When I’m not eating, and–wait, duh–when I am eating, I’m reading. I’ve come across too many important or funny reads this week not to post them. I’ve already forwarded all of these to at least one person I know. Enjoy.

Food for thought: The Test Kitchen Challenge
Gourmet: Test Kitchen

Test kitchen chef-innovators Ian Knauer and Maggie Ruggiero face off in the first of a monthly series of competitions, wherein Gourmet-ites create a savory and sweet recipe featuring a theme ingredient. Maggie’s spicy open-face egg toast is something I would make for myself for breakfast. Every. Day. The avocado pasta seems more ingredient- and labor-intensive than I care to get into with a square foot of prep space in my Murray Hill kitchen, but my sister said she’s going to make it…

This link went to my entire family because we do this every year at Christmas–we reluctantly agree on someone’s suggestion of a theme ingredient after days of deliberation, then choose our meal/part of meal (ie breakfast, dinner salad, adult beverage). It’s the Malay Family Cooking Challenge. Past theme ingredients include bananas, chocolate, and lemon. To this day, I struggle with lemon. It was a lot of lemon. The last year everyone was home to participate was 2007, and a Feats of Strength eating challenge was added to the ritual. There were two-person (my siblings and their significant others) and individual (me) events, involving refried beans, peanut butter, and a spoonful of cinnamon, and this is quite possibly the only remaining evidence of it ever happening. Oh yeah… liquor might have been involved, too.

Credit where credit is due: A Tour Guide Tames Lunch in Midtown
NYT: Dining and Wine, June 2, 2009

While I don’t need MidtownLunch.com in my life per se–I’m fairly content with my $9.25-including-tax two roll lunch with spicy salmon and eel avocado, miso soup, and a plastic carton so packed with salad that iceberg explodes when I separate the fasteners from Iron Sushi on 3rd Avenue between 30th and 31st, and my large Wild Greens chopped romaine salad with five veggie toppings, side of blue cheese dressing, and cup of gazpacho ($10 even) that collectively take at least 7 hours to metabolize and which two cashiers and one other customer have asked if I “actually” eat by myself in one sitting, at 30th and Park–I do respect its mission of providing cheap lunch options that, for Midtown, are pretty good. Way to go, NYT and Zach Brooks!

Peevy: Things We Hate
Village Voice: Fork in the Road

I’m getting the biggest kick out of reading what two of my favorite food writers have to say about the horrible idiosyncrasies of front-of-house staff and menus (and even food writing diction). I can’t believe I missed out on commenting as these came out. It’s remarkable to me that a few of these are practices restaurants train their staffs to do–the “may I top off your mostly full glass” and the “your table is ready, we’re just not going to seat you yet” are so true. I had the pleasure of working at a restaurant where every Saturday, the chef/owner had the waitstaff come in an hour early and asked us what people were saying about the menu, food, service, and so on, as we tasted the menu and wine list so we could actually talk about it. I was young then, and I wish I knew what a rarity that would turn out to be… Anyway. I hope to see more of what the Village Voice hates.

The price we pay: Drink Up
The New Yorker: The World of Business, May 18, 2009

I read this two weeks ago, and in these two weeks, I have decidedly not purchased what I affectionately referred to, until the story ran, as $2BC or “two buck Chuck.” Dana Goodyear’s profile of winemaker Fred Franzia is brilliant because she shows-and-not-tells, and she does it well. It’s bad enough that California wine is becoming fodder for Sherman Antitrust. But when she describes Franzia’s cackling laughter as he imagines his biographer getting s*at on by a bird overheard in the fields–well, let’s just say that I read this two weeks ago and that still makes my whole body grimace.

From the “That ain’t worth s*, oh wait, maybe it is” department: 24k Gold Pills
Maybe You Shouldn’t Buy That: Food

Generate Design made it on maybeyoushouldntbuythat.com with these $429 gold pills. Ah, the gift that keeps on giving.

Supplemental reading: Lawrence Wright on Carlos Slim and Mexico
The New Yorker: News Desk, May 29, 2009

It would obviously help to read Wright’s full profile of Mexican billionaire/entrepreneur Carlos Slim first. This online-only Q&A answered a question or two I definitely came up with as I read the piece. It’s not about food, but I did read this while eating dinner.

From the archive: Batali and Bourdain Argue Over Adam Platt, the Egg Thief, and Much More
New York Magazine: Grub Street, May 18, 2007

Meow hiss! This sounds like it could have been posted last week. (I thought it was posted last week.)