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Beautiful vintage restaurant menu art as a study of social change
12:42 pm

Pop Culture


Photos courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
On June 13th, the Los Angeles Public Library will begin a multi-platform exhibition of their massive collection of vintage restaurant menus as part of a project called To Live and Dine in L.A.  The exhibition at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles (which will be presented along with a series of celebrity-chef panels) consists of more than 9,000 vintage menus collected from the L.A. area and archived at the library. The event is being held as a prelude to the June 15th release of a book by Angel City Press documenting the entire project called To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City by author, curator, and USC professor, Josh Kun (in collaboration with, and a forward written by, chef Roy Choi).

Josh Kun was the mastermind behind a similar project, Songs in the Key of Los Angeles, back in 2013, that incorporated pieces of sheet music culled from the archives of the L.A. Public Library—spanning the years from 1859 to 1959—to illustrate the history of Los Angeles through song. 

As for the historical importance of studying old restaurant menus in helping to understand the evolution of society in general, Kun told the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books:

Menus are social text. They’re urban text. They’re pieces of fiction. And they are written. How can we look at our city and its history through the window of menus? Through the menus, how can we see what was missing? We’ve got about 25,000 places to eat in L.A., but we are the ‘epicenter of hunger,’ according to the USDA. We live in both a foodie society and a food bank society. How do you reconcile those two things? How can restaurants and food be used to restore ideas around justice, around community and equality?


In other words, with many of them dating back as far as the 1800s, these vintage menus aren’t just beautiful to look at, they also serve as tiny time capsules, little printed microcosms that can be used to chart the progress of Los Angeles in regards to societal issues that have occurred over the past century. For example, studying these menus can illuminate the ongoing class struggle against social and economic inequality, the rise of car culture, improvements (or not) in race relations, or even how different types of foods have fallen in and out of favor throughout L. A.’s various historical eras due to immigration, drastic economic changes, or the fact that wartime rationing was in effect. 

According to Kun:

Menus are urban texts which give us a glimpse into a specific time and place by revealing cultural identity, class conflict, race, and gender disparities. Some of the menus we came across are food documents of privilege and speak to issues of food awareness and inequality. It is those kinds of histories that are buried within the menu.

Browsing through these menus may make you hungry, but if you delve in deep enough, you’ll come to the realization that there was a time when ordering from the “dollar menu” was something that only rich people could do. So, if your stomach starts growling as you study these works of delicious art, remember that it’s always best to take time capsules with food.

The menu collection at the L.A. Public Library’s website is searchable. We recommend searching by decade—you can get lost in that collection for hours.



Much more after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Ramones and the New York Dolls cookies
09:21 am



New York Dolls cookies
New York Dolls cookie set
I don’t know about you, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever met a cookie I didn’t like. And thanks to punk rock cookie purveyor American Cookie Craft, I’ve now met cookies I love so much I don’t think I could ever consume them. Irony, thy name is Joey Ramone covered in sugary icing.
The Ramones cookies
The Ramones cookie set
Both sets of these punk rock cookies are modeled after the cover art for each of the band’s eponymous debut records. In addition to the confectionery versions of Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy, the Ramones set also comes with two extra cookies with the band’s name on it. I’m especially fond of the extra cookie that comes with the Dolls’ set that is beautifully decorated with their iconic pink lipstick logo. The cookies come in Vanilla Bean, Victorian Lavender or Chocolate, and may be customized to your liking. Keep in mind that the price of punk has gone up significantly since the 70’s. Both sets of six cookies will run you $24.99.  They’ve also got other sweet treats that culture vultures will debate eating or displaying of the Grateful Dead, Frida Kahlo, Yellow Submarine, Young Frankenstein and Vlad the Impaler.
Joey Ramone cookie
More cookies after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Fart terrorist’s secrets revealed
10:12 am



So many of the great scientists have suffered or sacrificed for their work. Jonas Salk gave the world a vaccine for polio without patenting it (and therefore majorly profiting). Marie Curie actually died from prolonged exposure to radiation as a result of her research. Giordano Bruno was imprisoned and executed by the Catholic Church for his belief that the stars were actually distant suns! All of these guys are total chumps though, because food writer Dennis Lee has actually broken ground on a “fart dip” using his own body as the test subject—now that is commitment. What would inspire someone to develop such a dangerous chemical weapon?

