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Abalone Poaching, RC Cola, Yogurt Crazes, and More Long Reads

Worthy weekend reading material

Abalone shells.
Abalone shells.
C. Levers/Shutter Stock

Dark untruths about restaurant sources are revealed in Farm to Fable, the first story in a must-read series. Secrets are uncovered in abalone poaching off the coast of South Africa, while a writer reveals the secret of longevity for Hollywood's oldest restaurant. Writers delve into the rise and fall of RC Cola, the Hawaiian farms that rejected kalo in favor of sugar, and regulated kosher wheat in matzo. There are at least eighteen reasons to visit Houston, each one more mouth-watering than the next. Doctors once prescribed yogurt with abandon. Were they onto something? Find out in this week's collection of eight great longform food-inspired articles.

Farm to Fable

Tampa Bay Times

Dorsey said he buys dairy from Dakin Dairy Farms in Myakka through Weyand Food Distributors. Weyand said it doesn't distribute Dakin. Dorsey said he gets local produce from Suncoast Food Alliance and Local Roots. Both said they have not sold to The Mill. He named three seafood suppliers. Two checked out, but a third, Whitney and Sons, said they had not sold to The Mill yet. They hope to in the future.

The Abalone Poacher

Roads and Kingdoms

Abalone was still abundant and easy to access on the Cape Peninsula back then, carpeting the seafloor to depths of 20 feet. The shells, covered in red algae, looked like small rusting gray hubcaps cemented to the rocks. The divers popped the creatures loose with flat levers and handed them to Jacob, who stashed them inside a pouch.

The Secret of Hollywood's Oldest Restaurant? Don't Change Anything

LA Magazine

That giant mural that wraps around the main dining room is said to show a hunt in progress, though it's so faded that no one can really tell anymore. "People say, ‘Why don't you clean the mural?' " says assistant general manager Bobby Caravella. "And we say, ‘Because it's painted with Humphrey Bogart's cigarette smoke.' "

The Tragic History of RC Cola

Mental Floss

The drink, with its regal-sounding name, proved quite popular, and soon Hatcher and his father ditched the grocery gig to become full-time soda bottlers. Claud's next development was Chero-Cola, a cherry-flavored cola that would grow the company into a legitimate soda maker and, inevitably, put him in direct competition with the brand he used to sell.

The Fall of the Sugar Goliath in Hawaii Makes Way for the Return of Kalo

Good

The plight of kalo on Maui can be traced back to 1862 and the establishment of the Wailuku Sugar Company, which subsequently diverted all the stream water in the Nā Wai ʻEhā region to its newly formed sugar plantations. Sugar is a highly water intensive crop, and as it took over Hawaiian agriculture it dried up every lo'i and practically wiped out kalo.

Why Is This Matzo Different From All Other Matzos?
New York Times

The bakery, I learned, specialized in an elite class of matzo called "shmurah," meaning "guarded" or "watched," which Orthodox communities prescribe for the first night of Passover. For shmurah matzo, the guarding against chametz begins not in the bakery but in the field, with rabbis overseeing the grain from harvest through to milling. Maybe, I thought, the matzo owed its flavor to this rabbinical scrutiny.

18 Reasons Your Next Meal Should Be in Houston

Eater

The daily options always include unusually light-handed, fresh-tasting takes on staples like enchiladas, tacos, and chiles rellenos. Irma's is a ritual stop for me in Houston; I always eat something that I daydream about between visits — particularly a lush beef tamale, the meat inside left in ropy hunks, served in a scarlet pool of ancho chile sauce that tastes bright as a cloudless Texas sky in spring.

A Science Lecture Accidentally Sparked a Global Craze for Yogurt

Smithsonian

And as with every remedy, doctors warned about side effects. "It may be well to direct the attention of those who wish to try this sour-milk treatment to the fact that they should assure themselves beforehand that they are fit subjects for it, and they should therefore consult a medical man," the Lancet cautioned. The British Medical Journal chimed in, "Yoghourt can be used for an indefinite time without harmful results if the dose be not too large, [2.2 pounds] a day should not customarily be exceeded."

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