Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Hemingway Pub Crawl

I love this article, on PUNCH, about the lasting mystique of Hemingway the Boozehound and how that has made the bars he frequented - so many years ago - visit-worthy shrines.

I'm certainly one of those people who makes a point of visiting Hemingway's old haunts. Last year, when we were in Paris, we ate (and drank) at Les Deux Magots, Cafe de Flore, Closeries des Lilas and Brasserie Lipp.

On a previous trip to Paris, I spent a very, very entertaining evening at Harry's American Bar.

I've also been to Sloppy Joe's in Key West (and to Hemingway's home there).

That's a lot of Hemingway action.

It's not that I think stalking Hemingway's barstools will make me a better storyteller or a crisper writer. But there's something undeniably alluring about drinking in his favorite spots.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

View through the Wine Glass

This is some interesting stuff.

The Washington Post's Dave MacIntyre talks with a sommelier from Fleurie, a restaurant in Charlottesville, and she reveals all kinds of little things that influence the way she recommends wines. She's obviously very into the tailored approach and there are some cool insights here (such as: if you like to butter and salt your bread, you'll probably be more receptive to intense wines).

She also speaks very delicately; she's careful not to sound judgmental or to offend, though it would be easy to do both when you are talking about pairing wines "not just with food, but with the diner as well."

I liked the article very much...and I can say that I always appreciate when a waiter/bartender/somm reads us correctly. But it's always slightly unnerving to be reminded that critiquing goes both ways. We're sizing up the restaurants we visit. And they're doing the same right back at us.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Boozy Clusters

You know what science is good for? Affirming and formally categorizing the anecdotal stuff we already know. Today's example: this 2015 study that establishes the four archetypes of drunk people.

(I found this on Facebook, via The Cut. And since I'm on vacation, it feels especially appropriate.)

The study appears to be inspired by Buzzfeed-style lists (like all good scientific studies). Participants - students at the University of Missouri-Columbia - completed a 40-minute survey about their alcohol-related behavior (how much they drink and how they act when they drink). The participants each also brought along a "drinking buddy" - someone who could accurately describe their behavior both when sober and drunk. The buddies also completed the survey, answering the questions about their friends.

The researchers examined the results using five factors: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability and intellect. They found that drunk people do, in fact, fall into a handful of certain types ("clustering" in research speak).

There's the Hemingway (little change, like the legendary boozehound), the Mary Poppins (who gets nicer and more agreeable), the Nutty Professor (Fun Bobby) and the Mr. Hyde (kinda the opposite of Fun Bobby - the mean drunk).

The team behind the study sees implications here for addiction research and treatment. I mostly see validation. Of course, as The Cut mentions, there's at least one archetype missing - or maybe it's a subtype of Mr. Hyde - the weepy drunk.

Plus, college drinking is just a snapshot of someone's overall drinking career (as far as I can tell). I mean, when I think back on all my collegiate beer tears...well, let's just say there were a lot of them. Some happy, some sad. Some just emotional.

So many that were just emotional.

Image sources: Hemingway, Mary Poppins, Nutty Professor, Mr. Hyde

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Beer Me a Beer

It's a sudsy world these days.

Between the loosening of brewing laws (locally) and a surge in craft brewing, the booze world in 2015 appears to belong to the beermakers. In 2014, craft breweries generated $19.6 billion of $101.5 billion U.S. beer sales - a 22% increase over the year. That is...a lot of craft beer.

It's no surprise, then, that the beer industry is a strong player in the internet's coveted "people who make cool maps and write listicles using consumer data" market. Just today, I came across three good examples of the genre.

My favorite is the map below. The Priceonomics website, using data pulled from over 6,000 menus from restaurants located throughout the U.S., determined the most commonly listed beers in each state:

The map above, which summarizes those findings, suggests that America is Bud Light Land. Except for Maryland and Virginia...which are Miller Lite Land. Interesting. Also interesting: that South Carolina is a little pocket of Yuengling Country. And that Okies love Stella. Who knew?

But wait, there's more.

Using Beer Advocate data, the website Cool Material created a list of the most highly rated beer from each state. In Maryland, it's Duckpin from Union Brewing - a brew that is, these days, almost as common on restaurant menus as Natty Boh.

The Chive mined data from Thrillist and the Beer Hunt app to put together a list of the most popular craft beers from each state. I have to kinda question their methodology, though...because Natty Boh was listed as Maryland's beer. I'm pretty sure that no matter what definition of "craft" you're using, something brewed by a major international brewer shouldn't fall in that category. (Unless, I guess, it has more to do with limited distribution area than brewer. But that still seems wrong.)

Unsurprisingly, Delaware is allll about the Dogfish Head - on all of these lists. The actual beer might vary but there's no doubt that DE is Dogfish country.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Insta Data...on Food

Instagram's food data crunching and presentation is just on fire right now. They've created a cool, semi-interactive website focused on "The Food Capitals of Instagram" - the cities where certain frequently photographed foods are hottest.

Since the data is driven by numbers, it's not a huge surprise that large global cities - London, New York, Seoul, Sydney - dominate the discussion. But there are still some intriguing findings.

Like this: apparently right now, 7.5% of all photos of pulled pork originate in...London. That's a higher percentage than come from NYC, which is a whole lot closer to the heart of BBQ country.

That doesn't completely surprise me. After all, when we were in Paris last year, McDonald's was advertising the hell out of a southern sandwich, proving that southern cuisine really had overtaken the Western world.

It's a good lesson, too, in how trends expand and what is truly global. (The answer: pizza. Pizza is truly global.)

I wish the website allowed users to drill down - I'd love to be able to explore regional stats, especially in the US. Right now, you can get a general sense of what's happening and where, but nothing specific.

But still, it's cool. Data + food always makes me happy.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Food, Gender and Body Language

What an awesome thesis topic.

The short version of the (also short) article at the link is that the author, a woman who just graduated from Occidental College, wrote her senior thesis about how women eat differently in front of other women vs. in front of men. She observed 76 pairs of diners at two high-end West Coast restaurants and discovered that when they're with men, women are, basically, daintier.

In the comments, there's some back and forth about why that is and about how things might be different in more casual settings, which is an interesting observation. And of course, because of who I am, before fully believing anything, I'd want to know a lot more backstory.

But still - what a topic! I love it! Especially since I spend so much time watching other people eat at restaurants, as I eavesdrop on their awkward first dates and breakup conversations while I try to figure out if we made good ordering choices and whether the wait staff is equally well-trained.

I can't believe I've never thought about doing an etiquette ethnography related to this stuff. It just might happen.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015


I just saw this Open Culture link on Facebook, via the Forgotten Maryland Cocktails page, and I loved it. It includes so many things I enjoy: Fitzgerald, words, drinks!

The only thing slightly confusing to me is the author's semi-assertion that using "cocktail" as a verb is uncommon or confusing. I totally use it as a verb...and am just happy to know that FSF is in my corner.

(Not that that's a big surprise.)


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