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Twinkie Money, The Trouble With Tulum, and More Great Reads

Eight excellent food-inspired stories

Maker Of Twinkies, Hostess To Liquidate Business Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

What do Twinkies have to do with the massive fortunes of private equity executives and how has the world’s most Michelin-starred dining scene been altered by its galaxy of accolades? Find out with this week’s best food-inspired stories. Some are long, like Newsweek’s deep dive into the “den of corruption” aka the Mexican tourist community of Tulum where restaurant and hotel owners are getting evicted in alleged illegal land grabs fueled by wealthy investors. Others are very brief, such as columnist Gustavo Arellano’s hot take on Noma’s Mexico pop-up. Learn about the debate over the bastardization of bolognese over at Atlas Obscura before heading to the farm-to-table world of Blue Hill at Stone Barns via critic Bill Addison. For a good dose of irony don’t miss the latest look at fake mayo empire Hampton Creek. Here, now, are eight great reads to dig into this weekend.

How the Twinkie Made the Super-Rich Even Richer

The New York Times

As fans gathered on Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan, Al Roker pulled up in a big red delivery truck, ready to give America what it wanted: Twinkies.

The snack cakes flew through the air into the crowd pressed against metal barriers. One man shoved cream-filled treats into his mouth. Another “Today” host tucked Twinkies into the neckline of her dress.

Across the nation in the summer of 2013, there was a feeding frenzy for Twinkies. The iconic snack cake returned to shelves just months after Hostess had shuttered its bakeries and laid off thousands of workers. The return was billed on “Today” as “the sweetest comeback in the history of ever.”

The Prophet of the Soil

Eater

There are plenty of restaurants that, like Blue Hill at Stone Barns, create unforgettable experiences for their guests. But this restaurant, set on a working farm tucked among rolling hills 30 miles north of Manhattan, is the best restaurant in America because it is more than a restaurant. Under the guidance of Dan Barber, its executive chef, co-owner, and chief philosopher, it is an experiment, a laboratory, a learning center, and a model for the future of agriculture.

How Michelin’s ‘stardust’ has changed Tokyo

Japan Times

The 2017 edition was announced on Nov. 29 to the usual ripple of commentary in the media, both mainstream and social. As always, the reactions have mostly focused on the numbers and names: How many restaurants have stars this time, which places have gained or lost them, which newcomers have made it on to the list and who has fallen into oblivion.

In terms of statistics, the Japanese capital continues to far outstrip any other city on the planet. By whatever measure you choose — the number of restaurants anointed with stars (227 in all), the total of stars they hold between them (305) or the number of prestigious three-star designations (12) — Tokyo remains unrivaled.

At 93, Diana Kennedy Still Reigns As Mexico's Feistiest Food Expert

NPR

Diana Kennedy, often called the "Julia Child of Mexico," is a woman of strong preferences.

She loves good butter and cream, Seville orange marmalade, black truffle shavings and escamoles (a caviar that comes from ant eggs). She hates the use of cassia (false cinnamon) in place of the real thing, canola oil, low- or non-fat dairy products, and nonstick pans.

And don't get her started on kosher salt, which despite being the "beloved salt of virtually all American chefs," as she writes in Nothing Fancy, tastes antiseptic and has a "pedestrian" flavor.

Is a $600 Mexican Pop-Up Dinner by a Dane Cultural Appropriation?

OC Weekly

Unless the acclaimed Danish chef behind the world-acclaimed Noma is into tamborazo and Antonio Aguilar, he ain't my compa. But the Scandinavian very well could be nowadays: It was recently announced he's opening a pop-up Mexican restaurant in Yucatán, charging an extraordinary $600 per head. So much to unpack here, ¿qué no?

Why Are People Seeing Red Over Spaghetti Bolognese?

Atlas Obscura

All across the western world, from the tip of Italy’s boot to the coast of California, a conflict simmers. Some say the solution is worldliness—that we must expand the definitions of old standbys to reflect shifting realities. Others would boil themselves alive before letting the old traditions change. The focus of this discord inspires grand pronouncements. It tears families apart. Most grievously of all, it hijacks the dinner conversation.

I’m referring, of course, to spaghetti bolognese.

Tulum, Mexico: How an Eco-Chic Retreat Became a Den of Corruption

Newsweek

When Caro arrived here 30 years ago, however, there wasn’t a hotel in sight: It was just a stretch of vacant land about 40 miles from the nearest city. She built a house on a small beachfront property and lived there with her family until three years ago. Then, on the afternoon of July 19, 2013, policemen stormed into her home. “My daughter-in-law was pregnant, and they just shoved her aside,” says Caro. “They told us to get out, that they were taking our house.”

The police declared her house had been built illegally and the state was repossessing it. Caro’s home was one of 14 properties the authorities took control of that day, including several hotels from which tourists were thrown out on the street, luggage in hand. Since then, there have been three more forced evictions, with the latest occurring this past June when hundreds of armed men raided 17 more. “It’s all about money,” says Caro. “Getting rich by throwing people off their land.”

The Agony and Ecstasy of a Mayo Messiah

San Francisco Magazine

It’s a sunny morning in September, and Josh Tetrick wants to talk about his new puppy. His last dog, an eight-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever named Jake, recently died of cancer. “It was so awful,” Tetrick says. “That’s, like, the first time I’ve ever really experienced death.” So he got a new golden retriever, which he decided to name Elie. “There’s a book I love called Night, written by this guy Elie Wiesel,” he says, referring to the Romanian Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize–winning author. You named your dog after Elie Wiesel? I ask him. “Yeah,” he says. “He passed away six months ago or something, so yeah.”

If the irony of naming one’s golden retriever (possibly the dog world’s Waspiest breed, and not exactly renowned for its intelligence) after one of modern literature’s great Jewish moralists is lost on Tetrick, well, welcome to Josh Tetrick.

All Long Reads Coverage [E]

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