Cultrface – a blog dedicated to culture and how it enriches our lives.

Cxffeeblack to Africa (Documentary)

Cxffeeblack to Africa (Official Documentary)

Cxffeeblack to Africa is a documentary on the Black history of coffee, created by Cxffeeblack founders Bartholomew Jones and Renata Henderson. As the title suggests, the pair go to Africa, specifically Ethiopia where coffee is the nation’s biggest export, bringing in $1.16bn in 2021. They then meet up with Tamiru, a coffee farmer, to try and reconnect a Black coffee supply chain.

It's Pistachio Day!

Apparently, it’s Pistachio Day today so here are some links and background info about it.

Quick facts about pistachios

  • Pistachios are part of the cashew family along with mangoes and poison ivy
  • Their name derives from the Pistachio tree (the pistachios we eat are actually the seeds)
  • Pistachios are Persian in origin (now modern Iran) and remain native in Central Asian countries such as Afghanistan
  • Pistachio shells contain urushiol (along with other fruit and seeds from the cashew family), which is an oily resin and irritant that causes allergic reactions
  • In China, pistachios are known as the “happy nut”
  • In 2023, competitive eater Nick Wehry set a new world record at the Get Crackin’ Wonderful Pistachios Eating Championship by shelling and eating 188 pistachios in 8 minutes (via)


A research paper on the cultural differences in emoji use and understanding

Researchers from the University of Nottingham released a paper this month about the “individual differences in emoji comprehension” across gender, age, and culture. Here’s the abstract:

Emoji are an important substitute for non-verbal cues (such as facial expressions) in online written communication. So far, however, little is known about individual differences regarding how they are perceived. In the current study, we examined the influence of gender, age, and culture on emoji comprehension. Specifically, a sample of 523 participants across the UK and China completed an emoji classification task. In this task, they were presented with a series of emoji, each representing one of six facial emotional expressions, across four commonly used platforms (Apple, Android, WeChat, and Windows). Their task was to choose from one of six labels (happy, sad, angry, surprised, fearful, disgusted) which emotion was represented by each emoji. Results showed that all factors (age, gender, and culture) had a significant impact on how emojis were classified by participants. This has important implications when considering emoji use, for example, conversation with partners from different cultures.

Individual differences in emoji comprehension: Gender, age, and culture — Yihua Chen, Xingchen Yang, Hannah Howman, Ruth Filik (2024)

I know my emoji use and comprehension is way different to my mum, for example. She opts for the woman dancing in the red dress and the grinning emoji quite a lot when she reacts to things and my emoji use is more wide ranging depending on my mood. Definitely an interesting paper.

Lost brioche: a decadent French bread-based dessert

A Lost Brioche dessert featuring brioche bread, ice cream, and cooked apple slices, drizzled in caramel sauce

Lost brioche is a French dessert that derives from French toast or “pain perdu” (“lost bread” in French), where the leftover brioche bread from a bakery was used to make both dishes. Where lost brioche differs from regular French toast is in its consistency, which is more gooey but decadent and sweet. The picture above came from a restaurant I visited with my family at Christmas in Nice, France last year. It was my first time eating the dessert and it was so good, I went back again a few days later to have seconds! We initially didn’t know what the name meant and thought it undersold the dessert but now I know better!

In terms of a recipe, I didn’t ask at the restaurant (it never crossed my mind to make one) and it’s hard to find one online that isn’t just for French toast which is different. I did find one on Yummly which you can follow but it lacks ingredient quantities which you’d need. If anyone reading this has a recipe, I’d be happy to host it here.

Pokémon: The First Movie trailer in 35mm 4K (1999)

Pokemon - The First Movie (1999) Theatrical Teaser Trailer [4K] [5.1] [FTD-1398]

It never gets old seeing Pokémon: The First Movie in any context but seeing it in 35mm 4K hits me in the feels BIG TIME. I’d love to watch this movie again in 35mm and relive my childhood. Until then, we have this mysterious trailer which didn’t give much away (and that definitely worked in its favour).

Happy Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year to those who celebrate!

a wooden dragon

Happy Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, Tujia New Year, Tsagaan Sar, Hmong New Year, Ryukyu New Year, Korean New Year, and Vietnamese New Year to those who celebrate, in whatever way you celebrate, and in whatever name you call it around the world!

