Barbecue outtake: Staq’s “Mess”

Our big ol’ Barbecue Issue will be out in a couple weeks, but here’s a preview of the quirkiest dish I found on my hunt (mentioned in the issue but not pictured). It’s served at Staqs BBQ in Smyrna, a woman-run joint in humble digs on a rather lonely stretch of South Cobb Drive, not too far from Windy Hill Road. The staffers are sweet and doting, and as I scanned their menu, I saw a dish simply called “A Mess: Waffle, Pulled Pork, Slaw.”

MSG, umami, and the foods you love that contain them

You’ve seen the signs — “NO MSG” or “We don’t cook with MSG.” — and you’ve probably only seen them in Chinese restaurants. The irony, however, is that despite what's posted above the fish tank, the kitchen is probably still using the flavor-enhancing additive. Is this a bad thing?

New poultry group plans to ruffle some feathers

I don’t want to upset you, but there’s something wrong with that chicken you’re eating. I don’t mean the way it was prepared (though, seriously, breaded-deep-fried-meat-on-white-bread-with-mayo is just NOT a good idea). I’m talking about the way it was raised and slaughtered, the effect those tasks have on the workers who perform them, the poultry industry’s impact on our environment, and its toll on human health.

Rocket man, better known as Arugula

Ever since David Kamp’s book about the evolution of American cuisine, The United States of Arugula, came out in 2006, the peppery, once-unassuming salad green (also known as rocket) has been hijacked into a kind of shorthand for trendy cuisine.

Muscadines: The South’s most popular indigenous grape

Muscadines, the South’s most popular indigenous grape, appear pervasively at farmers markets and in grocery stores through late summer and into fall. Similar in taste to common table grapes but with an earthier undertone, muscadines are seeded and have thick skins that soften appealingly when cooked.

10 peach dishes you need to try now

Given that our ubiquitous state fruit has made its way onto our license plates and street signs on practically every corner, it should come as no surprise that local chefs are also tinkering with the Georgia peach in a number of creative ways.

If you don’t love eggplant, please try harder

A few weeks ago I happened upon a startling discovery: Some of my favorite area farmers do not care for eggplant. They grow it; they sell it. Apparently, though, they don’t eat it.

Meet the weirdly wonderful Romanesco cauliflower

It is elusive, to be sure. It is also chartreuse and spiky, with each spiraling cone a naturally occurring fractal—meaning its shape is formed by smaller shapes that repeat its geometric pattern. Oh, heck, you just have to see it to believe it ... so look to the right.

Obesity conference hits Atlanta

Next month, more than 4,000 of the world's top obesity scientists, health professionals, and policymakers will head to the Georgia World Congress Center for Obesity Week 2013. Part of the reason they chose Atlanta? Sweet tea.

Hunger Games: Girl Scout Edition

From cool Thin Mints to buttery Trefoils, Girl Scout cookies are a seasonal obsession, and every year, thousands of girls arrange rows of brightly-colored cookie boxes outside of grocery stores and local businesses. But underneath the sweet façade of smiling girls and delicious treats lies a fierce spirit of competition as girls command their own companies. Each sets her own goal, and those who sell the most are recognized or, in some cases, adorned. At one thousand boxes, she is officially a “top seller.”

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