Bread, bakers, pastry chefs, noodles, and so much more await in this week’s great food reads:
New York Times
For the profession, the downside is that it can be hard to scratch out a middle-class living. Even during the current expansionary frenzy, pay for pastry line-cooks in the Chicago area hovers in the same $10 to $15 an hour that it has for years. Sous-chefs make a bit more, as in Mr. Shields’s operation, while executive pastry chefs typically command $35,000 to $60,000 a year, depending on the restaurant’s size and profitability, versus a salary in the high five figures for a top savory chef.
For Wang, the spicy cumin lamb noodles are more than just a top-seller fueling his company's rise to fame. "It's so nostalgic," he says, recalling his childhood growing up in the midwest. "It was so hard to get those spices. We couldn't get lamb, so we'd make it with beef when we could. To me, the dish is really personal."
As such, the spicy cumin lamb noodles are a perfect reflection of Wang and Shi's goals for the restaurant group. "It's really about focusing on traditional Chinese food, not about any fad."
Roads & Kingdoms
Earlier this year, North Korean diplomats in Pakistan were caught attempting to import 855 cases of duty-free alcohol into the Islamic Republic, exceeding their approved import quota of 445 cases. In 2013, North Korean diplomats were caught selling alcohol using embassy vehicles. In early 2002, before the repercussions of the War on Terror pushed most of the foreign embassies in Islamabad inside a walled enclave, I remember driving up to the Thai Embassy, which was famous for selling liquor.
New York Times
“Buffalo, without a doubt, I think, is one of the great eating cities,” said Michael Stern, a founder of roadfood.com. “When you think of gastronomic meccas in the country, you don’t think of upstate New York. But, in fact, it has so much to offer.”
Here in its native habitat, though, the Mission burrito is still lithe, still expressive, each one different from the other. There are burritos for drywall men and tech bros, skate punks and tourists, for luxury condo dwellers and drunks. Some raise a fist for Chicano pride, others are coded for bougie bohemians. Some are the batons for the city’s current relay sprint toward gentrification; others live on as they have despite the pressures of a city in full-on boom. Most—and I say this as a man who has been eating burritos in San Francisco for more than 30 years—are delicious.
New York Times Magazine
With Smart-Grosvenor, it was never just about food. What she wanted was for people to feel their own way through their kitchens, and through their lives, to not be ruled by the authority of a recipe, or by any kind of authority. “I just do it by vibration,” she wrote, explaining the title of her book, the one in which she changed the course of her life by telling her story. “Different strokes for different folks. Do your thing your way.”
While Fikira's model has antecedents in communal food justice programs and traditional delivery services for staples like milk, it was most directly inspired by a side-alley kitchen in Istanbul where Pascal worked in the summer of 2011. The passion project of a retired woman named Ferda, it originally catered to Kurdish laborers, who would approach a dumbwaiter, take out a pen, and write down the food they wanted on a pad of paper; the kitchen staff would meet the request as best they could. Profit was beside the point, which was providing a safe space and nourishment for one of Turkey’s more vulnerable populations. It was "one of first places I was surrounded by women making a living doing that work and doing it with so much justice in mind, and it was very formative," Pascal told me.