Weekend Reading: Culinary Specimen Jars, Foie Gras Myths, Cat Cafés, and More

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

Per Johanson

Dutch photographer Per Johanson took food items—from raw meat to Brussels sprouts and pasta—and stuffed them into bottles, asking viewers to reflect on modern-day materialism and overconsumption. Sites like Huffington Post have called the photographs grotesque, but I find them oddly serene and compelling, both for their visual qualities and the question they ask: What does it take to fill us up? —Zoe Schaeffer Huffington Post

We all love General Tso's Chicken for its sweet sauce and crunchy fried texture. But where did it come from? Who was General Tso? This enlightening documentary journeys throughout China and the US to trace the origins of the popular Chinese-American dish. —Michellina Jones [Animal New York]

The craft of making bread—like, really good bread—has always seemed to me to be part art, part rigorous science, and part mystic spiritual practice. "Bakers tend to be an intense, soulful lot," notes this article from the New York Times on the resurgence of artisanal bread. Listen to these bakers wax poetic about einkorn, miche, and sourdough and see if you don't find yourself reborn a bread devotee—or at the very least, with a sudden craving for a slice of brioche. —Laura Sant [New York Times]

Until recently, I thought I'd have to book a ticket to Japan to experience one of their famed cat cafés for myself. That is, until Purina decided to open a pop-up cat café in NYC. I braved the line to get their signature "cat'achino" and meet the café cats, who, heartwarmingly, are all up for adoption as well. The café closes after today. If you need an added incentive to brave the crowd, all cat-petting and drinks are gratis. —Marshall Bright [EATER]

Take a moment to hear out Ariane Daguin of D'Artagnan as she attempts to quash myths about controversial foie gras in her interview with First We Feast (who knew that ducks had no gag reflex?). It just might get you to reconsider your thoughts on foie gras and give it a try. Or not. —Farideh Sadeghin [First We Feast]

Did you know 40% of the produce grown in the United States goes uneaten? A big reason why—according to a recent Newsweek article—is it just ain't pretty enough to lure grocery stores into buying it. Blemished apples, misshapen tomatoes, crooked cucumbers and two-legged carrots, all of them tend to turn consumers off. Now Doug Roach, the former president of Trader Joe's, has a plan. He's opening a shop in Boston called The Daily Table, which will sell so-called ugly food in delicious, good-for-you prepared meals, all of them at prices comparable to fast food. — Keith Pandolfi Newsweek

I love the Wall Street Journal's new series "Message in a Bottle", in which notable writers weigh in on a random bottle of booze. The first contributor, Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, writing about the herbal liqueur Génépy des Alpes. It's a wonderfully eccentric review, with recipes like "The Ricola", made with 1 part Génépy des Alpes and 3 parts vodka, "strained into the waiting arms of my charming wife." I can't wait for the next installment. —Karen Shimizu [Wall Street Journal]

Huffpo shared a list of 10 Mind-blowing Food Trends Already Dominating 2014 and while most of them are as downright abhorrent as I expected them to be (what is with the Taco Bell breakfast waffle? And bacon is over already, okay?) the ramen-crusted chicken wings do sound pretty amazing. —Felicia Campbell [Huffington Post]

Tired of chugging down that annoying "liquid" component of your favorite cocktail? The possibilities of palcohol—powdered alcohol, made by adhering ethanol to a dehydrated carbohydrate base—might just revolutionize the bar scene of the future. But representatives for the Federal Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco said that approvals of the product, which were announced earlier this week, were in error, so we'll all have to wait just a little longer for the Tom Collins or Whiskey Sour version of Lik-m-Aid Fun Dip. In the meantime, study up on how to make it yourself with Popular Science's handy guide. —Judy Haubert [Popular Science]