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The History of the Croissant and More Food Long Reads

Catch up on these stories this weekend

Nick Solares

New year, new food histories to read! All cultures love claiming a food as their own, from croissants to seafood — but several authors show us that the Italians have some special twists on items like fish sauce and pasta (latter sans fish sauce, or anything else really). Food aside, the Japanese are legendary for their blades — and the article below illustrates the process beautifully. Who would guess that corporations have gone the extra mile for a Klondike bar — especially considering the the ridiculous feats pulled by consumers? Finally, potato skins in an unassuming bar: the taste of childhood, dark memories, but more importantly, hope.

The History of the Croissant
Lucky Peach

A popular croissant creation myth dates back to this era. Legend has it that during the 1683 siege of Vienna a group of bakers discovered Ottoman Turks tunneling into the city. To celebrate their discovery, they created a crescent-shaped pastry modeled after Turkish flag. The problem with the story: crescent-shaped baked goods existed in Austria long before, and a similar myth exists for the Turkish siege of Budapest just three years later.

Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash
Southern Foodways Alliance

The menu at Ella's is the same as the menus at almost every other restaurant in town: small or large plates of fried shrimp, oysters, flounder, scallops, or deviled crabs. Or combos with two or three of these items. You can get side orders of them, platters of them, sandwiches stuffed with them. Or, "for land lovers," there's a spaghetti dinner.

A Stranger at Home in a Strange Land
Roads and Kingdoms

The new digs mean we get to take a morning constitutional every day when we go for breakfast in a nearby village. We set out while the sun is still low, picking our way through a dusty construction site for an impressive 100-foot-wide road and then down a smaller road marked with farm plots of nascent rice shoots.

The Italian Anchovy Juice That Might Change Your Life

Tremendous, if kind of hard to describe. It tastes of fish, though not fishy. The essence of the anchovy more than the anchovy itself: the platonic anchovy. Multidimensional—the taste echoes around in your head, and if I knew what the word umami meant, I'd use it now. Brazenly, arrogantly salty—really, I think it could cause instant hypertension. But worth it.

Cold Water and Roman Pasta

This was our first supper in the West, which we hadn't prepared ourselves. The previous three weeks in Vienna we stayed in a hotel that came with a kitchen—the fact that effectively postponed all my hopes of rapid assimilation. Aside from the Latin script on jars of sauerkraut and the sounds of Farsi coming from Iranian refugees applying nail polish in the same kitchen, our meals could have easily been held in Moscow.

Japan's Centuries-Old Art of Making Some of the World's Best Knives

"There wasn't enough room for me with a translator and camera equipment," Magers remembers of the small space—dark and cramped—where nothing seemed changed for centuries save for the electric press Ikeda now uses. With steel hot from the forge, Ikeda uses the press for the initial forming of the blade, and he manually hammers it to further the process. From there, the rough steel is taken up the street to Shunichi Tahara, who shapes the blade.

The Twisted Things People Have Done for a Klondike Bar
Atlas Obscura

The company's famous jingle seems to have inserted itself in the American consciousness in surprising ways. In 2009, for example, a Florida man who really wanted a Klondike bar attempted to leave a store with a crushed Klondike bar in his back pocket, and after he was caught, he attempted to pay $69 for the bar—which the store generally sold for $1.29 each.

The Comfort Food Diaries: All I Want Are Some Potato Skins
Serious Eats

I stand outside my office each day, chain-smoking cigarettes and worrying about my health. Creditors keep calling me because I'm tens of thousands of dollars in debt; I can't pay the rent on my Brooklyn apartment anymore. My girlfriend moved out. After work, all I want is a cold lager and some potato skins, because I am convinced they will fix everything. No, they won't pay the rent, but they have their own special powers.

How Restaurants Are Responding to Texas's New Open Carry Law

Last June, Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that would allow licensed handgun owners to openly display their weapons in public. A crucial provision in the law allows businesses to opt out of the open carry policy, so long as they post a sign on the door alerting patrons that the open carrying of guns is verboten. But in a state so pro-gun as Texas — nearly one million Texans hold a concealed carry license — the political waters can be choppy for restaurants who are trying to decide whether or not they will allow patrons to openly display weapons in their establishments.

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