It’s finally October and the perfect time to settle into fall with cold day cozy sweaters, Netflix, and a little reading. Maybe even consider ordering delivery. In this week’s top stories, writers explore the blush-worthy pizza delivery porn trope and the fast paced, car-dodging world of bicycle delivery. The New York Times also digs into the life of TV chef personality and author of a new cookbook Alton Brown, while Rebecca Flint Marx discusses Barack Obama’s finer tastes in food.
Eating invasive species have been used as a tactic for controlling environmental invaders, but what about species that are overpopulating due to climate change? A farmer living on Majuli Island has one suggestion for controlling insect pests. Over at The Washington Post, a writer explores the economic pressures pushing Chinese immigrants to open Japanese restaurants. Finally, don’t miss out on an the awesome science writing from Mosaic, which delves into the global dangers of imported bushmeat.
Even if you know absolutely nothing about porn, you're familiar with the storyline: the lusty pizza delivery guy, called upon by a horny housewife to deliver a pizza, who ends up delivering a whole lot more. The cliche is so ubiquitous that it's become a part of mainstream culture, referenced in everything from niche comedy like Tim and Eric! Awesome Show Great Job to network TV like Smallville, where it showed up in an episode that culminates in the hapless pizza delivery boy being devoured by a pack of lesbian vampires.
The Washington Post
Which cuisines sell well and which do not may seem a combination of chance and cultural tastes. But the outsize role of Chinese Americans in the Japanese food business, according to academics who have studied it, sheds light on deeper forces. The influx of low-wage Chinese immigrants — China recently eclipsed Mexico as the largest source of immigrants to the United States — has created fierce competition to provide cheap food. At the same time, Japan’s wealth and economic success helped its cuisine gain a reputation as trendy and refined. So for many entrepreneurial Chinese immigrants looking to get ahead, Japanese food has often become the better opportunity.
The New Yorker
Where Bill Clinton, before he went mostly vegan, was famously an enchiladas and cheeseburgers kind of guy, and George W. Bush preferred grilled-cheese sandwiches made with Kraft Singles and white bread, Obama has proved himself an avid patron of the country’s trendiest restaurants, most recently Enrique Olvera’s Cosme, where he reportedly enjoyed tuna tostadas and duck carnitas, while in New York for the U.N. General Assembly. Where Reagan is remembered for trying to pass off ketchup as a vegetable, and George H. W. Bush used his power to ban broccoli on Air Force One, Obama became the first President to brew craft beer at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (White House Honey Ale), and imported a hundred and fifty Chemex coffeemakers onto the premises, signalling that hipster pour-overs had reached the highest echelons of power. He may not really count out seven almonds for his late-night snack, as the Times reported (and then recanted) in July, but there seems little doubt that his eating habits are marked by a rare combination of discipline and enthusiastic good taste.
The other thing that experts are quite sure about is that the next big one will be a zoonotic disease – one capable of jumping from animals to humans. The fear of such an event, often called a ‘spillover’, is why bushmeat gets a bad rap.
Unlike smallpox and polio, which have been eradicated and nearly eradicated respectively, zoonotic diseases cannot be eradicated – unless we can also eradicate all the species that serve as reservoirs for these pathogens. Black death, Spanish flu and HIV – causes of the three biggest known pandemics – are all zoonotic diseases, and so, almost certainly, will be the next big one.
Delivering food by bike for New York City restaurants is no easy feat. In addition to riding in big city traffic to get customers their food on time, messengers have to push through the physical demands of the job. We wanted to know just how much work goes into biking food across the city.
The New York Times
The book, “EveryDayCook: This Time It’s Personal,” is his eighth, but the first in which he offers at least a small peek behind his curtain, at the ways he cooks and eats at home. Peeks don’t come easy for Mr. Brown, who has always been more of a controlled showman than a freewheeling chef.
Alton Brown is an outlier among food celebrities. He is a private, politically conservative Southerner who sometimes carries a Bible and a firearm. He is a pilot and a devoted student of film. He is the opposite of cuddly. And he is probably much smarter than you.
Roads & Kingdoms
After the beetle massacred his crop, he decided he would grant it no mercy. Taking a novel approach, he opened a restaurant in his village in which he caught, cooked, and served more than 2,000 hati-puk a day. He calls it the Pestaurant, a name that he came up with while watching a TV ad for pesticides. The Pestaurant is only open during the summer months, when, you could say, hati-puk are in season. But even when the restaurant is shuttered, Milanjyoti Kuli still eats the occasional beetle that crosses his path.
• All Long Reads Coverage [E]