The Moldovian Winery That Serves the Nearly-Forgotten Food of Gagauzia

As you step into the dining room of Kara Gani winery in the Valul lui Traian wine region at the southern end of Moldova, the smell of hot chilis slices through the air as lunch simmers and stews on the stove. While the fare sourced from the winery’s garden comes together and the table is set, guests can find an unexpected trove of nearly-forgotten history awaiting in the small adjacent room. Two steps down from the modern tasting room is the family’s own museum: a private collection commemorating not only their own history, but the heritage and culture of the Gagauz.

Moldova, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, is still largely undiscovered to many travelers—it is the third least-visited European country , after all. But those that are familiar with it usually also know the “country that doesn’t exist,” Transnistria. An unrecognized strip of land on the western edge of Moldova, the Soviet Transnistria declared independence in 1990, inciting an unresolved war. But there’s another, quieter, pseudo-state consisting of four disconnected enclaves entirely contained within Moldova’s borders: Gagauzia, an autonomous region with its own people, culture, language, and cuisine. Roughly translating to “sky people,” the Gagauz are of Turkish descent and predate the Ottoman Empire in the region. Gagauzia declared itself independent in 1991 , and in 1994, the pseudo-state was granted a level of autonomy by Moldova that renders the region something just short of its own country.

As one of the best and only establishments serving authentic, traditional Gagauzian dishes for its guests, the Kara Gani winery cooks up favorites from the Moldovan subculture, which is once again taking root in its homeland. Through decades of Soviet rule, Gagauzian culture was nearly lost. The language, which stems from the historical land of Bessarabia bordered by the Dniester and Prut rivers, was once listed as an UNESCO endangered language . Today, residents of the region are reclaiming their Gagauzian heritage, and bringing back the language, in part though families who have hung onto the native food. Gagauzian cuisine was one of the few aspects of the culture not stamped out as part of an effort to create a uniform national identity under Soviet rule when the region was annexed in 1812 after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

In Gagauz, “Kara,” means black, like the nearby Black Sea or the dark color of select vines, while “Gani” is the family’s last name. Gheorghe Cervan, the owner and winemaker, named the operation in honor of his grandfather, whose family has lived in the region since 1136. These days, they’re dedicated to actively preserving the unsung culture by making traditional food and wine accessible to locals and the tourists they’re trying to attract.

After a tour of the winery’s cellar, guests are encouraged to walk through the museum as the tasting is prepared and pay close attention to the textiles hung from the walls like tapestries. A highly symbolic art with a special place in the heart of the Gagauz, woven clothing, carpets and other textiles often depict the rhythms of nature, such as the seasons and life cycle of wheat. Curated by Lora Cervan, the matriarch of Kara Gani, the collection includes century-old items from her ancestors’ weddings, including carpets, antique cookware, and wine bags.

Dinner at the winery harkens back to the Gagauz’s nomadic-pastoralist days, when foods like cheese and meats were processed or preserved in animal skins, heads, or feet. Still popular is the Gagauz head cheese, a coldcut jellied meat filled with flesh from the head of a calf or pig, similar to an aspic. Other dishes they could prepare from their roving herds included sheep’s cheese, and a lamb broth topped with chili oil. As they settled in the region, which sits in line with Bordeaux on the 45th parallel, grains and vegetables appeared in the cuisine. At Kara Gani, the main course is a pork-laced bulger and lamb stew known as kurban , served alongside placinta , a thin, doughy pastry that is often filled with soft cheese, but may also be found with apples or other fruits. The meal ends with sweet and juicy table grapes straight from the vineyard. Served alongside the food is wine made in accordance with local traditions, meaning the region’s native grapes—of which Moldova in its entirety is home to more than 50 varieties planted among its 112,000 hectares of vineyards––are harvested by hand and manually fed into the wine barrel.

“You come here as a tourist and leave here as a friend,” Cervan often tells his guests. Raising a glass, he’ll say “saalik alla versin,” Gagauz for “cheers and to your health.” But it’s really a toast to preserving the lifestyle of the Gagauz people and the culture they almost forgot.

