados, the maggots are the best part, and they don’t actually eat this ball of dry heaves until thousands of fly larvae are squirming on its surface. There are some risks; “The dangers can occur when the maggots, once consumed, can survive stomach acid to pass through the intestine walls, causing vomiting, abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea,” the Guinness book warns. (And in addition to burrowing into your colon, the maggots can also jump into your eyes while you’re mid-chew.)

"One culture’s 'disgusting' is another culture’s delicacy, and the subtle similarities and stark contrasts are fascinating.”

Casu marzu is typically only available on the black market and has faced various bans in the European Union, but if you’re in Los Angeles and have a craving for both cheese and maggots, you’re in luck: it’s one of the items on display at the Disgusting Food Museum’s temporary pop-up.

sheep eye soup

“We can learn to like new foods. We can also learn to feel disgust if we learn about how foods are made [with regards to] animal cruelty or environmental destruction,” he said. “I really want to help people open up to the sustainable protein sources of the future, such as lab grown meat and insects. If we can change the idea of eating insects from disgusting to delicious, it would have a global positive environmental impact.”

But even he isn’t ready to make the jump to casu marzu. “I’ve tried everything I can,” he admitted. “But I really have a hard time with the cheeses. We have five of the world’s stinkiest cheeses, and the Danish one gives me nightmares.”

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

7xydxyJelisa CastrodaleHilary PollackGrossSwedenmuseumsdisgusting food museum
<![CDATA[This Pub Is Serving Free Turkey Dinners to Anyone Spending Christmas Alone]]>, 11 Dec 2018 11:00:00 +0000This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in December 2017.

At the end of a year like this, you’d be forgiven for feeling as if your dark, gnarled heart was just about ready to wither and perish. But then you meet people like Mick and Sarah Dore and you realise that maybe—just maybe—humanity isn’t so doomed after all.

The Dores have run The Alexandra pub in Wimbledon, South London, for almost eight years now, and last month they made an offer to anyone who would be spending Christmas Day on their own: come and have lunch with us.

“Free turkey dinner & a pint on Christmas day for anyone who is on their own. No strings, catches or nonsense,” the post said on Twitter, and the likes soon started pouring in. Everyone from South Africa to New Jersey got in contact to congratulate the Dores on the idea. A fishmonger in Hackney offered smoked salmon for the starter. Others promised crackers, cakes, and more money that the pub could ever need in donations. And, honestly, that’s about as far as I could get without welling up, as the heartfelt replies to the couple's tweet must be the kindest corner of the screaming hell-mouth that Twitter has become.

Photo by the author.

With pubs closing at a rate of 21 a week last year, it’s people like the Dores—who work tirelessly the other 364 days of the year too—ensuring that our remaining public houses remain so popular. They see the social side of their business as being just as important as the financial.

In typical fashion, Mick plays this down: “At the end of the day, we’re just a pub and I think what we do is what anyone else would do in this situation. We’ve always looked at the pub like our home. If people turn up at your house, you’re never going to say you’re not allowed in, you’d say come on in.

“Like with the riots in 2011, when it was all happening around us, we stayed open the whole time. We shut our doors but tweeted: ‘Knock at the window and we’ll let you in.’ People like to have somewhere they could go at times like these. That’s what our pub is all about. The Christmas dinner thing we’re doing is just an extension of that. People say, ‘Oh, you’re doing a great thing,’ but I just absolutely love doing it. It’s my favourite day of the year.”

And if that isn’t the spirit of Christmas, then I’ll eat my paper crown.

9kdwq3Laura MartinPhoebe HurstTURKEYchristmasLondonPubWimbledonheartwarmingroastfestiveThe Alexandra
<![CDATA[Last Call: Dan Tana's Veteran Bartender Can Drink 20 Shots a Night and Has Kept 50 Years of Hollywood Secrets]]>, 11 Dec 2018 10:14:13 +0000 Welcome to Last Call, where we visit watering holes around the world to collect life advice from their trusty barkeepers, learning everything from how to get over a broken heart to what drink orders will get you laughed out of their bar.

There’s a bar, and then there’s a bar. The bar at Hollywood red-sauce joint Dan Tana’s is that second kind. Mike Gotovac has been handling the drinks at Dan Tana’s for more than 50 years, and in that time, his bar has become hallowed grounds for West Coast drinkers, a place where both Clint Eastwood and a WeHo party boy can feel comfortable pulling up a stool and slaking their thirst with one of Gotovac’s notoriously strong one-ingredient martinis. We asked Gotovac how to drink, how to beat a hangover, and how to stay alive.

