Weekend Reading: Yogurt for Men, Unicorn Cake, and More

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

• Is there a single solution for combating rising obesity rates, plummeting fiscal literacy, and the decline of home cooking in US households? Why yes, says the Boston Globe: bring back Home Ec!Karen Shimizu

• File this one under Things I'm Devastated Not To Have Personally Experienced: A collective of food artists in London created Baketopia, an entirely edible installation of a fairy-tale landscape complete with meringue mushrooms, a tree hung with bird cookies, and—be still my heart—a life-sized, lifelike unicorn made from rainbow-hued layers of cake, and lucky ticket-holders got to visit—and consume—the tableau. —Helen Rosner

• Growing up in a Midwestern agricultural community myself, I found the mini-biography of one of the last dust-bowl era farmers, 98-year-old Loyd Ratts, who still climbs onto his John Deere every day, a fascinating trip through this country's history of the small farmer. —Judy Haubert

• Restaurant kitchens always scared the hell out of me. As an anxious, largely incompetent waiter in the 1980s and '90s, I dreaded entering the kitchen to check on an order or grab some ketchup from the walk-in, never knowing what insults would be hurled my way once I passed through those swinging doors. The kitchen staff was moody and arrogant, vicious and hilarious: chain-smoking workhorses who, especially when lost in the weeds, could be downright belligerent sometimes. And still I was in awe of them; loved them, really. Years later I would devour Anthony Bourdain's 2000 memoir Kitchen Confidential, relishing the invite into a world I knew damn well I would never be able to survive (thank God above I still get to write about it). Grub Street has named Bourdain's book the second best on their list of the 25 greatest food memoirs of all time--but the whole list is a must-read. —Keith Pandolfi

• So apparently there's a thing called a "manfluencer." The Wall Street Journal introduced me to the neologism this week in an article about how marketers are responding to an influx of male grocery shoppers by changing food packaging—think black labels on a new brand of Greek yogurt called Power Yogurt, complete with a slogan about abs. Jacked, protein-packed strawberry cupcakes with black frosting may be in our future. —Sophie Brickman

• At the 16th annual Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium this year, held in Mississippi, Kat Kinsman and Kim Severson took on the heated topic of cake vs pie, Kinsman making the case for "humble pie" and Severson for pie's "lovely cousin, cake." While both ladies make a strong case for each dessert, I have to say, I'm a much bigger fan of cake, both in eating it and making it. Check out the full debate and form your own opinion. —Farideh Sadeghin

• I thoroughly enjoyed reading an interview with New York restaurant critic Adam Platt about his expulsion from new spot ZZ's Clam Bar. When I clicked on the link, I expected to be faced with prima donna-style critic outrage. Instead, I was impressed at Platt's even-keeled reaction—he's seemingly more bemused than offended at being shown the door. His anecdotes about the the reaction he's gotten in the past also helped to contextualize how bizzare this incident really was. —Felicia Campbell

• When 19-year-old hunter/forager Dylan Mayer killed a giant Pacific octopus, he earned the wrath of Seattle residents who felt protective of the species, all the while incognizant that they were enjoying the same creature in an acclaimed salad at chef Matthew Dillon's Bar Sajor restaurant. As a seafood lover and an oceans-loving scuba diver, I think the apparent contradictions can be squared by some education, some sustainability, and some marine protection—even abundant and delicious ocean species need a place to hide from overfishing. So it makes good sense to me that, following the public outcry, Fish and Wildlife set aside protected areas so that the octopus population can continue to thrive. —Betsy Andrews

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