Campbell’s Soup Trademarked the Word ‘Chunky’ Because Everyone Made Fun of It

In September 2002, Campbell’s Soup released another round of its “Mama’s Boys” commercials, those ads where assorted NFL players’ mothers forced their in-uniform sons to eat steaming bowls of Campbell’s Chunky Soup. Although you might’ve forgotten about watching then-Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb try not to chew his soup on-camera, at the time, the campaign was a massive success—because Campbell’s was determined to make it one.

When it released this set of “Mama’s Boys” spots—the first ones where the mamas were all portrayed by the players’ actual mamas—Campbell’s bought $25 million worth of airtime. That media buy was the biggest in Chunky soup history, and it ensured that you could see Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher eating soup on television at almost any hour of the day. The commercials were inescapable by design, which is partially why McNabb’s mother was parodied on Saturday Night Live (by a wig-wearing Keenan Thompson) and why late-night talk show hosts started writing Chunky-themed punchlines.

Even though a lot of those jokes are stupid-old, they were one of the reasons why Campbell’s has decided to trademark the word “Chunky.” According to Adweek , Campbell referenced parodies from “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno , Jimmy Kimmel Live , The Daily Show , The Ellen DeGeneres Show , The Simpsons , Family Guy , The Americans and The Onion” in its application to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

And, in what might be a first for a trademark filing, Campbell’s application also quoted lyrics from Ghostface Killah (“Leave your brain all chunky like I’m advertising soup for Campbell’s”) and a Chunky-referencing passage from Colson Whitehead’s PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novel Sag Harbor .

Although it seems like Campbell’s isn’t just salty because of the sodium phosphate, a company rep says that’s absolutely not the case.

“The parodies aren’t what prompted Campbell to file for the trademark registration. We instead filed because we believe that the Chunky trademark has ‘secondary meaning,’ which means consumers uniquely associate the word “Chunky” with Campbell, in connection with soup,” Campbell’s spokesperson Kaitlin Bitting told MUNCHIES. “The USPTO considers unsolicited media to be one of the strongest forms of evidence of secondary meaning, and the parodies were among a number of examples of Chunky in pop culture.”

So those Ghostface bars were part of Campbell’s illustration of the connection between the brand and its Chunky soups—and it worked. The New Jersey-based soup company was awarded a trademark, which means that the label will now include a tiny circled R beside that word that I don’t even want to have to type again.

“I do not think [the trademark] should have been granted no matter how much evidence they put forth,” patent attorney Laurie Marshall told Adweek . “How else would you describe liquids with solids? That’s what they are: chunks in a liquid.”

Bitting explained that the trademark still allows competitors to use the phrase “chunky-style” to describe their own cans of soup, but use of the actual c-word is a little more complicated.

“There is not an issue with non-prominent, descriptive uses of the word that aren’t a trademark or brand name,” she said. “Amy’s Chunky Vegetable is a good example of a descriptive use where the word ‘chunky’ is being used to describe a particular variety and isn’t being used as a brand.”

The trademark is great for Campbell’s, but it kind of blows for other soup companies. Nobody’s mom is going to heat up a bowl of “Clumpy” soup.

Farmers Have Bred Pufferfish That Probably Won’t Kill You

The movies of our childhood might actually have been bad, but maybe, just maybe, we learned something from them. For instance, for kids of a certain era, a scene in the the direct-to-video classic Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves is why many of us know that bananas have potassium.

And if a few years later, those same kids watched the campy, action-comedy reboot of Charlie’s Angels , they learned from what’s otherwise a pretty dumb movie that pufferfish can be poisonous , but is considered a delicacy anyway.

As a refresher: Bosley (Bill Murray) attends a Japan-themed party hosted by the villainous Roger Corwin (Tim Curry), where women dressed as geishas walk around serving pufferfish. “It’s a rare delicacy… for the man with no fear of an excruciating death,” Corwin says. Dylan (Drew Barrymore), one of Charlie’s “angels,” tells Bosley through an earpiece that one in 60 pufferfish is fatal, before a daring Bosley stuffs the fish in his mouth. (Spoiler: He lives. Disclaimer: Not sure where they got that number.)