MUNCHIES: Hi, Mike. How did you first end up at Dan Tana’s?
Mike Gotovac: I’ve been here exactly 50 years … I couldn’t find a job, I had no skills, didn’t speak the language. In Croatia, I went to school for forestry. A friend of a friend was managing this place, he told me to come by and he would give me a job. So, in 1968, I came here, and they said, “Take your jacket off and start working.”

I was a waiter for a while, but there was an older bartender who couldn’t handle the bar, so they asked me if I wanted to go behind the bar. I said, “I don’t speak English, I don’t know how to make drinks.” And they said, “Don’t worry, we’ll teach you!”

mike gotovac bartender at dan tana's los angeles

Do you have a trick for fixing hangovers?
I don’t think such a thing exists. Just drink a lot of water. There is no cure, just water, water, water.

Do you have any plans to retire?
One day at a time. One day I’m going to call and say I’m not coming back anymore. I don’t want to make a big thing. People would want to have a party.

Thanks for speaking with us.

For more on Dan Tana's, check out the MUNCHIES Guide to Hollywood.

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

7xy74qEduardo L. PerroHilary PollackLos AngelesLast CallbartenderAdviceDan Tana's
<![CDATA[LA Councilman Introduces Law Requiring Entertainment Venues to Offer Vegan Food]]>, 10 Dec 2018 17:08:29 +0000 You can’t accuse Los Angeles city councilman Paul Koretz of not staying busy. He has been an instrumental part of the city’s proposed bans on the sale of fur and on the use of plastic straws, has suggested a crackdown on Bird electric scooters, introduced a motion to free a thirtysomething elephant named Billy from the Los Angeles Zoo, tried and failed to have the Playboy Mansion designated as a historic landmark, advised the city to create a “faith-based task force” to protect religious communities, and led a successful campaign to rename an streetcorner in honor of Pink’s Hot Dogs.

And all of that shit, it’s worth noting, has happened within the past two years. But Koretz is still at it, and his most recent proposal means that the city’s movie theaters and sports arenas might have to start serving Impossible Burgers, kale smoothies, and other plant based proteins—whether they want to or not.

According to CBS LA, Koretz has introduced a motion that would require public venues like theaters, the Los Angeles International Airport, the L.A. Zoo, and even Meals on Wheels programs to add at least one vegan protein option to all of their menus.

Koretz cited a number of studies that connect the meat and dairy industries to an increase in greenhouse gas-emissions. “We only have a few years to dramatically drop our greenhouse gas production and production of beef items, especially, generates so much methane,” he said. “Without reducing our beef consumption, it's going to be very difficult for us to reduce climate change.”

If the motion passes, it would make Los Angeles the first city in the U.S. to straight up stiff-arm its entertainment venues into serving meat-free snacks. (But, as Variety notes, many movie theaters already offer vegan popcorn, and Dodger Stadium and the Staples Center already have vegan food vendors as well. This is Los Angeles, after all.)

Although there could be challenges in, say, requiring all of LAX’s 90-plus restaurants and coffee shops to ensure their menus have at least one vegan option, Koretz says it’s for the best. “In a group, the person that's vegan decides where the whole group ends up eating," he said. "So a lot of restaurants are leaving money on the table by not offering some vegan options." (And some of us talk shit about that person on the drive to the restaurant, Paul.)

PETA is, of course, delighted by this—but in a week in which they’ve suggested that meat-based expressions like “bringing home the bacon” are the same thing as using racist or homophobic language, they can take a seat.

LAist reports that Koretz will present his motion to a special committee and, if it is approved, it will be sent to the full city council. If a majority approve it, then it will go to the city’s attorney to draft a law, and not offering vegan hot dogs could literally be against the law by February 2019.

You may respond to this information with the meal of your choice.

