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Put Some Mustard On It

When someone urges you to put some mustard on it, they want you to add some energy and vigor. It’s a reference to the piquancy of real, spicy mustard, and has a long history in baseball. This is part of a complete episode.

Cumin

Cumin, a spice often used in chili powder, is easy to think of as an exotic ingredient with an equally exotic pronunciation. But many dictionaries insist that its pronunciation rhymes with “comin’.” This is part of a complete...

Misplaced Foreign Inflections

Open your kitchen cupboard or a cookbook, and chances are you’ll come across a lot of spices and peppers with recognizable names that you still can’t pronounce properly, like turmeric, cayenne, and habanero. We often give foreign...

Why Old Books Smell Good

Nothing like that old-book smell. And if you open up an old volume and think you detect notes of vanilla, there’s a good reason. That intoxicating scent is the result of lignin, a chemical compound in plants used for making paper. It has a...