Marion Nestle on Protein, David Chang on Bourbon, and America on a Bender: Eating & Reading

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

Paul Deen’s diabetes made headlines this week. Photograph courtesy of

Todd Kliman, food and wine editor

• I love when people say, “I only read the Times,” because it gives me a chance to trot out a story like this one. In the Gray Lady’s grand old tradition of probing, thoughtful reporting: a considered examination of binge drinking. With a map! America’s Drinking Binge

• The federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers in 1992: $2.13 per hour. The federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers in 2012: $2.13 per hour. The Web site Moms Rising reports that “while employers are supposed to make sure tips make up the difference between $2.13 and $7.25 (the federal minimum wage for non-tipped workers) . . . enforcement is difficult, and tip theft—when restaurant owners take a cut of employees’ tips—is a major problem. Further, tips are very inconsistent, varying widely by day, week, and season, which leaves restaurant workers vulnerable to the $2.13-per-hour base pay.” Read the stories.

• Marilyn Chin poem about how “to love squid despite squid.” The Floral Apron

• An interesting but exhausting (who said the Web is for quick-hit items?) look at the economics of reservations. Restaurant Reservations: The Cost of Admission

• A pissy little lecture from renowned nutritionist and professor Marion Nestle about the rampant misuse of “protein” as a synonym for meat and fish. I know Nestle is well regarded on these matters, but Jesus—a spoonful of sugar and all that . . . sweetener; I meant sweetener. No, I didn’t. I meant naturally occurring fructose . . . Aw, hell. Once and for All, Protein Is a Nutrient, Not a Synonym for Meat 

Ann Limpert, food and wine editor

• Sophie Brickman, a line cook at Gramercy Tavern in New York, tells the behind-the-scenes tale of what happens in the kitchen when the First Lady drops in for some pasta. It also reminded me of one of my least favorite things about working as a cook: the Saran Wrap belt. When Michelle Obama Came to Lunch

• David Chang shows off his tolerance—and love of Pappy Van Winkle—in this five-minute bourbon lesson. A Slightly Intoxicated David Chang Explains Bourbon

• You think a hair is bad? Nothing kills affection for a food like finding a thumbnail clipping in it. And many years after finding just that in my pint glass at the Big Hunt, I still hate Guinness. A Serious Eats forum gathers many more stories of nasty “extra ingredients.” The Worst Thing I Ever Found in My Food 

Jessica Voelker, Online Dining Editor

• Um, you guys? This honeybee thing is getting kinda scary. Honeybee problem nearing a “critical point” 

• There are certain bottles bartenders should only reach for if they know exactly what they’re doing. Chartreuse is one. (Maybe there’s a reason they called it the Last Word. And maybe that reason is that any riffs on the recipe should be approached with extreme circumspection.) And barrel-aged gin is another. That said, I love a good Ransom old-fashioned (a new-fashioned old-fashioned, with old gin). That is why, like the awesomely named Clay Risen, I welcome brown gin’s newfound popularity “with open arms (and liver).” The Entirely Defensible Fad for Limited-Edition, Barrel-Aged Gin

• Oh, to be seated across the booth from these two. An Ode to the Radness of David Bowie Eating Peas on a Train 

 Sophie Gilbert, associate arts editor

• I’m not sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, I love Paula Deen more than life itself, and I want her to be around forever. On the other hand, the woman makes Krispy Kreme burgers, for pete’s sake. Maybe she could stop hawking ham and start hawking prescription meds? Paula’s Big Fat Secret 

• In other obesity news, NPR ponders whether a soda tax really could save 26,000 lives a year. Could a Soda Tax Prevent 26,000 Deaths per Year? 

• A.G. Sulzberger reports on the challenges of being a vegetarian in Kansas City, Missouri. “This is a part of the country—and there’s no polite way to put this—where the most common vegetable you’ll see on dinner plates is iceberg lettuce.” Someone send him a CSA box, pronto. Meatless in the Midwest: A Tale of Survival

Anna Spiegel, assistant food and wine editor

• If you can look past the stomach-turning phrase “yogurt cluster,” the New York Times has an interesting article on Greek yogurt’s impact on the New York economy. You know who else likes yogurt? WomenGreek Yogurt a Boon for New York State

• This was not a good week for eating meat. LA Weekly has details on viruses caused by bushmeat smuggling (not just for college kids, anymore); some students in Minnesota ate bad deer; and the Guardian spoils all the bacon-gobbling fun by reporting that it gives you cancer. Bacon linked to higher risk of pancreatic cancer, says report.

• And because it’s Friday: How to Open a Beer With Your Forearm.

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 Logan Circle.

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.