Weekend Reading: Bodega Gourmet, 47-Layer Super Bowl Dip, and More

A look at what we're reading, cooking, and clicking this week

Jessica Saia

• With these elegantly styled photographs Jessica Saia pokes a bit of fun at food purists, proving that gorgeous gourmet meals can be created with ingredients from the local corner store or bodega. All you need is Spam, Tostitos queso dip, Flamin' Hot Cheetos, Corn Nuts, and a little bit of imagination to whip up an elegant main course [pictured above]. —Anna Stockwell

• I've been catching up on the work of my old pal Leah Gauthier, a foodie/farmer artist whose medium is produce, specifically rare and endangered heirloom fruits and vegetables that she grows, harvests, and manipulates into various forms and installations using ropes, hooks, bags, and pots. She also serves them, raw, cooked, or preserved, at gallery and museum events, not only to make cool things using cool living objects, but in order to raise awareness about their unique deliciousness and, hopefully, to help them survive. Lately, her project has been the revival of the Marshall strawberry. Called the world's tastiest by James Beard but a bit too delicate for industrial agricultural practices, this sweet little berry was in danger of extinction a few years ago. Leah and others have brought it back, and now, for a limited time only, they're offering the plants for sale, so strawberry lovers like me can grow my own. —Betsy Andrews

• Superbowl's just around the corner, folks, which cues the food obsessed to go to any lengths to make themselves part of the action. Mario Batali constructs a Super Bowl scene using meat, bread, and ravioli (for pillows, of course). And on Good Morning America, Buzzfeed.com food editors demonstrate how to make their 47-layer dip in honor of the 47th Super Bowl. Basically, put 47 things. In layers. In a bowl. So, um, that happened. —Sophie Brickman

• A great new excuse for my Orbit habit: Chewing gum is actually good for your brain, at least according to a Japanese study referenced in the Daily Mail_. —Cory Baldwin_

• Another one for the "Well, This Exists" file: Vodka packaged in a juice box, complete with sippy straw. —Helen Rosner

• Fellow food nerds! Are you aware of the website of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance? Here you'll find essays and recipes from state fairs—cottage cheese breakfast pie from Illinois; pork and chile tamales from Missouri--and podcasts, papers, and recipes from past conferences (have you ever wondered what a crown roast of frankfurters might look like? Wonder no more!). If, like me, the worlds hinted at on this website thrill you, be sure to read up on the group's American Midwest Foodways Scholar's Grants. —Karen Shimizu

• Having just tried Widow Jane bourbon for the first time a few weeks ago, I can already count it as one of my favorites. This despite the fact that it's distilled far from the bluegrass hills of Kentucky, right here in New York. I was even more impressed when I read the story of its founder, Daniel Preston, in a recent issue of_ Edible Brooklyn_. The piece starts out with the line: "Daniel Preston's life sounds like a work of fiction." But after reading it, and tasting his bourbon, I'm sure you'll be glad it's true. —Keith Pandolfi

• I loved flipping back in time to this profile of Mayor Ed Koch in his New York City kitchen, written by Georgia Freedman for SAVEUR issue 100. I was especially touched by his satisfying but no-frills cooking style, honed as a lifelong bachelor, which is well represented in his recipe for broiled swordfish steak that ran with the story. I once saw Mayor Koch at my local supermarket on the Upper West Side—it was obviously very exciting for everyone! Little did I know that he, too, was shopping for one. —Gabriella Gershenson

• I am among those who watch the Super Bowl as an excuse to eat and drink with my friends. So in my mind, it's less about Baltimore vs. San Francisco and more about, well, food. So I found these two articles about Game Day consumption, from NPR and the Huffington Post, respectively, quite interesting: Will classic chicken wings stay ahead as the most consumed finger food, or is the avocado rising up to take the lead? The game is on! —Elsa Saaatela

• When I visited Alaska last fall to go salmon fishing with a crew of bloggers and writers, the sensory experience was almost overwhelming: spruce and dirt, icy morning mist, rough seawater, and the ferric tang of blood as we gutted just-caught rockfish and halibut on the deck our fishing boat. One of my fellow travelers was Aran Goyoaga of the blog Canelle et Vanille—she may have only just put up her photos from the trip, but they're so richly beautiful, so evocative of our four days on the water, that all those sense memories came flooding back. —Helen Rosner

• Earlier this week the folks at First We Feast put on their trending hats and forecast 2013 as "Year of the Nacho," and I can't say I'll have any complaints if they turn out to be right. Check out their interview with chef Dale Talde (of SAVEUR staff favorite Talde and the aptly named Pork Slope) as he dishes on the do's and don'ts of nachos. —Cory Baldwin

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