Wu-Tang Flan, 10 Types of Foodies, and Squirrel for Supper: Eating & Reading

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

The omnivore’s dilemma, indeed. Would Michael Pollan eat squirrel? Photograph courtesy of Alia Malley

Todd Kliman, food and wine editor

• Mmmm, just what I want to dig into on a cold, winter day: ash, the new It ingredient. And not just ash—artisanal ash! Key Ingredient: Ash 

• Crunchy-trendy types think eating local is all about cheeses and chickens from local farms. This Seattle woman has a more traditional notion of local—one that Michael Pollan and others might turn up their freshly exfoliated noses at, but which speaks right to the heart of what they so high-mindedly champion. I can almost taste her risotto di rodentia now: Eastern gray squirrel braised in Lopez Island white wine, with mushrooms and rice. Dinner gets very local for squirrel-eating Seattleite

• The feisty Alice Feiring weighs in on natural wine on her blog. “It’s about as much white noise,” she writes, “as the anti-war movement in 1970.” I like this for several reasons: A) I hope she’s right, and that natural wines continue to gain the following they deserve, and 2) You have to love a writer who refers to things that happened 40 years ago as if they were still part of popular consciousness. Natural wine movement, just noise?

Ann Limpert, food and wine editor
• Echoes of Arrested Development’s Cornballer machine: In a story that is every food editor’s nightmare, the BBC reports that a court in Chile has ruled that newspaper La Tercera should be held accountable for printing a churros recipe with a too-high oil temperature. Thirteen people were burned—some severely—when the hot oil exploded, and the newspaper has been ordered to pay out damages. Chile Exploding Churros Recipe Case Solved

• I keep looking for a link to The Onion on this one, but alas, it seems to be true: Japanese outposts of Wendy’s will be slinging burgers larded with foie gras and truffles. Vanity Fair points out they will sell for only about $16, which is nothing when compared to other moronically Marie Antoinette–style creations, such as a $1,000 bagel with truffled cream cheese and gold leaves in New York. Foie Gras at Wendy’s? How . . . Inspired! How Other Chains Could Follow Suit

Jessica Voelker, online dining editor
• This week found me finishing off a restaurant meal with an $11 ramekin of apple crumble so small that trying to share it nearly brought my dining partner and me to blows. Note to self: Crumbles are, by design, meant to be inexpensive and simple to prepare. Start making your own. Note to John Besh and Esquire’s Eat Like a Man blog: Thanks for the recipe. The Vacation Recipe: John Besh’s Apple and Pear Crumble 

• I don’t want to be pushy and use the phrase “required reading,” but over on Gilt Taste, Francis Lam has created a roundup of favorite 2011 food stories I think anyone interested in culinary coverage will find edifying and enjoyable. Our Favorite Stories from 2011

 Margaret Talbot begins her New Yorker profile of Portlandia co-creator/star Carrie Brownstein with a recap of one of my favorite scenes from the show: the one in which a couple at a Portland restaurant fall down deep into the locavore rabbit hole. As anyone who has dined in Portland will tell you: It’s funny ’cause it’s true. Stumptown Girl 

Sophie Gilbert, associate arts editor
• Happy holidays! Here’s a depressing Mark Bittman column about why the FDA has effectively neutered itself, along with a few horrible statistics: 1) when you buy meat at the supermarket, there’s a 25 percent chance it contains a potentially fatal, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 2) 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the US are given to farm animals. Bacteria 1, FDA 0

• In case you’re feeling grossed out enough to cut out meat for New Year, Bittman also offers this: his guide on going “semi-vegan.” No Meat, No Dairy, No Problem

• In cheerier news, NPR finds that you might actually be able to eat yourself smarter (I can haz cheezburger?). Is There Really Such a Thing as Brain Food?

• And finally, this week, EcoSalon gives us a nice breakdown of the ten different kinds of foodies (I’m definitely type one). Foodie Underground: The 10 Types of Foodies (And What to Do with Them)

Anna Spiegel, assistant food and wine editor

•It’s almost 2012, and you know what that means: list time! We at The Washingtonian love a good list—as you can tell from (shameless plug alert!) our new 100 Very Best Restaurants issue, currently on newsstands.

•Is Wu-Tang Flan truly incredible? VH1 has an unappetizing yet interesting list of this past year’s most “incredible” foods. The 25 Most Incredible Foods Of 2011

Stefon! Sandra Lee swearing! Eater, master of the listicle, has a roundup of the dozen best food videos of the year. The Top Twelve Must-Watch Food Videos of 2011

2011: The Year’s Most Scathing Restaurant Reviews is a good read, as well. 

• And over at Gizmodo, there’s a review of the nuttiest food-related articles this year, including that one about the poop burger and that other one about eggs made in a waffle iron.  The Best Crazy Food Stories of the Year

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.

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.