Yes, after months of serious petitioning (not to mention abject begging and pleading and full-on demanding) from nimble-fingered Mexican-food fans, Unicode Consortium, which oversees the release of “picture characters” known as “emoji” and plans to add only about 60 new images per year, has elected to include a taco emoji in its new lineup, approved as part of Unicode 8.
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It’s iced tea season. Whether you like it straight up or sugar sweet, with a twist of lemon or a dollop of honey, you may enjoy drinking in a few facts about what might be summer’s coolest beverage from this article about its history, written by Tove Danovich for NPR’s Tea Tuesdays series. (Yes, NPR’s The Salt blog has a series of articles that explore tea’s science, history, culture and economics. Take that, coffee!)
1. While tea has been sipped hot here in America since Colonial days, nonalcoholic tea wasn’t widely consumed on ice until the turn of the 19th century, when entrepreneurs in the northern United States started shipping ice down South and to the Caribbean. As Americans began to take a leading role in the 19th-century global ice trade, the greater availability of ice made iced tea more common.
2. Tea was, however, used as an ingredient in alcoholic punches as far back as the early 1700s, and appears in historic punch recipes like Regent’s Punch, which dates to 1815 and includes green tea and the South Asian liquor arrack as well as citrus juice, sugar, champagne, brandy and rum.
Though summer’s just begun, it’s not too soon to start planning an autumn getaway — especially when the promise of your favorite chefs is right before you. For the eighth year in a row, the most-famed names in the culinary world are set to come together for a weekend-long celebration of all things food and drink at the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival. This year more than 500 chefs will be in attendance at nearly 100 events, kicking off in Manhattan on Thursday, October 15.
From the now-infamous battle of beef at the annual Burger Bash presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats and hosted by Rachael Ray to Giada De Laurentiis’ Italian Feast, presented by Ronzoni, and Geoffrey Zakarian’s Saturday morning brunch, you’re invited to join these chefs and others for walk-around tastings, intimate seated dinners, late-night bashes and wake-up-worthy brunches alike.
Does your GPS sound like chicken? Now it can sound like KFC mascot Colonel Sanders.
In yet another move aimed at resurrecting its corporate mascot and late founder, Col. Harland Sanders, who kicked the bucket (sorry) in 1980 at age 90, KFC has teamed up with social navigation and traffic app Waze to lend Sanders’ voice to users’ navigation systems.
Shh … don’t wake the barbecue. It’s resting.
While the conventional wisdom used to be that the ideal time to enjoy the smoky goodness of barbecued meat was right when it came off the pit — avoiding the mushiness or drying that could result from various methods of “holding” it — there’s a new theory gaining traction among pitmasters. NPR reports that allowing barbecued meat to “rest,” if done correctly, actually improves its flavor.
Your days of sharing and gaping at food photos on social media while remaining blissfully unaware of how many calories are lurking in those beautiful meals may be numbered. Google is working on an artificial intelligence tool that will analyze your food pictures and estimate how many calories are being served up on your plate.
The tool, Im2Calories, which was unveiled at a “deep learning” summit in Boston last month, will cast an eyeball (or whatever the high-tech AI equivalent of an eyeball is) over that grainy Instagram photo (high-res not required) of your burger, breakfast or baked good — along with accompanying sides — and use algorithms to calculate the number of calories you’re about to enthusiastically consume, Popular Science reports.
Terrifying, perhaps, but that may be part of the point. Im2Calories’ creator, Google research scientist Kevin Murphy, says his aim is not to shame people, but rather to inform them so they can make decisions about the foods they eat (and feel compelled to share on social media) with complete caloric information.
Broccoli can be beautiful and sweet. An orange can be lovely and reassuring. In the hands of Danling Xiao, foods like these are all that and more: Two small florets become a couple of hedgehogs hanging out. A simple citrus yields a doorway that opens onto a floating peel staircase and becomes a lesson in unrushed romance.
For the past three years, Xiao, a Sydney-based designer and digital strategist, has been transforming food into art and posting photos of her charming creations on Instagram. She calls her project Mundane Matters, but the images of, just for instance, a bench crafted from a zucchini, a cauliflower sheep and a toaster made of bread (how meta) are really anything but mundane.
“In the greatest collaboration since Jared and Subway,” she recently quipped/announced on Instagram, “I am curating a burger for @UmamiBurger that will debut in September” — perfectly timed, she notes, for the launch of her TV show “The Mindy Project” on Hulu and the release of her second book, “Why Not Me?” due out September 15.
Everyone loves an ice cream sandwich. Vanilla ice cream nestled between two soft-crisp chocolate cookies dotted with a grid of small holes (why do those wafers have holes in them, anyway?) are surely among summer’s greatest pleasures.
Now the menu mavens at Carl’s Jr. have added a new dimension to your regular everyday ice cream-sandwich deliciousness by introducing a new version in which “hand-scooped” vanilla ice cream is sandwiched between two halves of a Hostess Ding Dong.
Ready to salivate? Three words: burrata ice cream. The Italian-cheese-inspired soft serve is one of two flavors just introduced by mash-up master Dominique Ansel at the walk-up ice cream window of Dominique Ansel Kitchen in New York’s West Village.
The creamy Burrata Soft Serve — which Ansel calls “a new alternative to vanilla” — comes in a homemade “honey tuile cone” with a whole-strawberry confit inside and is topped with balsamic caramel and fresh micro basil. “The flavors are simple and subtle, but so, so good,” DAK’s Instagram page boasts.