I imagined myself at a fancy party where I served a magical delicious dip. It would be addictive and wonderful, but what people would not know is that every ingredient was picked to maximize flatulence. Then, a few hours later, everyone would secretly start farting uncontrollably and pass out. Everyone would be so embarrassed that all these dumb fancy food parties would go away forever

Chaos, destruction—I like it! (He is also about to be unemployed, which I think might be a factor, if not a motivation.) Unfortunately the dip—made up of onions, lima beans, sour cream, cabbage and prunes (some of the most flatulence-inducing foods, according to Lee)—looks disgusting every step of the way, and results in a flavor he initially likens to vomit, and later “hummus that has been mixed with French onion dip and sweet dried fruit.” As for its efficacy, Lee felt sick after eating an entire bowl, and from what he could tell, the dip only produced a single (though massive) fart.

We’ll call it a prototype?

The recipe, after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Restaurant shut down for selling human flesh
10:23 am



Waiter there’s an eye in my soup…

A restaurant in Nigeria has been shut down after it was found to be selling human flesh.

According to a news report on BBC Swahili, local police raided the hotel restaurant in Anambra, after being informed human meat was being served to customers. The police discovered various cuts of human flesh and two freshly severed (“still bleeding”) human heads stored in the kitchen.

Eleven people, including the restaurant’s owner, were arrested.

One local resident told the BBC:

“Every time I went to the market, I observed strange things going on at the hotel.

“Shifty, strange looking people made their way in and out of the hotel and behaved in a very suspicious manner. I was not surprised when the police uncovered such an illegal trade.”

Though “not a societal norm,” cannibalism is not illegal in most countries—including America and parts of Europe. Cannibalism has been seen in many wars—including the Siege of Stalingrad during the Second World War and most recently in Liberia and the Congo. According to those who know, human flesh has a texture like beef—though is a little sweeter and a little softer.

A priest who had recently eaten at the restaurant told the BBC that he had been surprised when presented with a bill for 700 Naira ($3.50) for a small cut of “beef.” The price was extortionate when considering the average daily expenditure in Nigeria is roughly 95 cents a day. The priest added:

“The waiter noticed my surprise and told me the bill so high because of the small piece of meat I had eaten.

“I did not know I had been served with human meat, and this was why it was so expensive.”

A cache of automatic weapons (AK-47s), hand grenades and several cell phones were also discovered in the raid.

Though rumors of cannibalism have long been rife in Nigeria, this is allegedly the first time a restaurant has been discovered selling human flesh.
However, this is not the first time this story has been reported. On September 5th, 2013, the exact same story appeared in the Osun Defender:

On Thursday Onitsha police arrested 11 people after they discovered 2 fresh human heads in a hotel (name withheld) very close to the popular Ose-Okwodu market in Anambra state. 2 AK47 rifles & other weapons were also discovered in the hotel.

The arrest followed tip-offs from area residents on Thursday morning. The hotel owner, 6 women and 4 men were arrested.

After police got access to the hotel, they made a startling discovery of two human heads wrapped in a cellophane bag, two AK47 rifles, two army caps, 40 rounds of live ammunition and so many cell phones.

The quotes from a resident and a local priest tally with those carried by the recent article on the BBC and today’s Metro newspaper.

“Each time I came to market, because the hotel is very close to the market, I always noticed funny movements in and out of the hotel; dirty people with dirty characters always come into the hotel. So, I was not surprised when the police made this discovery in the early hours of yesterday,” said a vegetable seller in the area

A Pastor who was among the people who tipped off the police on Thursday said: I went to the hotel early this year, after eating, I was told that a lump of meat was being sold at N700, I was surprised. So I did not know it was human meat that I ate at such expensive price.”

What is this country turning into?

What is news reporting turning into? is perhaps a more relevant question, as the high demand for a constant stream of interesting and unusual news reports means many stories are just lifted and processed without checking sources or whether the story is even genuine “news.”

From its first appearance on Osun Defender in September 2013, this tale was lifted almost verbatim onto the IB Times in February 2014 and then Live Leak without apparently seeking any verification. A year-and-a-half later, the story is now being “regurgitated” by quite a few respected newspapers who should know better.

It would appear the latest version of the story merely relates to the restaurant being recently closed down, following on from the police raid last year. What has happened to the eleven who were arrested is not known.