It’s the Year of the Dragon—the Wood Dragon to be specific—and a particularly lucky time as The Smithsonian discussed in their latest piece. People Magazine also looked at the year ahead and what it could mean for you, and South China Morning Post was kind enough to put together a guide of essential reads including lucky foods and traditions for this Chinese New Year.

Language Log also collected some Lunar New Year’s greetings (and here’s the second one)

'Sideways' and its unfortunate influence on mediocre pinot noir

In the 2004 movie, Sideways, Paul Giamatti’s character Miles Raymond uttered the infamous words “I am not drinking any fucking merlot” and thanks to its success, demand for Californian merlot dropped and pinot noir skyrocketed. This lead to vineyards rushing to meet the demand, resulting in the California winemakers mixing pinot noir grapes grown from subpar land with high-quality grapes and reducing the overall quality during the boom.

A paper from University of California-Davis analysed the phenomenon:

This paper explores growers’ supply response to the 2005 “Sideways effect” demand shock (Cuellar, Karnowsky, and Acosta, 2009) triggered by the 2004 release of the movie Sideways. We use a modified difference-in-difference approach to evaluate the supply response in California and regional supply response differences within California. We use U.S. Department of Agriculture data for the period 1999–2012 and find evidence of a supply response in the post-release period that is consistent with the “Sideways effect” on wine demand. The positive supply response for Pinot Noir is stronger than the negative response for Merlot and concentrated in lower value Central Valley vineyards. (JEL Classifications: D25, Q12)

Abstract from the paper

(via Axios)

Chef Tyler went to Portugal and made a bunch of grilled cheese fusion dishes

The World's Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Portugal

If you’re going to Portugal and you’re making grilled cheese sandwiches, of course I’m gonna watch. Chef Tyler did exactly that but with a twist: he mixed his signature dish with Portuguese cuisine to see how it’d turn out. Some worked, some really didn’t, and while I’m sure a few Lisboetas didn’t take kindly to how he treated some of their delicacies, he said it was all in good fun.

Portuguese food related: Foi thong: a Thai dessert with a Portuguese past, the Portuguese origins of England’s tea obsession, and a very Imperial McDonald’s restaurant in Porto

Carl Weathers has sadly passed away at the age of 76. He was best known for his roles as Apollo Creed in the Rocky film series, Colonel Al Dillon in Predator, and more recently Greef Karga in The Mandalorian. Weathers also played American football in the NFL, playing 8 games for the Oakland Raiders.

ICJ orders Israel to take actions that "prevent acts of genocide in Gaza"

I’m gonna keep it real: I’m not equipped to unpack what this ICJ ruling is but the gist is that court has made a list of demands for Israel to “prevent acts of genocide in Gaza”. Al Jazeera has a live blog of the ruling for you to get up to speed. Here’s their tl;dr:

  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has delivered its ruling on the emergency measures requested by South Africa in its genocide case against Israel over its war on the Gaza Strip.
  • The court said, among others, that Israel must take steps to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza but stopped short of ordering a ceasefire.

Here are my thoughts: initially, I thought that this was a positive start and while I want to see where this ruling goes, I thought “demands” in this recap were a bit off?

  • The court says it has jurisdiction to rule in the case.
  • The court orders Israel to take measures to prevent acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip, must report back in one month.
  • The court says Israel must prevent and punish incitement to genocide in the Strip.
  • The court says Israel must allow humanitarian aid into the Strip.
  • The court obliges Israel to take more measures to protect Palestinians but does not order it to end military operations in the Strip.

Like, genocide is being committed and people have already been murdered in their thousands so being ordered to allow aid to the people you’re trying to wipe off the planet seems… strange to me? I can’t find the words. And “take more measures to protect Palestinians”? The Israeli government wants them dead. Why would they suddenly protect them? They knew people would disapprove but also knew they couldn’t be stopped and they haven’t been up to now (and arguably for a while longer).

I know I said this requires nuance etc. but ending genocide and suffering untold consequences is a hard rule for me and seeing some of these requests (because they now feel more like requests rather than demands) rub me up the wrong way. I want a ceasefire, punishment, systemic change, and for it to never happen again and I don’t care how unrealistic or idealistic my demands are. My thoughts and support are with the Palestinians, not authorities with no care for the oppressed.

Free Palestine. Ceasefire now.