The New Yorker's annual food issue hits mailboxes and newsstands this week, and it does not disappoint. Good news for non-subscribers: every article is now available online. First up is an explainer from Michael Specter, Against the Grain, on America's ever-increasing avoidance of gluten. Fun fact: only one percent of the population suffers from celiac, the disease that causes a severe allergy to gluten.
Next, in a piece titled Bakeoff, Adam Gopnik talks to pastry-chef-of-the-moment Dominique Ansel about the pervasiveness of pastry hybrids like the cronut. Gopnik gets Maury Rubin, inventor of the pretzel croissant, to bash Ansel's pastry-making skills: "When the Cronut became a thing, I just thought, Oh, my God, that's perfect! His croissant sucked, so he threw it in oil." In Elite Meat, Dana Goodyear profiles Anya Fernald, the CEO and co-founder of California's Belcampo Meats.
In a meta-twist, John Lanchester apologizes for our increasingly food-obsessed culture in Shut Up and Eat. Excerpt: "Not so long ago, food was food. (I've lost count of the number of conversations I've had with people in the industry, debating some point backward and forward, that end with someone shrugging and saying, "It's just food.") That's not true anymore. Food is now politics and ethics as much as it is sustenance."
Finally, David Owen sails the high seas in Floating Feast, an exploration of fine dining on cruise ships. Key statistic: "Guests in Opus [a restaurant aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship] consume roughly six hundred pounds of fries in an evening, Dearie said, and fry consumption rises with the number of Americans on board and the number of children — as does pizza consumption."
The issue also contains a few sidebars: Rivka Galchen discusses her diet as a medical student; Will Mackin eats pre-packaged comfort food while on a military base in Iraq; Chang-Rae Lee remembers the cafeteria at boarding school; and Jaime Joyce thinks back to the time she paid her brother a "food visit" while he was in prison.
The New Yorker's food issue hits newsstands today, Monday, October 27.