Weekend Reading: Culinary Country Flags, Seamus Heaney’s Food Poetry, Tasty Microbes, and More

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

You can't get much more on target, food-and-travel-wise, than these versions of national flags made from the foods for which each country is best known. Japan gets a circle of vermilion tuna; France is stripes of blue cheese, brie, and red grapes; Thailand is chile sauce, shredded coconut, and blue crab; and—of course—the good ol' U.S. of A. presents the stars and strips by way of hot dogs. —Helen Rosner

This Labor Day weekend, I am reading about the efforts of fast food workers to earn a living wage; fast-food worker strikes took place in 58 U.S. cities this past week in efforts to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. I would gladly pay more for an Egg McMuffin to see their efforts succeed. —Betsy Andrews

If, like me, you've relied for too long on repurposed take-out and yogurt containers for keeping leftovers around, it's time to read this smart, surprising round-up of the best food storage containers out there by Ganda Suthivarakom. Startlingly comprehensive—it tops out at 6,000 words (before footnotes!)—it's kind of like what I imagine an Tupperware review by David Foster Wallace would have looked like. —Karen Shimizu

When I found out Irish poet Seamus Heaney had died, my thoughts turned to his sultry, dark poem Oysters, written for the culinary poetry collection The Hungry Ear. Though he may not be best remembered for musings on food, his haunting words about eating the bivalve, "Alive and violated" as "Leaning in from the sea. I ate the day" seem especially apropos as they capture the temporality of pleasure and life. Read the full poem here or watch his reading on Youtube. _ –Felicia Campbell_

To brag a little, I'm something of a burger connoisseur; hands down, it is my favorite food. I've had the burgers that require five napkins, burgers that reside under golden arches, greasy spoon truck stop burgers, and burgers made by the heavyweight contenders of the chef world like Daniel Boulud and Wolfgang Puck—but none of them can hold a candle to the awesome splendor that is In-N-Out. Every year I have a agonizing countdown until the Christmas holidays sweep me west to Las Vegas. My first stop is always this heaven-on-earth for an Animal-style burger. Thanks to this aricle from the LAT about In-N-Out's secret menu, now I'm looking forward to going Animal-style on my fries, too. —Kellie Evans

After taking a class on sourdough taught by a microbiologist at the King Arthur Flour Baking Center, I've been more interested than usual in my favorite foods at a microscopic level. So I was captivated when I came across this gallery of food-friendly microbes on—otherworldly images of the yeasts and bacteria that make sour beer, blue cheese, and miso soup possible. —Laura Sant

Whenever I make my annual drive from New York to my mom's house in Florida for Christmas, I stop at South of the Border, a tacky rest area/amusement park near Dillon, South Carolina, that has long served as an astonishingly misguided take on all things Mexican. But I don't stop for sombrero key chains or fireworks. I don't even stop for gas. The exit for South of the Border also takes you to the headquarters of Blenheim ginger ale, by far the spiciest, most gingery ale on the market as far as I can tell. I usually buy a case, pop one open in the car, and drink the rest at mom's house during the week. This recent essay in the Oxford American, "Spice World: Notes on the South's Deadliest Ginger Ale," makes me want to pack up the car and head for the border right now. —Keith Pandolfi

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