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Weekend Reading: The Best of Food Writing From Around the Web

We hope you’re ready to get lit on the literary. This week’s list is an ode to Lucky Peach, Irene Kuo’s The Key to the Chinese Cooking, Patel Bros, and much more stellar writing from the culinary web.


+ Travelers and expatriates who have purchased/cooked eggs in foreign countries may already know the answer to this question: why do Americans refrigerate their eggs? Worth a read – this short piece offers a small sampling of the industrial system’s web of influences on American food practices.

+ This week, we are sad to say goodbye to Lucky Peach. Their days are numbered but there’s no better way to eulogize the irreverent food magazine: by reading these 13 stellar examples of their unique style of lowbrow/highbrow food writing.

Food & Booze by Gerald England

+ Food just tastes better when you’re drunk. Here’s the science to back it up.

+ Food 52’s historical essay on How America lost the ‘Key to the Chinese Cooking’ is worth a look because it is one of the few biographical narratives of Irene Kuo you’ll find online. Of course we’d also recommend reading her actual cookbook but getting a copy of the keys will put you out $50-$500 since it is (most likely) permanently out of print:

The book is quarantined into two sections, and the first is a set of techniques that swallows 120 pages. Kuo begins the book by outlining the cookware of the Chinese kitchen, instruments from the rim-collared, round-bottomed wok to the earthenware casserole. These foundational chapters give the book a patina of graciousness, consistently warm and reassuring… After 120 pages, the book launches into recipes. There are 300, divided by type—meat; doughstuffs, noodles, and rice; soups. She reserves the longest chapter in the book for poultry and eggs, nearly 80 pages. Other devotions are to meats and vegetables. She is harsh on the dessert, which she deems matters of little consequence. 

+ Prepare to meet another lab-grown meat that’s coming to a market near you. It’s chicken fingers from Memphis Meats, a Bay Area tech startup specializing in “cultured” meats. There’s no price set for the petri-poultry, but Memphis Meat’s meatballs were priced at $1K per ball as of last year so these tenders are not the cheap meats you were seeking.

Japanese Wendy’s by ElCapitanBSC

+ In Japan, two kinds of food dominate: yoshoku and washoku, otherwise known “fusion” and “authentic.” As you can imagine, debating which is better, more significant, and more “Japanese” is an open-up-a-can-of-worms kind of conversation that can get really heated. But is it really debatable that fusion is an acceptable form of culinary invention? The California roll is just as magical as Chicken karaage.”

“Yoshoku is Japanese food. When you think of food like kare and tonkatsu, which country do you think of immediately?” he asked rhetorically. “They may have been inspired by non-Japanese cuisine, but we’ve made them fully Japanese.”

+ Patel Brothers, affectionately known as Patel Bros by their super fans, offer Indian chefs the experience of grocery shopping as they would back in India. If you haven’t been to one lately, read up on the beloved grocer and head to Santa Clara. You won’t be disappointed.

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