Weekend Reading: Literary Drinking, Sugar Flowers, Cartoon Bento, and More

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

• I loved this essay on the Paris Review Daily blog by writer Robert Moor, (excerpted from the Kings County Guide to Urban Distillery), on the favorite libations of major writers—especially Faulkner. While working at a distillery one summer, Moor writes, "I soon became keenly aware of how an author's drink of choice could perfume the pages of a novel. Fitzgerald's very language is redolent of the gin rickey; Kerouac stinks of tequila...Wilde fumes with absinthe; while Burroughs somehow manages to isolate the weird chemical frequencies in a vodka and coke...And then there is Faulkner, the poet laureate of corn whiskey." It makes me want to curl up with a copy of Light in August and a hot toddy. —Karen Shimizu

• I tend to go through phases where I'll eat one food item for a stretch: I'll want bok choy every night with dinner, or roasted carrots with everything, or nothing but grilled cheese. Right now I'm particularly obsessed with delicata squash, and this roundup of delicata recipes from Heidi Swanson is really doing it for me. —Laura Sant

• This past September, Corey Kilgannon profiled one Harry Rosen in his Character Study column for the New York Times. The 103-year-old dines out eat for dinner each night, usually alone, and always orders the fish, spending, on average $100 per night. This week, GQ's Alan Richman took Rosen for a meal-of-a-lifetime at Eleven Madison Park (as Richman notes, Rosen predates the building in which EMP is located) and chronicled their evening together. The centenarian received visits from Chef Daniel Humm, drank three types of wine, and seemed to enjoy the meal, though he called it quits and asked for a to-go bag long before the meal was officially over. At times, Rosen pushed his own limits, trying a raw oysters for the first time—" Imagine having the courage to try your first raw oyster at his age," writes Richman. (He liked them.) At others, he stuck to his guns: instead of buying into the "carrot tartare," EMP's riff on beef tartare, in which raw carrot is pulverized in a meat grinder and then presented with 11 mix-ins, like horseradish and mustard, Rosen "didn't play around with his food. He single-mindedly ate the carrot and the solid mix-ins, one after the other." At 103, you can do precisely what you want. —Sophie Brickman

• Whenever I go to an ethnic restaurant and don't speak the language of the country whose food I'm about to eat, I get paranoid. Are the waiters mocking my manners? Did they get my order right? Will they serve me a bland, false, Americanized version of their food because I don't speak their language? Well, thanks to Chopstick and Marrow's Anne Noyes Saini and her series of audio guides that teach readers food phrases in languages such as Korean, Thai, Hindi and Spanish, I can now eat in peace. "Na nun mae uneum sick jo a ham ni da," I'll say next time I'm in Koreatown and want to make sure my bibimbap is as spicy as it's supposed to be. —Dominique Lemoine

• Remember when eggs where bad? As a breakfast cook I loathed the off menu "egg white only omelet" order that would sneak in on tickets, forcing us to add separating yolks to our morning prep list. It turns out eggs, in their entirety are a good source of protein, healthy omega 6 fats and healthy saturated fats. I love eggs. In the article "The Hunt for a Perfect Egg" I learned in their research for making a calcium rich egg, Egglands Best has found that adding marigold and alfalfa to a bird's feed makes for a bright yellow yolk. Flax seed, kelp and canola oil boost omega 3's. Too much flax seed however turns creamy yolk into a "fishy tasting" one. —Nyanyika Banda

• If I were five all over again, I'd want a homemade cartoon bento boxes every day for lunch too, though the panda sandwiches might just be too cute to eat. —Betsy Andrews

• Evolution in action? Ceti eel from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan terrifyingly come to life? The jury's still out, because Malaysian fisherman Sapar Mansor apparently just discovered a new species of…fish? Crustacean? Underwater nightmare? It's unclear what the spiny, tusked, and armored sea creature actually is, but while I wait for marine biologists to weigh in, I can't stop poring over the creepy photos. —Judy Haubert

• What do the following have in common: 195 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, 384 pounds of marinated meat, 11,000 pounds of Nutella, $75,000 worth of Campell's soup, and 42,000 pounds of Muenster cheese? According to Eatocracy, they were all victims of the most ambitious food crimes of 2013. Though the year isn't over just yet, it's hard to imagine what can top running off with $26,000 worth of bourbon or 21 tons of cheese—and getting away with it. —Melissa Hahn

• Created to call attention of Britain's rapidly disappearing wildflower meadows, Rosalind Miller—allegedly a cake maker, clearly a full-on artist—created a meadow of edible wildflowers [pictured above] so delicate that they actually sway gently in the breeze. —Helen Rosner

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