Posts Tagged ‘environment


sciencing the frozen margarita

Duke University Press’ blog post about Gabriela Soto Laveaga’s Jungle Laboratories says that the book “challenges us to reconsider who can produce science.”

In a much lighter vein, I was reminded of that challenge this morning while reading Robb Walsh‘s recounting, in The Tex-Mex Cookbook, of Mariano Martinez’s invention of the frozen margarita machine. In 1971, Martinez relayed his diners’ complaints about his restaurant’s inconsistent margaritas to his bartender. The bartender, “sick of squeezing all those limes,” threatened to quit. Martinez found inspiration at a 7-11 the next morning and decided to automate–but he couldn’t get his hands on a Slurpee machine. Instead, he bought a soft-serve ice cream machine and began experimenting–or holding “a lot of tasting parties,” as he put it. The problem was how to get the alcoholic mix to freeze. Adding enough water to cause freezing diluted the drink too much, but adding more sugar… It turns out that “with a high enough brix level (the scientific measurement of sugar content), you can freeze quite a bit of alcohol.”

Mexican campesinos can certainly produce science, and so can tipsy Tex-Mex restaurateurs. Martinez never patented or trademarked his method, but his first margarita machine does have a place in the National Museum of American History.

In more serious news, US federal courts have been voiding clauses of BP’s exploitative clean-up contracts with Gulf fishermen left and right, preserving the fishermen’s rights to sue BP for damages from the Deepwater Horizon disaster and to talk freely about the situation, even if they do accept clean-up work from BP.


link round-up

The Bad
BP’s massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico has imposed a fishing ban in affected waters, stretching from the mouth of the Mississippi to Pensacola Bay. As Mississippi shrimper Jimmy Rowell puts it, “Nobody wants no oily shrimp.”

For the fourth year in a row, more than a third of US honeybee colonies did not survive the winter. Scientists still have no solid answers as to why, and no effective solutions to the problem.

The Good
Two renewable energy companies are testing a greenhouse that integrates photovoltaics–producing both food and electricity–in Savona, Italy.

This semester, California College of Arts and Crafts learned to cook soup from five immigrant women, then produced marketing materials for the women’s entrepreneurial pursuits.

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