Chocolate Fingers, Jumbo Slice Is "Amazing"?, and Foods That Critics Hate: Eating & Reading

Every week, we'll let you know what the Washingtonian food staff is reading in the blogosphere and off the bookshelves.

Todd Kliman, food and wine editor:

• When your waiter is high on more than the gorgeousness of the fiddlehead ferns and the brilliance of "Chef's vision": My Server Is Stoned!

• How China's food-safety problems are becoming America's food-safety problems—a new report from the watchdog outfit Food & Water Watch: A Decade of Dangerous Food Imports From China (PDF).

• The Village Voice's Lauren Shockey reveals the secret shames of New York City's restaurant critics: NY Restaurant Reviewers Reveal the Foods They Just Can't Stand.

• A look at "food deserts"—the places in America farthest from a supermarket: Food Deserts: An Interactive Map.

Emily Leaman, staff writer and Well+Being blogger:

• This is good/useful news for people who let their gardens go to the weeds: 7 Edible Weeds: One Person's Annoyance Is Another Person's Salad.

Sophie Gilbert, assistant editor and Sophie at the Stove blogger:

• They've done budget manicures, tasteless Super Bowl ads, and IPO filings, but now Groupon is getting into the grocery aisle: Groupon Goes Into Groceries.

• Almost 1 in 7 Americans received food stamps in February 2011, which is almost 40 million people. Curious about the challenges of subsisting on such a meager budget? Sonoma Patch's Morgan Ray tried it out for a week: Living on the Edge: Getting By on a Food Stamp Budget.

• It's always funny to see food-industry lobbyists defending unhealthy food in schools. It's not so funny when senators do it. I'm all for potatoes, Susan Collins, but the health benefits of french fries are negligible: Lobbyists Want Fries and Pizza to Stay in School.

Kate Nerenberg, assistant food and wine editor:

• A study done at the University of Birmingham in England shows that you can fend off post-lunch stomach grumbles by just focusing on what you're eating. A fun aside: The researchers used chocolate fingers (the article says: "apparently a British thing; we will trust that they are appealing") to prove their point: Lunch Amnesia.

• Barry Estabrook, one of the leading voices on food politics, tells us that except for Whole Foods, no grocery chain in the country was willing to pay one cent more per pound for tomatoes to alleviate the plight of produce pickers in Florida. He's most perplexed by Trader Joe's refusal to pay the extra penny: The Profound Impact of a Penny.

• "Dealing with weirdos when you go out to eat, however, shouldn't be part of the experience and that's why I hate communal dining," says Jason Kessler, a self-described curmudgeon. I couldn't agree less, and it says something very sad to me about how Americans are becoming so isolated from one another: I'm Sick of Communal Dining.

Anna Spiegel, dining intern:

• "Nuts are big in Southern states, and there is a great rivalry among them," writes Jennifer Steinhauer in her New York Times article about edibles offered in Congressional offices. Find out whether she's talking about the politicians or the snacks: A Taste of Home on Capitol Hill.

• Eater New York does truly wonderful things with a scathing review from New York Times critic Sam Sifton of Imperial No. 9. It's even better than the pictorial guide to Sifton jabs: The Year in Sam Sifton Burns, Barbs and Zingers.

• Jumbo Slice lands on a map of "Amazing Pizzas Across the US" alongside the smoked-caviar-and-salmon pie at Spago and Vermont's all-natural flatbreads. Did the writer have five too many at Madam's Organ before judging? The picture proves yes, yes he did: Famous Pizza

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.