As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.
Apple pie isn't American in the way people often mean. Every ingredient, from apples to butter to nutmeg and cinnamon, came from somewhere else.
But then, so do most Americans.
A new book traces the roots of American tastes from pemmican to Coca-Cola to what are now called "molecularly modified" foods. Libby O'Connell, the chief historian and a senior vice president for the History Channel and A&E networks, wrote The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites.
The imprint Ron Riveira's grandparents made on his life has been indelible. Ron, a hospice nurse in California, served as a Navy corpsman and a medic in the Marines. His grandmother and grandfather β a Korean War vet β helped raise him.
Ron remembers that his grandfather may not have said much, but his love for his wife was obvious. "They were a phenomenal couple," Ron tells his friend Jason Deitch at StoryCorps in Concord, Calif.
As you may be aware, there's a hot new space movie now in theaters β Interstellar. Here's the premise: It's just a little bit in the future, conditions have become pretty horrible on Earth and some astronauts head out in search of a new planet for humans to inhabit.
Young people are being chased out of the labor market. Though the national unemployment rate has fallen steadily in recent months, youth unemployment remains stubbornly high, and the jobless rate is even higher among young minorities. For young people between the ages of 16 and 24, unemployment is more than twice the national rate, at 14.2 percent. For African-Americans, that rate jumps to 21.4 percent.
This January, after the driest calendar year in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency. He called on residents to reduce their water intake by 20 percent.
But downtown Los Angeles doesn't looklike a city devastated by the state's worst drought in decades. The city is green with landscaping, and fountains are running. People still water their lawns, wash their cars and fill their pools.
(July 24, 2014: See the editor's note at the bottom of this page for an explanation of the story's new headline.)
When 12-year-old Lauren Arrington heard about her sixth-grade science project, she knew she wanted to study lionfish. Growing up in Jupiter, Fla., she saw them in the ocean while snorkeling and fishing with her dad.
Tim Bomba is a tall, rangy guy with a quick smile. He's a marathoner, a triathlete (he's done two Ironman races), and every Wednesday morning for the last decade, Bomba has taught a ocean swimming course in Santa Monica, Calif.
The course, called Ocean 101, isn't for accomplished swimmers like Bomba. It's for people who are new to the ocean, and many participants are afraid of the water when they arrive. Bomba knows what they're going through. He himself was terrified of swimming until he was in his 50s.
In 1960, Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird, won the Pulitzer Prize, and overnight became one of America's most beloved writers. But Lee was overwhelmed by the media blitz that followed. She retreated from the public eye, became wary of journalists, and never published another book.
Then, in 2001, a reporter for The Chicago Tribune showed up in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Ala., to work on a story about the town, which is the model for the fictional setting of Lee's novel.
Zach Braff is currently performing on Broadway, and for a time he starred in the TV comedy Scrubs. But he's also known for directing and starring in the 2004 film Garden State, a model of 20-something angst.
It is the season of state fairs, when you may have a chance to expand your palate or test your gag reflex at the concession stands. (Once you're stuffed, maybe you'll get to admire a butter sculpture.)
Not long ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Salopek traveled through Israel and the West Bank as part of his journey walking from Africa to South America. He was there this spring, before the current violence erupted. Talking recently from Cyprus to Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep, he says the long-standing conflict was part of daily life.
Part of losing weight boils down to making tweaks to the simple equation of calories in versus calories out.
Americans spend over $60 billion a year on diet and weight loss products, according to market research, but the weight often comes right back. That may be because it's such a hassle to count calories β tracking everything you order or cook at home.
This story is part of All Things Considered's "Men in America" series.
It's rare that a man makes it through life without being told, at least once, "Be a man." To Joe Ehrmann, a former NFL defensive lineman and now a pastor, those are the three scariest words that a boy can hear.
Hey, remember Hilary Banks from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?
She's back, but in a different light. Actress Karyn Parsons has started a new organization β Sweet Blackberry β that makes short, animated films about influential, yet lesser-known African-Americans.
She still loves acting, she told Kelly McEvers of Weekend All Things Considered, but her priorities have changed since she became a mom.
Parson says being pregnant with her daughter got her thinking about her responsibility, as a parent, to add to her kids' formal education.
Sure, it's tough to earn a living as an artist. But it helps if your materials don't cost a lot. At the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, several of the Kenyan craftspeople work wonders with discarded beer bottles and flip-flops.
Jonathan Lento: He Fashions Flip-Flops Into Funky Fauna
Jonathan Lento grips a slender knife in one hand and a colorful block made of glued-together flip-flops in the other.