Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

New Rivers Press

Karen Lee Boren left her hometown of Milwaukee years ago, but it’s never been far from her mind, her heart or her writing.

Boren's new collection of twelve short stories, called Mother Tongue, features a remarkable array of characters. The stories were written over a span of twenty years, with characters and themes inspired by her own life experiences.

There's a new candidate in the century-old quest for perfect, guiltless sweetness.

I encountered it at the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists, a combination of Super Bowl, Mecca, and Disneyland for the folks who put the processing in processed food.

In a bid to cut down on bureaucracy, the mayor of Paris has scrapped an arcane law that required bakers to inform city hall anytime they wanted to close up shop.

When the measure was passed by the Assemblee Nationale, or French parliament, in 1790, lawmakers wanted to make sure certain situations never repeated themselves. A long-term bread shortage, for example, was one of the factors that led to the 1789 French revolution, according to Stephanie Paul, a historian and Paris tour guide.

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"Our responses to [Joan Didion's] persona tell us less about the woman behind the books than about ourselves," writes Tracy Daugherty in his new biography of the legendary author, and he couldn't be more right. She was a conservative in the 1960s, whom liberals believed was one of their own. Some of her fans admire her skeptical takes on the entertainment industry and politics, but she's had close friends in the Hollywood and Washington crowd for decades.

At the end of this month, containers of Blue Bell ice cream, a staple in Texas and other states, will finally return to store shelves. The company's ice cream has been absent from stores for four months after a wide recall over listeria concerns.

Many chefs dream of opening their own restaurant. But Laura Martinez faced an obstacle that many people thought would make that dream impossible to fulfill: The 31-year-old chef is blind.

It took two years for Martinez to open La Diosa, her tiny restaurant in Chicago, this past January. In addition to her white chef's jacket, Martinez wears dark sunglasses when she works.

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Astronauts aboard the International Space Station received a shipment that included whiskey on Monday but they won't be allowed even a taste test.

One evening last July, Nat Bradford walked along rows of White Bolita Mexican corn at his Sumter, S.C., farm, and nearly wept. All 1,400 of the corn plants had been overtaken almost overnight by corn smut, recalls Bradford, who's also a landscape architect. The smut, from a fungus called Ustilago maydis, literally transforms each corn kernel into a bulbous, bulging bluish-grey gall. It is naturally present in the soil and can be lofted easily into the air and onto plants.

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