If Charlie’s Angels put you off the idea of pufferfish forever, good news: Eating it no longer has to mean risking your life. Pufferfish—which is also referred to as fugu in Japanese cuisine—used to be banned in China because of its potentially lethal toxins—but according to the South China Morning Post , the ban has been lifted because Chinese farmers have now bred generations of fish that don’t produce any poison at all.

Most species of pufferfish carry a toxin that can cause numbness, paralysis, and then death. It can technically be avoided by skilled chefs who steer clear of the fish’s poisonous parts, but even then, it’s dicey. According to the BBC , badly prepped pufferfish killed at least 20 people in Japan between 2000 and 2012.

As the chairman of April Puffer, a company that runs pufferfish restaurants and fishing operations, told the SCMP , two species are no longer dangerous because the fish never encounter the algae that their body processes into these terrifying toxins. Those two pufferfish species are now the only ones allowed to be eaten in China. With one such species in its seventh generation and another in its tenth, he told the SCMP , “Fish with poison-generating DNA are bred out generation after generation. So the pufferfish produced in China’s fisheries cannot generate poison any more.”

If you’re bummed that your sushi dinner might no longer come with a side of Russian roulette, there are plenty of ways to still eat on the edge, like the Scottish desserts spot that serves ice cream that can literally burn you , and all those axe-throwing bars that are just a Normal Thing now. And because death comes for us all, remember: Even drinking water can be dangerous .

Meet Castelrosso, a Deliciously Salty Cheese that Tastes Like a Cave-Flavored Potato Chip

Welcome back to CODY’S WORLD OF CHEESE , where our resident cheesemonger Cody Reiss explains what funky fromages you should definitely be eating.

What’s sour, salty, and slowly destroying itself from the outside in? Har har—I guess I set myself up for that one. Besides ME (womp womp), the other correct answer is one of my favorite Italian cheeses, and this week’s cave-aged cowboy from a spaghetti town out west: Castelrosso.

Castelrosso comes from the Piedmont region of Italy, where the Rosso family has been churning out wicked wheels™ since 1894. It’s a cow’s milk cheese and, texture-wise, it would probably be classified as “semi-hard” (also my nickname in Hebrew school—don’t ask). Beyond these basic details, Castelrosso can be tough to pin down. While this salty little crumble cake doesn’t fit easily into categories like “Cheddar” or “Alpine Style,” it does fit easily into your mouth—depending, that is, on how big your mouthy cheese chasm is.

Castelrosso is also known as Toma Brusca, or “acid cheese.” While I haven’t eaten Castelrosso on acid (the only thing I consume while tripping is sweet jazz), I do know that some tart-hungry, freak-ass cheesemakers allow the milk and curds to ferment and sour at various stages of the process, and the milk itself comes from a breed of red cows called Pezzata Rossa that are fed a steady diet of Warheads and sour straws (OK, maybe not—but they do produce a naturally acidic milk). Castelrosso is also a ‘natural rind” cheese, meaning that the outside of each wheel is a complex ecosystem of the native molds and bacteria inherited from the atmosphere that it was aged in, just like I inherited “tired eyes” and “crippling frugality” from my mother. This is one of those cheeses where you must eat the rind—it’s a crucial part of the overall flavor! Over the four to six months that it ages, these bacteria slowly consume and transform the cheese from the outside in, turning the once chalky insides into a half-inch thick, fudgy “creamline” between the rind and main interior of the cheese.

Top note brings maximum earthiness, somewhere between a dog’s wet, dirty tennis ball and moldy Band-Aids. As those initial nasal companions fade, what remains is a sort of dark sweetness, reminiscent of those rectangular See’s coffee-flavored lollipops.

Another notable characteristic: Castelrosso is a “milled-curd” cheese, meaning that after the curd is formed and cooked, it’s milled—or cut into small pieces—and salted, leading to a denser, crumblier final product. In short, Castelrosso is basically like Cheddar hotwifing an aged goat cheese while her husband, a loving and kinky-as-hell French tomme, watches from the corner. But, um…

A friend of pickles. Photo by Hilary Pollack

Anyway, let’s run this tangy little tongue tapper through the Sensory Snarf Test, shall we? First, we scope and squish. A quick cross-section reveals a sick textural trifecta: the thick outer rind, the gooey creamline, and the flakey, cakey, and unmistakably dank insides. The natural rind looks like the rugged surface of a groovy, stank-ass planet: Its brown surface, the color of oiled almond skins, is pockmarked and mottled with extraterrestrial molds of ashen grey and occasional mustard yellow. Below, the creamline is off-white, smooth and flexible. And at its core, it’s much like me: very white, very dense, and visibly fragile.

