In this week's roundup of longform food reads, stories traverse acres searching for mushrooms, wade upstream looking for turtles, and consider using a giant pumpkin as a tent — 'tis the season, after all. In one, discover the impact tipping has on the restaurant industry and in another, explore how recipe distribution has changed. Finally, dive into the history of eating pig — rejected by some cultures and embraced by others.
As a professional forager for more than 16 years, he's learned to handle the product carefully. He separates his baskets with parchment paper and plastic bags. "You don't want to mix mushrooms if you can help it," he says. The bigger fungi, like lobster mushrooms and matsutakes, need to be handled especially gently—breakage hurts their value.
It's a month before the show and, around him, huge mutoid stalks leap up to four feet in height, intertwined with greenery that's nigh-on prehistoric in its vastness. At its centre is a pale orange life form you could hollow out and use as a tent. It's ginormous - no wonder one could drive a village nuts.
Meyer considers the front of house staff — the servers, bartenders, and runners who directly interact with diners — to be the diplomats in a much larger body politic. These emissaries are the face of an entire group of individuals providing hospitality, one that includes every member of the restaurant's staff, from dishwashers to expediters to hosts. To him, "Hospitality included" means this won't be a semantic game where a tip is just called by another name, and still goes only to the service staff's bottom line — it means every individual employed by the restaurant benefits.
We slow-motioned upstream with Ricky and Bud eagerly pushing their hands into the scariest-looking places imaginable—stump holes, thick briars, hanging tree roots. Fearless. I asked one of the boys for a gunnysack to carry so that I would at least appear to be doing something other than taking a very hard walk upstream because there was no way I was putting my arm in another den.
The shift may seem subtle to someone who rarely picks up a pan, but editors, professional cooks and booksellers and others say recipes have become more open-ended and broader in their approach. Instructions have shifted away from formulas toward deeper explanations of technique, offering context and lyricism in ways Fannie Farmer could not have imagined.
The differences between Romans and Jews extended to food. One people defined itself by rejecting pork, the other by embracing it. One called the pig abominable, the other miraculous. One saw the pig as a carrier of pollution, the other as a sign of abundance. Between them, Jews and Romans set the terms that would define the pig throughout the history of the West.