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What We’re Reading: The Best of Food Writing From Around the Web

We’ve got the perfect weekend gift for you: a diverse list of intriguing food stories and news to keep you satiated. Enjoy a 9,000-year history of booze and then get curried up with a story about the decline of Britain’s iconic Indian restaurants.

+ Grab your booze of choice and read 9,000 years of alcohol history. This story from National Geographic paints a vibrant history even monkeys can appreciate:

Robert Dudley, the University of California, Berkeley physiologist… calls it the “drunken monkey” hypothesis. The primates that ventured down out of the trees got access to a brand-new food source. “If you can smell the alcohol and get to the fruit faster, you have an advantage,” Dudley says. “You defeat the competition and get more calories.” The ones that stuffed themselves were the most likely to succeed at reproduction—and to experience (while eating) a gentle rush of pleasure in the brain.

+ Chipotle’s profits fell by 95% in one year, from $476 million in 2015 to just $23 million in 2016. This could spell the beginning of the end of the burritos-and-burrito-bowl chain, which is suffering the fallout of a major E. coli outbreak. Chipotle certainly won’t be getting help from the new presidential administration. Import taxes on Mexican produce will only create more problems for the struggling company.

photo by woodleywonderworks

+ Leafy greens are packed with vitamins and minerals, from A through K. Read more about why you shouldn’t skimp on these nutritious greens. Bonus: recipes are included!

+ Tomatoes are not quite as sweet as they used to be, and according to recent genetic findings, the reason may be our own doing. Over the past 50 years, tomatoes have been grown for size rather than flavor. Scientists think they can put the sweetness back into the fruit, but has the damage already been done?

In the tasting panels, there were noticeable differences in preferences: between men and women, between foodies and nonfoodies, and, perhaps most interesting, between older people and younger people. He recalled one of the students working in his laboratory picking out the supermarket tomato as her favorite in one of the taste tests.

“That bothers me a lot,” Dr. Klee said. “Have we trained a whole generation that doesn’t know what a good tomato is?”

+ Cases of a mysterious brain disease plaguing malnourished children in India have been linked to lychee overconsumption. Symptoms included seizures, brain fogginess, and in some cases, death. In 2014, for example, Muzaffarpur hospitals admitted 390 kids with the symptoms, resulting in 122 deaths. 

The oldest operating McDonald’s restaurant was the third one built, opening in 1953. It’s located at 10207 Lakewood Blvd. at Florence Ave. in Downey, California. Photo by Bryan Hong.

+ Many poor and low-income families turn to McDonald’s for cheap, fast food. However, many may not know that the Golden Arches also provide one of the few spaces for underserved communities to gather.  Willard Jones, 93, recounts his personal history with the fast food giant, “I had it real rough growing up, because times were real rough. Lived on a plantation, modern day slavery. When I was a kid, we used to get a special treat a few times a year, and go eat in town. That place was dirty and cost us a lot. Not like McDonald’s. It is clean here.”

+ Who killed the great British curry houses? This short history explores the decline of the iconic immigrant food establishment through the lens of UK’s changing immigration policy. More importantly, it begs the question, how does immigrant food become a nationalist symbol while erasing the people that made it possible?

In 2015, George Osborne, standing in for Cameron during PMQs, replied to a question about curry houses closing under the pressure of immigration restrictions by saying: “We all enjoy a great British curry but we want the curry chefs to be trained in Britain.”

+ If you find yourself saying, “I didn’t know 2 Chainz had a cookbook…” then we suggest you check out this funny story from Buzzfeed writer Pedro Fequiere: I Cooked With 2 Chainz’s Cookbook For A Week And It Was Lit.

Did we miss anything? Share your favorite stories in the comment section below.

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