Next, we sniff. Top note brings maximum earthiness, somewhere between a dog’s wet, dirty tennis ball and moldy Band-Aids. As those initial nasal companions fade, what remains is a sort of dark sweetness, reminiscent of those rectangular See’s coffee-flavored lollipops.

Finally, we snarf. If for some reason you only ate the dry interior of the cheese, you’d get some briny feta vibes… mineral, tangy, and oceanic. If you just ate the rind and creamline, it would taste like eating a Brie rind that was buried in wet soil for a bit. But when all three come together, these flavors intertwine and become more nuanced and more intense. It’s a taste that can only be described as a cave-flavored potato chip. It’s incredibly complex and addicting, and likely different from most cheeses you’ve tried before.

Many slices of Castelrosso were harmed in the writing of this article, and though I can now hardly look at myself in the mirror, I have discovered some pretty chill ways to smush on it. Use it the way you might use feta or goat cheeses—letting chunky nuglets slip from your sweaty hands into warm grain salads or greens with other savory homies like marinated artichokes and roasted walnuts. Balance the acidic saltiness with a sweet jam for a fruit-topped-cheesecake-like flavor, or lean into it with all sorts of chill pickled and fermented goodies. Or if you’re like me, you’ll cut a thick slice, slide it into a hot pan with a little oil, and watch the outside become golden brown like chicken skin, and as the insides just barely begin to melt, you’ll mush it into your teeth compartment for a crazy, almost self-contained (and very salty) grilled cheese. Then, maybe put some jam on that.

Smear some blueberry jam on your Castelrosso and it’ll taste like a magic slice of cheesecake. Photo by Hilary Pollack.

For the liquid lowdown: The cakey and smooth textures would love to have a nice little ‘hang out and touch’ with some oobly-goobly (a.k.a. Mr. Bubbles, a.k.a. something alcoholic and preferably effervescent). A jammy red would compliment the saltiness of the cheese, while a crisp, dry white could heighten Castelrosso’s tanginess, and a malty beer would provide a roasty toastiness that would certainly get along well with the earthy flavors. I might even pair this with kombucha—but then again, I spent my formative college years at UC Berkeley…

Like trustworthy friends and meaning in life, Castelrosso can be tough to find. If you can’t track it down, try finding something from the subsection of British Territorial cheese hilariously known as “the crumblies,” which includes a bunch of milled-curd cheeses like Cheshire and Caerphilly. Also look for Castelrosso’s older, drier, and more common cousin, Castelmagno. If you want to go deeper in the world of complex tart and texture, grab a nug of the very dank goat cheese, Blanc Bleu Tambour. If Castelrosso isn’t earthy enough for you, grab an old French tomme.

Or, perhaps consider scouring a garden for some Brie rinds and Band-Aids, you sick, terrible monster.

Cody Reiss is a comedian, cook, and cheesemonger at Murray’s Cheese in New York City. He has made cheeses at home and on farms in Brazil and New York, and has traveled to more than 35 different countries, sampling over 350 different cheeses along the way. You can follow him on Instagram at @codyreiss .

It’s Thursday, February 7, and a Start-Up “Fixed” Coffee by Getting Rid of the Beans

W elcome to Off-Menu , where we’ll be rounding up all the food news and food-adjacent internet ephemera that delighted, fascinated, or infuriated us this morning.

News Over at the Ringer , Claire McNear has a lengthy ode to Chicago’s Malört : the history, the people who made it (and hate it), the company that recently acquired it, and the locals who love it. But you gotta really love the self-described “bitter” and “unusual” beverage to want to drink it in nonalcoholic form. Finom Coffee in Chicago’s Old Irving Park is offering up a Malört latte , which includes a a Malört-based syrup that the owners made by cooking off the alcohol from a bottle of the strong stuff. “Because Chicago, that’s why,” someone captioned a picture of the latte on Instagram .

