Our 10 Recommended Food Reads of 2022
That’s all, 2022. From the good (most popular recipes!) to the bad (least favorite food trends!), we’re spending December looking back. Head here for all the stories in BA’s year in review.
I always end the work week with too many tabs open, mostly because of my rampant ADHD but also because so many exciting stories are written about food culture across the internet. When I finally do read them, I often learn much about food and even more about the world beyond—how America’s obsession with omakase reveals how we see wealth, what candy flavors outside of the country show us about taste across borders, how an elusive Thai noodle dish represents the ways we crave connection.
These stories—all from publications outside of Bon Appétit—are also just a lot of fun. This year, our staff’s Slack was buzzing with reading recommendations about Big Hot Sauce, poop, recipes written by A.I., and a wild investigation into which Santa Fe restaurant a Trump lawyer was dining at when the FBI seized his cell phone. We read these stories with delight and admiration (and not a bit of jealousy). In no particular order, please enjoy some of our staff’s favorite reads of 2022. —Karen Yuan, lifestyle editor
This Bloomberg Businessweek feature about spice giant McCormick’s entry into the hot sauce world is a fascinating look at how a big grocery company is attempting to innovate alongside modern food culture. The company, known for its red-capped spices, wanted to “evolve beyond ‘vanilla McCormick,’ a reference to the company’s formerly restrained approach as well as its extract business,” as Austin Carr writes. The joy in reading this are all the reported details. Sources told Carr that McCormick has helped other companies develop flavors, including Cool Ranch Doritos and Bud Light Lime. A “great turmeric crisis” at one point forced the company to hire trucks to do an overnight, 1,000-mile drive. I loved reading about how the sausage is made for condiments, spices, and so many other flavors that have become mainstays in our kitchens. —Serena Dai, editorial director
This New York Times feature explores how Black American Jews bring their identity to the foods on the Passover table. As an Asian American Jew, I am in constant search of ties between my two identities, above all through food. It’s a delight to read writer Kayla Stewart’s account of food people like Michael Twitty and the additions or changes they make to the traditional seder meal. Rather than serving maror, or bitter herbs, Twitty serves collard greens. Other Afro Judaic dishes on his table span from matzo-meal fried chicken to West African–inspired brisket. Stewart shares the voices of a wide range of Black Jewish figures who point to the evolving diversity of Jews in the US and the importance of bringing one’s culture into Judaism. The piece prompts reflection on what conversations can be had on Passover, a holiday so deeply connected to themes of history, freedom, and redemption. And I love how Stewart and the featured voices do so through food. —Kate Kassin, editorial operations associate
This Atlantic feature by staff writer Amanda Mull digs deep into why you, me, and everyone on TikTok is obsessed with imported candies: nutty-creamy Matcha Kit Kats from Japan, chewy Haribo gummies from Germany, and British Cadbury. The writing is playful and fun to read—Mull describes a Hi-Chew as “a Starburst that fights back”—but I most love that the reporting voyages beyond the obvious. Sure, the EU is way stricter with food additives than the US, which results in a totally different end product. But foreign candy’s success mostly comes down to taste: Imported treats lean hard into flavors (like melon, or spicy or savory notes) that domestic companies fear would alienate white Americans in particular. Luckily, it’s never been easier to stock up on international candies online. —Ali Francis, staff writer
This piece made me seethe with jealousy. The conceit is so good: New York Times food reporter (and BA contributor) Priya Krishna teams up with the tech desk to see if A.I. can write a personalized Thanksgiving menu, complete with recipes and “photos” of dishes that have never been cooked. Can I be replaced by a robot? On face value, yes. The recipes served up in response to Krishna’s prompt seem both creative and promising—pumpkin spice chaat, roast turkey with a soy-ginger glaze, naan stuffing. Krishna cooks her way through the meal, and the results—also documented in a 25-minute video—mimic the pleasure that you get when watching a particularly wicked technical challenge on The Great British Bake Off. —MacKenzie Chung Fegan, senior commerce editor
