The horrifying (to me anyway) history of royal wedding cakes
I have never heard that men don’t like bitter greens, so I find it a bit odd to spend an article disproving a non-existent stereotype. However, it's time we all face up to the fact that there is an EPIDEMIC of poorly prepared bitter greens in this country. Greens can be delicious, but I am TIRED of eating under-dressed salads with giant chunks of raw kale in them. And furthermore... *dragged away struggling* CHICORY IS A... *briefly escapes from captors* PRIVILEGE NOT A RIGHT *gagged and thrown into van*.
This hits far too close to home and way too many of my “friends” sent it to me.
Eater rounds up the last 100 years of Royal Wedding cakes. I didn’t realize that, for many years, they were basically inedible sculptures of horrifying statuary made out of fruitcake and sugar. The New Yorker covers some of the same ground with a bit more depth, but it also elaborates why and how Harry and Meghan’s choice for their cake breaks with tradition.
Haven’t had enough Royal Wedding? Of course you haven’t! The BBC ran a 30 minute segment on preparing foods for a large group. It both breaks down how you prepare for a wedding, but also looks at things like the massive kitchens of Sikh temples. This is fascinating.
Prince Harry is not only newly married, but he also knows how to cook bacon.
Stephen Buranyi, writing in The Guardian, profiles the natural wine movement. Across the world, winemakers have been ditching the modern additives and chemicals considered essential for the production of classic wine styles. Instead, they are making wines using labor-intensive methods and only natural ingredients. These natural wines vary greatly from traditional styles. They can be downright unpleasant to someone not used to them. However, like many natural products, they are starting to become popular. This is a long read, but a great one if you aren’t super familiar with what natural wine is, exactly.
Cookbook author Martha Rose Shulman recounts a correspondence she had with Julia Child throughout the 80s. Great example of how a real legend can still be warm and open to those that would ask for her time.
San Francisco food critic Michael Bauer has been getting some heat recently, and his most recent article seems to reflect on that in a meta way. He talks about a recent trip to Kansas and how much cheaper the food and real estate was. Eater’s Hillary Dixler Canavan wondered if this was his “leaving San Francisco” essay. I could certainly see how you could read this as pining for how simple things are in Kansas, where houses are cheap and no one yells at you about sexual assault. What drove ME nuts is in the first paragraph he blames bus stops and bike lines for how bad parking is. This indicates he knows nothing about how cities actually work and might be as out of touch about San Francisco as he is about Kansas. Instead of his silly article, you should read Calvin Trillin’s 1972 Playboy article about why Kansas City has the best food in the world (Listen, It didn't click that Bauer's essay was about Kansas and not Kansas City until I found the Trillin essay, so just shut up).
Rachel Kuo, one of the authors behind Asian-American identity blog Reappropriate, publishes a long review/commentary of Ugly Delicious. It’s a bit lengthy and academic, but it raises some really good points about the show. In particular, Kuo critiques the large number of white experts featured on the show and some of the overt displays of toxic masculinity. Really interesting, even if you don’t agree with everything she writes.
Ernie Smith, the newsletter godfather of Tedium, wrote about Hot Pockets this week. The mockable and preservative-laden food was the brainchild of two brothers, who used the money they made on the invention (it was a *lot*) and became two of the most active philanthropists in the country. Ernie makes the case that even things that are punchlines can have fantastic effects on the world.
The New York Times considers the baguette. It is the ultimate symbol of Frenchness in a country obsessed with symbols of Frenchness. Increasingly, the best baguettes in the country are being made by bakers from immigrant families. The article profiles Mahmoud M’seddi, who recently won the annual prize for the best baguette in Paris (He also owns the contract to supply L’Elysee, the French White House, with bread). It’s interesting how much M’seddi, whose family is from Tunesia, bristles at the thought of being anything but French.
If you ever sang along to Beyonce saying “I got hot sauce in my bag, swag!” then you should read this essay in TASTE by Therese Nelson. She writes about the historical connection between African-Americans and hot sauce, and about how in a world that is trying to control them, it’s no small thing to have some control over your food.