Delta is removing their Coca-Cola-branded napkins that encouraged people to give their numbers to fellow passengers after it was pointed out on Twitter how creepy this comes across. The napkins included a line for a name and phone number, with small print that said “be a little old school, write down your number and give it to your plane crush. You never know…” Because nothing sets the mood for unsolicited flirting like being trapped in a metal tin at 30,000 feet in the air. “We Hacked the Coffee Bean,” says Atomo, a forthcoming-business venture that plans to sell coffee made without coffee beans. A press release provided to explains that since 68 percent of Americans add cream or sugar to coffee, that must mean the natural product is broken. “To fix coffee, he had to get rid of the bean,” it says of the microbiologist who cofounded the company. But what’s wrong with cream and sugar? IHOP is selling something they’re calling the “Pancizza,” which is a cross between a pizza and a pancake, also known as a really big pancake. And a London restaurant is giving away “bagelizza” this Saturday, which is why I now know there is a Wikipedia page dedicated to the “pizza bagel” that credits a then-17-year-old Bruce Treitman with inventing the hybrid at a California Wester Bagel in 1974. Not News At the parade to celebrate the Red Sox’ World Series win in the fall, fans (lovingly?) chucked cans of beers at the players as they rode triumphantly by on the classic Beantown duck boats. Fearing that the city would get similarly amped up about yet another championship, Mayor Walsh requested ahead of the Patriots parade this week that people not do that. “Do not throw things. Do not throw beers, do not throw anything at those boats,” he said on Monday . And yet, it remains firmly Not News that Rob Gronkowski got hit in the head with a beer can thrown at his duck boat during the parade because, c’mon, what did Walsh (and Gronk) expect?

Something Nice

Cookie Monster took to Reddit yesterday (just go with it) to invite people to enter a contest to eat cookies with him on the Sesame Street set, and to answer pressing questions from his public. The results were a spot of unadulterated joy in this shitstorm of a world.

Buy This Bucket via

I live in a two-person household and still think this five-pound jar of Skippy peanut butter actually makes so much sense.

Trail Mix Trifle Recipe

Servings: 4

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients for the cake:

1 cup|140 grams all-purpose flour

1 cup|222 grams granulated sugar

1/2 cup|45 grams cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup|125 ml whole milk

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

for the chocolate mousse:

12 ounces|340 grams semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups|500 ml heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

for the whipped cream:

2 cups|500 ml heavy cream

1/2 cup|60 grams confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the trifle:

7 ounces|185 grams raspberry jam

1 cup roasted and salted peanuts, roughly chopped

5 ounces|145 grams M&M’s

6 ½ ounces|185 grams chocolate-covered pretzels

1 ounce plain potato chips

1 ounce plain pretzels

Directions 1. Make the cake: Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter, then line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the parchment again and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the milk, mayo, oil, vanilla, and egg with 1 cup water. Using a hand mixer, beat the wet ingredients into the dry until smooth, then pour into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

3. Make the mousse: Place the chocolate and 1 cup cream in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a medium saucepan filled with 2-inches water, then place the saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook the chocolate and cream until the chocolate is melted. Whisk together until smooth and remove from heat to cool completely.

4. Place the remaining cup of cream in a large bowl with the salt. Using a hand mixer, beat the cream until thick and stiff peaks form, then slowly drizzle the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream. Blend until smooth, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

5. Make the whipped cream: Place the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat the cream until thick and stiff peaks form. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

6. To assemble, spread half of the mousse in the bottom of a trifle dish. Crumble half of the cake on top, then spread half of whipped cream on top of the cake. Dollop the jam on top of the cream and sprinkle with half of the M&M’s and half of the peanuts. Break the chocolate-covered pretzels into smaller pieces and place on top, then spread the remaining mousse over all of it. Break the remaining cake over the top of the mousse, then spread the remaining whipped cream over the cake. Top the entire thing with the remaining M&M’s and peanuts, and break the potato chips and plain pretzels over everything before serving.

Woman Says Hacker Used Her McDonald’s App to Buy $500 of Food in Five Days

The McDonald’s app is fine, right? I mean, it’s worth stanning for those days when you don’t want to interact with another person, but you also don’t mind leaving the house to pick up your own McNuggets meal.