Via BBC Swahili and Metro.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Brutal foodies: Heavy metal Chef creates culinary masterpieces based on classic bands
08:44 am



The Slayer Pizza:  Chopped Fra Mani toscano, soppressata, finocchiona, Cypress Grove “Lamb Chopper” cheese, house marinara, signature communion wafer crust, and an altar wine gastrique.
Rice and Bread, an online “food and music magazine,” hosts the “perfect pairings” series in which craft beers or decadent food creations are paired with classic metal albums. Our favorite entries in this series come courtesy of Chef John Hurkes, whose brutal recipes are absolutely inspired.

Chef John Hurkes’ latest creation is the “Black Sabbath Pizza”:

Ingredients: English banger sausage, smoked mozzarella, squid ink béchamel sauce, purple basil leaf, sweet lavender honey, and an authentic Mapledurham Watermill crust.
Hurkes’ notes on his creations read like a foodie Forry Ackerman:

What is this pizza that stands before me? A slice in black which points at me. Just like the conception of heavy metal, the Black Sabbath pizza is cooked from scratch. The flour is stoner-ground and rises from the early ’70s. The 12” crust is pressed from an actual bread recipe written by an “Evil Woman,” the miller’s wife of the Mapledurham Watermill in England. Spinning like a record, Ozzy Osbourne’s legendary vocals cascade into a wood-fired wheel of flavour riffles. Would you like a “N.I.B.”ble? Finger-picking through each slice, Tony Iommi’s hand-crafted guitar solos resonate through “Wicked World” and march across heavy slabs of sausage in “Children of the Grave.” Shrouded in the creamy black sauce, Geezer Butler’s bass lines find “Solitude” under a blanket of delicious smoked cheese as Bill Ward’s drums stick to the honey and herb “Sweet Leaf.” As the pizza is finished and the beer bottles burn out, you’ll be left “Into the Void.” Soon the world will love you, sweet pizza.

Other favorite Chef John Hurkes’ metal meals include “The Danzig Juicy Lucifuge… the Mother of all burgers”

Ingredients: New Jersey black-angus beef, blue-cheese Lucifuge, the onions of Christ, and blackest of the black BBQ sauce. Served on a house-made Twist of Pain bun.
“Exodus pork belly blood feast”

Ingredients: Fire-roasted pork belly crusted with Black Carbon salt harvested from the Dead Sea, grilled and thrashed blackberry-infused blood-sausage puree, smoke-poached egg yolks, purple fingerling potatoes, seared orange, and wasabi micro greens.
“Nuclear Assault Nachos”

Ingredients: Fire-braised pig confit, pickled onions and jalapenos, nuclear cheese reactor, and OC-17 police grade pepper-sprayed multi-continental fried chips.
We spoke with Chef John Hurkes about the series and his inspirations.

How did the “Perfect Pairings” idea develop, and what makes for a “perfect pairing”?

Chef John Hurkes: It was originally developed pairing metal albums with craft beer, but it sort of shifted towards food when Jason Schreurs of Rice and Bread Magazine approached me about pairing some of my favorite metal albums with my food creations. To make a “Perfect Pairing” you need a great metal record, quality ingredients, and some fucking metal ingenuity.

How has heavy metal informed your culinary style?

CJH: Metal crossover cooking can go a lot of different ways. There’s so many different genres and albums to be inspired by. However, it’s tricky sometimes developing new recipes and styles. It’s not like you are going to listen to an Electric Wizard album and decide to slow cook a doom metal burrito in an electric microwave for an hour. There is a degree of sophistication. When you are a serious metal head it changes your overall output in life. So it has definitely influenced what i’m doing with these dishes and how I will continue to cook them in the future.

You mentioned to me before that you traded heavy metal records with a friend from England for a cookbook signed by the miller’s wife of the last working watermill on the River Thames. You used a bread recipe from that book to create the Black Sabbath Mapledurham Watermill crust. Are there any other instances where metal has been an inroad to new recipes or cookbooks?

CJH: For sure. Metal is always an influence on how I develop new recipes. Sometimes there are different influences like religion or say politics. When I made the Nuclear Assault Nachos I thought homeland security was going to raid my kitchen shelves. It was the ultimate nacho riot as the pig confit was fire-braised and the resistant multi-continental chips got pepper sprayed in the cross fire. I feel like i’m always on a special heavy metal path with my next dish.

All of the photos of your creations look absolutely delicious, but we can’t eat the photos. Are there plans to share these recipes with the rest of the world, or are they guarded secrets?

