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Food And Drink

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Joan Didion, a master of rhythm and of the meaning of the unsaid, was remembered Wednesday as an inspiring and fearless writer and valued, exacting and sometimes eccentric friend. She was described as a woman who didn’t like to speak on the phone unless asked to or who might serve chocolate soufflés at a child’s birthday party because she didn’t know how to bake a cake. Carl Bernstein, Donna Tartt and Fran Liebowitz were among those attending, along with relatives, friends and editors and other colleagues from The New Yorker and her last publishing house, Penguin Random House.

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A Florida highway had to temporarily close after a semitrailer carrying cases of Coors Light crashed and turned the roadway into a silver sea of beer cans. Florida Highway Patrol says the crash occurred Wednesday morning in the southbound lanes of Interstate 75 about 30 miles north of Tampa. Officials say the pileup began when one semi clipped another while changing lanes. This forced other semis to brake, but one failed to stop and collided with a pickup truck and another one of the stopping semis. The semi that failed to stop was filled with cases of the Silver Bullet.

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Virginia Commonwealth University will pay nearly $1 million to the family of a young man who died after a 2021 fraternity hazing incident as part of a recent settlement agreement. The agreement with the family of Adam Oakes also requires the Richmond university to make changes to its fraternity and sorority life. VCU announced the deal Friday after it was approved by a court. The agreement will require that VCU students complete 12 credit hours before joining a fraternity or sorority. It will also prohibit alcohol at any fraternity or sorority event attended by new members. An investigation found Oakes died after being told to drink a large bottle of whiskey.

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Moses Wamugango peered into the plastic vats where maggots wriggled in decomposing filth, the enviable project of a neighbor who spoke of the fertilizer problem he had been able to solve. The maggots are the larvae of the black soldier fly, an insect whose digestive system effectively turns food waste into organic fertilizer. Farmers normally would despise them if they weren’t so valuable. Uganda is a regional food basket, but rising commodity prices blamed on the war in Ukraine are hurting farmers. Fertilizer prices have doubled or tripled, with some popular products hard to find on the market.

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Jim Beam plans to ramp up bourbon production at its largest Kentucky distillery. The more than $400 million expansion was outlined Wednesday and it aims to meet growing global demand for the world's top-selling bourbon. Beam Suntory says the project will increase capacity by 50% at the Beam plant in Boston, Kentucky. It says greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by the same percentage. The company says the expansion will be used to produce two mainstays — Jim Beam white and black label bourbons. And the project will mostly support expected sales growth overseas, especially in European and Asian markets.

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There’s not much left of this small village outside of Ukraine's second-largest city. Its houses and shops lie in ruins. Its school is a bombed-out hull. The church is scarred by rockets and shells. But the golden dome above its blasted belfry still gleams in the fading autumn light. Only about 30 people remain. About 1,000 lived here when Russian troops trolled across the border in February and occupied it. Those forces suddenly abandoned it around Sept. 9 as Ukrainian troops advanced in a lightning-counteroffensive. That blitz could be a turning point. But it could also lead to a new and dangerous escalation in the war.

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Restaurant owners are moving to at least temporarily block a nation-leading new California law giving more power to fast food workers by putting the question before voters. If they gather enough signatures, the law that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Labor Day wouldn’t take effect unless it’s supported by a majority of voters. It would create a Fast Food Council with equal numbers of workers’ delegates and employers’ representatives to set minimum standards for wages, hours and working conditions. The coalition said Wednesday that the law will raise consumer costs, isn’t needed, and will create “a fractured economy” with different regulations for different types of restaurants.

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A civil rights activist, a business owner, a lawyer, an engineer and the founder of a winery and his family were among the 10 people killed when a floatplane crashed in the waters of Puget Sound. The U.S. Coast Guard released the names of the crash victims early Tuesday. The body of one of the dead was recovered by a good Samaritan after Sunday's crash. The other nine remain missing. Killed was Ross Andrew Mickel, founder of Woodinville-based Ross Andrew Winery, and his family. Also killed was Spokane activist Sandy Williams, a lecturer, filmmaker and editor of The Black Lens, an African American-focused newspaper. The plane went down off Whidbey Island. The NTSB is investigating.

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Thousands of Indians have rallied under key opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, who made a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over soaring unemployment and rising food and fuel prices. Gandhi accused Modi of pursuing policies benefitting big business groups at the expense of small and medium industries and poor farmers and workers. He also said the government was creating an atmosphere of fear and hatred, in reference to Hindu-Muslim tensions. He said the prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and essential food items like wheat have shot up 40%-175% since Modi came to power eight years ago. The government says it has provided millions of people with toilets, gas connections, drinking water, bank accounts, free health insurance and homes.

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A water crises in Mississippi's capital city has forced high school football coaches to adjust on the fly. High school football is a big part of the state's cultural identity. Coaches and players are trying to adapt and figure out ways to practice and play games. Coaches say drinking water isn't much of a problem, but keeping everything clean is difficult. Some are taking uniforms to laundromats or even to their own houses to keep programs running. Many Jackson residents have been without running water in their homes and businesses this week because of breakdowns in the city’s main water treatment plant.

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A small robot with a clip-like hand and the smarts to know which drinks are popular is part of an effort to make convenience stores even more convenient. The robot named TX SCARA operates behind the refrigerated shelves in the back of a FamilyMart store. It knows what kind of beverages are running short and can lift cans and bottles one by one onto the shelf. Industrial robots are common in factories, and others can map disaster zones and help doctors perform surgery. But TX SCARA aims at the repetitive work done in convenience stores and warehouses. It's one possible answer to Japan's worsening labor shortage.

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People are waiting in lines for water in Jackson, Mississippi, after the partial failure of the the city water system. Some homes and businesses have running water, but many do not. Flooding of the Pearl River worsened longstanding problems in one of two water-treatment plants. President Joe Biden has declared an emergency over the water problems in Mississippi's capital city. Biden called the city's mayor Wednesday to discuss response efforts. A city news release said the main water-treatment plant had “challenges with water chemistry” Wednesday, which led to a drop in output of water. That caused depletion of water tanks and a sharp decrease in water pressure.

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People who drink tea may be a little more likely to live longer than those who don't. That's according to a large study of British tea drinkers published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine. Scientists found two or more cups daily was tied with a modest benefit: a 9% to 13% lower risk of death from any cause. Adding milk or sugar didn’t change the results. Past studies in China and Japan, where green tea is popular, suggested health benefits. The new study extends the good news to the U.K.’s favorite drink: black tea. A study like this is based on observing people’s habits and health. It can’t prove cause and effect.

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The man who created often-magical desserts for five presidents and their guests as White House executive pastry chef has died at age 78. The death of Roland Mesnier was confirmed Saturday by the White House Historical Association, which said he died Friday following a short illness. One of the longest-serving White House chefs, Mesnier was hired in 1979 by first lady Rosalynn Carter and retired more than 25 years later during the George W. Bush administration. He grew up in a village in eastern France and worked in Paris, London and Bermuda before coming to the United States.

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More than a half-million California fast food workers are pinning their hopes on a groundbreaking proposal that would give them increased power and protections. It would include four workers’ delegates alongside four employers’ representatives and two state workplace regulators on a new Fast Food Council that would set minimum standards for wages, hours and working conditions. It’s one of the hottest bills awaiting final action before the California Legislature adjourns at month’s end. Restaurant owners say it would drive up the price of fast food and force them to cut workers’ hours.

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