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Radishes, whipped chevre with olive soil from Marlowe in San Francisco.

The hungry traveller: The dish, the event and the answer

The Dish: Let them eat dirt

In the beginning, there was foam. Then came "air," "colloids" and "spherification," and now cutting-edge chefs are going back to basics, giving us the rise of edible "dirt." According to a recent story in Time magazine, the concept began (as many upcoming culinary trends undoubtedly will be) with René Redzepi, who famously serves radishes with "soil" in a flower pot at his restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. Now, you can find dirt in various guises at restaurants such as Gilt in the New York Palace hotel, where they serve both "soil" made from mushrooms and "ash" made from charred onions. At Marlowe in San Francisco, the pickled radishes and whipped goat cheese are served with "soil" made from dried olives. Not to be outdone, Eldad Shem-Tov of Shakuf in Tel Aviv creates "dirt" from chickpeas and serves them with smoked quail eggs.

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The Event: Food and wine fests

The culinary tribes are gathering as food and wine festival season gets under way on Thursday with the Cornucopia food and wine festival in Whistler, B.C.. In addition to a host of seminars for die-hard oenophiles there are popular events such as the Iron Chef-style Chef's Challenge and the "Big Guns" Winemakers' Dinner at Araxi. For a more tropical food fest, head to Barbados for that island's first annual Barbados Food and Wine and Rum Festival Nov. 19 to 22. Hosted by Travel + Leisure's Nilou Motamed, the festival will be importing celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio, Marcus Samuelsson, Ming Tsai and Fergus Henderson to join local chefs in a celebration of all things Caribbean.

The Answer: Why airplane food tastes bad

Scientists at Manchester University in Britain have determined that the white noise generated by airplane engines has a detrimental effect on the perception of flavour. In addition to decreasing a person's ability to taste salty and sweet (the reason why a lot of airplane food is loaded with additional sodium and sugar), the noise also affects the telltale snap of crisp foods, which can have a detrimental effect on how we perceive freshness and palatability.

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