Ligaya Mishan, writing in T Magazine, profiles the female couples gaining prominence inside the restaurant industry. It’s more than just an inspiring story about coming up through the ranks of professional kitchens as queer women (many of the folks profiled are also people of color). It’s also about the difficulties of running restaurants with your significant other as well as how many of these women are beginning to question the entire structure of the kitchen.
Julia Moskin writes about Procrastibaking. Along with procrasticleaning, it’s a way for people to avoid the work they need to do while still feeling like they are getting things done. She interviews a lot of people who cop to this behavior, though some say that they stick to ingredients with lots of time between steps so they can return to what they need to be doing. I am bad at baking, but you bet that my apartment is SUPER clean before I sit down to write the newsletter.
I am a huge fan of Keep It, so I was a bit annoyed that this profile of Kara Brown didn’t mention she was a host until pretty far in (I hadn’t put two and two together until then). The profile focuses on Brown’s food blog, Fancy Pasta Bitch, where she documents her journey making pasta at home.
OK, I’m linking to the story about the racist salad guy. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then consider yourself blessed. The most baffling thing is how this guy lives in New York and doesn't regularly hear people speaking Spanish.
Robert Sietsema visits Ping’s in Chinatown. He meditates on the history of Cantonese food in New York. For a long time, it was the main (and pretty much the only) form of Chinese food in America. Over time, it’s been replaced by other cuisines as immigrants from other provinces have come here. Ping’s is still churning out classic dishes, many of which are still exquisite and delicate. That steamed fish sounds fantastic.
This week’s Grub Street Diet is author Jessica Knoll. She writes about the launch week of her second novel, splitting time between Los Angeles and New York and subsisting on Lara bars for more than a few meals. Knoll also adds some of her thoughts about food and health more broadly, which I felt was a nice touch for one of these essays.
Ligaya Mishan visits Bensonhurst, where Em, a Vietnamese noodle shop, has popped up in this largely Italian area. It’s the result of a cross-oceanic courtship and marriage of the owners. This was literally on the path of my food crawl last month! Publish sooner or more specifically for me!
Pete Wells visits Simon & the Whale, a new spot from chef Gabriel Stulman in the Flatiron district. It sounds like the kind of excellent but forgettable hotel restaurant that New York is currently blessed with a preponderance of. Wells spends a lot of time talking about the layout, which manages to break up a massive hotel space into smaller, human-sized areas. Wells awards it two out of four stars.
One of my Boston culinary regrets is that I never made it to the pickle fair. I think this is the same one that was in Somerville? Either way, pickles and beer is an underrated combo.
Strip-T’s in Watertown, a place that went from an everyday diner to one of the most influential restaurants in Boston, is closing. Devra First pens a loving obituary. She rehashes the now-well-known story about how father Paul Maslow opened the place in 1986, and how his son, Tim, fresh from working with David Chang in New York, returned to Boston and asked if he could take over his Dad’s place. Tim Maslow has his issues, but is still one of the best chefs in town, and Step-T’s has remained an essential destination. Sad to see it go.
My friend sent me this Wikipedia page for a random old Boston bar and now I’m obsessed with trying to think up a show that takes place in the Combat Zone. Seriously, though, “the early 1940s, Ort bought space in the Boston Record-American for a regular column of his own, titled ‘I Wuz Thinkin.’ The column was accompanied by a picture of Ort wearing his characteristic fedora and smoking a cigar.”
The Bus Stop Pub, a famous Lower Allston watering hole, is closing. I’ve been a few times and and had receptions that varied from amazingly friendly to outright hostile. It’s probably because of the hostile receptions that I can’t quite get myself to shed a tear. Terrance Doyle writes up a lovely obit of the place for Eater.
Kara Baskin visits Sichuan Gourmet in Burlington. It’s the latest location of a mini-chain with locations all around the burbs. She finds fantastic examples of traditional Sichuan food, as well as fresher takes of the takeout we all know and love. I am FOR SURE making my parents get take out from here next time I am home.
Tapas get a bad wrap. It’s an absolute delight to get three or four different dishes (or 5 or 6 if you’re with another person) and share them. MC SLim JB highlights Gaga Bodega, a new tapas place in Watertown that seems like a great example of the form.
