That Pete Wells New York Times review is just as fun as everyone says

Plus a critical Snack Cart call to action, the Carbonara police, and a very specific Los Angeles meme that I can't stop giggling at.

I loved this TASTE story by Sara Jenkins about people getting enraged at “inauthentic” versions of dishes. She points out that even within Italy there are massive variations based on regional tastes and ingredients. I will be using the phrase “Carbonara Police” forever. 

Eater is doing Ratatouille week (the movie, not the dish). My favorite pieces include a writer admitting they have a Ratatouille tattoo and another almost burning their house down trying to cook mushrooms using electricity. Mmmmmmm, that’s good content. 

The “article most people sent me this week” award goes to: T-Pain’s Grub Street diet. And readers? This shit does not disappoint. It is basically T-Pain’s guide to Vegas and drinking and juicing and strip clubs. It’s a damn delight. T-Pain should have a Substack, is what I am saying.  

SNACK CART CALL TO ACTION: People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive contest this year is a little bit different. There are multiple categories, including.... sexiest chef! One of the possible sexiest chefs? Guy Fieri. Click this link and vote for Guy Fieri as the sexiest chef alive in 2021 -- you know you want to. 

I don’t care what the haters say, if you send me an article about a world leader being hit by food I WILL LINK TO IT.

This article from Food & Wine is from 2019, but new to me. Writer Joel Stein criticizes all of you boring gift givers for giving generic wines. It’s funny, and has a few legit recommendations. Though could anything be more 2019 than recommending sherry as a gift? Remember sherry? 

Bon Appétit released their restaurant issue and instead of announcing best new restaurant awards, they chose to highlight people, organizations, and restaurants that are doing great work and offering inspiration inside their community. It’s called Heads of the Table. A lot of inspiring stories and a bit of myth making that we can forgive because they earned it.  

I am confused how a lyric about vomiting up food has led to a restaurant but here we are. Get paid, Marshall. Get paid. 

Aaron Mak in Slate profiles the struggles facing America’s Chinatowns. The combination of COVID, racism, and the rising Delta variant are keeping most restaurants in these historic areas on their heels. Another struggle he doesn't mention explicitly is how much the actual STRUCTURE of these places makes it hard to bounce back. I love a giant dim sum hall more than anything, but it’s probably the last kind of space I’ll feel truly comfortable in.

I can’t possibly relegate this article to just the Boston section because everyone needs to read it. A city councilor in Gloucester, MA called another one a cupcake during a zoom meeting. That councilor was pissed off and reappeared in her Zoom window silently eating a giant cupcake! Now like 17 people have been officially sanctioned. Come for the headline pun, stay for the incomprehensible local politics drama. 

Julia Craven at Slate went somewhere few dare to tread. She asked on Twitter for the snacks people have come to love during the pandemic that they wouldn’t dare eating in the office. The answers range from “interesting” to “hmm maybe” to “nope not even once”. People, Jesus can still see you even with the webcam turned off. 

Hackers just leaked Subway’s training videos online, giving foreign adversaries everything they need to construct Italian BMTs of their own.

WIRED excerpts a piece of a new book by Devi Lockwood. The book focuses on stories of climate change from around the world, and the WIRED article focuses on the stories of food in Igloolik in Northern Canada. This town is primarily Inuit, with many people living a traditional lifestyle of relying on meat they hunted (especially since groceries from the South command exorbitant prices). The change in climate is affecting the animals, bringing in new ones and driving old ones away in a cycle that could devastate the town. 

New Zealand has largely succeeded in completely squashing COVID by instituting seriously intense lockdowns. This past week, Auckland went back under their strictest lockdown after 30 people tested positive for the Delta variant. This means no one can enter the city and outside of essential services, and no business that requires human contact can take place. That didn’t stop two HEROES and PATRIOTS who believe in FREEDOM from sneaking out, ordering like $300 worth of KFC, and trying to bring it back before getting arrested. The CNN article has a hilarious photo of the KFC displayed on a police car hood like a drug bust

This summer, wineries in the Ahr region of Germany were struck with historic levels of flooding. Vineyards were destroyed, equipment smashed, and ten thousands of bottles were soaked in mud, destroying the labels and any hope of knowing what’s inside. From the wreckage, flutwine (flood wine) was born. Wineries are selling mystery bottles at a 2x markup with the proceeds helping rebuild the surrounding area. 

I haven’t quite made it through season one of Star Trek: Picard, but James Whitbrook at Gizmodo unveils something horrifying in a promo tweet from season 2. The photo includes Picard’s pre-set menus and… il y a trop de frites!  

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I really can’t do better than this headline: “In 1998, these SF men got a tattoo to snag free tacos for life. Here's what happened after.” This is a beautiful store of community, youth, and tacos.  

I read through this article and was half-way through a blurb before I realized I had already mentioned it before. But fuck it, it’s a history of crab rangoon! On my *second* read it jumps out how well this article puts forward a unified theory of how Tiki restaurants and American Chinese food came to be intertwined. 

If this story about nostalgia and Royal Dansk cookie tins doesn’t hit hard then you weren’t raised right. Also, those cookies are *way* less expensive than you think, or so my Amazon bill would have me believe. 