CJH: They are guarded in a metal recipe box. But i’ve been discussing with my friend Jason Schreurs over at Rice and Bread Magazine about a collaboration with a cookbook that features each of the metal dishes. In the meantime, we’ve got other evil metal cuisine to unveil over at Rice and Bread.

I’m going to name some bands, and you tell me what kind of food immediately comes to mind. We’ll start with Iron Maiden.

CJH: A virtuosic metal salad with “Trooper” battlefield greens.


CJH: Probably a Japanese guitar shredded squid dish with a sweet red chili sauce. Law of Devil’s Land is a great album.


CJH: It would have to make you go BRRRR! Perhaps a stout beer ice cream float topped with chopped bacon and a burnt and candied communion wafer stave church steeple.

Mercyful Fate

CJH: The course of the pharoahs is served at the sound of the dinner bell. That’s all I got.

Celtic Frost

CJH: Morbid pig tails.

Municipal Waste

CJH: Is there such thing as weed-fed beef? Maybe a burger with beer soaked cheese, an IPA mustard, booze sloshed pickles, and a few other ingredients I shouldn’t mention for legal reasons. You would be wasted by the time you finished eating it.


CJH: I’m thinking tequila braised goat shoulder hacked apart with a machete and piled into tacos with in an unholy mole crafted from an evil trinity of chile peppers.

What is the most evil ingredient in any metal-inspired meal?

CJH: Communion wafers. You can bread anything with them and they cook amazingly in a lake of grease fire. I even made the delicious “Slayer Pizza” with them. For a while I was convinced that my kitchen was cursed after I made that pizza. Every Sunday for several months, my kitchen appliances would break or some crisis would happen. Evil cooking has no boundaries.

Carcass-inspired surgical veggie sammich. “Welcome to the poser slaughter. It’s an eight-inch vegetarian mouth-thrasher’s abattoir.”
Drool over more crossover edibles at Rice and Bread.

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Sexist’ chicken cutlets are a thing in Germany?
03:32 pm



“Poultry mood for dream couples—finally, a poultry product for her and him!”
A company in Germany called Friki recently unveiled a puzzling product—two chicken cutlets, one “For Him” and one “For Her,” in a single package, with pink and blue coloring on the package to distinguish them visually. The kicker? The man’s version is spicy, while the woman’s one is mild. 

If you go to this page on Friki’s website, you’ll see the picture at the top of this page, with a caption in German that translates roughly as follows

Tender “minute” chicken cutlets, finally in typical female and, on the other hand, in typical male flavor-profiles ensure that poultry enjoyment will now be more fun than ever. The new dream couple comes in the flavor varieties “Fruity Lemon/Spicy Chili” and “Spicy Tomato/Spicy Peppery.”

In the first pair, fruity lemon and spicy chili are (according to the text and the colors) appropriate for the lady and the gentleman, respectively; I haven’t seen a picture of the second pairing yet, and I suspect it hasn’t even been manufactured yet.

Photo by Alice Atmega on Twitter
This one merits a huge eyeroll for sure. I like spicy food and I’ve not noticed this to be a particularly gendered issue. I’ve met plenty of women who enjoy spicy food, and I’ve met plenty of men who prefer milder fair. And I bet you anything that the wonderful women of India and Mexico can handle spicy food just fine. In my estimation this has something to do with Mitteleuropa above everything else—if I may indulge in a bit of cultural stereotyping of my own, I spent several years in Austria, with occasional visits to Germany, and that experience left me with the impression that the German-speaking world as a whole has some difficulties with spicy food, not so much that they don’t like it (they do not) but that they have a kind of phobia about it, as if the worst thing that could happen to you is that you eat a little vindaloo when you were promised tikka masala.

For what it’s worth, Charlotte Haunhorst of the respected newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote an editorial about this with the hilarious title “Hört auf mit der Hühnerkacke!” (“Stop the chickenshit!”). She thinks that the whole controversy has been concocted by Friki as a media ploy, although she does confess that she gets irritated when she orders a fatty breakfast and the waitstaff somehow assume that the bacon was ordered by her male companion.

