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Tea Party Slang, Blood Pancakes, Toxic Urban Garden Soil, and More Long Reads

Worthy weekend reading.

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On the darkest of holiday weekends, we bring you timely scary articles — and beyond the macabre (human blood pancakes, anyone?). Your locally sourced, rooftop garden kale might just have lead in it, drive-through french fries are trying to be healthier, and somehow Hiroshima is still better known for its bombed past than its famous grilled goodies. Coffee tasting might rival wine events in one world, but an another life a coffee connoisseur wakes up craving bad coffee. Quick, somebody, hand me some spirits, evil or otherwise.

Freedom from Fries

The New Yorker

After a brief silence, Nguyen owned up to eating at McDonald's once or twice a month, but not for a Big Mac or French fries. "They have some surprisingly good food these days,'' she said in a confessional whisper. "But I would never be seen walking down the street with a McDonald's bag in my hand.'' I asked why. "Shame," she replied. "I don't know anyone who would feel differently.''

The Second Most Famous Thing to Happen to Hiroshima

Roads and Kingdoms

As Japan recovered from the postwar depression, okonomiyaki became the cornerstone of Hiroshima's nascent restaurant culture. And with new variable—noodles, protein, fishy powders—added to the equation, it became an increasingly fungible concept. Half a century later, it still defies easy description. Okonomi means "whatever you like," yaki means "grill," but smashed together they do little to paint a clear picture. Invariably, writers, cooks, and oko officials revert to analogies: some call it a cabbage crepe, others a savory pancake or an omelet.

Eat Yourself Silly

Lucky Peach

It took about an hour to collect the 150 ml of blood (about two-thirds of a cup) I needed to make the pancakes. Because we didn't want to risk an anticoagulant ruining the taste, every ten or fifteen minutes I had to stop and squish the blood around in the Ziploc to make sure it didn't congeal. Despite a few off-putting clumps, it wasn't as disgusting as I'd expected.

Is Coffee More Complex Than Wine?

Wall Street Journal

The two soon discovered that they employed many of the same tasting terms, too. "We'll talk about aroma and complexity and body and flavor," said Mr. Liedholm. He generally advises his staff to eschew excessive adjectives or too much talk about fruit, lest they sound pretentious or silly. If someone "pulled out something like ‘brambleberry,' we'd double over and laugh," he said.

Inner-City Farmers May Have Toxic Soil on Their Hands

Smithsonian

Chaney also thinks gardeners need to understand the "soil splash principle." When it comes to leafy crops like spinach and lettuce, he says, "fine particles that get stuck on the surface and are hard to wash off are the main source of lead." For this reason, those who garden in areas with increased lead levels would want to avoid growing lettuce, spinach, chard and herbs and use raised beds and fresh soil.

Gossip Girls: Tea Parties And The Sexist Slang They Inspired

NPR

The other tea-related phrase was "to bitch" — a colloquial way of saying "to make tea"; its variations were to "stand bitch" and "bitch the pot," meaning to preside as hostess at a tea party. According to Grose, bitch was "the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman, even more provoking than that of whore."

The Case for Bad Coffee

Serious Eats

The worst part of this new-found obsession is that it isn't even an affectation. I don't drink cheap coffee to be different. I don't boast of my love for Cafe Bustelo, which has become the PBR of the bearded Brooklyn set. I usually buy Maxwell House. There is nothing cool about Maxwell House.

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