Link Buffet: A Hot Mess

I am fond of the term “hot mess” to describe situations that have gone so far off the rails or fallen so short of expectations that the resulting debacle is either delicious gossip or a disgusting disappointment, so I appreciated this little video from Merriam-Webster which traces the term back as far as a disgruntled journalist in 1899. This link roundup is a hot mess. My blog drafts box is a hot mess. 2016 has been a hot mess and is ending with a pot-burning bang. But let us regruntle and get on with it.

The word wine has such a hold on me that instead of being properly horrified of the wintery desperation that must have have led to turnip wine, I am… interested?

Linguistic analysis of the word “mouthfeel,” which I don’t mind, but which many people do.

Sometimes you need a little magic, a little whimsy, like the story of this man who lost his wedding ring and found it wrapped around a carrot three years later.

Ignore the tagline of this article, which purports to ruin a lush celebration of contemporary food photography with finger-wagging. Don’t be ashamed of taking pictures of your food. Revel in it, and in the romantic descriptions of photographing cupcakes and finding extra hands for a cookbook shoot.

I really enjoyed this thoughtful, nuanced take on the Bon Appétit misappropriation of Filipino halo-halo, which engages the issue of what it means for ethnic foodways to become popularized and considers the fine line between appreciation and appropriation. I unfollowed Bon Appétit’s Twitter, despite of my promotion of same last month. The description of their “reimagined” halo-halo somehow reminded me of Sandra Lee’s terrible Kwanzaa cake, and frankly I just don’t need that in my life right now.

If you can take another hit of cultural appropriation coverage, you may also appreciate this takedown of Starbucks’ sugar skull cookies.

But feel free to appropriate dead languages and bake some cuneiform cookies.

I want to read every part of this project:

Manoff was one of the 6,600 men and women, mostly young and unmarried, employed under the Federal Writer’s Project, part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Work’s Progress Administration plan to aid white-collar workers during the Great Depression. From 1937 until 1941, the FWP published the American Guide Series, books and pamphlets that detail the history and culture of all 48 contiguous states, in essay form. Published authors and unknowns alike were hired to tour a small regional slice of the country and write — simply — about the smallest nuances of the way people lived. Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright and Studs Terkel worked alongside former stenographers and unemployed secretaries; each traveling their beat, for around $41.00 every two weeks.

The interviews ran the gamut of food culture – discourses with formerly enslaved cooks resting in hot Southern kitchens and tales from the trenches of department store lunchrooms. Together, they paint a distinctive picture of how America lived—and ate — during the Depression.

Here is a short story. Ten years ago, in the summer after my first year of graduate school, I did a study-abroad program based in Rome. My class took a trip to Florence to see the Uffizi, and afterward one of my classmates and I stayed the night in Florence with plans to visit Venice the next day. It is a weekend that is burned into my memory for many reasons: in Florence we ate spinach and eggplant, and stayed in a comfortable bed-and-breakfast that smelled of sandalwood and had a private bathroom. In Venice, for much more money, we ate greasy pizza that made us ill and stayed in a dank hostel with communal showers and toilets as well as rats in the ceiling which kept us awake all night.

I digress. Before we spent the night in our sandalwood-scented room, my classmate and I went to have dinner at Guibbe Rosse, a bar that purports to have been an early meeting place for Futurists. Its walls are covered in paintings and its ample back room was being used as a rehearsal space for a theater troupe. I don’t remember what we ate–it was good, everything we ate in Florence tasted better than what we could afford in Venice–but when we tried to catch the eye of a server to get the check, it turned out to be the owner of the bar. He brought us vin santo, regaled us with stories, and insisted on walking us around the city at once to show us the nightlife.


A fond memory. Anyway, now you can see precisely what I see in my mind’s eye when I read this account of how Futurists contributed to cocktail culture.

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