Interestingly, there’s a clear precedent for this. The Kühne company has put out “his” and “hers” pickles, with the names “Gurken Madl” and “Gurken Bub”—that is, “Pickle Girl” and “Pickle Boy.” The jars come in pink and blue, with the girls’ one being “knackig und lieblich” (crisp and sweet) while the boys’ one is “knackig und kräftig” (crisp and strong).

via Nerdcore

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Human Centi-Peach,’ ‘Camp Crystal Cake,’ and other horror movie-inspired Ben and Jerry’s flavors
10:42 am



Pondering what it would look like if Ben and Jerry’s turned movies like The Shining, Child’s Play, A Nightmare on Elm Street, or Re-Animator into ice cream flavors, horror geek savants, John Squires and Frank Browning, writing for the blog, concocted nearly two dozen fright-flick-inspired flavors. No, these aren’t actual pints you can buy in any store, but we wish they were! Some of these sound downright disgustingly delicious.

Our personal favorite has to be “Camp Crystal Cake,” simply because it features “ch-ch-cherries” and “ah-ah-almonds.”

Runner up has got to be the Sleepaway Camp-inspired “Sleepaway Surprise,” with bananas hidden inside. If you’re a fan of that film, you get it.

Honorable mention goes to “Madman Marzipan,” just for referencing one of our favorite obscuro ‘80s movie killers: Madman Marz!

Below are our favorites. There are lots more at the awesome site,


Plenty more after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Gloriously trippy raw food vegan Mandala cakes
05:56 pm



A Chocolate Chai Goji
I love me some butter and eggs, but I’d definitely like to try one of these psychedelic-looking Mandala cakes—made with raw vegan ingredients—by Los Angeles-based raw vegan chef Stephen McCarty aka Sukhavati. (Sukhavati means “Happy” in Hindi.)

I wonder if they taste as good as they look? Since I live in Los Angeles, I just might have to give one of these a try. Honestly, though, they’re so beautiful, I’d hate to slice it up. But that’s kind of the point with these Mandela cakes, right? Sand Mandala art by Tibetan Buddhists monks is a tradition where a complex Mandala is painstakingly made over the course of several weeks with tiny grains of colored sand. (If you’ve never seen one before, they’re absolutely gorgeous. Just Google it.) When the Sand Mandala is finished, it is “ritualistically dismantled” with the attendant ceremonies to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of life on this material plain.”

Netflix’s House of Cards featured in one if its episodes the construction and destruction of a Mandala. You can watch the short clip here.

A Lavender Lemon Blueberry

A Strawberry Rose Cacao

An Asian Pear Ginger


Raw vegan cheesecake

A Coconut Caramel Cacao

All photos via Stephen McCarty on Instagram.

Via Beautiful Decay

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Chocolate bars in the shape of boobies—‘to attract men’s attention’
11:03 am



Designers Constantin Bolimond (Russia) and Maksim Ali (U.S.) have teamed up to create bars of chocolate in the shape of female breasts. The product is called Titses.

At this point the product appears to be in the prototype stage.

These milk chocolate bars are molded in the shape of women’s breasts. Customers can choose from sizes S to XL. Perhaps in an effort to deflect attention from their own sillier or baser instincts, Bolimond and Ali have given their prototype a veneer of intellectual sophistication by appealing to gender inequality: “The aim of the project Titses milk is to attract mens’ attention to the product that is so loved by women but is often overlooked by a strong half of the population.”

In the world of pop culture, chocolate appeals inordinately to women—the cliché holds that single, unloved women distract from their sorrows by consuming Godiva chocolate, or whatever, which leads to weight gain and decreased attractiveness, an unfortunate cycle. However, it’s still kinda questionable that chocolate, as one of the world’s most popular products, really has an exclusive relationship with one gender or the other.

It’s much more likely that the driving impulse here, rather than rectifying some imbalance, was, you know, to make boobies out of chocolate.


More edible breast candy after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Listen to celery being used by Hollywood sound designers to make that disgusting flesh-ripping sound
04:55 pm



Who knew that celery—the blandest vegetable of all—is a go-to favorite in the film industry to create that gnarly flesh-ripping, bone-breaking sound you hear in movies? I didn’t. BBC Radio 4 host Francine Stock talks with sound effects maestro Barnaby Smyth about how celery is used for just that. Apparently this technique was used in Alien vs. Predator.

The interview is short, sweet and gets to point. Suddenly I feel compelled to drop my newfound knowledge about celery casually into every conversation I have. Not every conversation, but most. Maybe I’ll just blog about it.

via WFMU on Twitter

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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