Foodie Podcasts - From truffles to roadkill

Posted by Conor O'Neill on Saturday, March 25, 2006

UPDATE 1: I am re-publishing this post as I did a great dis-service to Adam over at Men In Aprons by confusing his Podcast with another one. MIA is a lighthearted foodie podcast where Adam is the main presenter and he riffs with his wife and friends in the room about food related topics. Adam sent me a great e-mail describing some of the background to MIA and I have to say I really like his attitude and approach. So, not only do I recommend that you check out MIA and see if it is to your liking but I have re-subscribed too.

Whilst I am at it, anyone else out there using Juice for Podcast downloads?

Original Post:

Since about November, I’ve been listening to some (mainly foodie) podcasts. As someone who thinks Steve Jobs' real name is Damien and is the spawn of a wolf, it is a case of ipod schmipod for me.

My first set-up was my Nokia 6230 with a 512MB MMC Card and the standard Nokia headphones. The biggest drawback of it is that the transfer of music or podcasts via Bluetooth takes forever and USB isn’t great either. So I end up removing the MMC from the phone, popping it into my laptop, copying what I want and then re-assembling the phone. For cycling this setup worked fine.

The music player on the phone is a bit crap with FF and REW being particularly useless. For the car, I got a standard “taxi-driver” phone holder and an adapter to connect the phone to a normal set of head-phones or line-out. This is then connected to a VRFM8 FM transmitter thingy which takes the sound and broadcasts it illegally to my radio and I listen via the radio. Sound quality on those FM transmitters is pretty rubbish and they really don’t work for music, but for podcasts they are fine.

At Christmas, I asked my very kind father if I could borrow the Palm Tungsten T that he had never used and he said sure. I thought it only took SD cards but for the laugh I stuck the MMC card from the Nokia into it and the beauty worked. I then grabbed Real Player for Palm and loaded it up. This is a very nice piece of music playing software which integrates very smoothly with Real Player on the Desktop. I can now just drop MP3’s from my desktop onto Real Player and it transfers them (at quite high speed) to the MMC in the Palm. The Tungsten T has a headphone socket, so I just connect that to the FM transmitter and I’m in business. The main advantages over the Nokia are the speed of music transfer, the far superior music player and the big buttons for controlling it whilst driving. The other advantage is that the card slot is open at the top of the Palm so I can easily swap cards if I have more stuff on another one.

Of course, we can’t forget the other advantages of the Tungsten T: ZX Spectrum Emulator, tons of great games, currency convertor, web-browser which works using bluetooth to the phone, eWallet, Avantgo, Vindigo. Whilst it is a little long in the tooth and under-powered compared to current models, I think it is a far more impressive piece of industrial design. Most current PDAs just look cheap, nasty and flimsy. The only thing it is really missing is wi-fi.

That is the tech sorted. What the hell is podcasting and which ones do I listen to? For non-techies, the explanation is really simple. Podcasts are recordings made by anyone from a guy in a shed talking about potting compost to a journalist with Business Week talking about Google to a normal radio show. Those recording are saved onto computer in a format called MP3 (just a sound compression system so the files don’t take up too much space) and they then upload those files onto web-servers and let people know by various means that they can download them. If you want to listen to a podcast, you can grab the file off the web-site, save it on your computer and listen to it there (Windows comes with a sound player for them) or copy it to an MP3 player like an iPod and listen to it whilst walking or cycling. Nothing to it really.

The variation in quality of content and sound in podcasts is very interesting. The pro ones are often less impressive in what they are saying than the guy with the cheap handheld recorder. Here is a selection of ones I have checked out -

Gastrocast: Neal the Podchef is based on an island off Washington state. He is very informed and has a wide range of food interests which are similar to my own. He spent time in Ireland and has been to Ballymaloe so Darina gets a mention. He often does bits on Irish food products like cheese. He has a very distinctive voice which is highly enunciated and this is exactly what is needed in a podcast. I can actually hear him whilst cycling unlike a lot of people (like Om Malik for example) who mumble into their chests and are often indecipherable. There are only two small negatives to my mind. The first is that an hour per episode is heading towards too long. My attention span isn’t that long :-( Also, I have found that podcasts work best when there is more than one person involved. The interaction makes it more interesting. But considering where Neal lives, I don’t think that is solvable. The other approach (as taken by Men In Aprons) is far far worse where the main talker shouts to his wife in the background and she shouts back.

The Restaurant Guys: Informed, professional, funny. It is just a recording of their daily food show on a New Jersey Radio station. Francis and Mark together own two big restaurants in New Brunswick and each day they usually cover one main topic in great depth and with tons of humour and have an interview with someone. Check out the episode where they discuss the bison cull in Montana and what sort of loser you’d have to be to mount the head of one of those animals. The bison are so used to human contact they think their photo is about to be taken! I listen to every episode these guys make.

The Remarkable Palate: Mark Tafoya is a personal chef in New York. He covers lots of local NY things but also does recipes and lots of interviews. I just like his attitude to food in general. He should lose the recent music interludes tho.

Eat Feed: Anne Bramley seems extremely knowledgeable and interviews a wide range of people in the food business. But it just doesn’t work for me. Her focus is on things I just do not find interesting (like baking) and I find a lot of the interviewees just plain annoying. I’m sure that it would be interesting to lots of people, just not to me. Actually, I did find her recent podcast on food interests and personality types to be worth a listen.

On Food with Hsiao-Ching Chou: Food Editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. Very professionaly produced. Good meaty interviews mainly with chefs. Well worth a listen.

Men in Aprons: Seems to be recorded in a toilet by a husband and wife. The first episode I tried to listen to had recipes for your cat. I’ve tried several episodes since and I never last past their incessant giggling which usually starts after less than a minute.

Girl on Girl Cooking: Or as they should be known “Cooking by the hard of thinking”. Car crash podcasting. Their episode on genetically modified foods was one of the funniest things I have ever heard and they were being deadly serious. “They kinda like, ye know, f**k with the molecules of the food”.[

]([All You Can Eat]( Don Genova is based in Vancouver and mainly does walkabout interviews with local people. Very down to earth and relaxed. Worth a listen. [

]([BBQ Forum]( If you are interested in BBQ or you’re trying to learn about it (as I am), this is a must-listen. Ray Basso runs the biggest BBQ forum site on the web and is deeply knowledgeable. The guys he interviews (and in the world of BBQ it seems to be mainly guys) range from the very funny to the very strange, but all of them know what they are talking about. Very enjoyable.

And for a few non-foodie ones, you should try:

Tom Raftery’s Podleaders: Great interviews with tech visionaries by a Cork-based IT person

Ricky Gervais: Awesome. Snot out the nose funny. Karl Pilkington for King! Nearly finished so hurry and grab em.

Diggnation: Should be annoying; Two young guys talking tech in valley speak. Actually hilarious and very interesting.

[tags]food podcasts, diggnation, ricky gervais[/tags]

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