The Extremely ’90s History of the Flavored Latte

If, like me, you occasionally revisit Nora Ephron’s 1998 rom-com classic You’ve Got Mail, you may recall one iconic scene at a Starbucks in New York City’s West Village. Bookstore owner Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan), in a masterfully layered pinafore and t…

If, like me, you occasionally revisit Nora Ephron’s 1998 rom-com classic You’ve Got Mail, you may recall one iconic scene at a Starbucks in New York City’s West Village. Bookstore owner Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan), in a masterfully layered pinafore and turtleneck, smiles as she awaits her soon-to-be ‘90s-viral order of a tall, skim, caramel macchiato. She’s recalling an email from Joe Fox, her AOL crush and unwitting rival played by Tom Hanks.

“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee,” Fox’s voiceover proclaims. “...So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are, can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall! Decaf! Cappuccino!”

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On Growing the Beautiful, Flavorful Curry Leaf Plant

You can Grow Your Own Way. All spring and summer, we’re playing in the vegetable garden; join us for step-by-step guides, highly recommended tools, backyard tours, juicy-ripe recipes, and then some. Let’s get our hands dirty.

It was an especially co…

You can Grow Your Own Way. All spring and summer, we’re playing in the vegetable garden; join us for step-by-step guides, highly recommended tools, backyard tours, juicy-ripe recipes, and then some. Let’s get our hands dirty.


It was an especially cold and sunless April in Chicago this year when Margaret Pak brought home her young curry leaf plant, so she decided to take it into the bathroom a few times when she showered to mimic the tropical air it’s used to (in India and Southern Asia), based on a tip from a local nursery.

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Bouillon Powder Is Your Pantry’s New Secret Weapon

Have you ever known the acute panic that comes from calling your favorite takeout place only to learn the line has been disconnected? Faced with the prospect of never tasting the world’s best—that’s right, best—chicken shawarma ever again, you may slip…

Have you ever known the acute panic that comes from calling your favorite takeout place only to learn the line has been disconnected? Faced with the prospect of never tasting the world’s best—that’s right, best—chicken shawarma ever again, you may slip into denial, as I did. Maybe you drive by the shuttered storefront a few times, desperate for signage indicating this is only temporary. Then you begin ordering shawarma after shawarma, hoping someone else miraculously makes it exactly the same—garlicky, redolent of lemon and warming turmeric, and unmistakably chickeny.

Eventually, you have to move on, or, in my case, get in the kitchen and tinker until your weekly shawarma injection is restored. After several unsuccessful trials and far too much time spent scouring the internet for shawarma variations, I stumbled across chef and cookbook author Molly Yeh’s recipe for chicken shawarma tacos, which called for a sprinkling of that vintage pantry denizen: bouillon powder.

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Dry Lambrusco Is Delicious—Why Is It Also So Hard To Find?

I can pinpoint the only moment I’ve ever felt cool in the presence of a bartender: It was early summer 2018 at a casual yet self-serious bar in my native Chicago, and I ordered a dry Lambrusco. “I love Lambrusco,” he said, affirming my early-adopter st…

I can pinpoint the only moment I’ve ever felt cool in the presence of a bartender: It was early summer 2018 at a casual yet self-serious bar in my native Chicago, and I ordered a dry Lambrusco. “I love Lambrusco,” he said, affirming my early-adopter status for the first and last time. “I want to get everyone drinking it.” 

A far cry from the cloying, bulk-produced juice that dominated the category in the 1970s and ’80s, the new guard of Lambrusco from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region represents everything I like in a wine: A chilled, low-ABV red with a gentle, prickly fizz, it’s equal parts no-brainer and deserving of deep contemplation. It’s low intervention and artisanally made, and almost always under $20 a bottle. It’s delicious with pizza, cured snacks, and richly sauced pastas—or all by itself at 5 in the afternoon. It’s also still irritatingly hard to find.

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Meet the Black Cannabis Innovators Revolutionizing Legal Weed

In The Green Scene, there’s no such thing as a silly question about cannabis. What’s the difference between THC and CBD? How the heck do I make edibles at home? What home design advice can dispensaries teach me? Kick back—we have the answers.

Drinks…

In The Green Scene, there's no such thing as a silly question about cannabis. What's the difference between THC and CBD? How the heck do I make edibles at home? What home design advice can dispensaries teach me? Kick back—we have the answers.


