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The Best Long Reads of the Week, From a Miracle Tree to an Ode to Chicken Tenders

A roundup of worthy weekend reading material.

Elizabeth Daniels

Food & Consequences: Miracle Worker
Lucky Peach

Moringa oleifera, also called the "miracle tree," is a native of northern India and a distant relative of mustard and cabbage. It’s a small deciduous tree with compound leaves and a smooth gray trunk, often curiously swollen, like a baobab’s. It is an impressive organism by any reckoning, and it tends to inspire unreasoning, near-hysterical adulation.

Eating in the American Archipelago

Many Americans today continue to eat for work’s sake. And it seems some of them would like to do away the act of eating itself — chairs, plates, forks, knives, and all. The meal substitute Soylent, for example, promises to "free your body" from the apparently inefficient rigmarole of meals. Yet what this frees you for is anyone’s guess. ("More work" is the likely answer.)

How Pyrex Transformed The Way We Cook
Fast Company

"The most important change that came with Pyrex was the idea of going from the oven to the table, then from the table to the refrigerator, to the freezer," Brumagen says. "Cookware could be utilitarian, but always beautiful. Making cookware become something you would be proud to present as a hostess was rare."

Helen Rosner: On Chicken Tenders

This is because chicken tenders are perfect. They’re perfect in flavor, perfect in aroma, perfect in shape, perfect in color. They’re salty and savory, crisp and juicy, easy to eat with the hands but absolutely okay to go at with a knife and fork. Their ubiquity on kids’ menus isn’t a mark against their perfection, but rather proof of it: the kids’ menu is where all perfect foods live. Pizza, hot dogs, spaghetti. But king of all perfect foods is the chicken tender.

The Golden Temple: Equality Through Food
Life & Thyme

The spiritual presence, tranquility, and beauty of the Golden Temple are what most visitors remember. However, there are extraordinary acts of humility taking place behind-the-scenes every day. Coined by many as the world’s largest free eatery, the mass scale of food production, cleanliness, and efficiency found inside the Golden Temple’s kitchen is mindboggling. Langar (a common kitchen where food is served inside of a gurdwara) was initiated by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and then implemented by Guru Amar Das Ji—the third Sikh guru—as an institution designed to uphold the equality between all people. All gurdwaras serve langar and anyone can eat for free. (Paywall)

How Providence Improbably Beat LA's Fine-Dining Odds

That's not to say that Cimarusti and Poto weren't aware of the risks of doing a fine-dining restaurant that year. "We didn't think about the cost," Cimarusti says. "We didn't think about whether or not it would find an audience. It's just like, 'This is what we have been working [toward] for the last, in my case, 15 years'... That was it. That's what we knew and didn't care if there were several fine-dining restaurants that were on the verge of going out or maybe had already gone out. It wasn't even about that. It was probably not a very wise business decision, to be perfectly honest."

Saint Sardine
Roads and Kingdoms

For hours, impromptu bars, private residences, restaurants, and the entrepreneurially minded take to the streets with charcoal grills to crank out incredible numbers of the small fish, grilled whole and seasoned simply with lemon, firm and smoky from the fires. They are served on a plate with potatoes or stuck between the halves of a roll for eaters intent on moving from one block party to the next. Unlike their canned cousins, the grilled sardines’ char brings out the fish’s salty tang, while lemon brightens the combination into a summery, briny bite.

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