Weekend Reading: Moroccan Saffron, Skyscrapers for Bees, and More

What we’re reading, cooking, and clicking now

• Jeff Koehler wrote a fascinating article on the Saffron producers of Morocco in this month's Saudi Aramco World. Exactly when the Moroccan pantry staple, native to Asia Minor, originally made its way to North Africa is still up for debate, but we do know that it was Moroccan traders who initially introduced the spice to Spain in 900 AD. Morocco's saffron production is only a fraction Iran's, but the country's precious orchid stamens, plucked by hand in the town of Taliouine, are some of the finest in the world. —Felicia Campbell

[pictured] Brooklyn's Court Street Grocers is one of my all-time favorite places to buy food—and I love them even more for I Like Your Package, a Tumblr featuring the package design of some of their favorite projects, including one of my all-time favorite cereal boxes, Quisp. —Helen Rosner

• Xan Rice's article in this week's New Yorker profiling Somali chef Ahmed Jama is equal doses terrifying and enlightening. The chef, who escaped his war torn country for England as a teenager, has returned to Mogadishu to open up a restaurant and a beachside hotel, despite the fact that his family is still in England and his establishments have been repeatedly targeted by the terrorist group the Shabaab. He is resolute that he needs to stay in his homeland, feeding people and proceeding as normal, despite horrific attacks in a society still very much in upheaval. —Sophie Brickman

The vibrant dinner and dance scene that thrived in Bombay in the 1960's is the focus of Roshni Bajaj's latest story—it was a time when teenagers could pop out for espresso and hot dogs and then get down to Connie Francis and Helen Shapiro. Through her father's memories of the time and place, Bajaj leads us on a tour of the city's glamorous old clubs and hotel restaurants, which often served European-influenced dishes like "beef strips in creamy sauce flambeed in brandy" or simpler snacks of cheese in puff pastry, in place of Indian food. There are charming details of the international food and drink culture that was part of this scene, but as Bajaj notes "the dancing was more important than the drinking." —Tejal Rao

• I've been thoroughly enjoying the Smithsonian's "Design Decoded" blog posts by Jimmy Stamp, who often touches on the intersection of food and design. Lately, Stamp has covered skyscrapers for honey bees; famous architects' designs for McDonald's franchies; and the Pepsi-Cola corporate campus in Japan which, in 1970, included a geodesic dome that was given over to E.A.T ("Experiments in Art and Technology"), a group of artists who successfully concealed the building in a man-made cloud. —Karen Shimizu

• If your Twitter feed, like mine, has been awash in comments about that other sandwich story, perhaps this will restore your faith in the lunchtime staple: Stately Sandwiches is a series of beautiful snapshots of disassembled sandwiches, one to represent each state. We've mentioned the site on before, but since the last time we featured checked in, blogger Kelly has been busy and she's now up to 30 installments. —Laura Sant

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