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

a3m4pzJelisa CastrodaleHannah KeysermeatLAWSLos Angelesvegetarianclimate changeveganismgreenhouse gasses
<![CDATA[Perfect Fried Chicken Recipe]]>, 10 Dec 2018 14:02:56 +0000Servings: 2-4
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour, plus 8 hours brining


for the brine:
⅓ cup kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon chili flakes
peel of one lemon
peel of one orange
1 (3-4 pound) whole chicken, broken down into 8 pieces

for the honey butter:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup honey
½ teaspoon kosher salt

for the dredge:
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup rice flour
1 ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
¼ teaspoon baking powder

to batter and fry the chicken:
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
kosher salt
canola oil, for frying

1. Make the brine: Combine the salt, chili flakes, and citrus peels in a large pot with 2 quarts water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve, then cool completely before adding in the chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.

2. Make the honey butter: Whip the butter in a mixer with a whisk attachment on medium speed until smooth. Stream in the honey and add the salt. Whip the butter until the volume doubles and the honey butter almost looks white. It should be smooth, emulsified, and luscious. Serve at room temperature, preferably spread on top of hot fried chicken. If making ahead, store in the refrigerator until needed, then bring to room temperature before serving. (We suggest taking the honey butter out of the fridge before you start battering the chicken.)

3. To make the dredge: Mix flour, spices, and baking powder well. Taste it – it should taste good!

4. To batter the chicken: Remove the chicken from the brine and dry. Place the chicken dredge flour in a wide container. Pour the buttermilk into a second container. Batter each piece of chicken one at a time. Submerge the chicken first in buttermilk. Lift the chicken out of the buttermilk, and let drip slightly, and place into chicken dredge flour container and coat the chicken again. Be careful to ensure that the chicken is evenly and fully coated, but do not let the coating become too thick. Place the battered chicken onto a plate and proceed with battering the remaining chicken.

5. To fry the chicken: Heat 2-inches oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 340°F. Working in batches, fry the chicken (the temperature of the oil will drop). Carefully adjust the heat to keep the oil at a constant 315-320°F. Fry the chicken until each piece reads at least 165°F at its thickest point. When the chicken is cooked, remove carefully from the oil and place on a wire rack over a cookie sheet or on paper towels.

6. Dust the top side of the just fried chicken with a sprinkle of salt and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Let rest for one minute, flip the chicken and dust the other side with salt and smoked paprika. Serve with the honey butter.

This article originally appeared on Munchies US.

439473Josh KulpChristine CikowskiChickenfried chickenRecipepoultrydeep-fried
<![CDATA[The Christmas Dinner in ‘Peep Show’ is Horrible—and That’s What Makes it Great ]]>, 10 Dec 2018 11:15:00 +0000God, my family are terrible. This is a thought I have every year on Christmas Day—usually at some point between my aunt throwing a hissy fit because I used the wrong baking tray for the potatoes (10 AM) and my dad drunkenly spilling red wine everywhere as he falls over in the living room (around 4 PM). Christmas is such an effective catalyst for familial tensions, it’s a surprise we still bother with it. Oh good, I think as I wake from my usually unsettled Christmas Eve slumber, a day of enforced fun with 12 people who believe I’m the kind of person who would enjoy receiving a baby pink M&S gilet.

It is in this thought that I find myself relating to Mark Corrigan, the perpetually awkward corporate slave played by David Mitchell in the British sitcom Peep Show. In the season seven Christmas episode, Mark rues the collision of family and friends, plus his new girlfriend Dobby, who all decide to spend Christmas at his flat. A meal is cooked, charades is played, and bad and/or inappropriate presents are exchanged. The episode culminates in Mark’s dad telling Mark to “put a muzzle” on Dobby, causing her to storm out. Some ham also ends up in a shredder. Fun!

In one of the episode's memorable exchanges between Mark and flatmate Jeremy, he epitomises the low-key dread many British people feel about Christmas:

Mark: “Now obviously, this is a fucking disaster, but Dobby's staying. For Christmas.”

Jeremy: “Right. Lovely! The more, the merrier.”

Mark: “Exactly. The more, the merrier, they said as another poor soul was crammed into the Black Hole of Calcutta.”

Yes! Exactly! I think when I hear this line for the 15th time of my life, thanks to excessive seasonal watching. Christmas is a prison of festive family obligations, and the sooner you can get in and get out, the quicker you can go back to watching that Dogs documentary on Netflix and eating Ferrero Rocher in bed without having to weigh up the risk of a cousin walking in while you have an afternoon wank.

“In general, and in comedy obviously, you want things to be horrible,” Sam Bain, co-creator and writer of Peep Show tells me over the phone. “You want people to relate to that. That’s the whole point, right? That you laugh at the things that make you uncomfortable in real life and that’s a great release.”

