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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Washing Meat Is Cultural, Yet Mandatory

I felt sick the first time I ate unwashed chicken.

I watched my friend de-package the chicken breast. He rinsed one side for all of one second; placed the chicken, with its package juice-water still dripping, in a baking pan; sprinkled a few seasoning…

I felt sick the first time I ate unwashed chicken.

I watched my friend de-package the chicken breast. He rinsed one side for all of one second; placed the chicken, with its package juice-water still dripping, in a baking pan; sprinkled a few seasonings then popped the pan in the oven for the breast to bake. I knew people didn’t wash their chicken, or any meat for that matter, but witnessing it was an entirely grotesque experience.

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The Healing Powers of My Grandma’s Macaroni Salad

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that’s meaningful to them and their loved ones.

It’s just a bowl of noodles. A stockpot, in my case, because I don’t have the basketb…

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that's meaningful to them and their loved ones.


It’s just a bowl of noodles. A stockpot, in my case, because I don’t have the basketball-sized Tupperware bowl my grandma uses, but it’s still just a bowl of noodles, coated with the most stereotypically American of ingredients—Miracle Whip, mayo, a little pickle relish. It’s a bowl of noodles, but now it’s something more. It’s my deliverance, my emancipation from heartbreak.

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Finding Comfort in Food, A Lesson From Nora Ephron’s ‘Heartburn’

This story was written by Noëlle de Leeuw.
“Food, I think, is my favorite thing,” Nora Ephron once said to Vogue’s food critic Jeffrey Steingarten, during an interview in her Upper East Side kitchen, “When I go somewhere, I have no desire whatsoever t…

This story was written by Noëlle de Leeuw.

“Food, I think, is my favorite thing,” Nora Ephron once said to Vogue’s food critic Jeffrey Steingarten, during an interview in her Upper East Side kitchen, “When I go somewhere, I have no desire whatsoever to see a famous Renaissance painting. I only want to go to the market and I only want to go to the restaurants. It’s all I care about.”

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What Does Unicorn Flavor Actually Taste Like?

Tenth Helpings is a humor column from our culture critic, Ella Quittner.
I am a Child of the ‘Corn. I was born in 1991 in Long Island—not on, never on—and so I spent much of my youth perusing the Lisa Frank section of our local Rite Aid. Once every fe…

Tenth Helpings is a humor column from our culture critic, Ella Quittner.

I am a Child of the ‘Corn. I was born in 1991 in Long Island—not on, never on—and so I spent much of my youth perusing the Lisa Frank section of our local Rite Aid. Once every few months, I was permitted to buy a pack of stickers, with which I would decorate everything from the plastic-sheathed diary I toted around but rarely wrote in, to the wall of my bedroom closet.

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Recreating a TWA First-Class Meal, 20 Years Later

“Do you want to carve or plate?” Matt asks me as we roll the service cart into the aisle.

We set up the cart earlier the way we learned in TWA flight attendant training: We rolled silverware into white napkins and placed warmed dinner plates beside th…

“Do you want to carve or plate?” Matt asks me as we roll the service cart into the aisle.

We set up the cart earlier the way we learned in TWA flight attendant training: We rolled silverware into white napkins and placed warmed dinner plates beside them on the second rack; the serving bowls of chateau potatoes and white asparagus sat next to the silver gravy boats of Bearnaise sauce; and in the center, the showpiece that a TWA first class dinner was famous for, a double chateaubriand. “Said to be created by Montmireil, personal chef to Viscomte Chateaubriand, the Great Writer and Statesman of the Napoleonic Era,” the menu boasted.

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My Ex Introduced Me to Arepas. They’re Now My Favorite Comfort Food.

The word “arepa” did not exist to me until three years ago. My knowledge of Latin American cuisine was limited to the Mexican food of my California hometown. We’re known for the La Victoria Taquerias and their special orange sauce, but to me, the best …

The word “arepa” did not exist to me until three years ago. My knowledge of Latin American cuisine was limited to the Mexican food of my California hometown. We’re known for the La Victoria Taquerias and their special orange sauce, but to me, the best Mexican place is a cash-only stand with picnic table seating serving classics like massive burritos, tacos, and quesadillas stuffed so full that they might as well be burritos. Growing up, I’d be hard-pressed to list foods from anywhere further south of the border.

Now, my partner and I pan-fry white cornmeal dough into little crispy disks and stuff them with salty, crumbly queso fresco and sautéed bell peppers at least twice a month for a Colombian/Venezuelan-inspired dinner.

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The Frittata That Bought Us a House

No matter how many times I brought it up, Epiphania always gave the same sad answer in her cadenced, Italian accent: “No, you can’t buy it! The house is not on the market!”

I knew the instant we walked into the Connecticut farmhouse that this was the…

No matter how many times I brought it up, Epiphania always gave the same sad answer in her cadenced, Italian accent: “No, you can’t buy it! The house is not on the market!”

I knew the instant we walked into the Connecticut farmhouse that this was the place for us. Initially, we were there looking for a place to rent because my husband, Bob, had been offered the directorship of a museum nearby. Our plan was to get to know the area and eventually buy a place. This would mean a long commute for me back to the Hudson Valley, but this was a terrific new opportunity for him. Even though we were only there to consider renting the place, in those first few moments in the grandma kitchen, with its tiny-apple wallpaper and vintage wood stove, I had an uncanny feeling that this was where we belonged.

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How a Single Mom Conquered Dinner, One Pound of Hamburger at a Time

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that’s meaningful to them and their loved ones.

Some people grow up with moms whose love language is flaky pastry or fragrant spice. …

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that's meaningful to them and their loved ones.


Some people grow up with moms whose love language is flaky pastry or fragrant spice. Moms who say “I love you” by serving up heaping bowls of delicious food. My mom’s love language was the actual phrase “I love you.” She uttered these words frequently and generously. She spoke them, sang them, and wrote them. When it came to cooking, though, she kind of phoned it in. If recipe boxes had titles, my mom’s might be something like: "What Can’t You Do With Hamburger Meat?"

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What I Learned From 60 Days of Not Letting the Dishes Pile Up  

It’s an embarrassing personal confession that I’m a huge home cook but not the neat kind. I can fake it like the best when guests come over, but eagle-eyed readers of the food column I write for The Paris Review will have noticed the occasional splatte…

It’s an embarrassing personal confession that I’m a huge home cook but not the neat kind. I can fake it like the best when guests come over, but eagle-eyed readers of the food column I write for The Paris Review will have noticed the occasional splatter and dirty dish in the backgrounds of my photos. If that’s the best I can do with witnesses, just outside the frame is often worse.

At my best, I’m fun-loving: I’m the mom who will bake something elaborate at 9 p.m. in a wrecked kitchen. As a result, my kids know their homemade pavlova from their homemade tiramisu. At my worst, things reach such a state that I’m running the dishwasher and churning through the handwashing all day long, several days in a row, trying to catch up from my culinary excesses. Sometimes I find Monday morning’s soggy Tupperware at the bottom of Friday afternoon’s sink, and am thoroughly revolted with myself.

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