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Ramen School, Chocolate Labor, Silicon Valley Taco Trucks, and More Long Reads

A fresh batch of worthy weekend reading material

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From the backstage food frenzy at the Oscars Governor's Ball to the traditional Russian cosmonaut salt and bread ceremony to diaries from an Osakan ramen school, this week writers delve into topics spanning continents, economics, and culture. Here, now, are seven of this week's top food-inspired long reads to dive into on the subway or over a morning cup of coffee.

The bread that welcomed NASA astronaut Scott Kelly back on earth


The bread is usually presented with a small ramekin of salt in the middle and served on an embroidered towel. It's tradition to dip a piece of bread in the salt and eat it, but Kelly, Kornienko and Volkov seem to have skipped that part in the ceremony. Their stomachs were still too unsettled to partake, as Time explains.

Backstage at the Oscars Governor's Ball

Life and Thyme

And a well-executed service will mean this: that over the next two hours, a waiting crowd of around 1,500 will emerge from the three-hour-plus awards show and find — €”among many, many other things — €”300 Jidori chickens, 3,500 pieces of housemade seeded lavosh, 300 pounds of Snake River Wagyu short rib, 400 housemade pizzas, over 5,000 handmade artichoke agnolotti pieces, 10 kilos of caviar, and 1,500 pounds of winter black truffles from Burgundy.

Joe Cool

The New Inquiry

Everything at TJ's is suggestive of a time when life was supposedly simpler, more traditional (e.g. homogeneous) —€” long before the big-box superstore, parking lots the size of football fields, and the proliferation of brands in the aisles and on social media.

Bitter Sweets


In a documentary that aired on the BBC, filmmakers interviewed young boys in Ivory Coast who said they'd been beaten and forced to work long hours without pay. One who said he'd been working on a cocoa farm for five years was asked what he thought about people enjoying chocolate in other parts of the world. "They are enjoying something that I suffered to make," the boy answered. "They are eating my flesh."

Tradition and Innovation in America's Taiwanese Cooking


Like any nation with a turbulent colonial history, traces of Taiwan's past reach well into the present. Its cuisine retains some Japanese culinary hallmarks — penchants for ramen and mochi, a devotion to the aesthetics and utility of bento boxes —€” but the influx of Chinese mainlanders and their cooking endures as the single greatest food influence. As in any culture, the cooking in Taiwan adopted over time and developed individual character.

Don't Put Your Hand in the Noodle Machine: Notes From Ramen School in Osaka

Serious Eats

Miyajima placed a sheet of plastic on the concrete floor. I put a single bone on the plastic and raised the sledgehammer over my head. I brought it down, and the bone went flying. Miyajima replaced the bone, and this time I nailed it, dead-on. Just not very hard. Finally, after a few more blows, the bone gave way, exposing its rich marrow. Just two dozen bones to go.

The Last Taco Truck in Silicon Valley


Not so long ago, there were a few dozen taco trucks roaming this valley, the way the bison roamed the valley eons before. Now, there are no bison in Silicon Valley, and only one taco truck: El Taco Hombre. I'm on the guy's email list, I have his Find My Taco app on my phone, and I've been visiting him several times a week for years.

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