From Norwegian waters to European plates.
An overweight teenager's psychological test with an unhappy neighbor.
"Mrs. Butler never commented on my weight. I wanted to believe she didn’t see my layers of fat or hear how my breathing quickened if I exerted much physical effort. My neighbor wasn’t gorgeous like a supermodel, but she moved her long graceful limbs with an elegance I could only envy."
Comic miscues ensue at a private family dinner.
"Also, I’m a pretty big guy, so I often find myself appointed the unofficial bouncer on these sorts of occasions. It was Dumpling Night. I know that because when I walked past the steam table, a teenage girl was there with tongs and she said, 'Dumpling?'"
The Giant Pacific Octopus is, in the words of a Seattle conservationist, a “glamour animal.” It is also tasty. Therein lies the conflict.
A woman enters a casual relationship with a butcher.
"He was lazy about it. He told me he couldn’t that night but could he give me a call? It was two weeks and one — almost two — skipped Five Dollar Fridays later that he called and demanded why I had not come in yet. I arrived at a quarter to nine. He grinned and dug his knife into pork liver. Then a plucked duck. I ate the spinach rolls he set out for me and watched him slice away. Finally I told him I was starving and he looked up from his bloodied counter and grinned some more. He put his meat in the giant freezer behind him, hung his apron and walked out to me. It was the first time, I realized, that I’d seen his legs. I could tell they were brawny behind his jeans. In fact he looked like a hockey player and I wished he did that instead of dismembering dead animals all day."
Creation of a fast food phenomenon.
A boy roams a bleak dystopia, seeking fruit.
"The boy had never tasted fruit in his whole life. When his mother grew too sick to work, he tied a bandanna around his head and waited in the slog farm lines. He was underage but passed through the checkpoint with her ID and no one looked."
For New Year's Eve, a Times Square encounter chronicled by the author of Open City.
"Low and I stood under the cold blazing lights of Times Square, smoking, and I asked him what he had eaten. Oysters, he said, the pleasure coming back into his voice, in a row on a ridge of ice, eager to be eaten. Fluke, caviar, octopus, some champagne but not a lot."
On a business that sells packaged pre-sliced apples as snack food.
Los Angeles’ Wolvesmouth and the unlicensed dining industry.
Stalking bluefin tuna, the most valuable wild animal in the world.
An interview with Pulitzer-winning food critic Jonathan Gold.
The history of Kraft Dinner, Canada’s “de facto national dish.”
“The squirrels may take my tomatoes and spit them back, but they would not go unanswered. The time had come to close the circle of life.”
“Good espresso depends on the fourM’s: Macchina, the espresso machine; Macinazione, the proper grinding of a beans; Miscela, the coffee blend and the roast, and Mano is the skilled hand of the barista, because even with the finest beans and the most advanced equipment, the shot depends on the touch and style of the barista.”
Visiting his daughter in San Francisco, the author longs for food delivery in Manhattan.
On Jenny Craig’s European expansion and how dieting differs in France and the States.
“That learning to cook could lead an American woman to success of any kind would have seemed utterly implausible in 1949; that it is so thoroughly plausible 60 years later owes everything to Julia Child’s legacy.”
How KFC brought fried chicken to China and Africa as U.S. sales slumped.
One man’s dream to turn America into a post-prohibition wine utopia.
Don’t call them “foodies.”
“My name is Jackie and I am addicted to waitressing.” An essay on waiting tables.
Inside a restaurant lawsuit.
Michael Chow’s complaint, which sought $21 million in damages, alleged that the team behind Philippe, including chef Philippe Chau, restaurateur Stratis Morfogen (also behind the well-received Ciano) and several codefendants, appropriated the Satay recipe and 11 other Mr Chow standbys, the “modern” decor of Mr Chow’s restaurants and even the name Chow—thereby engaging in deceptive trade practices, swiping trade secrets and infringing on the Mr Chow trademark.
