The Kitchen Sisters

For the past five years, the Golden State Warriors, coaches and support staff have traveled to San Quentin, the well-known California maximum security prison, to play a basketball game against select prison inmates. The Kitchen Sisters teamed up with the podcast Life of the Law to bring us this most recent showdown of these two Bay Area teams.

Everybody eats, which is what makes food a perfect choice to resolve conflicts and foster connections among nations. The concept is called "gastrodiplomacy," and South Korea is one of its strongest champions.

The country is one of the world's best at branding itself through food, using its cuisine as a kind of "soft power" to help spread South Korea's influence. And even as the government supports its citizens in opening Korean restaurants around the world, it pays special attention to promoting that most ubiquitous of Korean foods: kimchi.

You've heard of the San Francisco gold rush. But that rush spurred another, lesser-known event: the egg rush. The legions of miners who swept into the region in the 1850s hoping to strike gold all had to be fed. And they needed protein to stay strong. But when food shortages hit, wily entrepreneurs looked for eggs in an unlikely source: the Farallon Islands.

In Japan, nearly every interest has a manga dedicated to it, whether it's sports, music or shooting pool. So it's no wonder that food, which has always been tied to Japan's cultural identity, has skyrocketed as a genre of manga, which represents about 40 percent of all books published in that country.

Lisbon is a city of plazas, parks, overlooks and gardens. For more than a century, these beautiful public spaces were graced by Art Noveau and Moorish-style kiosks — small, ornate structures that provided chairs and shade and served traditional Portuguese snacks and drinks.

In April 1865, at the bloody, bitter end of the Civil War, Ebenezer Nelson Gilpin, a Union cavalryman, wrote in his diary, "Everything is chaos here. The suspense is almost unbearable."

"We are reduced to quarter rations and no coffee," he continued. "And nobody can soldier without coffee."

If war is hell, then for many soldiers throughout American history, it is coffee that has offered some small salvation. Hidden Kitchens looks at three American wars through the lens of coffee: the Civil War, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

They call it "The Hummus Wars."

Lebanon accused the Israeli people of trying to steal hummus and make it their national dish, explains Ronit Vered, a food journalist with the newspaper Haaretz in Tel Aviv. And so hummus became a symbol, she tells us, "a symbol of all the tension in the Middle East."

The war began over a 4,532-pound plate of hummus.

Curtis Carroll discovered the stock market in prison. Through friends and family on the outside, he invests from San Quentin State Prison in Northern California, and he's also an informal financial adviser to fellow inmates and correctional officers. Everyone in prison calls him Wall Street.

"I couldn't believe that this kind of access to this type of money could be accessible to anybody. Everybody should do it. And it's legal!" he says.

The Mexican town of Tequila in the western state of Jalisco is the heart of a region that produces the legendary spirit. Any bottle of tequila must be made from the Weber Blue species of agave, grown and distilled in this region.

Field after field of agave gives this land a blue hue, defining an economy and its traditions.

If you teach an aboriginal man (or woman) to make a cappuccino, can you feed his career for a lifetime?

That's the hope at Yaama Dhiyaan, a cooking and hospitality school for at-risk indigenous young people in Australia.

Students there are learning the skills to be cooks, restaurant and hotel workers, and caterers. The school is also helping to reconnect them to their culture, disrupted when many of their grandparents were kidnapped off the land, forced into missionary schools and denied the right to vote until the 1960s.

In a laboratory, deep under a mile-high stretch of the Alps on the French-Italian border, Philippe Hubert, a physicist at the University of Bordeaux, is testing the authenticity of a bottle of wine.

"We are looking for radioactivity in the wine," says Hubert. "Most of the time the collectors send me bottles of wine because they want to know if it is fake or not."

When Nikita Khrushchev emerged as the leader of the Soviet Union after Stalin's death in 1953, one of the first things he addressed was the housing shortage and the need for more food. At the time, thousands of people were living in cramped communal apartments, sharing one kitchen and one bathroom with sometimes up to 20 other families.

In the decades following the 1917 Russian Revolution, most people in Moscow lived in communal apartments; seven or more families crammed together where there had been one, sharing one kitchen and one bathroom. They were crowded; stove space and food were limited. Clotheslines were strewn across the kitchen, the laundry of one family dripping into the omelet of another.

In an old hunting lodge on the grounds of an ancient Norman castle in Abergavenny, Wales, a small, extinct dog peers out of a handmade wooden display case.

"Whiskey is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog, albeit stuffed," says Sally Davis, longtime custodian at the Abergavenny Museum.

The Canis vertigus, or turnspit, was an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain in the 16th century. The small cooking canine was bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit in cavernous kitchen fireplaces.

In recent years, the effort to bring the Mafia under control in Sicily has spilled over into the world of food. Today a movement of small organic agricultural cooperatives has sprung up across the island to farm land once confiscated by the Mafia and bring these goods to a global market.

We were in London, searching for Hidden Kitchen stories, when we came upon an Eel Pie & Mash shop. It was full of old white marble tables, tile walls, pots of stewed and jellied eels, and piles of pies. These shops are now a dying breed, along with the eels they serve. Our search for the source of these vanishing eels led us to southwest London — to Eel Pie Island, a tiny slice of land with a flamboyant history that stretches from Henry the VIII to the Rolling Stones.