Bloody marys are my favorite. They’re the perfect excuse to drink in the morning and not prompt your family to convene an intervention. Plus, you get to snack on cured meats and pickled veggies while you do. I sought out some of the craziest, over-the-top, most Leaning Tower of Pisa-esque bloody mary garnishes out there. Then I decided to alphabetize the list because amidst all this chaos, I believe a little order is called for, don’t you? Good. Then let’s proceed. (more…)
People who read my Menuism columns or who have heard about my visits to over 6,000 Chinese restaurants sometimes react in disbelief. One commenter said he’d have done the math, and asked how could I possibly have eaten at over 6,000 different Chinese restaurants, since it would require trying a new Chinese restaurant every day for over 16 years? Even if you tried one per day, unless you kept moving from city to city, wouldn’t you run out of new Chinese restaurants to try? (more…)
With soaring obesity rates and ever-growing weight consciousness, it’s no wonder restaurants have tried to cater to diners looking for healthier choices. But don’t be fooled by a dish just because it’s on a bed of lettuce. The unhealthy choices aren’t always easy to spot. These ten salads have up to three times the fat of a McDonald’s Big Mac, which, in case you’re curious, has 29 grams of total fat. (more…)
When we reflect on our American heritage, images of baseball, the Statue of Liberty, bald eagles, and perhaps most often, apple pie, immediately come to mind. But apples aren’t indigenous to America, so why is our identity so inextricably tied to this flaky dessert? (more…)
Not everyone is an adventurous eater. Those who are discover new food likes and dislikes all the time; those who aren’t gawk and are at least temporarily entertained, albeit sometimes disgusted. My Vietnamese mother used to brush off the question, “what is this?” whenever she served me something, and as I grew older I learned to stop asking. In my opinion, it’s better to ask what’s in processed and prepackaged foods more, and what’s in exotic and ethnic dishes less. But that’s me. So, behold, some scary-ish foods for you to try or grow a new aversion for!
What it is:
Haggis is Scotland’s national dish, made of sheep “pluck” — heart, liver, and lungs — oats, suet, onion, and spices, cooked in a sheep’s stomach. In 1787, poet Robert Burns penned “Address to a Haggis,” an ode to what he called the “great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race.” Every January 25 (Burns’s birthday), Scots, including Scottish-Americans, celebrate Burns Night, feasting on Scottish food and whiskey, with the haggis paraded into the room to the music of a bagpiper, and kicked off with a recital of Burns’s poem. (more…)
Ketchup is both our most popular condiment and arguably, our most divisive. To some, the sweet, tangy tomato sauce seems synonymous with hamburgers and hot dogs; others will tell you ketchup has no place on either.
Americans love the sweet flavor of ketchup; sugar or other sweeteners play a huge role in evening out the acidity of the tomatoes. It’s hardly any wonder that children consume more than 50 percent of the ketchup sold in the U.S.
But these five places are fighting back. Time to pick a side!
Since the launch of the Cronut™ on May 10, 2013, a social media craze, a black market, and support site have all cropped up. Is this half croissant, half doughnut treat the next big thing? Or will Dominique Ansel’s creation go the way of the Magnolia gourmet cupcake and Pinkberry frozen yogurt, spawning numerous imitators until becoming almost ubiquitous?
One thing’s for sure: the imitators are already here. So if you’re not nearby the New York City original (or don’t have the wherewithal to stand in the hours-long line), here are a few other places where you can try the crusty cronut, or at least something similar to it: (more…)
According to certain readings of the Mayan calendar, the world just might end this Friday, December 21. NASA doesn’t believe so, having already released a “here’s why we’re still here” video slated for December 22 on YouTube.
But knowing when one’s demise would occur has always commingled with a fascinating topic: what would you eat if you knew a meal would be your last?
