Shake Shack expands, home-made turducken, Ezra Klein on junk food

A condensed reading list from this week's dining sections

By Thomas Rogers
December 16, 2009 8:17PM (UTC)
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  • In today’s New York Times: Good news for fancy-burger fans! Shake Shack, Danny Meyer's much-loved burger-and-custard stand, plans a massive, slow expansion over the next five years. By the end of that period, if all goes well (and, of course, nothing is guaranteed in the current economy), there will be 20 Shake Shacks across the United States -- and even one in, of all places, Kuwait. In case you haven’t yet experienced the Shack, which has both delicious food and highly entertaining vibrating meal “pagers,” you’re in for a treat.
  • The NYT also covers a delightful Pittsburgh wedding tradition – where, instead of a wedding-party-supplied wedding cake, guests arrive for the venue carrying tins of home-baked cookies. It's a custom with uncertain ethnic origins (possibly Italian, Eastern European, or Greek), but may have started in the Depression as a way to spread out the expense of a wedding. At the end of the night, guests swoop in with napkins or containers to take home their share of the leftovers. In a time of hyper-commercialized weddings, this kind of down-home communalism sounds both quaint, totally fun – and perfectly suited to our depressed economy.
  • The Boston Globe attempts an upscale dinner party for ten using ingredients entirely purchased at warehouse clubs like BJ’s and Costco. The menu: Scallops, lamb, and vanilla bean panna cotta with berries. The cost: $30 a head. The verdict: The meal turns out delicious, but unless you really, really love leftovers, you’re better off buying smaller amounts at more expensive stores.
  • The LA Times takes on the Christmas turducken – which, in case you don’t know it, is a boned and stuffed chicken inside a boned and stuffed duck inside a partially boned and stuffed turkey. This “glorious meat-fest” can easily be bought ready-stuffed at stores around the country, but the LAT’s Noelle Carter shows readers how to make one at home. It’s clearly a very involved process, involving lots of deboning, heaps and heaps of stuffing, and stressful-sounding turkey-stitching. The one (slightly disconcerting) convenience advantage to making a turducken: It can be “simply sliced like a loaf of bread.”
  • Ezra Klein writes about junk food, children and office workers  in the Washington Post. He argues that it makes sense for junk food to be removed from schools to fight obesity (“To some … the idea smacks of paternalism. To which the reply must be that paternalism was literally invented for children.”), why shouldn’t the same logic apply to offices? A company that pays for its employees’ healthcare costs, after all, has reasons to keep them healthy – and some, like Walmart and Safeway have already headed down that path. But ultimately, Klein concludes, such measures might cause more resentment than good, and only serve as another incentive for deeper healthcare reform.

Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers is Salon's former Arts Editor. He has written for the Globe & Mail, the Village Voice and other publications. He can be reached at @thomasmaxrogers.

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