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Matthew Baker is answering Massachusetts conundrums in a column for Boston Magazine. Someone asks him if the Massachusetts-style hot dog exists and the answer is… kinda! Read the article for a description of a Bay State style hot dog, but I can’t pretend I’ve heard of it. He does explain the history of the true New England hot dog innovation: the split top bun. It was developed for Howard Johnson’s to be a better base for their clam strips roll.

Over the summer I spent like 30 minutes trying to explain what Hoodsie cups are to my wife, and there was no regional analog. Anyway, happy 175th birthday to Hood Dairy

Guys, IPAs are a thing, and the Boston Globe is ON IT

As apple picking season ramps up here in Londonderry, we just wanted to issue a reminder that apple theft is a crime,” Londonderry Police said in a statement.

New England Country Mart, a husband and wife food delivery e-commerce platform and start-up that only features local products, sounds delightful. Please ship to New York. 

Salem owns and has incredible food but do not try to go there this month. I beg you. 

New York

Pete Wells at the New York Times is not awarding stars during the pandemic, but he eviscerated Daniel Humm and Eleven Madison Park as if he was deboning … well, a cabbage I suppose in this case? He finds the new vegan menu to be wildly overcompensating. The quotable line is “The one at Eleven Madison Park tastes like Lemon Pledge and smells like a burning joint”. However, I find it way more damning that he openly muses if Humm really cares about sustainability or if this isn’t just a gimmick-- or worse, a way to pay less for ingredients. The kicker in the review, where Wells reveals there is a secret meat room for the ultra-rich, is basically a finishing move in Mortal Combat that I had to ask my friend Adam how to do the cheat code for. 

While I whole-heartedly support COVID vaccine mandates, it’s weird we are forcing front-line workers to become the pandemic police. The Times interviews restaurant hosts, who find themselves a new kind of gatekeeper

This 2018 photo story from Culinary BackStreets first appealed to me as a celebration of the diversity of Queens. But now, it’s a time capsule. Can you imagine shopping like that ever again? I hope so. 

I asked a few issues back about regional Indian food, and Robert Sietsema more than delivers. Time to learn more. 

The NYPD just cannot stop shutting down beloved local street vendors. They love it!

Lombardi’s, America’s first pizzeria, has opened a second outpost in Bay Ridge. But, there’s no pizza! Read the Brooklyn Magazine story that isn’t so much a review as a narrative of how this all came together and quotes from a bunch of guys whose names end in “o”. It’s so Brooklyn it hurts. Should I move to Bay Ridge? 


The menu for this pizza & donuts pop-up sounds amazing, but I honestly had a hard time understanding when it is happening or where it is. Mike Sula was going for something here but it’s just a lot of names and links (stay in your lane!). 

Fooditor is back! I’ve loved Michael Gerbert’s blog and was sad at the thought he wasn’t writing anymore. He returns with a formal review of Oriole. However, this review is just too long. It hits really interesting points about what fine dining is like in 2021, but meanders between them. Nonetheless,, I’m glad he’s back and was very excited to see he is working on a book about Chicago restaurant history. 

Natural wine bars! We like those! Chicago Magazine, please hire a real reviewer! I would like more food content! 

Luisa Chu highlights new restaurants opening across the city and suburbs. It feels like, in Chicago and elsewhere, a lot of Italian places are opening. 

Meanwhile, Nick Kindelsperger hangs out with robots (Don’t Date Robots!). University of Illinois at Chicago has partnered with the startup Starship and rolled out a fleet of autonomous vehicles across campus to deliver food. This is a fun story and the robots are cute, but it’s unclear how they would work in rain or, more importantly, snow. 

Los Angeles

KCRW has made it through the Suave 16 and are on to the Eso Eight in its annual tortilla tournament. The story of the tournament this year is Trader Joe’s, which has been DECIMATING brackets by taking down the #2 and #3 seeds. Next up? The #1 seed Taco Maria. Do you believe in miracles? 

Michelin has released its rankings for the year. A number of Los Angeles restaurants gained stars. While we may be discussing if stars make sense in this very newsletter, it’s clear from the chef’s interviewed for this Los Angeles Times article how much they are honored and what a massive tool this can be driving business to their restaurant.  

LA Taco drops the LA TACO 69, a list (and a map) of the tacos that define Los Angeles. I think we can all agree: nice.

Eddie Lin at LA Taco reviews “Noodle Art” on Monterey. He gives us a brief cultural history of Xi’an Biangbiang noodles. The specialty of the shop are ultra-wide, usually sluiced in chili oil, and always hand-made. Love to see LA Taco branching out past tacos. 

I’m trying to learn more about Korean food, but I’ve never heard of modeum jeon. Bill Addison says the platter of fried seafood, meat, and vegetable cakes are the highlight at HanEuem in Koreatown. It sounds excellent, but only go with a group. 

Out of Context J. Gold of the week

And you can always perform a scientific assessment of the state of flautas , those deep-fried rolled-tortilla things that Jack-in-the-Box calls taquitos, by rigorously testing each of the dozen or so varieties available: fat or thin; topped with sour cream or drenched in guacamole; brittle throughout or kind of bendy in the middle--check out the meaty ones in the far southeast corner. That’s my idea of pure empirical research. - link