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April 12, 2017 - No Comments!

Aperture

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Renowned travel writers and editors on the photographs that transport them.

Tara Guertin

Brian Finke’s work was on my mind for fifteen years before I commissioned this photograph. I first noticed Finke in the late ’90s, soon after I moved to New York, when we were both in our mid-twenties. Over the next decade and a half, I watched him refine his sharp, high contrast style while straddling the art and editorial worlds. Cheeky and dark, his photographs are impressively consistent and instantly recognizable.

When Brian and I finally met in 2013, I was working as the photo director at the then fledging travel magazine AFAR. On a visit to New York, he and I chatted over a few bourbons at a local barbecue joint. Brian shoots vices, often sex-related, but not always: frat boys half naked, dripping in beer; women in hip-hop videos or beauty pageants; and marijuana producers. I considered him for many assignments, but AFAR focuses on experiential travel, rather than these nefarious pleasures. Nothing seemed right. So I waited—until a story about one of my own weaknesses crossed my desk.

Mezcal wasn’t something Brian was particularly familiar with, but I had a feeling that the Mexican liquor and its culture would be right up his alley. He returned with a body of work that thrilled me. Recently, we met again. Waiting for me on the bar was a glass of mezcal, neat, and a print of this photograph. Maybe Brian has discovered another vice?

Tara Guertin is Director of Photography at AFAR.

March 14, 2017 - No Comments!

Wired

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How to Make Baby Bees and Other Weird Stuff Great to Eat.

Finke isn’t a foodie. He’s a photographer. He spent last summer shooting The Science of Delicious for National Geographic. The trip took him from a lab in Florida where scientists engineer tastier tomatoes to an experimental food workshop in Toronto where people inhale flavor clouds. And that was the normal stuff.

Dr. Linda Bartoshuk Lmbart@ufl.edu 352 392 1991 Dr. Jennifer Stamps Jstamps@ufl.edu 904 476 1350 Food Science and Human Nutrition Building  527 Newell Dr, Room 405 University of Florida Gainesville Gainesville, FL Dr. Linda Bartoshuk developed the Blue Stain Tongue tests fifteen years ago at Yale University.  This test determines if one is nontasters or supertasters. The test involves counting the number of papillae on the tongue- the more the papillae the more taste sensors a tongue has. Super tasters have much more papillae than non tasters.  This test was developed by Dr. Linda Bartoshuk 15 years ago at Yale. Bartoshuk is now a professor at the University of Florida. Normally, people prize highly acute senses. But taste is not so simple: super taste may be too much of a good thing, causing those who have it to avoid bitter compounds and find some spicy foods too hot to handle. This unusual corner of perception science has been explored by Linda Bartoshuk of Yale University, who first stumbled upon supertasting about 15 years ago while studying saccharin. About one in four, she discovered, qualified as supertasters, a name she coined. To find what made them special, Bartoshuk zeroed in on the tongue's anatomy. She found that people have different numbers of fungiform papillae, with tongue topography ranging from, say, sparse cactus-pocked deserts to lush lawns. To qualify for super stardom, which is a genetically inherited trait, a person has to have wall-to-wall papillae… Most people are tasters, but as many as 25 percent of people of Caucasian descent are non-tasters, according Danielle Reed of the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Women are more likely to be supertasters than men. “Taste only happens when molecules bind to receptors on the tongue,” she says. “From there, signals go to certain parts of the brain. Smell happens when odour molecules bind to receptors in the nose, and from there signals go to different parts of the brain. They eventua

Head Chef R&D Lars Williams extracting rose flavor/water using a rotovap or a rotary evaporator; Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark; Contact: Arve Krognes  +45 32 96 32 97, ak@noma.dk.

The weird stuff included a visit to Louisiana State University, where scientists study catfish to better understand taste. The whiskered bottom-feeders navigate murky water using tens of thousands of tastebuds that cover their bodies. “It’s the same idea as if you took your tongue and, like, stretched it around your body,” Finke says.

Later, at the University of Florida, Finke discovered that he isn’t a supertaster. Such people have an unusually high number of papillae, the bumps on your tongue that contain taste receptors, and it makes them hypsersensitive to flavors. Experimental psychologist Linda Bartoshuk coined the term in the early 1990s. Her team tested Finke, who isn’t a supertaster, and his assistant, who is. “He doesn’t like foods that I would think are deliciously spicy, because it’s too much for his palate,” Finke says.

Not being a supertaster might explain why Finke is so gastronomically adventurous. When the folks at Nordic Food Lab, the Copenhagen outfit that investigates “food diversity and deliciousness,” offered him a few bee larvae, he happily popped them into his mouth. Oddly, he doesn’t remember how they taste—“Maybe crunchy? Maybe not crunchy?”—but he quite liked ants. “They have a very strong flavor,” he says. “Salty and robust.”

Finke visited 10 labs, cooking schools and restaurants like the Fat Duck in Melbourne, where the sorbet comes with a box of steaming oak moss that you sniff while eating. He shot, as he always does, with a Nikon D800 and off-camera flashes that cast everything in an unappetizing glow.

The project opened his eyes to the bizarre lengths people go in pursuit of flavor. But if you love food, you’ll try anything. Even ants.