“Does Lava Taste Like Cheese?” And Other Burning Questions

We asked the experts

Sarah Totton
Nov 9, 2020 · 3 min read
Photo by Brent Keane at Pexels

From an interview with Dr. David Suzuki, July 1st, 1990, Victoria, British Columbia.

Interviewer: Hello, Dr. Suzuki!

David Suzuki: Hello.

Interviewer: I know I invited you here to talk about climate change, but first, let’s talk about a more pressing question.

David Suzuki: More pressing than climate change?

Interviewer: Yes. I want to know: Does lava taste like cheese?

David Suzuki: Lava is rock. Molten rock.

Interviewer: Does it taste like cheese, though?

David Suzuki: It’s an outpouring of liquid rock from beneath the Earth’s crust. It’s not food.

Interviewer: But you have to admit that it looks like melted cheese. It’s got a moist, orange center, like a good Canadian cheddar, with burned black bits on the top, like you get when you pull a grilled cheese out from under the broiler. I mean, yum, is what I’m saying. Am I right?

David Suzuki: It’s rock.

Interviewer: It pours like cheese, though. Like Velveeta out of the microwave. The other day, I saw a guy on TV sampling some lava with a pick-axe and I saw a definite cheese pull. I’m talking cheese strings. It looked tasty.

David Suzuki: Lava is between 700 and 1200 °C.

Interviewer: I’m not suggesting you eat it straight off the ground. Maybe blow on it before you take a bite? You’d burn that little nubbin of flesh behind your front teeth on the roof of your mouth, but that’s just part of the experience of eating a grilled cheese.

David Suzuki: I don’t think you understand the intensity of the heat involved here. Zinc boils at this temperature.

Interviewer: Is it the kind of heat that makes the nape of your neck itch? Like a good English mustard?

David Suzuki: It’s nothing like English mustard. Lava will burn the nape of your neck right off.

Interviewer: So…you have tasted it?

David Suzuki: No, I haven’t. If you eat it, it will kill you.

Interviewer: What you’re trying to say is, lava might taste like cheese, but the scientists won’t try it because they’re all fraidy cats.

David Suzuki: We are not fraidy cats. We’re sensible.

Interviewer: What would you say if I told you that I’d found 8 children who are all willing to taste lava? Their only stipulation is that it be served “on a big piece of toast or a crunchy stick of celery.”

David Suzuki: I think I’d call Child Protection Services.

Interviewer: You’re thwarting the natural curiosity of young children, David. Someone should call Child Protection Services on you.

David Suzuki: We’re done here.

Interviewer: Fraidy cat.

Archival interview footage from May 17th, 1988, Cambridge University.

Interviewer: So, Dr. Hawking, I think the question we all want answered is: Does the planet Mars taste like a Mars bar?

Stephen Hawking: Of course it doesn’t.

Interviewer: Well then, why is it called “Mars”?

Stephen Hawking: The planet Mars was named after Mars, the Roman god of war.

Interviewer: So, is the flavor of a Mars bar based on what scientists think the planet Mars tastes like? Or how they imagine Mars, god of war, tasted?

Stephen Hawking: I’m a scientist, not a confectioner!

Interviewer: Because if the god of war tasted like a Mars bar, I would definitely be up for a nibble. I’m not a god, so technically, it wouldn’t be cannibalism.

Stephen Hawking: I’m leaving.

Interviewer: Wait! Don’t go. I have a quick question about the chocolate content of the milky way.

From an interview with Carl Sagan, October 31st, 2020 (via Ouija board).

Interviewer: Dr. Sagan, are you there?

Carl Sagan: Somewhere…something incredible is waiting to be known.

Interviewer: Yes! And we want to know what it is, Dr. Sagan. It’s about the cosmos.

Carl Sagan: I am the cosmos and it is me.

Interviewer: The cosmos, Dr. Sagan…

Carl Sagan: Yes?

Interviewer: Does it taste like chicken?

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