As Thoughts on the Table approaches 100 episodes, I chose to dedicate episode 99 to the series’ beginnings, dating back to August 2013. I was an avid podcast listener and, inspired by great productions like This American Life and Stuff You Should Know, I involved my friend and then-coworker, Jason, and branched off from my blog to try the more colloquial format of a podcast.
Today’s issue contains extracts from the first six episodes where Jason and I discuss taste and flavor, as well as cultural differences between Italy, North America, and Japan. Among other topics, we touched on why as an Italian I would never try to put salt on pasta, whether eating spicy food can damage our taste buds, the reason why desserts tend to end the meal, why many people learn to appreciate “spoiled” foods like Gorgonzola and Nattō, what exactly astringency is, and the path to appreciating subtle flavors. To wrap up the selection, I couldn’t help but include extracts from episode seven, a recording that took place right in the center of Milan on Jason’s impressions from visiting Italy for the first time.
After these seven episodes, Jason could no longer continue as a co-host. So I started looking for a new podcast partner by enlisting some of my dearest blogger friends as collaborators. This eventually gave me the idea to turn the podcast towards the format of the interview. I enjoyed it a lot. With practice, I learned to connect with my guests in a way that would capture their spontaneity in entertaining and informative chats, and I made many lasting connections as a result, for which I’m grateful. My guests included food bloggers, writers, cookbook authors, chefs, food professionals, food photographers, event organizers, cooking instructors, and fellow podcasters. Overall, in nearly nine years of activity, Thoughts on the Table saw a total of 65 collaborators for a combined playback time of 39 hours, 19 minutes, and 13 seconds.