But one Nova Scotia woman says that an Extra Value-loving rando was able to hack her McDonald’s app, and this as-yet-unidentified person spent almost $500 of her money on fast food during a five-day period. (It’s little consolation to someone whose bank account has just been emptied, but if this thief seriously downed $100 worth of McDonald’s in a day, there’s no way he’s not dead right now).

“It’s amazing to see how quick someone can just breach your privacy,” Lauren Taylor told CBC News . “[R]ent is three days away and now I have to find the money. It’s a good thing that I live with family. Otherwise I’d be out.”

Taylor confirmed that she received almost 20 emails with the subject line “Here’s Your My McD’s Receipt”—and two more that began with “ Lauren, nous avons réinitialisé votre mot de passe ” (Lauren, we have reset your password)—but she didn’t check her inbox for a few days, so she missed them.

CBC News reports that this mystery eater’s meals included “large fries, Big Macs, poutine, junior chicken meals, Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, McDouble burgers, bacon and hashbrown McWraps, Egg McMuffins and hot cakes.” The purchases were made at five different McDonald’s locations in Montreal—a city Taylor says she’s never even visited.

“This is an app that’s supposed to be secure,” she said. “So why do I live in Nova Scotia and why is my card being used in Quebec? That’s crazy.” Taylor has filed a police report with the Halifax Police Department, and has reported the fraud to her bank.

“We take appropriate measures to keep personal information secure, including on our app,” a McDonald’s Canada spokesperson said. “Just like any other online activity, we recommend that our guests use our app diligently by not sharing their passwords with others, creating unique passwords and changing passwords frequently.” (MUNCHIES has reached out to McDonald’s Canada for additional comment.)

Earlier this week, a woman in Ontario said that her McDonald’s app—and her bank account—had also been used to buy almost $100 worth of food in Laval, Quebec. “I thought it was an error at first because I couldn’t believe that I’d place four separate orders all to the same McDonald’s within minutes of each other,” Patty Duke told CTV. “It didn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

She says that a McDonald’s customer service rep told her that “this has happened before,” but she later got a form email from the company telling her that there had not been any system-wide security breach, so essentially it had to be her own fault somehow.

But this does seem to have happened before, to other Canadians who use that app. In October, a user named RyanS219 started a thread on a site called RedFlagDeals after realizing that his RBC Mastercard had been used to buy someone else’s dinner. “Last night I noticed two charges were made on my RBC Mastercard for two different McDonald’s locations in Ontario (I live in Newfoundland),” he wrote. “I contacted RBC this morning and they said that it isn’t their responsibility to cancel the charges and that McDonald’s would need to refund me the money.”

Another person added that he’d been charged for an order placed at a McDonald’s in Montreal at 3 AM, while he’d been asleep at his home in Quebec City. “They also said they can reimburse me if I go in person,” someone called HyperTech wrote. “I said I am not gonna drive 3 [hours] and spend $60 of gaz [sic] to have $10 reimburs [sic] .”

Fortunately, both Lauren Taylor and Patty Duke were able to get their fraudulent charges refunded through their banks. And maaaybe we’ll just stick to UberEats when we want a damp bag of 2 AM fries.

World War II Grenades Keep Ending Up in Food Factories and Restaurants

Fans of Calbee chips might consider them to be “the bomb.” A return of this particular colloquialism, however, is not why the words “potato” and “grenade” have repeatedly ended up together in headlines recently alongside mentions the brand.

On Saturday, a (literal) bomb squad visited the snack food company’s Hong Kong factory after a potato-processing machine found a grenade among a shipment of potatoes, according to the South China Morning Post . Covered in dirt, the small explosive looked like a potato but was far heavier. Over a few hours, bomb disposal technicians defused the grenade, with no injuries or accidents.

Dave Macri, a visiting professor of military history at the University of Hong Kong, told the SCMP that the German-made grenade was probably left behind by World War I soldiers in a trench that has since become a field for growing potatoes in France.

