Food and Drink

Russian PBR & Other European Binge Drinkers

Curated by CLAI

RUSSIAN PBR? Pabst Brewing, owner of some of the most well-loved, all-American, blue-collar brews in the country, will soon be bought by a Cyprus-based beverage conglomerate that calls itself the biggest independent brewer in Russia. The iconic brand behind Pabst Blue Ribbon, the red-white-and-blue-canned lager founded in Milwaukee before the Civil War, announced late last week that it will be bought by Oasis Beverages, which runs breweries in Moscow, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

Soon, none of these will be fully owned by American-based companies.

Soon, none of these will be fully owned by American-based companies. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

HEAVIEST EUROPEAN BINGE DRINKERS: Ireland is no surprise, but French binge drinking is one the rise. Other heavy drinkers include Belgium, Czech Republic, Austria, Finland, and Greece.

Prevalence of Binge Drinking in Europe

Prevalence of Binge Drinking in Europe (WHO 2010/WAPO)

History of Eggs and Jeans

Curated by CLAI

BLUE JEANS: The nation’s devotion to denim is wearing thin. Sales fell a significant 6% over the last year after decades of steady growth since Marlon Brando’s 1950s.

  • Sales of yoga pants and other active wear climbed 7% in the same period. Everyone wants to look like they’re running to the gym, even if they’re not.
  • Blue jeans’ fade could also be due to a lack of new styles since brightly colored skinnies hit the market several years ago.
Levi's didn't even call them "jeans" until after James Dean wore them. Would he have preferred stretch fabrics and elastic waistbands?

James Dean in Jeans (AP)

WASH EGGS: About a 100 years ago, many people around the world washed their eggs. But there are a lot of ways to do it wrong, so the method got a bad reputation in certain parts of the world.

  • By 1970, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had perfected the art of the wash with the help of fancy machines, and it required all egg producers to do it to prevent salmonella.
  • Meanwhile, many European countries were prohibiting washing, as egg-laying hens are vaccinated against salmonella.
  • Asian countries never got on board with it. The exception was Japan, which joined the egg-washers after a bad spate of salmonella in the 1990s.
To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? It boils down to bacteria, aesthetics and how much energy you're willing to use.

Refrigerated v. room temperature eggs (Robert S. Donovan; Flickr / Alex Barth; Flickr)

Bye Bye iPod. Bye Bye Cereal.

Curated by CLAI

1,000 SONGS IN YOUR POCKET: $400 was more than my car payment, but I didn’t care. This iPod — whatever that meant — was beautiful, and I wanted it bad. It promised the never-ending mix tape, the opportunity to program a radio station that served a market of one: Fountains of Wayne to Janet Jackson to Nirvana to Alan Jackson to the Pretenders? No problem.

Breakfast (Catherine A Cole, NYTimes)

SNACK CRACKLE POP: Cereal, that bedrock of the American breakfast, has lost some of its snap, crackle and pop. For the last decade, the cereal business has been declining, as consumers reach for granola bars, yogurt and drive-through fare in the morning.

  • The drop-off has accelerated lately, especially among those finicky millennials who tend to graze on healthy options.
  • Birthrate is declining — and children traditionally have been the largest consumers of cereal.
  • Many surveys have shown that Latinos and Asians prefer other breakfast foods.
  • General Mills is marketing its iconic cereals as family brands in an appeal to nostalgia: Adults account for almost half of the consumption of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Dogs or Cats? Tofu Fish McNuggets?

Curated by CLAI

DOG OR CAT COUNTRY? Overall, cats are the favored pet in most of Western Europe, with the exception of Spain, Portugal and Ireland. South America is strictly dog country, as is much of Asia.

  • Top Dog Loving States: Arkansas, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma
  • Top Cat Loving States: Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Vermont, District of Columbia
Dog Cat Countries

Dog Cat Countries (Euromonitor)

TOFU & FISH MCNUGGETS? McDonald’s Japan rolled out a doppelganger of Chicken McNuggets made from tofu and minced fish on Wednesday.

  • Tofu Shin-jo McNugget is made from minced white fish, tofu, edamame, soybeans, carrots and onions. Shaped just like regular Chicken McNuggets, these tofu-and-fish nuggets taste fluffy inside and crispy outside, and come with a ginger-flavored sauce that has a “refreshing” taste.
  • Made in Japanese factories, the tofu nuggets are available for $2.44 for four pieces.
  • McDonald’s has been localizing its menu items around the world: cheese quiche in Brazil, red bean pie in China, beef-less potato-patty burgers in India.

Wine by Prison Inmates & Cuisine by Camera

Curated by CLAI

KILLER WINE BY THE MAFIA: 18 miles off Tuscany’s coast, Gorgona is Italy’s last island prison – where its inmates serving 30-year sentences for murders and serious crimes make the region’s best wines.

  • “In other prisons I was locked up for 22 hours a day in a cell 2-by-3 yards wide. Here I’m outdoors from morning to night.” Prinzi, who’s 43, is serving a 25-year sentence for murder.
  • Gorgona Prison director Carlo Mazzerbo is a staunch environmentalist who says Gorgona is an ideal place to discuss issues such as organic farming, vegetarianism and animal rights. He believes inmates should be encouraged to take part in the dialogue.
  • Wine writers chatter and mingle with prison guards and inmates as long-stemmed glasses are filled with an amber-colored liquid. Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi is hosting a wine-tasting under a pergola on a terrace overlooking the sea.
  • Frescobaldi has signed a 15-year winemaking agreement with Gorgona. And he says he’s willing to hire some of these workers once they’re released.
Italian Wine by Inmates

Marquise Lamberto Frescobaldi (right), of the winemaking dynasty, talks with prisoners Brian Baldissin (left) and Francesco Papa at his vineyard on Gorgona island (NPR)

CAMERA CUISINE: A side effect of the digital age in food photography, camera cuisine is any dish that was inspired by a picture or aspires to be one. “It’s become a visual medium. We’re eating with our eyes first.” Digital food photography is a cheap marketing tool as well. A snapshot of a new dish uploaded last night can cause a bump in reservations this afternoon.

Digital Food Photography

Digital Food Photography (NYTIMES)