Weekend Reading: Tipping Waiters, Tipping Cows, and More

What we're reading, cooking, and clicking this week

David Wile and April Maciborka

• The Virgin Mary has appeared in a slice of toast, Jesus has graced every kind of food from a grape to a cod cake, but I do think that, thanks to Glascow, Scotland pizzaiolo Domenico Crolla, this is the first time anyone's been able to espy the designer Tom Ford on pizza pie. —Betsy Andrews

New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells confronts the issue of tipping in restaurants this week. He claims the practice to be outdated, confusing, and often discriminatory, and suggests that we change the system so restaurants include a surcharge in the bill or menus with prices that include the cost of service, a la Chez Panisse and Per Se. As someone who's spent more than 7 years working in restaurants, both in the kitchen and running the front of house, I tend to agree that perhaps a gratuity revolution is on the horizon. —Farideh Sadeghin

• My favorite story on tipping this week wasn't from Pete Wells; rather, it was Modern Farmer's exposé on cow-tipping. They debunk the phenomenon as pure myth, concluding: "cow tipping is essentially a muddier, drunker, and more dangerous version of the snipe hunt."—Karen Shimizu

• When I was a student at the French Culinary Institute, I apprenticed myself to Dave Arnold, the school's then-director of culinary technology, which basically meant that he spent his days in a converted closet and shot nitrous oxide at things, or used a rotary evaporator to make clear lime juice, or figured out how to create a carbonated gin-and-tonic that wasn't actua diluted with tonic water. I'm thrilled that a long-term project of his, The Museum of Food and Drink, is finally coming to fruition. One of the exhibitions will feature Puritan Manufacturing's cereal puffing gun, which uses heat and pressure to puff rice and grains, and, as a recent New Yorker blog post discusses, the tool "embodies, in profound ways, the industrialization and commercialization of American food." —Sophie Brickman

[Pictured above] Ten photos of unhappy babies tasting lemons for the first time. Hilarious. —Chelsea Pomales

• There's something instantly iconic about the fast-food architecture of the 1970s and '80s—and it's especially wonderful to encounter a building that was obviously built to house, say, a Pizza Hut, that's been repurposed into something mundane like an insurance office. The readers of the San Francisco Chronicle's blog The Big Gate share my affection for the phenomenon, documenting dozens of former Taco Bell franchises—all of which share the same arched brickwork and sloping roof—in their new incarnations as restaurants selling sushi, Thai food, barbecue, and more. —Helen Rosner

• I got completely sucked into this video Q&A with the former and current restaurant critics of the New York Times. A series of quick soundbites, the video features Ruth Reichl, William Grimes, Frank Bruni, Sam Sifton, and current critic Pete Wells—who remains anonymous by covering his face with a copy of the Dining section—answering questions about topics like anonymity, assigning stars, and which foods they won't touch—like honey, uni, canned asparagus, and live animals. (Frank Bruni's description of eating a live shrimp, in particular, convinced me that I do not possess the mettle for this particular job.) —Laura Sant