Longer than an article, shorter than a novel, Elegy for an Appetite is a rumination on cravings, craving for mastery, for food, for connection. Eclectically punctuated and sequenced, it is by far one of the more original reads on any subject I tackled all year. Written by Shaina Loew-Banayan, a chef and co-owner of Cafe Mutton, one of Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants of the year, it covers her struggles with anorexia and bulimia and her early days as an aspiring chef. With humorous send ups of professional kitchens, this short, poignant and unorthodox story is not one I’ll soon forget. —Dawn Davis, editor in chief
When Jiro Dreams of Sushi came out in 2013, omakase became an aspirational meal for investment banking analysts everywhere. Nearly a decade later, Jaya Saxena sharply details how that came to be. “Jiro didn’t just introduce an unfamiliar cuisine to most Americans; it also redefined what kind of dining is worthy of occasion,” she writes. “Sushi counters became the new steakhouses.” Saxena explains how single pieces of raw fish served at 12-seat bars came to be synonymous with exclusivity and wealth, tracing Jiro’s legacy through America’s favorite $500 (or more!) courses. Then she looks forward to how new restaurants are divesting from pricey menus while maintaining “the thing Jiro Dreams of Sushi was really about—the suspense, joy, and transcendence that can happen when you put your trust into a visionary chef.” It’s a thoughtful, evocative read peppered with colorful tidbits, such as her own experience eating at Sushi Nakazawa amid loud, sake-chugging bros. Impeccable ambience. —Karen Yuan, lifestyle editor
I love the format of Grub Street Diet first and foremost because I am nosy. It brings me a perverse joy to know that someone is eating some kind of deranged lunch of five hard-boiled eggs or whatever. I love hearing that medium-famous people also eat toast in the morning—I do that too! I bet they would want to be my friend if we met! When Simpsons writer and prolific tweeter Broti Gupta recorded her week of eating, though, she transcended the medium. With classically relatable lines such as “I like to sit in one place and be given puréed fruits, much like a baby,” Broti manages to take readers through her week of eating while peppering in some absurd jokes. I let out several genuine LOLs while reading—a rarity in this day and age. Broti, if you’re reading this, I am as inspired by your love for tacos as I am by your determination to reveal intimate details about your boyfriend. —Sam Stone, staff writer
This touching Thrillist piece follows Kat Thompson’s journey as she searches for kanom jeen nam ngiao—Thai red cotton flower noodle soup—around the United States. This piece is tinged with nostalgia as it revisits the Thai-born author’s first taste of the dish and then transitions to her desire to get that same flavor stateside. Even though the restaurants serving this seemingly niche Northern Thai dish are hundreds of miles away from each other, each chef’s story echoes each other, with takeaways as distinctive as the noodle’s trademark red hue: family ties, cultural connection, and comfort. Perhaps the reason why I love this piece so much is that it is a strong instance of food being a way home without physically going there. —Jen Osaki, creative producer
Anna Merlan is a crackerjack investigative journalist; her coverage of conspiracy theorists and the alt-right is as well-researched (see her book Republic of Lies) as it is slightly masochistic (see her live tweets of Alex Jones’s Sandy Hook trials). What she is not, to my knowledge, is a food writer. That is at least until this past summer, when she turned the force of her journalistic powers to cracking a case of the utmost importance: Which Santa Fe restaurant was Trump lawyer John Eastman patronizing when the FBI seized his cell phone? With no time for FOIAs or Bureau spokespeople, Merlan turned to her on-the-ground sources—her aging punk friends from high school who have retained their encyclopedic knowledge of strip mall parking lots and late-night pho joints. I don’t know these friends, but it seems as if Merlan has assembled a New Mexican Ocean’s 11 of specialists, from Google Earth sleuths to a legman willing to shirk childcare responsibilities in order to race crosstown to a sushi restaurant. I would legitimately watch a show where they solve local mysteries of no consequence. —M.C.F.
Few things are better than a really satisfying shit, and JJ Goode argues we don’t talk about it enough. In one of my favorite stories of the year, Goode explores how the food world is obsessed with talking about what goes in, but afraid of acknowledging what comes out. “If you poop and I poop and Padma poops, why shouldn’t we talk about it?” He writes after Padma Lakshmi tells him about the euphoria she feels after a good dump. His potty talk journeys through our cultural aversion against the act, the biology and health effects of it, restaurant bathroom design, and foods that feature or recall poop across cultures. He also leads with an incredible anecdote featuring the restaurant Turkey and the Wolf’s bathroom. —K.Y.