Stinky Lunches and Starbucks Restroom Rumors: Eating & Reading

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

Kelefa Sanneh takes a circumspect look at java zealotry in this week’s New Yorker.

Todd Kliman, food and wine editor

• Do we know that eating at the likes of IHOP, Applebee’s and Chili’s is bad for you? Of course we do. But raise your hand if you knew that the innocently named Bistro Shrimp Pasta at Cheesecake Factory is tantamount to eating three-plus sticks of butter. Men’s Health boss David Zinczenko investigates. 8 Scariest Restaurant Meals

• Richard Florida, the professor and “creative class” guru, brings out a self-serving analysis of why great restaurants are clustered where they are. Florida believes societies with a sizable “creative class” are more open and tolerant, and hence more likely to produce great restaurants. I wish I had this kind of free time to waste. Great food can be found the world over, but great restaurants—as defined by the likes of Michelin and other self-styled tastemakers—are largely a product of the sort of affluence and leisure we in Europe, America, and Japan are lucky to enjoy. It ain’t that complicated, doctor. The Geography of Great Restaurants

• Scriptwriter Jason Kessler has a rant about being hustled out at dinner by table-turning restaurants. You should have a look at my inbox sometime, Jason; a week’s worth of e-mails and those wily GMs and restaurant insiders will have you questioning your fidelity to the “social contract” you invoke and even doubting your own motives in putting your thoughts on paper. I’m Sick of Feeling Rushed at Restaurants

Jessica Voelker, online dining editor

• The power of the third place: In Anacostia, a neighborhood rallies around Uniontown Bar & Grill after the owner is arrested on drug charges. Solidarity in Anacostia after drug arrest

• It’s always a happy day when the New Yorker’s food issue shows up. In this one, staff writer Kelefa Sanneh profiles world-famous coffee guru Aida Battle and dives into the “third wave” coffee moment—an “imprecise term,” according to Sanneh, “since it reduces hundreds of years of coffee history to a few decades of American whims.” Sacred Grounds

• If you haven’t been following the Starbucks-are-closing-restrooms-to-the-public-no-wait-no-they’re-not story, Grub Street has you covered. Starbucks Says Public Bathroom Closing Reports Are Pure Crap

Sophie Gilbert, associate arts editor

• This sounds like a stellar vacation idea. Lucky, lucky Matt Gross gets to do two of the best things in the world: travel to the West Indies and taste-test condiments. I’ll Have the Red: Hot Sauce, Island by Island

• I’ve long thought that the main difference between the professional chef and the amateur is the former’s ability to improvise. So it’s interesting to read this take on intuitive home cooking. Revealed–how to master cookery without using recipes

• Congress says pizza is a vegetable, which is one of the most ridiculous things it has done in what might be its most absurd year ever. Rep. Earl Blumenauer expounds on why this is so utterly silly. Congress Says Pizza and French Fries Are Vegetables!

• Best link ever: Toast sandwich is UK’s ‘cheapest meal’

Anna Spiegel, assistant food and wine editor

• As the only kid who brought sushi to my first-grade lunchroom (in a large, fish-shaped lunch bag), I appreciate this CNN article. The Kid With the Stinky Lunch

• Thomas Madrecki comes away from six weeks in the world-famous Noma kitchen with heightened expectations, and not just for restaurants. Food for Thought, What I Learned From 6 Weeks in Noma’s Kitchen

• If you like William Shatner, fire, and the words “dingle dangle” as much as I do, then you’ll love this video from State Farm on the perils of deep-frying turkey, dubbed “Eat, Fry, Love.”

• The Awl captures the Today Show’s hard-hitting report on pesky wild turkeys, which, a “gobbler expert” says, can knock over the elderly and the young. Turkeys Better at Sensing Your Mood Than Your Boyfriend Is

• Now where’s that video? Thank you, YouTube. “When Wild Turkeys Attack Indian People”

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.