It seems a little absurd to be promoting a YouTube channel with over one million followers, on a blog that gets 30 views on a high-traffic day. But if I’m only just now discovering Adam Ragusea’s channel, with its being perfectly suited to so many of my interests, then I figure it’s likely other people haven’t, either.
Ragusea is a former journalism professor with infuriatingly good hair, who lives in Macon, Georgia and makes videos about recipes, food science, and food history. Every one of these could’ve made me a subscriber, but The Algorithm didn’t deem his channel relevant until it offered a video asking Is Washing Rice Really Still Necessary? (His finding: frequently not).
But the rest of the videos get gradually more interesting, at least to me as a hapless cook who loves collecting not-entirely-useful information. What’s the real reason billions of people refuse to eat pork? (It’s probably not trichinosis). Why do some people think Hershey chocolate tastes like vomit? (Soured milk). WTF Is Nougat? (Whipped sugar, but it’s surprisingly more complicated).
The one that really got me hooked was about Georgia’s association with peaches. I’ve known since I was a teenager that calling it the Peach State didn’t make sense, since pecans and peanuts (among others) were always bigger crops. This video explains — using The Georgia Peach by William Thomas Okie as a primary reference — that it was essentially a post-Civil War branding campaign. (It also explains why I never saw many peaches on the drive down to Florida; they need cooler weather, which is why they’re mostly grown closer to South Carolina).
I haven’t tried any of his recipe videos yet, but the one for easy Chana masala seems like a no-brainer for someone like me, who’s intimidated by the complexity of Indian food. Edited: I’ve tried the easy version of the recipe. It’s… fine. Nothing special, but considering how stupid easy it is to make, it’s fine.
I’ve long been interested in stuff like SciShow, Mental Floss, and The Straight Dope, which have all tried (to one degree or another) to make factual information entertaining. Now more than ever, it’s reassuring and even calming to watch something that acknowledges it can be fun to learn things. Ragusea’s opinionated, but pragmatic and non-prescriptive above all else, so I can’t imagine him ever making a proclamation like “no unitaskers in the kitchen.” Until that happens, I’m getting a kick out of nerding out about food.