A living list: the best writing about food

“ What I dislike is not being a regular customer anywhere. Being a regular is I think one of the great pleasures of going to restaurants: You’re recognized by (real) name and seated at your favorite table, you get the same dish you love, experience the same joy, each time you go. And I don’t get to do that. For me it’s always a new dish, in a new space, with a new staff, in a new neighborhood. This brings great pleasures, of course. I love experiencing the city through restaurants new and old. But I do not like not being a regular somewhere. ”

New York Times food critic Sam Sifton (via bzcohen.com)

“ …[R]ecent culinary discoveries have opened up extraordinary possibilities for the chef to serve things that the customers had never thought were possible. Foods that change temperature when you eat them, a cup of tea that is cold on one side and hot on the other, an edible menu, a “Styrofoam” beaker that turns into a bowl of ramen when the server pours hot water over it, edible clay and rocks, a pocket watch that turns into mock-turtle soup, a bar of soap covered in foam that is actually a biscuit with honey bubbles, a milkshake volcano—these are the kinds of thing with which the modernist chefs amaze their audience. ”

From The New Yorker’s review of "Modernist Cuisine," a $625 cookbook/physics textbook.

“ I have one buddy whose taste in movies I trust completely, because in twelve years of friendship he has never once failed me; and I have one buddy whose taste in books I trust completely, for a similar reason. Whatever algorithm God put inside these two people is the right algorithm for me. Otherwise, though, I have to engage in a little pragmatic chaos: I have to listen to the opinions of a few buddies and a few good reviewers, and sort of wait to get wind of the general opinion (it’s mystical), and then I can decide whether to jump. And it’s a great system! It’s unbeatable, even by a clever machine. I do wonder, though, about my dimwitted Netflix buddy and the new-and-improved Goodreads buddy I’m about to meet: Will they one day grow so good at reading my mind that they’ll be interchangeable with my real-life friends? ”

from a New Yorker blog post on Goodreads’s newly-purchased book recommendation algorithm.

“ Oliver seems to find this way more depressing than I do. To him, it’s proof that American children have been “brainwashed.” But to me, it shows that some kids are smart enough to get past the “ewwww” reflex, and that means they have a decent shot at growing into sensible, mature eaters. ”

the NYT, on Jamie Oliver’s demonstration in “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” where he mechanically separates chicken parts to make chicken nuggets, only to have all the small children still readily volunteer to eat them.

Durham approves Southpoint:

Despite bitter criticism from hundreds of residents - and a surprise-to-some “nay” vote from Mayor Nick Tennyson - the Durham City Council voted 10-3 to approve rezonings to allow construction of Southpoint, a mega-mall on a 140-acre tract beside Interstate 40.

Southpoint would be in the same league as Crabtree Valley in Raleigh and become Durham’s largest retail development.

About 3,200 opponents had signed a petition against the project. They noted that the city’s land-use plans called for only about 20 acres of commercial development in the area and said a mall there would encourage sprawl, add congestion to Interstate 40 and spell the end of nearby South Square mall.

Meanwhile Southpoint, which is expected to open in 2001, has landed some marquee tenants, including the Triangle’s first Nordstrom department store and an IMAX theater.

from a December 31, 1999, year-in-review in The (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer. Sadly, I cannot link to it — I found this in the America’s Newspapers database. Other headings of note: “Hurricane Floyd strikes” and “Red Hat goes public in a big way.”

“ People say that the word orange doesn’t rhyme with anything and that kind of pisses me off because I can think of a lot of things that rhyme with orange. ”

Eminem, on his rhyming process, among other things.

“ What the Great Depression was actually like — mostly wretched — and how we frequently choose to think of it — as ultimately redemptive — are two very different things. ”

from Judith Warner’s (yes, she’s back!) recent The Way We Live Now column for the NYT Magazine. The column is about what the so-called Great Recession is doing to family life.

“ Ask someone who reads Vogue: “Imagine I have two different copies of Vogue magazines, they’re the same issue except one has ads and the other one doesn’t. Which one are you going to pay $5 for?” Everybody who reads Vogue wants the one with the ads. But if you asked them the same thing about the website they all say they don’t want the ads. So what that says to me is that this is a design problem. ”

from an interview with Flipboard CEO Mike McCue.

Corporal Gardner, a helicopter mechanic who was working with the female Marines from Pendleton but had not trained with them, found herself as the lone woman dealing with five ailing Afghan women. There was no female interpreter or medical officer — there are chronic shortages of both — and the Afghans refused to leave their compound or let the male interpreter and medical officer come to them. Corporal Gardner devised a cumbersome solution. “Some of these women would rather die than be touched by a male,” she said. “So we’ll diagnose by proxy.”

She took the women’s vital signs herself. Then she had an older Afghan woman come outside with her to describe the women’s symptoms, chiefly headaches and stomachaches, to the male interpreter. He translated them for the American male medical officer. (The American men were partly obscured from the older woman by a mud wall to respect her modesty.) Eventually medication — the painkiller ibuprofen — was handed over to the older woman to distribute.

By the end of the day, an Afghan woman was trusting enough to hand her baby to Corporal Gardner to take to the medical officer, who diagnosed digestive problems from a diet of sheep and goat milk.

from a NYT article, In Camouflage or Veil, a Fragile Bond, that describes the efforts and challenges of the Marines’ “female engagement teams.”

Follow-up, Oct. 4, 2010: For Female Marines, Tea Comes with Bullets.