Drinks industry veteran Darnell Smith started making himself THC tinctures about 10 years ago, mostly out of necessity. Working in spirits innovation and commercialization with beverage giants like Pernod Ricard and Diageo meant his days often started with trying new liquid concoctions for trademarks and ended in happy hours with colleagues, followed by meetups with liquor distributors or dropping in on bar accounts.

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What Does a World-Famous Bartender Drink First Thing in the Morning?

First Things First is a series chronicling the morning beverage routines of some of our favorite people.

What can you learn about a person from their coffee mug collection? If that someone is Aaron Polsky, the Los Angeles–based founder of ready-to-d…

First Things First is a series chronicling the morning beverage routines of some of our favorite people.


What can you learn about a person from their coffee mug collection? If that someone is Aaron Polsky, the Los Angeles–based founder of ready-to-drink cocktail company LiveWire Drinks, you’d rightfully surmise that he’s a loving cat dad with an affinity for rock and roll, Larry David’s bristly sense of humor, and old-school Nintendo games. But then, as you make your way toward the back of the shelf, you may wonder about an outlier cup adorned with ballet slippers and more text than a Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle. Don't worry, there’s a story behind that one, too.

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The Almost Lost, Cult Favorite Cuisinart Magazine

Over breakfast some months ago, my friend Ina Pinkney, former chef-owner of iconic, bygone Chicago breakfast restaurant Ina’s, pressed a small stack of Cooking magazines into my arms. Each 52-page issue, published by Cuisinart, bore a simple, stylized …

Over breakfast some months ago, my friend Ina Pinkney, former chef-owner of iconic, bygone Chicago breakfast restaurant Ina’s, pressed a small stack of Cooking magazines into my arms. Each 52-page issue, published by Cuisinart, bore a simple, stylized food image on its cover: a bright-red apple, a canelé framed with mistletoe, a wooden forkful of fresh pasta.

“I lived for these magazines,” she sighed. “I would sit down, read the whole thing, and want to make everything in there.”

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A Love Letter to the Vastly Underrated Kidney Bean

One unexpected consequence of this year and a half of relentless home cooking is that I’ve developed an affinity for ingredient deep dives. It usually goes as follows: I’ll stumble upon a new-to-me or long-overlooked ingredient, and spend a week or so …

One unexpected consequence of this year and a half of relentless home cooking is that I’ve developed an affinity for ingredient deep dives. It usually goes as follows: I’ll stumble upon a new-to-me or long-overlooked ingredient, and spend a week or so cooking it in as many ways as possible using (mostly) what I have on hand.

A few months back, while sleepwalking through my weekly grocery store trip, an unassuming bag of dried kidney beans jolted me to attention. Why do I almost never cook with kidney beans when I’ve never met a bean I don’t like? I wondered, hopefully not out loud.

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Why Does Organic Mayo Taste Funny?

On the whole, I support buying organic foods whenever available and affordable. I welcome the occasional critter on the inner lettuce leaves; it’s his land, too. The sole, willful exception I make when buying organic is mayonnaise, because it tastes, w…

On the whole, I support buying organic foods whenever available and affordable. I welcome the occasional critter on the inner lettuce leaves; it’s his land, too. The sole, willful exception I make when buying organic is mayonnaise, because it tastes, well, weird—usually like stale nuts offset by an assertive tang.

I consider mayonnaise to be one of life’s great little flourishes, the condiment equivalent of a ruffle on a sleeve or dab of glitter on the corner of each eye. I’m also a Hellmann’s and Duke’s mayo lifer. I count on these products’ unfailing balance of creaminess, salt and tang to lend swipes of richness to turkey, ham, or tomato sandwiches, and subtle roundness to tuna salads and vinaigrettes.

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The Pesky Mushroom Cookies I Bake for Betsy, My Late Mother-in-Law

It’s mid-December somewhere on the near northwest side of Chicago. The kitchen is heady with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and fresh citrus zest, which earlier my husband and I warmed with honey and butter into a gorgeous syrup. The counter is laden with …

It’s mid-December somewhere on the near northwest side of Chicago. The kitchen is heady with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and fresh citrus zest, which earlier my husband and I warmed with honey and butter into a gorgeous syrup. The counter is laden with spice jars, measuring cups, bowls, and sheet pans—creating a disorderly frame around four brown dough mounds.

A 3-by-5-inch note card, titled “Mushroom Cookies (Lithuanian Grybai),” presides over the whole chaotic affair, handwritten in slanted blue cursive and stained from decades of use. We’ve reached the card’s second side, when the script gets smaller and more crammed as it guides us through the shaping, baking, icing, and assembly of these time-consuming little monsters.

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