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Teatox Shilling, Pork Rolls, Neurogastronomy, and More Long Reads

Eight excellent food-inspired stories to read this weekend

Jordan Kay for Racked

Food tells a story not just in words, but in video games too. In articles about taste, the bottled water industry adds elements back into purified water for consistency, and many studies have shown that our noses and brains contribute to how we sense flavor. The planet's trendiest restaurants vie for a spot on an exclusive ranking list, while others start small to save on real estate rent. UN food rations in Greece might taste better if they were prepared by the immigrants they feed, and a man from a Jewish American family reminisces on how pork has helped shaped his life. Here, now, are eight must-read, food-inspired stories from past week.

More Than Magic Mushrooms: Playing With Food in Video Games

Serious Eats

Much is made of "immersion" in video games, but often when people say that, they're really talking about simulation, or even distraction—making you forget the real world. Far more challenging is making you believe the game world, engendering a state of blissful verisimilitude. One way to achieve that ambition is to use mundane, familiar concepts like eating to highlight and reinforce the fantastic in relatable ways.

Can You Taste Where Your Water is From?

Atlas Obscura

Pixie dust is the additive that makes every bottle of purified water taste the same, no matter which brook it first babbled from. This means that whether Dasani is sourcing tap water from Sacramento, Jacksonville, or Philadelphia (and disproportionately from drought zones), every single bottle will taste identical, all sharing a tasteless placelessness.

Brain Food: How Neurogastronomy Will Soon Alter Your Perception of Flavor

Newsweek

In other words, the brain creates flavors. "The food has the elements on which the brain works to create what we sense and call flavor, and that attracts us to the food," Shepherd says. That's an adaptation that keeps us alive: Homo sapiens eat because food tastes good. "I began to realize that humans may be specially adapted for the flavor of the food they eat," he adds.

The Restaurant List That Ate the Food World

GQ

A restaurateur who consistently ranks toward the top told me, "San Pellegrino is great on the one hand because you get all these chefs together. On the other hand, it's stressful.With Michelin, you work hard, you pray, you work harder, you pray harder. And if you lose a star, you probably know why. San Pellegrino is like your high school boyfriend. He breaks up with you in the ninth grade and you never find out why. It's like a roller-coaster ride: It's fun. But it will make you sick."

How the Fast-Casual Boom Is Changing the Restaurant Real Estate Game

Eater

Motivated by rising rents and rising labor costs (particularly in cities like New York, where minimum wages have increased), chefs are increasingly testing out small casual concepts that take less money to open and operate, and will keep their brand names in the news. The more that chefs succeed in fast-casual —€”€” particularly in food halls —€”€” the more that their peers seek to join them. If they can find the real estate.

Another Dinner in Idomeni

Roads and Kingdoms

Considering the camp's poor conditions, it's no surprise that Hena, 26, thinks the food makes her sick. The United Nations, or whoever is in charge, must be sending bad food so they'll leave, she believes. It makes sense when the only U.N. she's known has seemingly lied to her all along, issuing empty calls for the fighting to stop at home and offering false claims that she would be cared for here.

Pork Life

Lucky Peach

I'm too young to realize I'm not just tagging along and playing a fun little game of order-the-pork; I'm being conscripted into a war of values. My brother is solemnly devoted to a life of piety and abstention. My mother has indoctrinated me into the cult of the Taylor Pork Roll, whose hold on my nascent imagination is already no less strong, I imagine, than Buber and Maimonides must have been on my brother's at the same age.

Teatox Party

Racked

The teatox industry is enormous, with hundreds of brands from all over the world selling their products —€” and paying as much as a quarter of a million dollars per post to get the influencer seal of approval. In fact, promoting teatoxes has become one of the fastest growing businesses on Instagram.

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