Our food is directly influenced by the ground on which we stand. A group of European geologists have put together their very own cookbook to show us why.
Whatever you might privately think of the Brussels Sprout – the little cabbage that put Belgium on the culinary map – there is no denying that the tastiest version of this vegetable once came from Brussels. It flourished in the city’s Saint-Gilles neighbourhood in the 17th century – and for good reason: the district’s marshy landscape afforded rich alluvial soils in which the Sprout thrived.
The ‘Kuulkappers’ (cabbage-cutters) of Saint-Gilles are no more, but you can find out more about the Brussels Sprout’s noble heritage and a novel way in which to cook the cabbage in a new cookbook released in March by the geological association EuroGeoSurveys (EGS), Geology at the table.
Among the pages of this handsomely produced, 115-page publication, eminent geologists from around Europe single out their favourite local dish, provide instructions on its preparation, and explain in brief why it is that the geological lie of their own particular land has shaped their nation’s culinary output.
‘We felt it would be entertaining to make the link between geology and that most important thing in all our lives – food’
Claudia Delfini, Communication Officer, EuroGeoSurveys, Italy
Under ‘Belgium’, there’s a tantalising recipe for Brussels Sprouts Velouté on Abbey Ganache (an unorthodox mix of Belgian brown ale and chocolate), but under a further 24 country headings, you can discover another 26 recipes, including Widow’s Soup (Malta), Old Bohemian Mushroom Kuba (Czech Republic), and Shooting Star (Denmark).
A rocking good read
‘We came up with the idea of the cookbook because we felt it would be entertaining to make the link between geology and that most important thing in all our lives - food,’ says the cookbook’s coordinator, Claudia Delfini of EGS.
‘We enlisted the help of an Italian chef, Vito Pepe, to prepare all the recipes and a young photographer, Erwin Benfatto, to take pictures of the results. They did it for the fun of it – and out of a shared passion for the idea,’ says Delfini. Also included besides each recipe are a few handy notes on the nutritional aspect of each dish by Pietro Campanaro, an Italian food science specialist.
The 'Geology at the table' cookbook from EGS presents 27 recipes. © EGSThe collective expertise and enthusiasm of all involved shine through the pages. And while it might be useful to know your Paleoproterozoic Era from your Quaternary Period before you start, you will quickly find yourself engrossed in explanations about why the Falun sausage is associated with Sweden’s Falun Copper Mine, the mozzarella from the water buffaloes which graze Italy’s wetlands is the best, and the Greek white wines of Santorini have a ‘distinct aroma of citrus combined with hints of smoke and minerals’.
Be prepared to get your hands dirty when making some of the recipes too: to make Finland’s contribution – Sheep Stealer’s Roast Mutton – you must first ‘find a sandy spot, preferably on top of an esker , and prepare a pit oven by digging a hole 50 cm deep’. Not one to make after a hard day’s work in the office, clearly.
For more information on the vital work carried out by EuroGeoSurveys in collating geoscientific information from its 33 national members for the benefit of Europe’s economic growth and well-being, see:
Geology at the table is available throughout Europe via each EGS country’s National Geological Survey. To obtain a copy, email email@example.com
Stone and concrete structures with the ability to heal themselves in a similar way to living organisms when damaged could help to make buildings safer and last longer.
In the summer of 2014 a strange building began to take shape just outside MoMA PS1, a contemporary art centre in New York City. It looked like someone had started building an igloo and then got carried away, so that the ice-white bricks rose into huge towers. It was a captivating sight, but the truly impressive thing about this building was not so much its looks but the fact that it had been grown.
Artificial intelligence (AI) used by governments and the corporate sector to detect and extinguish online extreme speech often misses important cultural nuance, but bringing in independent factcheckers as intermediaries could help step up the fight against online vitriol, according to Sahana Udupa, professor of media anthropology at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany.
Bilingual people can effortlessly switch between languages during everyday interactions. But beyond its usefulness in communication, being bilingual could affect how the brain works and enhance certain abilities. Studies into this could inform techniques for learning languages and other skills.
Bacteria can give structures an ‘in-built immune system’ to help them last longer.
Independent factcheckers can bring context to AI tools, says media anthropologist.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.