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Sean Brock’s Vision, Grapefruit Science, and More Great Reads

Seven food-inspired stories to dive into this weekend

McCrady’s in Charleston.
McCrady’s in Charleston.
Bill Addison

In this week’s top reads, Charleston chef Sean Brock, the visionary behind McCrady’s and Husk, opens up to GQ about discovering and treating his debilitating eye disease. On the West Coast, Lucky Peach proclaims Los Angeles America’s best food city (our roving critic agrees). Non-profit food company Newman’s Own takes its branding in a different direction to help entice millennials compelled to buy for a cause.

Writer Tove Danovich looks at the evolution of cookbooks into something resembling comics, and ahead of the big travel season the BBC investigates why your in-flight meal is inevitably going to taste bad. Are grapefruit and salt a scientifically-backed flavor match? Read up on all this and more below.

Paul Newman Who? Salad Dressing Company Adjusts to Reach Millennials

The New York Times

Newman’s Own was having trouble getting the word out about its philanthropy.

The brand has “All Profits to Charity” inscribed across every label on its popular salad dressings, tomato sauces and microwaveable popcorn — a pledge that has amounted to more than $485 million donated since 1982.

But some wondered if consumers were simply being distracted by the movie star Paul Newman’s dazzling smile.

Why is airline food so bad?

BBC

The very nature of air travel, as well as how the plane is built and how it adjusts to high altitudes, make food preparation fundamentally more difficult.

There are some technical limitations to being high in the air that make it far simpler to just reheat pre-made food, rather than attempt to actually cook from scratch — particularly in the pressurised air of the plane’s cabin.

The Story Behind The 'Tea And Oranges' In Leonard Cohen's Song 'Suzanne'

NPR

So did Suzanne really serve tea and oranges? In more than one interview, Cohen was asked what exactly was meant by those fragrant lines:

"and she feeds you tea and oranges

that come all the way from China"

His answer never varied: "She fed me a tea called Constant Comment, which has small pieces of orange rind in it, which gave birth to the image."

How Visionary Chef Sean Brock Nearly Went Blind

GQ

There are approximately 16,000 photos on Brock's iPhone. By rough estimation, about 10 percent of those are of various iterations of matsutake and cobia. Another 20 percent are of Ruby, his French bulldog. And the rest are of eyes.

There are bruised eyes. Battered eyes. Eyes leaking actual tears of bright red blood. There are eyes with stitches and eyes with bandages. Eyes drooping as though dragged down by fishhooks and eyes goggling in a grotesque simulation of surprise. Eyes hidden behind patches, shielded by stained gauze, buried beneath great sockfuls of ice.

Why Cookbooks Are Looking More and More Like Comic Books

Eater

But comic cookbooks can do something for home cooks, too — make recipes less daunting and easier to follow. Cookbooks are still in demand, but many — with their overly aspirational food photography — wind up as coffee-table books for the kitchen. Cohen describes today’s cookbooks as “inspirational,” more focused on visuals than the cookbooks of the past. “Cookbooks are beautiful and amazing things, but I don’t know that people cook out of them anymore,” she says.

Why LA Is the Best Eating City in America

Lucky Peach

A few years ago, it was was heretical to say it: Los Angeles is the best eating city in the United States of America. Now, everyone just nods along, because it’s so true that to object would be embarrassing. We grumble about it here in New York, and there are all kinds of emerging hot spots that would prefer the crown be theirs. But it is not. The crown belongs to El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula, and probably has for years.

Grapefruit And Salt: The Science Behind This Unlikely Power Couple

NPR

Grapefruit's bitterness can make it hard to love. Indeed, people often smother it in sugar just to get it down. And yet Americans were once urged to sweeten it with salt.

Ad campaigns from the first and second world wars tried to convince us that"Grapefruit Tastes Sweeter With Salt!" as one 1946 ad for Morton's in Life magazine put it. The pairing, these ads swore, enhanced the flavor.

In our candy-crushed world, these curious culinary time capsules raise the question: Does salt really make grapefruit taste sweeter? And if this practice was once common, why do few people seem to eat grapefruit this way today?

All Long Reads Coverage [E]

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