The question of last meals is often associated with inmates sentenced to the death penalty. Last year, Cornell University researchers studied 193 last meal requests by prisoners on death row. Chicken was the most popular meat request, followed by hamburger and steak. French fries were a commonly requested item, as well as soda and pie. Four percent of the condemned requested meals from a fast-food chain such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and KFC. A quarter of the inmates requested a salad along with their meals. Alcohol may not be requested, and the limit in many states is $20. Interestingly, the state of Texas, which executes more prisoners than any other, stopped the practice of last-meal requests last September after one prisoner refused to eat what was deemed a grandiose request. Texas had never allowed steak, only hamburger.
Artist Julie Green has documented prisoners’ last meals in her porcelain plate collection, The Last Supper. She has painted 519 meals, immortalizing prisoner requests such as “three fried chicken thighs, 10 or 15 shrimp, tater tots with ketchup, two slices of pecan pie, strawberry ice cream, honey and biscuits and a Coke,” and another for pizza and birthday cake, since the inmate had never had one of his own.
Unsurprisingly, a prisoner’s last meal favors comfort food or an unrealized craving, and while the fascination may seem a bit morbid, it’s this sense of food nostalgia that makes the last meal question so universal.
Author Melanie Dunea explored last meals and the comfort they would provide in her 2007 book My Last Supper and its sequel, My Last Supper: The Next Course. In each, she interviewed and photographed 50 top chefs about what they would serve at their ultimate table. Each chef’s imagined meal revealed a bit of his or her history, cooking style, and sense of home. Gordon Ramsay requested roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, while Mario Batali envisioned a lavish eight-course meal. Marcus Samuelsson opted for a simple salt-cured salmon and crisp bread, finishing with nigiri sushi. Joël Robuchon simply wants a good bread. Bread, he says, “is a symbol of birth, life, and death. It’s the symbol of sharing, companionship, friends, and French people—you know, we love bread, bread with a nice dollop of salted butter.”
So, if the Mayans are correct, what would you opt for as your final meal? Something home-cooked, like a meatloaf? Something rare, like a truffle? A 10-piece bucket from KFC? Something else? Why?
Editor’s Note: David R. Chan has eaten at a staggering 6,000+ Chinese restaurants. How can such a feat be accomplished?, you might ask. For starters, it helps to have the gumption to drive over 400 miles in a single day! – KK
I have a friend who lives in Monterey Park, in the heart of the Chinese food empire of the San Gabriel Valley outside of Los Angeles. Though she is a big fan of Chinese food, she won’t drive more than a mile away from home for food. While that still gives her a decent array of Chinese restaurants to choose from, it also eliminates probably 95 percent of the Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, and correspondingly most of the best restaurants there.
Speaking for myself, there are few limits on where I travel in search of food, which led me to wonder how far people might be willing to drive for a single meal. Now I don’t mean vacations that are devoted to or inspired by food, such as travelling to New Orleans or New York or Paris or Barcelona to sample the cuisine there. Rather, how far would you travel from a fixed point in search of a single meal? (more…)
I’ve often wondered how one goes about becoming the name of a drink. I fantasize about the day someone orders a Kim Kohatsu, though I haven’t given much thought to what would go in the glass. If history is any indication, that step may not be as important.
Child actress Shirley Temple began her career in 1932, at the age of three. On her 10th birthday, a bartender at Beverly Hills restaurant Chasen’s is said to have created a non-alcoholic cocktail to serve to her while she dined with her parents and older celebrities. The Shirley Temple consists of ginger ale and a splash of grenadine, topped with maraschino cherries. But, like most food lore, there are conflicting accounts of the drink’s origin. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki also claims to have invented the drink, since Shirley Temple was a frequent guest there. In addition, the Brown Derby in Hollywood marketed drinks with celebrity names, and also may have originated the Shirley Temple. Oddly enough, the actress herself said she actually never liked the drink, and opposes the concept of cocktails (even non-alcoholic) for children. She has fought several attempts to use her name in unauthorized bottled sodas, saying “All a celebrity has is their name.” (more…)