On Manoj Bhargava, who says he’s “probably the wealthiest Indian in America,” and his ubiquitous product.
The history of “‘50s-era market-tested USDA White Pan Loaf No. 1.”
The case for why a cup of joe is about to become a luxury item.
The absurd scale of McDonald’s’ economics suggests a company more like a commodity trader than a chain of restaurants.
At this volume, and with the impermanence of the sandwich, it only makes sense for McDonald’s to treat the sandwich as a sort of arbitrage strategy: at both ends of the product pipeline, you have a good being traded at such large volume that we might as well forget that one end of the pipeline is hogs and corn and the other end is a sandwich. McDonald’s likely doesn’t think in these terms, and neither should you.
Two weeks spent walking across Provence.
There is something about entering an ancient town on foot that's radically different from entering the same place by car. Keep in mind that these old French towns were all designed by people on foot for people on foot. So when you walk in, you're approaching the place as it was intended to be approached—slowly and naturally, the way Dorothy came upon Oz (spires rising in the distance, a sense of mounting mystery: What kind of city will this be?).
You know this one: German guy heads into tribal jungle deep upriver, sends the company crazy reports full of radical ideas—and then goes totally rogue. Only this time it's not ivory he's after. It's a secret lost for centuries: the finest cacao on earth.
On the life of illegal immigrant fruit pickers.
Without 1 million people on the ground, on ladders, in bushes—armies of pickers swooping in like bees—all the tilling, planting, and fertilizing of America's $144 billion horticultural production is for naught. The fruit falls to the ground and rots.
When a writer’s daily routine gets out of control.
One morning, as I gobbled my doughnut and slurped my coffee, thinking to myself, "What a fantastic doughnut, what an amazing coffee," I realised that I had not just thought this but was actually saying aloud, "What a fantastic doughnut! What a totally fantastic experience!", and that this was attracting the attention of the other customers, one of whom turned to me and said, "You like the doughnuts, huh?"
The creator of the California-based food chain kills his mother, sister and, finally, himself:
From Hollywood to Anaheim, he had opened a chain of fast-food rotisserie chicken restaurants that dazzled the food critics and turned customers into a cult. Poets wrote about his Zankou chicken. Musicians sang about his Zankou chicken. Now that he was dying, his dream of building an empire, 100 Zankous across the land, a Zankou in every major city, would be his four sons’ to pursue. In the days before, he had pulled them aside one by one -- Dikran, Steve, Ara, Vartkes -- and told them he had no regrets. He was 56 years old, that was true, but life had not cheated him. He did not tell them he had just one more piece of business left to do.
It smells of truck exhaust and fish guts. Of glistening skipjacks and smoldering cigarettes; fluke, salmon and Joe Tuna's cigar. Of Canada, Florida, and the squid-ink East River. Of funny fish-talk riffs that end with profanities spat onto the mucky pavement, there to mix with coffee spills, beer blessings, and the flowing melt of sea-scented ice. This fragrance of fish and man pinpoints one place in the New York vastness: a small stretch of South Street where peddlers have sung the song of the catch since at least 1831, while all around them, change. They were hawking fish here when an ale house called McSorley's opened up; when a presidential aspirant named Lincoln spoke at Cooper Union; when the building of a bridge to Brooklyn ruined their upriver view.
How the spirit became a billion-dollar business.
Michael Roper, owner of Chicago’s Hopleaf bar and restaurant, recalls what bartending was like in the early seventies. While Smirnoff was considered top shelf, he remembers lesser varieties such as Nikolai, Arrow, Wolfschmidt, and another brand that was then ubiquitous called Mohawk. “Mohawk was cheap, cheap, cheap,” Roper remembers. “Mohawk had a factory just outside Detroit along the expressway and . . . all their products were made there. It’s almost like they turned a switch—whiskey, vodka, gin. And it was all junk.” Still, by 1976, vodka had surpassed bourbon and whiskey as the most popular spirit in America. Roper attributes vodka’s rise partially to women, who started drinking more spirits and ordering them on their own: “Women were not going to like Scotch—that was for cigar-smoking burly men,” he speculates. “And . . . it was unladylike to drink Kentucky whiskey. But it was considered somewhat ladylike to have a fancy cocktail with an olive in it.” He also remembers when a salesman first brought Miller Lite into his bar, explaining “it’s for women.” In a similar vein, Roper considers vodka a low-calorie option with “a less challenging flavor.”
