This week’s must-read food-focused stories span the gamut. Start the morning with a side of bacon — the kind writer Paul Lukas discovers is carefully arranged in clear, shrink wrap to strategically hide its flavorful fat content. While we might relish in our morning meal, highly opinionated editorialist Anastasia Basil asks you to consider those who rely on food stamps, living paycheck to paycheck with little left for food. Via The New Yorker, Jane Kramer reviews food historian Paul Freedman’s new book Ten Restaurants That Changed America while delving into the history of restaurants.
Wine also played a big roll this week as Tartine revealed its plans for a Manufactory wine list developed around gender and Russia looks inward for a less Westernized answer to flavorful vintages. Not to be missed, is Jess Zimmerman’s ode to the (still) highly recommended Great British Bake Off’s hosts Mel and Sue, who are tragically leaving the show now that it’s headed to Channel 4. Here, now, are six excellent reads to huddle up with this weekend.
America loves helping the shoeless, iphoneless, voteless, bug-infested Street Jesuses. These are the lost-cause poor; all they want is your pocket change. (Bless their hearts.) But the working poor? Those who claim to not have enough money for food because they also need clothes for work, water for bathing and laundry, rent for housing, heat in the winter, money for daycare, a smartphone for their job, car insurance and gas — those are some shifty motherfuckers.
The New Yorker
Given that Paul Freedman’s new book, “Ten Restaurants That Changed America” (Liveright), is largely a history of eating out in this country, it’s worth noting that the word “restaurant,” at least as food scholars define it, is as recent historically as the experience it describes. It comes from the French restaurer, to restore, and was coined in the seventeen-sixties, supposedly when a nutritionally minded Frenchman known only as Boulanger (his first name has disappeared from the annals of gastronomy) decided to open a place in Paris offering a menu of “restorative” meat broths, along with tables to sit at, wine to sip, and, possibly, a bit of cheese or fruit to end the meal. (“Boulanger sells restoratives fit for the gods,” the sign on the door said.)
The Wall Street Journal
Under Ukrainian rule, Crimea’s vineyards fell largely into disrepair because of lack of investment. But since the annexation, which remains largely unrecognized internationally, Russia has started selling off plots of the land in the once Ukrainian state-owned Massandra vineyards to private investors in a bid to revive the region’s wine industry. Though Crimean wine still makes up just a fraction of total Russian wine production, the peninsula is soon expected to be one of the country’s fastest-growing wine regions.
If Paul and Mary are the mom and dad of Bake Off, then Mel and Sue are its daffy aunts. They carom around the tent sticking their literal fingers in everyone's literal pie. Their slightly raunchy puns—like dad jokes just a little dirtier than ones your dad would actually make—are shameless and wholehearted, a veritable palace of corn. It's hard to make an off-color joke stand out in a competition where "soggy bottom" is a legitimate critique of a baked good, but Mel and Sue's efforts—"get those lady's fingers soggy," "it's time to grease your muffin tray and grab your jugs"—succeed.
Nearly everything at the Manufactory, Tartine Bakery’s latest project in San Francisco, is designed to be noticed. The massive Heuft oven, for instance, purchased to further refine one of the world’s most desired loaves of bread. Or the custom Heath ceramics or the stark, wood-and-bone-white look from L.A. firm Commune.
Less obvious, and intentionally so, will be the intent behind the wine list, set to debut when dinner service begins next month. At least half of the 30-odd selections will be made by, or come from wineries co-owned by, women. But it won’t be mentioned anywhere, which is precisely the point. The list is meant to stand on its own, without comment—no different from Tartine Bakery doing away years ago with “organic” notations for its menu items.
Bacon is fatty. It’s the nature of the beast—literally—because bacon is made from pork belly, which is a naturally fatty section of a hog’s carcass. That’s part of why bacon tastes so good: Fat is flavor. But we’ve also been taught that fat is unhealthy and unappealing. And this tension may explain why bacon has one of the most unusual and underappreciated packaging formats of any supermarket product.
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