Grenades pop into food news with surprising frequency. The previous weekend, magnet-fishers in Ocala, Florida caused the evacuation of a Taco Bell after bringing along a WWII grenade they’d pulled out of a river. The Ocala PD told MUNCHIES that they’re not sure how the grenade ended up there or why it was taken to a Taco Bell, but another fast food grenade incident provides a possible explanation—at least for the first mystery. In 2015, construction workers dug up a hand grenade at a Maryland McDonald’s. According a bomb technician on site at the time, that one had likely come from an old military base nearby.

As it turns out, downtown Ocala isn’t far from the Pinecastle Impact Range, which is smack-dab in the middle of the Ocala National Forest. The Navy has tested live bombs there since World War II, which, according to Gizmodo , results in loud noises, shaky ground, and WWII-era munitions just sort of lying around.

Nobody got hurt in any of those examples, but war leftovers like these do cause problems—including fatalities. Farmers are at particular risk because, when wars are over, trenches get buried in fields, and so do any leftover grenades and shells.

In 2011, a Canadian potato farmer was tilling his fields, when he came across a live hand grenade from WWII; and last July, a British farmer found yet another from the same era . As the New York Times reported in 2014 , Belgium farmers live in fear because experts estimate that as much as 30 percent of artillery shells that were fired there in WWII never went off.

“The amount of unexploded ordnance in France from both World Wars is significant. WWI on the Western Front was fought mostly in France and troops routinely conducted attacks with the use of grenades like the one that was accidentally shipped to Hong Kong,” Macri told MUNCHIES in an email. “Farmland in France can contain a great amount of old munitions and it is very difficult to find and remove much of this material.”

Take, for example, the Belgian region of Flanders, which was the site of the Battle of Messines during WWI. That operation involved building miles of trenches beneath German lines, and then filling them with explosives. Not all of the trenches that were built and filled were detonated, however, and now those explosives have been buried. One farm built on top of these trenches was still being used, as of a 2004 Telegraph report , despite sitting on tens of thousands of pounds of explosives.

These days, underground ammunition can be found using radar, and then, ideally, detonated in a protected way. According to the Times ’ 2014 report, though, not all farmers are convinced doing so is a good idea since digging up those deeply-buried shells could alter the soil of their workable farmland.

“[The stockpile of explosives] doesn’t stop me sleeping at night,” the farmer living on top of an incidental minefield told the Telegraph . “It’s been there all that time, why should it decide to blow up now?”

Lemon Poppyseed Bread Caused a New Mom to Fail a Drug Test

“I hope I don’t fail a drug test!” is one of those stupid comments that everyone makes when they buy a poppyseed muffin, a dumb reflex that’s right up there with telling a supermarket cashier “That means it’s free!” when your bag of mini Takis won’t scan. No matter how many times you joke about free stuff, you’re never getting complimentary chips. But that poppy seed thing? That’s real—just ask Jamie Silakowski.

According to WROC , one of the last things that Silakowski had before giving birth to her son was a slice of lemon poppyseed bread from Tim Horton’s. Unfortunately, what should’ve been an otherwise forgettable breakfast turned into a failed drug test, a call to Child Protective Services, and two months of drug counseling, home visits, and all-around unpleasantness.

Silakowski was still in a hospital bed at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo in New York, when a doctor came in to inform her that she’d failed her drug test. “[I told the doctor] I did have lemon poppyseed bread, just throwing that out there,” she said. “And he laughed and said, ‘That’s from Seinfeld , that can’t be,’ and I said, ‘That’s where I heard it, that’s why I’m just bringing it up.” She says that she volunteered to take an additional urine test, or to provide hair or blood samples, but the hospital said, no, sorry. (It’s worth noting that Silakowski’s newborn did not test positive for any drugs.)

Instead, hospital staffers called Child Protective Services (CPS), which opened a child abuse investigation. For the next eight weeks, representatives from CPS made visits to Silakowski’s home and to her daughters’ schools. She was also required to attend—and pay for—drug testing and drug counseling.

“HIPAA privacy laws prevent us from discussing specific patient cases, however, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo’s top priority is to protect the welfare and safety of all our patients,” the hospital said in a statement. “Without discriminatory judgment and applied uniformly, we have policies and procedures in place to report actual or suspected instances to appropriate authorities where vulnerable patients may be at risk. We have no involvement in determining if an investigation is warranted or the extent of the investigation.”