On the restauranteur behind New York’s Gramercy Tavern and Shake Shack.
On the history and study of pica:
Indeed, we have long defined ourselves and others by what we do and do not eat, from kashrut dietary restrictions described in Leviticus to the naming of Comanche bands (Kotsoteka—buffalo eaters, Penateka—honey eaters, Tekapwai—no meat) to insults—French frogs, English limeys, German krauts. But poya seemed to beg a different question: what was one to make of people who ate food that wasn’t food at all?
A primer on competitive eating’s premier event, the Hot Dog Eating Contest, which airs today at noon EST:
1: During the allotted period of time, contestants eat as many hot dogs and buns (called "HDBs") as they can. 2: They're allowed to use a beverage of their choice to wash things down. 3: They must stay in full view of their own, personal "Bunnette" scorekeeper. 4: Condiments may be used, but are not required. 5: HDBs that are still in the mouth at the end of the contest only count if they are eventually swallowed. 6: Puking up the hot dogs before the end of the contest (called "a reversal") will result in a disqualification, unless you do something horrific to make up for it (more on this later.)
First Hormel gutted the union. Then it sped up the line. And when the pig-brain machine made workers sick, they got canned.
A personal essay about family through the lens of mashed potatoes.
Who would poison the vines of La Romanée-Conti, the tiny, centuries-old vineyard that produces what most agree is Burgundy’s ﬁnest, rarest, and most expensive wine?
How the little known $50/bottle champagne Antique Gold became the $300/bottle Armand de Brignac that Jay-Z "happened upon in a wine shop" and then featured in a video.
If you hit a bar or restaurant in South Miami, there’s a good chance Eddie Santana has waited tables there. And then sued. Sometimes after only a single day on the job.
Tackling the science of cooking, one perfect french fry at a time.
An interview with Alan Stillman, who in 1965 founded T.G.I. Friday’s, the first singles bar in America.
“As we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money?”
Mince pie was once more American than the apple variety. It was also blamed for “bad health, murderous dreams, the downfall of Prohibition, and the decline of the white race,” among other things. Then it disappeared.
A stroll through Tokyo’s Tsukiji, the world’s largest seafood market, and the mecca of the global sushi trade.
A rare co-mingling between Hasidic Jews and their Crown Heights neighbors within Brooklyn’s ‘Basil Pizza & Wine Bar.’
A one fire, one goat, many cooks experiment.
The world’s most renowned chef, Ferran Adrià, says that the only way he can push forward the art form of cooking is to close his own restaurant.
This isn’t truck-on-truck violence. It’s the taxpaying owners of brick-and-mortar restaurants—along with a host of other powerful District players—who are waging the attack.
If you walk into New York’s best restaurants without a reservation, what does it take to get a table?
On the elegance and utility of the rice cooker.
Where does Strawberry-Kiwi Snapple come from? Givaudan is part of a tiny, secretive industry that produces new flavors.
A trip to a lobster festival leads to an examination of the culinary and ethical dimensions of cooking a live, possibly sentient, creature.
Race relations at the gigantic and soul-crushing Smithfield slaughterhouse, where annual turnover is 100 percent: 5,000 people are hired, 5,000 quit.
Mysterious, man-made “natural flavor” explains why most fast food—indeed, most of the food Americans eat—tastes the way it does. An early excerpt from Fast Food Nation.