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Alton Brown on the History of Buffalo Wings

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According to the National Chicken Council, Americans will consume some 1.25 billion chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday. Our food expert Alton Brown tears into the meaty history.

• On a dark and stormy night in 1964, Frank and Teressa Bellissimo were closing up the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. Suddenly, the front door flung open. In walked their son Dominic and a gaggle of his friends. And they were hungry.

• Teressa rose to the challenge, frying some chicken wings and tossing them with margarine and hot sauce. She served these up with some of their blue cheese “house” dressing and celery sticks taken from a leftover antipasto platter.

• Although the Bellissimo family later told different creation stories, the divergent tales align upon one point: Teressa was the mother of this invention.

• A wing is made of three sections affixed by two hinges. The section containing the humerus bone is referred to as the “drumette” because it looks like a mini drumstick.

• Although the next section, the “flat” containing the ulna and radius, delivers less meat mass, some argue that the flavor is more intense, perhaps thanks to a higher concentration of fat and therefore succulence.

• A regional sauce called Frank’s RedHot was used that fateful night back in ’64, and it’s still the choice of wing-oisseurs. Maybe it’s the subtle sweetness, maybe it’s the full mouth burn, or maybe it’s the bright, not-quite-natural neon-orange hue that kicks salivary glands into overdrive.

• In Buffalo, wings typically come mild, medium, or hot, depending not on the type of sauce but amount used.

• But the hot sauce doesn’t stand alone. Fat must be added to provide a quality coating and keep the heat in check. Although Anchor has never revealed its recipe, I feel a 2:3 ratio of hot to butter does the trick. And yes, I said butter. I know that Momma T used margarine, but I don’t do margarine—simple as that.

• Blue cheese dressing is critical. For one, it’s salty. Also, cheese contains a fair amount of dairy fat, which is efficient at cooling the fires stoked by the chemical capsaicin. Water and alcohol only spread the burn.

• Celery seems about as useless in this dish as mud flaps on a Ferrari. I suspect the real purpose of the vegetation is to make up for the fact that so many wings don’t offer the “crunch” that American eaters crave.

• And finally, what of the cooking? Deep fat frying is the norm because it crisps the skin and renders out most of the subcutaneous fat that can make wings taste flabby, thus necessitating all that darned celery.

Impress at your Super Bowl party! Try one of my recipes at

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New Café Geared Towards Deaf Patrons Opens in Bogotá, Colombia
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At Sin Palabras Café Sordo, a trendy new watering hole in Bogotá, Colombia, patrons can dance, play games, enjoy exhibitions and performances, and grab a drink. But while ordering from the menu, they use their hands to communicate. Sin Palabras Café Sordo—which translates to No Words Deaf Café in English—is the South American nation’s first-ever bar designed to accommodate workers and customers with hearing impairments, according to The Nation.

Located in Bogotá's Chapinero neighborhood, Sin Palabras Café Sordo has both deaf servers and menus written in sign language. Customers sit at small tables and flick on a tiny lamp to signal a bartender over to order a drink. When patrons hit the dance floor, they’re greeted by large screens playing music videos with lyrics in sign language, and a pulsing floor that allows partiers to keep in time with the beat.

A trio of Bogotá entrepreneurs—Maria Fernanda Vanegas, Cristian Melo, and Jessica Mojica—teamed up to launch Sin Palabras Café Sordo in June 2017. None of these co-owners is deaf, but Vanegas told The Nation that their goal is “for us, people who can hear, to adapt to the deaf, and not the other way round, which is always the case.” Keeping with this theme, the bar has small cards to teach non-hearing-impaired customers some basic phrases in sign language. (Visitors who don’t know enough sign language to order off the menu can point to items they want, or write them down.)

Business has been so good for Sin Palabras Café Sordo that Vanegas and her co-owners might establish even more café locations around Colombia, according to Lonely Planet. That said, they aren’t the first ones to launch a business that caters to customers with hearing impairments: Granada, Nicaragua recently became home to Café de las Sonrisas (“Smiles Cafe”), a restaurant that employs only deaf cooks and servers, and similar establishments have opened in Canada and India. And in the U.S., there are restaurants like San Francisco’s deaf-owned and -operated pizzeria, Mozzeria.

[h/t The Nation]

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Big Questions
Why Do Small Dogs Live Longer Than Large Dogs?
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Why do small dogs live longer than large dogs?

Adriana Heguy:

The issue of body size and lifespan is a fascinating topic in biology. It’s strange that across species, at least in mammals, large-bodied animals live longer than small-sized animals. For example, elephants live a lot longer than mice. The theory is that
bigger animals have slower metabolisms than small animals, and that faster metabolisms result in more accumulation of free radicals that damage tissue and DNA. But this doesn't always hold for all animals and the “rate of living” theory is not widely accepted. What we cannot clearly understand remains fascinating.

But now if we look at within a given species, lifespan and body size are inversely correlated. This is definitively the case for dogs and mice, and it has been proposed that this is the case for humans, too. Why would this be? A possible explanation is that larger dogs (or mice, or people) grow faster than their smaller counterparts because they reach a larger size in more or less the same time, and that faster growth could be correlated with higher cancer rates.

We do not have a clear understanding of why growing faster leads to accelerated aging. But it seems that it is an accelerated rate of aging, or senescence, that causes larger dogs to have shorter lifespans than little dogs.

The figure above is from Ageing: It’s a Dog’s Life. The data is from 32 breeds. Note that the inverse correlation is pretty good, however some large dog breeds, at around 40 to 50 kg (or about 88 to 110 pounds), live 12 or 13 years in average while some other dog breeds of equal body size live only eight or nine years on average. This is due to dogs being a special case, as they were artificially bred by humans to select for looks or behavior and not necessarily health, and that considerable inbreeding was necessary to produce “purebred” dogs. For example, boxers are big dogs, but their higher cancer rates may result in a shorter lifespan. However, the really giant breeds all consistently live eight to nine years on average. So there is something going on besides simple breeding quirks that led to bad genetics and ill health. Something more general.

A few years ago, a large study [PDF] was published using mortality data from thousands of dogs across 74 breeds, testing three hypotheses: Large dogs may die younger than small dogs because of (1) an earlier onset of senescence, (2) a higher minimum mortality hazard, or (3) an increased rate of aging. The conclusion from their study is that aging starts more or less at the same age in small and large breeds, but large breeds age faster. We do not have a clear understanding of the underlying mechanism for faster aging in dogs. It seems that when we selected for large body size, we selected for faster aging as well. But we do not know all the genetic components of this. We know that there are at least three genes that determine large body size in dogs: IRS4 and IGSF1, involved in thyroid hormone pathways which affect growth, and ACSL4, involved in muscle growth, and back fat thickness.

But how this accelerates aging is still speculation. More studies are needed, but dogs seem to be a great model to study the evolution of body size and its relationship to aging.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.


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