“You won’t find many episodes, or even scenes that aren’t horrible,” he continues. “We just try to put the characters though huge amounts of pain as a rule."

And what a better scenario for extreme pain than Christmas? The opportunity for failure is high, no one likes each other, and the only true winner in this battle of Scotch tape and booze-flavoured butter is capitalism.

“I think we just felt like it was a very good, emotionally loaded scenario, particularly for Mark,” Bain explains after I ask why he and Peep Show writing partner Jesse Armstrong decided to do a Christmas episode. “It just felt like Peep Show always benefitted from having quite high drama but real life situations, where things could go really well or really badly, and it just felt really natural to do that.”

“Also,” he adds, “it just felt the whole idea of traditions, family traditions, and cultural traditions were funny.”

This focus on tradition—in particular food traditions—is crucial to the episode’s humour.

“We were initially inspired by Ian Morris, (the co-creator of the Inbetweeners), and he was our longtime script editor on the show. Ian was talking about how he went to America with his American wife, and how upset he got about the traditions in America,” Bain tells me. “That whole argument with [Mark’s] dad about whether cauliflower is traditional is probably inspired by Ian.”

Christmas inspires many rituals—disappointing your siblings with a book for a present, dressing the Christmas tree with the same salt dough decorations you brought home in Year 2—but most of them revolve around the dinner table. The dishes we eat, plus how and when we eat them, are drilled into us from childhood, so it's inevitable that we become very emotionally attached to bread sauce and the purple Quality Street. It’s this tension that centres over a fairly harmless Brassica (and many other things) that makes Peep Show’s Christmas episode so relatable, and therefore one of the most entertaining festive episode of any TV series.

Cauliflower isn’t the only source of disagreement. Mark and Jeremy clash over whether Christmas lunch should be at one or three. Jeremy is hurt by the idea that his mother, on a cruise around “the Med,” is having salade niçoise for Christmas. “Salade niçoise?” he says. “That's not turkey. It's not even chicken.” In the episode's opening scene, we see Jeremy gift Mark a stocking of Cognac, Lindt chocolate, and “Roy Adkins on Trafalgar.” Mark unthinkingly gives Jeremy firelighters, kitchen tongs (two-for-one), and a leftover ScotRail eye mask from his overnight train journey to Aberdeen. It’s not part of Mark’s tradition to give good stocking presents, so he doesn’t. Tradition and the lack of abiding by said tradition creates a dynamic of expectation and disappointment—and it’s crushingly entertaining to watch.

Along with salad niçoise, cauliflower, gravy in the shredder mechanism, and Cognac, I count 21 food-based jokes in Peep Show's Christmas episode. The show always excelled at drawing comedy out of the mundane—office politics, the supermarket, a pub, and in this instance: food. While Christmas dinner isn’t exactly the most boring meal, there’s a certain “ugh, this again” sensibility to the whole event. From a joke about whether potatoes are a vegetable or “er, bread? No … they're wheaty?” to purposely not putting a cross on the bottom of the Brussels sprouts out of spite, Peep Show adds humour to our festive dining traditions.

I tell Bain about my steadfast recording of “food-based jokes” in the Christmas episode, and he laughs. Although neither he nor Armstrong intended to focus on food, it inevitably became a centrepiece. Shooting a real Christmas dinner also provided some of its own humorous moments.

“People generally hate filming food because you often have to repeat the same bit of dialogue over and over again, so if you’ve eaten a sprout, you have to eat the sprout six times,” Bain explains. “So, if you watch the episode, a lot of people were choosing carrots to eat, because they’re a slightly less aggressive thing to eat.”

He pauses, then recalls another issue with shooting the episode.

“My only regret is sadly our art director, who is brilliant, and had to cook three Christmas dinners, was vegan. She found it quite upsetting,” he tells me, half-remorseful, half-chuckling. “She had to do it though. Pretty sure we also had a vegetarian art assistant who put the meat in the bed in series one, so we've managed to give our vegan and vegetarian friends quite a hammering.”

Well, if Christmas teaches us anything, it’s that you can’t please everyone.

3k97enRuby Lott-LavignaPhoebe Hurstcomedychristmasbritish foodpeep showMark CorriganChristmas TVChristmas Dinner