Kathy Sidell, owner of Saltie Girl, just build a giant house on Nantucket. Find out what it’s like to join her in a summer dinner party (spoiler alert: it’s great).
Nick Kindelsperger writes a lovely ode to hotel bars. While they are easy to mock and pretty much always a rip off, he says that a really good one can transport you. They can be an escape from your life and your personality. He travels the city looking for the best ones. He doesn't quite find a perfect one, but there are some greats (including one inside O’Hare!).
Phil Vettel takes a bit of a trip, heading out Napierville to review Santo Cielo. It’s the latest spot from a pair of brothers who have a bit of a Chicagoland empire of casual but elevated Mexican spots. They’ve largely left their comfort zone behind in this new spot, sampling from a number of global cuisines. This is their most upscale and ambitious spot yet. Vettel doesn’t have a ton specific to say, other than that it’s a great time. He awards it 2 out of 4 stars.
There’s a swath of new restaurants opening in Wrigleyville that are trying to provide elevated options to Cubs fans, but also try and make the neighborhood a destination for more than cheap beer and enthusiastic petty violence. However, many of these new places are struggling to fit into the neighborhood. This is evident in Mike Sula’s review of Mordecai inside the Hotel Zachary. He focuses on how weirdly split it seems between wanting to be an imposing and ambitious hotel bar vs. recognizing the reality that Wrigley Field is across the street. It doesn’t quite manage, but that brat on the menu sounds amazing.
Fooditor catches up with chef Michael Foley, the force behind the legendary South Loop restaurant Printer’s Row. Foley helped launch the Chicago farm-to-table movement, and after closing his restaurant in 2004 he went to the other end of the equation and opened a farm.
The Washington Post brings together a number of reporters, designers, and programmers to show us what exactly goes on inside a food truck. This story is awesome, as you scroll, 3D images of different food trucks from around the district assemble and disassemble so you can see how each owner has customized their truck on top of the requirements of the District. I didn’t realize how truly custom each truck is. This is fantastic, fantastic, fantastic reporting and information display.
I’m calling it now. Bing, a Chinese flatbread, is going to be the next big thing.
Increasingly, restaurants and home cooks are excited about “ugly produce”. This is produce which isn’t attractive enough to sell in a store but still tastes great. Avery J.C. Kleinman, writing in the Washington City Paper, looks at concerns about what might happen if these cheap fruits and vegetables, on which many food banks rely, suddenly become expensive because chefs and home cooks are asking for them. Most of the experts quoted agree that this could be a problem in 5-10 years, but right now we are still throwing away too much produce for it to matter. The counterpoint might be the price of short ribs compared to where they were ten years ago. When these things happen, they happen FAST.
Oh hell yes I am here for a gossipy and dishy story about the Marriott family lawsuit that airs all their dirty laundry.
The greatest story in the entire world is that Los Angeles is plagued by a serial dine and dasher. This guy sets up dates with women online, then vanishes halfway through the meal, leaving them with the check. He’s been doing this for OVER A YEAR.
This week on Good Food, Fuchsia Dunlop talks about her first trip to Los Angeles in more than 15 years. Then both her and J. Gold talk about the state of Sichuan food in the city.
If you aren’t quite so sure why I’m completely obsessed with Jitlada, read this essay in LA Taco about the history of the best Thai restaurant in America. It’s a reprint of a story from the Lucky Peach, whose archives are down (still fucking kills me).
One of the most surprising things about living in Los Angeles is how much Jewish food there is. I ate Mexican and Asian foods a lot, but almost just as often friends would meet up at Canter’s or Langer’s. And similarly to how we’re now seeing hew hipster version of Mexican and Thai, we might be seeing new interpretations of our beloved delis. J. Gold reviews Freedman's in Echo Park. Can you have a hipster deli? Apparently so. Gold raves about the fish appetizers that could easily be served at a sushi place, and the brisket you can cut with a spoon.
Out of context J. Gold quote of the week
The china is mismatched in a way that suggests the year Morris and Yetta just gave up on the idea of separating the milchig plates from the fleishig ones