Barbecue. It's as American as mom, apple pie and the 4th of July. Whether beef or pork, it's arguably our tastiest way to cook. In this smoke-filled half-hour, we explore the history of Texas, Memphis and Kansas City style barbecue, as well as the ever-popular barbecue cooking festivals.
From the ancient Mayans and Aztecs to the chocolatiers of Beverly Hills, chocolate has been one of our favorite foods. In this episode, we trace its growth from a ceremonial drink to a billion dollar industry. We also explore its scandalous links to romance and surprising role in the heyday of Hollywood.
The hamburger is the quintessential American food. From its roots in Europe to its phenomenal growth in the U.S., we explore the colorful history of one of our favorite foods. It's no wonder Americans consume 40 billion a year -- more than hot dogs, pizza and chocolate combined.
If you order a bowl of "red" in Texas, don't expect beans. If you order a bowl of chili in Cincinnati, you might get a "three-way" (translation: chili, spaghetti and cheese). In this spicy half-hour, we explore chili's colorful history from its origins, most likely in South Texas, to the festive modern-day chili cook offs.
"Sweet as pie." This enchanting food is so admired, it has become the measure of all that is delectable. In the Middle Ages, most pies were filled with meat, though you might find one with "4 and 20 blackbirds." The American Colonists were more partial to pumpkin or apple pie while today, the sky is the limit.
Every year, Americans consume three million tons of pasta -- everything from penne to spaghetti to lasagna. All told, there are more than 600 forms served around the planet. Its roots take us back thousands of years to the Ancient Romans and Chinese who both filled up on it. During the Middle Ages, pasta was a status symbol.
In ancient times, the wedding cake was a potent symbol of love, unity and often the "scene-stealer" at more elaborate weddings. Join host Jim O'Connor as he dons a tux and digs under the frosting to reveal the Secret Life of the Wedding Cake.
Join host Jim O'Connor as he unscrambles a variety of eggs, and ponders the eternal question of what came first, the chicken or the egg?
It pairs off with chocolate, ice cream, cookies and dried fruits. It's the peanut! Join us as we get to the root of the ordinary peanut and dig up the truth about this fun-loving, multi-talented -- and ancient -- treat in the Secret Life of Peanuts.
Cheesecake -- America's favorite dessert. From the old world style of the Pennsylvania Dutch, to the cutting edge slices of America's fanciest restaurants, join Jim O'Connor as he explores the creamy history behind the Secret Life of Cheesecake.
They're one of the most popular foods in the world. In Belgium and France they're called pommes frites, and in England they're called chips. In America, cooking innovations made them as popular as the hamburger. Join Jim O'Connor as he traces the origins of America's favorite vegetable.
Host Jim O'Connor travels from Honolulu to New York City to sample the freshest, most mouthwatering sushi in America. Pick up your chopsticks and join Jim as he goes fishing for The Secret Life of Sushi.
Pastries and their mouthwatering fillings have lured us for centuries. First made as a luxury dessert, today they can turn an ordinary meal into a show-stopping centerpiece. Find out how these treats got their start in the oven and made their way to our tastebuds, as host Jim O'Connor breaks open the center to the Secret Life of Pastries.
Jambalya, Oysters Rockefeller, spicy smoked sausage, crawfish etouffe, red beans and rice and gumbo! Louisiana is world-famous for its Cajun and Creole cuisine. But where exactly did Cajun food come from? And what, if anything, sets Cajun apart from Creole? Join Jim O'Connor as he journeys down south in search of answers.
The very definition of fine dining has always been a steak dinner. Whether it's a rib-eye, porterhouse, NY strip, or a filet mignon, there's just nothing that can compare to a great steak. Join Jim O'Connor as he explores the history and popularity of this American favorite on the secret life of steak.
From the Singapore Sling to the Whiskey Sour, there's no doubt about it, America's crazy about the cocktail. But when exactly was the first cocktail hour? And how many cocktail creations are really out there? Join host Jim O'Connor for a happy half-an-hour as he distills the mystery of mixology and spills the history of the cocktail.
You can have them grilled, steamed, or boiled, and you can enjoy them in elegant restaurants or in casual beachside shacks. No matter where you eat 'em, or how -- lobster, crab legs, clams and shrimp tantalize our tastebuds. Join Jim O'Connor as he casts the net and cracks open the shell to reveal the history of succulent seafood.
Some like it hot. Some like it nuclear. But make no mistake, when playing with fire, you will get burned. Join host Jim O'Connor as he explores the teary-eyed history behind the chile pepper, hot sauces and fiery dishes from around the world.
Cheese is one of the most varied and subtle foods in the world. In taste it can be bland, buttery, innocuous, rich, creamy, pungent, sharp, salty or lightly delicate. Cheese can be enjoyed as an appetizer or a dessert, and it pairs beautifully with everything from hamburgers to fruit. But cheese by itself is only the beginning. It's also an essential ingredient to traditional dishes and to new, innovative creations. Jim O'Connor unseals the mysteries behind the most universal of foods: cheese.
California has some of the country's best foods; from successful fast food franchises to "California Cuisine," a style that is recognized as "world-class." George Duran travels to the West Coast to explore uniquely fresh cuisine inspired by the Golden State.
Host George Duran explores the history of one of the oldest and most versatile of prepared foods -- bread -- by examining some of America's contributions to this "staff of life." After sampling San Francisco's sourdough bread, George learns how bread can be baked and distributed by both massive, computer controlled bakeries and unique, nurturing artisans. Finally, a whirlwind tour offers little known bread secrets and international varieties that contribute to local customs and holidays.
Beer -- it's the beverage of choice around the world and a part of many culture's histories and traditions. There are restaurants and holidays dedicated to the brewing and serving of this colorful libation. In America, beer's centuries old popularity has never waned, and if you think it's just for drinking, wait'll you see how it can be used as a delicious ingredient in foods ranging from chicken to -- believe it or not -- cheesecake! Join George Duran as he pours a cold one and explores the sudsy and surprising Secret Life of Beer.
Various international barbecue specialties are detailed before George visits a festive Jamaican-style barbecue in Los Angeles with chef Derrick Angus of Derrick's Jamaican Cuisine restaurant. George sits down for a fascinating tabletop BBQ at Seoul Jung and George gets a lesson in the flavorful Brazilian variations when he visits the popular BBQ chain Fogo de Chao in Dallas.
Host George Duran explores Gingerbread. He uncovers a modern day gingerbread man recipe in Washington, D.C., learns the secrets to building a stellar gingerbread house and reveals the many ways one of our favorite holiday flavors is used from cocktails to soups to toothpaste!
A caterer is expected to know not just how to prepare food but also how to make it taste great, look beautiful and keep it all organized. This is nothing new; in fact, evidence shows that caterers have been around since the era of Ancient Greece. Host George Duran explores the history of wedding caterers and helps pull off a "silver service" wedding, visits a Texas ranch that puts a spin on catered BBQ, and uncovers some secrets to keeping your next catered party on budget.
Most of the items we buy in grocery stores and order off restaurant menus are the result of a carefully controlled, scientific operation known as the "test kitchen." George Duran explores their history and takes you inside the secret labs of Campbell's, CPK, Better Homes and Gardens and more.