Take a Virtual Tour of Belgium’s Sourdough Library

Sourdough bread in a bakery in San Francisco, the city that gave the library its very first sourdough starter back in 1989.
Sourdough bread in a bakery in San Francisco, the city that gave the library its very first sourdough starter back in 1989.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As scores of people take up baking to pass the time (and alleviate stress) while self-isolating, sourdough bread has seen an astronomical rise in popularity. Whether you’re just getting introduced to the properties of yeast or you’ve been cultivating your own sourdough starter for ages, you could probably learn a thing or two from Karl De Smedt, who’s spent several years gathering sourdough starters from all over the world for the Puratos Sourdough Library in St. Vith, Belgium.

According to Smithsonian, most of the starters are from European countries—there are 38 from Italy alone—but some hail from other places, too, including the library’s very first starter from San Francisco. That sample was collected by Belgian bakery supply company Puratos in 1989, and it was De Smedt who later suggested they display their ever-growing, multicultural assortment to the public.

They opened the one-room library in 2013, and you can now explore the collection for yourself via a 360-degree virtual tour, which features an introduction by De Smedt, refrigerators containing a total of 125 sourdough starters, and videos that tell the unique stories behind 12 of those starters. In one, for example, De Smedt travels to Italy to explore the origins of the famous Altamura bread, which ancient Roman poet Horace called “the best bread to be had” all the way back in 37 BCE. In another, De Smedt heads to China’s Hebei province for a mouthwatering lesson on steamed buns.

On the left side of the virtual tour is a menu that lists 87 of the starters; if you click on one, you’ll be shown that particular jar along with information about its history, flour type, and bacterial characteristics. Since sourdough starters’ microbial colonies can evolve over time, it’s not clear how old some of them actually are.

“If someone insisted she had a 500-year-old sourdough, I’d have to believe her,” De Smedt told The New York Times.

You can explore the virtual tour here.

[h/t Smithsonian]

The New Apple Watch SE Is Now Available on Amazon

Apple/Amazon
Apple/Amazon

Apple products are notorious for their high price tags. From AirPods to iPads to MacBooks, it can be difficult to find the perfect piece of tech on sale when you are ready to buy. Luckily, for those who have had their eye on a new Apple Watch, the Apple Watch SE is designed with all the features users want but at a lower starting price of $279— and they're available on Amazon right now.

The SE exists as a more affordable option when compared to Apple's new Series 6 line of watches. This less expensive version has many of the same functions of its pricier brethren, except for certain features like the blood oxygen sensor and electrical heart sensor. To make up for the truncated bells and whistles, the SE comes in at least $120 cheaper than the Series 6, which starts at $400 and goes up to $800. The SE comes with technical improvements on previous models as well, such as the fall detection, a faster processor, a larger screen, water resistance, and more.

Now available in 40mm ($279) and 44mm ($309), both SE models offer a variety of colors to choose from, such as sliver, space gray, and pink. If you want cellular connection, you’ll have to pay a bit more for the 40mm ($329) and the 44mm ($359).

For more, head to Amazon to see the full list of offerings from Apple.

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Paqui Tortilla Chips, the World's Spiciest Chip, Is Sold One to a Customer

Paqui
Paqui

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to get pepper-sprayed directly in your mouth, Paqui Chips has something you can’t afford to miss. Following the success of their Carolina Reaper Madness One Chip Challenges in 2016, 2017, and 2019, the company is re-releasing the sadistic snack for 2020. Continuing their part-marketing gimmick, part-public safety effort, the Reaper chip won’t be sold in bags. You just get one chip.

That’s because Paqui dusts its chips with the Carolina Reaper Pepper, which is largely considered the world’s hottest pepper, and this year will also include a bit of Scorpion Pepper and Sichuan Peppercorns, just to give it some extra kick. To drive home the point of how hot this chip is—it’s really, extremely, punishingly hot—the chip is sold in a tiny, coffin-shaped box.

Peppers like the Carolina Reaper are loaded with capsaicin, a compound that triggers messages of heat and pain and fiery consumption; your body can respond by vomiting or having shortness of breath. While eating the chip is not the same as consuming the bare, whole pepper, it’s still going to be a very uncomfortable experience. For a profanity-filled example, you can check out this video from a previous year's #OneChipChallenge:

While the chip, which retails for $6.99, has only been sold on Paqui’s website in past years, this year it will be available at select retail stores across the country, including 7-Eleven and Kroger. The chip will hit shelves on September 22 (just beware that they sell out quickly).

The company also encourages pepper aficionados to upload photos or videos of their attempts to finish the chip using the hashtag #OneChipChallenge. If it becomes too much, try eating yogurt, honey, or milk to dampen the effects.

This story has been updated for 2020.