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Staving Off Grief at a Waffle House, Fake Mayonnaise, and More Great Reads

Seven of this week’s top food-inspired stories

Waffle House rpavich/Flickr
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Chains can serve as a place of refuge and as an area for chefs to exercise their revolutionary idealism, as feature writers discover in this week’s stories from Extra Crispy and Eater. Elsewhere, Honduran immigrants embrace their Garifuna heritage over coastal seafood soup and a critic takes a ferry to Lummi Island in Washington State for a taste of fine dining Northwestern cuisine. Sip a hot cup of coffee while discovering the whether home-roasting beans is worth your time before diving into the conversation over police-community relations. Don’t miss out on Bloomberg’s deep dive into the possibly shady dealings of a vegan mayo startup. Spoiler: The story comes with some fun, interactive graphics. Here, now, are seven food-inspired stories worthy of your precious reading time.

The Personal Waffle House Index

Extra Crispy

I’m dawdling over my hash browns (covered, peppered) because I'm afraid to go watch my mother die. She’s fading away in a nursing home bed just a few miles up the road and I know I need to slug down my coffee, pay the $6.90 check and point my squat, shaky rental car toward her. I know this, and yet when the waitress offers a warm up, I say yes, please. I pick at the small heap of jalapeño slices still lolling around in the last of the yolk smear and crunch into them one by one, grateful for the brief, euphoric rush each time. Now I’ll go. Now I’ll go. After this next one. After the next. It’s safe in this Waffle House and I do not want to leave.

The Willows Inn Is a Fine-Dining Astonishment


Within months of his arrival, Wetzel had turned dinner at the Willows Inn into a fine-dining astonishment — on a remote island at the farthest fringe of continental America. He made luxuries out of the fish, meats, and produce of Lummi and surrounding islands, temperate swathes of land blessed with extraordinarily hospitable growing conditions. A farm on the island, Loganita, had already been working closely with the inn, and Wetzel and farm manager Mary von Krusenstiern soon began experimenting with unusual varieties of vegetables and fruits — squash, strawberries, potatoes, herbs — to see what else might flourish in the island's rich soil. (Short answer: plenty.) They've continued to tinker with heirloom seeds every season. At this time of year, when the harvests are generous and the fishermen's nets steadily come in full, around 80 percent of the food Wetzel serves will come from the 9-square-mile island.

Can a Fresh Cup of Coffee Help Mend Police-Civilian Relations?

Pacific Standard Magazine

The concept behind Coffee With a Cop is a deceptively simple one. Once a month or so, police officers gather at a local restaurant and offer free coffee for community members who’d like to chat. That’s it. There’s no real playbook, no presentation, no line of demarcation between officer and citizen. Instead, the restaurant becomes a neutral ground — a neighborhood Switzerland of sorts — for building rapport and, hopefully, trust.

A History Lesson, Served as Coconut-Seafood Soup

New York Times

Hudutu is a dish beloved by many Hondurans, but it comes specifically from the Garifuna. You can tell it’s from the tropical coast because it’s a soup of coconut milk, teeming with seafood. But its African roots seem clearer when you consider the fact that it’s always eaten with machuca, sweet and green plantains beaten to a mash that resembles the pounded yams of West Africa.

The Science of Coffee Roasting

Cook’s Science

I pride myself on making an excellent cup of coffee. I splurge on freshly roasted beans from estimable sources, I’ve fine-tuned my grinding and my water temperatures, and I know how small changes in these variables affect the taste of the brew, which I like black and a little short of piping hot. Now I’m going a step further.

Instead of buying one pound of ultra fragrant beans from my local roaster, I’ve spent only a little more to mail-order five pounds of raw, green coffee beans, and I’m roasting them myself.

The People’s Cheeseburger


Shaddai Wade is one of Locol's employees. The 22-year-old had been jobless for eight months when he heard last December that the restaurant was hiring. "I had just enrolled for welfare. So I was really struggling," he told me in February, a few weeks after the grand opening. He said that he’d shown up at the job fair dressed in a tuxedo, résumé in hand, but Locol’s recruiters weren’t interested in what he’d done before. They only wanted to know who he was, and why he wanted the job — no experience, no background checks, no disclosures of past criminal convictions required. He was hired to work as a cook, and he has since learned how to prepare everything on the menu, from the gochujang-based "awesome sauce" that the cheeseburg is slicked with, to the homey beef chili.

How Hampton Creek Sold Silicon Valley on a Fake-Mayo Miracle


Every entrepreneur has a story. Tetrick’s was eggs. In 2011 his company—essentially just him and a vegan chef, operating out of Los Angeles—landed $500,000 in seed funding from Khosla Ventures to develop a plant-based substitute for chicken eggs. His pitch: He would liberate billions of hens from the fetid misery of overstuffed cages—and in the process save water and grain and cut carbon pollution. Profane, charismatic, and built like the linebacker he once was, Tetrick became a tenacious evangelist for eliminating animal protein from the world’s diet. (It’s “Just” Mayo as in “righteous,” not “simply.”) At the same time, he billed Hampton Creek as more than a food company. What it was learning in the lab and through computational analysis about plant-based proteins would make it a sustainable-food power, not just a company with a handful of niche products. It’s the kind of big thinking that pays. Tetrick told his employees he was negotiating a new round of financing that would soon make Hampton Creek one of Silicon Valley’s vaunted unicorns—private companies valued by investors at $1 billion or more.

All Long Reads Coverage [E]