She’s not the only new mom who has had to endure a poppy-seed-induced nightmare scenario. Last August, Elizabeth Eden also tested positive for opiates when she went into labor. St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, swiftly reported her to the authorities, an CPS investigation was opened, and the state required her newborn daughter to stay in the hospital for five additional days. “In general, the response from the hospital has been dismissive and insulting,” she wrote in an essay for Scary Mommy. “I have no faith that this won’t happen again to another new mom.”

Live Science explains that poppy seeds are, in fact, from the opium poppy—the same opium poppy that is used to produce morphine and other opiates—which explains why eating something studded with poppy seeds can occasionally produce a drug test that is positive for morphine. (The US Anti-Doping Agency even warns its athletes that poppy seeds can cause positive drug tests, and suggests that “the conservative approach” is to avoid them before competitions.)

New Zealand’s Institute of Environmental Science and Research says that morphine can potentially be detected by a drug test when someone eats poppy seeds within 12 to 24 hours of providing a urine sample. Or, you know, like when they have lemon poppyseed bread on the same morning that they go into labor.

“I now have a closed case file on record that I will need to contact a lawyer to have expunged,” Eden wrote. “It all seems an awfully high price to pay for half of an everything bagel with strawberry cream cheese.”

There’s not a bagel in the world that could be worth that kind of stress.

It’s Wednesday, February 6, and a Staten Island Bar Is Fighting Roofies by Putting Lids on Drinks

W elcome to Off-Menu , where we’ll be rounding up all the food news and food-adjacent internet ephemera that delighted, fascinated, or infuriated us this morning.

News Over the weekend, as reported by the New York Post , women started tweeting about their experiences having their drinks drugged at Staten Island’s The G.O.A.T. bar, and now owner Chris Shaleesh is taking steps to make the scene safer for patrons. He alerted the NYPD, hired plainclothes security guards, and is no longer serving alcohol in open glasses at night. Beer will be served in bottles and all other drinks will be in lidded cups—all of which are decent attempts to manage the unfortunate reality of men just roaming around wrecking havoc. Though I suppose it does beat trying to reason with dudes who would roofie a woman’s drink. The last pay-what-you-can location of Panera Cares in Boston will close on February 15 after six years. The fast-casual chain had already shuttered all the other outposts of their nonprofit arm—which relied on suggested donations to cover the costs of customers who couldn’t afford to pay for meals—around the country. “During its six years in operation, we served meals with dignity to everyone who walked through our doors. Despite our commitment to this mission, it’s become clear that continued operation of the Boston Panera Cares is no longer viable,” Panera said in a statement to . José Andrés attended the State of the Union last night at Nancy Pelosi’s invitation and wore a shirt that said “IMMIGRANTS FEED AMERICA” under his suit jacket. All of the sartorial displays of anti-Trumpism were a welcome spot of sanity in an otherwise maddening evening—but the man at the center of the whole spectacle remains president.

If you stole a 200-pound decorative burger from just outside Shuswap Grill Gourmet Burgary in British Columbia, please return it and report immediately to USA Strongman nationals. Would you eat Japanese ramen chain Kourakuen’s Valentine’s-special chocolate ramen (the rest of the dish is still savory and pork-based)? Maybe a bite, but I can’t imagine it being very good.

How about Japan’s Freshness Burger’s fruit-topped burgers , which come in blueberry, peach, and mango? Sure, although the patties themselves look strangely both over-cooked and yet under-seared.

And what about an okonomiyaki burrito —stuffed with sliced cabbage, red pepper, meat, cheese, and topped with savory sauce—from the Osaka outpost of Taco Bell? Yes, def.

Not News

Olga Shishkov, a mechanical engineer at Georgia Tech, wanted to know how black soldier fly larvae in the above video were able to devour a 16-inch pizza so quickly and thoroughly (it took them two hours; the video shows a time lapse). And so she researched it and published the results (they eat in five-minute shifts!) in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface , which is why she is a scientist, and I’m just here thinking about how happy I am for the lil guys.

Something Nice

Lizzo’s Tonight Show performance of “Juice,” which is the only song I want to listen to these days.

Buy This Bucket via

Four pounds of animal crackers should last you, oh, the entire rest of your life and then some.