The Most-Read Food Stories of 2020

The Most-Read Food Stories of 2020

Decades from now, when cultural historians sift through the social media posts of 2020, they will tell the pandemic stories of savvy chefs and restaurateurs forced to pivot to meal kits, corner markets and sidewalk cafes as their industry collapsed, seemingly overnight. These historians will note the panic shopping of early March, as Americans rushed to buy N95 masks, toilet paper and Clorox wipes, along with whatever pantry staples they could find, 20-pound bags of flour and industrial-size bricks of active dry yeast included.

And they’ll have to scroll through mind-numbing photographs of bread — millions of misshapen, deflated, underdone boules that, as the months went by, gave way to airy, burnished and scored loaves artfully posed with crocks of house-smoked compound butter. Will they note that for some of the quarantined that single act of posting a loaf of bread on Instagram justified another housebound day?

The stories our readers craved this year were those that served as a kind of masters-level home economics course for the quarantined. Here, in ascending order, are the pieces that kept readers focused and fed, the journalism that made them better cooks.

By November, most people were just plain tired of cooking, but Thanksgiving required more. Margaux Laskey’s recipe roundup offered some less-labor-intensive inspiration for subdued holiday gatherings.

In April, as the realization set in that quarantine was going to last longer than anyone had imagined, Ali Slagle gave readers permission to cook their pasta and sauce in one pot, with delicious results.

We at NYT Cooking and the Food desk have worked remotely since March, gaining the small luxury of making lunches (and breakfasts and dinners) at home. Kasia Pilat compiled the greatest hits, the recipes we’ve leaned on in much the same way we used to rely on the takeout dumplings and dan dan noodles near the office.

In February, Priya Krishna answered the age-old question: How do nudists cook? Carefully, and clothed in a T-shirt, if deep-frying is on the agenda.

In February, print readers received a special section with 24 recipes requiring only one cooking vessel. “Whether you like cooking, love it or are indifferent to the task, most of us can agree that washing a lot of pots and pans after dinner is a drag,” Sam Sifton wrote. “Wouldn’t it instead be easier if there was really only one? One skillet or one Dutch oven, one sheet pan, one pot? Wouldn’t that be great?” It was a prescient collection for the year that was.

The Court of Master Sommeliers confers high honors, but many women candidates told Julia Moskin that they’ve paid a steep price.

Florence Fabricant does things her way. And this Thanksgiving, she urged readers to do the same, skipping the pie and churning ice cream and sorbet instead.

Kim Severson looked at how a family in Fort Bend, Ind., opened their home to dozens of Black Notre Dame students for Thanksgiving, and how the pandemic changed their celebration this year.

Tejal Rao called for a change in restaurant kitchens, arguing that casting the chef as the star comes at too great of a cost — abuse and unfairness — to the workers around him.

Brett Anderson profiled the restaurateur Kuan Lim, whose Lucky Palace restaurant has drawn wine lovers to Shreveport, La., for decades.

Pete Wells checked in on Marilyn Hagerty, the North Dakota restaurant reviewer who found nationwide fame a decade ago for her viral review of an Olive Garden.

In the early days of the lockdown, Eric Asimov wrote about the stigma of drinking wine alone.

The pandemic has cemented outdoor dining’s place in New York. Pete Wells contemplated how that change will alter the city’s restaurant experience.


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