Choosing our favorite articles is always hard—we publish so many stories every year that we’re so proud of. But this year, it seemed harder than ever to choose a handful of pieces that represent the best of 2019. As always, we published plenty of the deep-dive, nerdy cooking articles and recipes that we’re known for: Using a fermented moldy-rice marinade to make the best possible prime rib? No problem! But we also thought outside the box, introducing readers to Moment of Zen, our new end-of-week look at the weirdest comments on our site, along with the strangest food news around the web and the occasional quote from a staff member’s favorite book.
We also doubled down on taste tests and equipment reviews this year, committed to finding you the best possible veggie burger, the richest Greek yogurt, the most reliable wine glass, and so much more. When we weren’t testing veggie burgers or marinating prime rib, we wrote about appropriation, Benihana, and the way Filipino chefs cook throughout the diaspora. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Keep scrolling to catch up on all of our staff’s favorite articles of the year.
I want to give a shoutout to Sho, who writes our weekly Moment of Zen posts. Sho sits next to me, so I’ve gotten to know him pretty well over the past few years. I’ve learned that he’s stubborn, outspoken, and his taste in music does not align with mine.
But he’s also brilliant, knowledgable about ramen (and so much more), and a fantastic writer. Every Friday morning, I’m actually giddy to read his Moment of Zen column, which holds a roundup of newly published posts from the week, a choice comment that’s been left on the site, a book break (!), and then a fair amount of hijinks in food news. For me, these posts are a little moment of joy in a stressful week. You never know what you’ll discover about food, or news, or even Sho. Read them and you’ll get it. Trust me. —Ariel Kanter, marketing director
Allison Robicelli’s riff on St. Louis bagels was so funny, so outrageous, and yet so well-reasoned in a gonzo sort of way, that I find myself anxiously awaiting her next bit of inspiration for us. —Ed Levine, founder
When that St. Louis bagel controversy erupted on Twitter several months ago, I thought the same thing almost everyone else did: Who the f-ck would do that to a bagel? Leave it to the crazy brilliant mind of Allison Robicelli to see the genius in the unorthodox slicing method, complete with recipe proof. Plus, she’s just funny as hell. —Daniel Gritzer, managing culinary director
I’m going to have to co-sign the other Daniel here and say the St. Louis bagel story—in particular the Hassleback version! This story came out as I was applying to work here and reading it made me feel like I just had to get the job. The story took something already crazy, and then just kept escalating in such a funny way—and finally ended up with something brilliant and delicious. —Daniel Dyssegaard-Kallick, full stack developer
I loved working on this story with the writer Vonnie Williams. To write it, Vonnie spoke to Filipino chefs around the world and used the interviews as a starting point to explore the idea of authenticity and how it applies to a cuisine and culture that has been shaped by so many waves of migration and colonization. The final piece is so interesting, touching, and inspiring. Plus, it features not one but two fantastic Filipino recipes. —Elazar Sontag, assistant editor
Though not necessarily my favorite feature, this is certainly the most memorable one. We have a lot of delicious perks at SEHQ—and this vegetarian/bean/beyond meat burger tasting wasn’t one of them. I still shudder thinking back on all the mysterious, spongy (and some that were truly inedible) science-experiment patties that we taste-tested on three separate occasions. Despite the lack of culinary enjoyment, these taste tests still brought the staff together, where we rejoiced in our shared suffering, laughed at our own revulsion, and exchanged the worst insults we could imagine (for the patties, that is). It was worth the pain so Sho Spaeth could give our readers these wonderfully written reviews for the best garden-style, black bean, and imitation-meat veggie burgers. —Grace Chen, office manager and associate podcast producer
Not a recipe per se, but if there’s one thing that’s upped my knowledge of cooking science, it’s Sho’s very real—totally not an April Fool’s joke—guide to toasted salt. I noticed James Beard didn’t mention it this year, but I’m sure they’re saving it for something special, just like me and my tub of 35-hour toasted salt. —Joel Russo, video producer
I would like to give a shout-out to this brain-expanding piece from the beginning of the year. Sho Spaeth takes an ultimately forgettable instance of social media trolling as a jumping-off point for a deep dive into the history of the Benihana brand, its founder, and American notions of Japanese culture. —John Mattia, video editor
George Stern’s piece about the ways cooking sites fail at accessibility for people with disabilities was a welcomed reality check for me. Sure, it is a topic us designers have read about in many a Medium article, but how many of us have had the opportunity to discuss it with a blind author and cook? After the article was published, George visited our test kitchen to demonstrate how he cooks and how he navigates the website with a screenreader. Meeting him has been an inspiration to keep designing for accessibility in the foreground because it is not an optional checklist item for one in four people in the US. —Maggie Lee, UX designer
George Stern’s piece about how food sites (including ours) fail people like him with disabilities was so original, so moving, and so compellingly written that I find myself re-reading it over and over again. —Ed Levine, founder
Editor emeritus Max Falkowitz does it again! “It” being his particular brand of service journalism paired with rigorous reporting and a writing style that’s rich with personality. If you use olive oil at least a couple of times a week, you should read this story before ever buying another bottle. Once you convert to the good stuff—which, for the record, needn’t be very expensive—there’s no going back. —Niki Achitoff-Gray, editor in chief
Let me preface this by saying that all of my coworkers, past and present, are wonderful people, but this piece on our unpopular food opinions is my favorite because it revealed some alarming truths about us all: We eat green bananas (?!), think banh mi are “fistfuls of dust” (?!), and coconut water is too wet (?!). The comments are full of “gems,” too (I’m looking at you blender full of cornflakes) and are still open to whoever else is ready to share their own unpopular opinions. —Paul Cline, president
I had fun testing, writing, and reading the reactions to this piece. I must confess, though, that I was mystified by people who were personally affronted by the fact that I find the texture of sous vide steak off-putting. —Sho Speath, staff writer and editor
City dining guides can be a bit of a slog to read some times, especially when they cover iconic dishes. These best-of lists often end up blending together with pretty unremarkable writing covering the same handful of restaurants that everyone already has on their radar; there is definitely AI advanced enough to churn these out with an algorithm.
But this chowder piece from Terrence Doyle is so much better than that. It’s funny and obsessive about the alchemy of chopped fresh clams, potatoes, dairy, and salty pork in a very on-brand style for Serious Eats. —Sasha Marx, senior culinary editor
I don’t have any children of my own, but I do have a three-year-old niece that I babysit quite often, and I enjoyed Kenji’s perspective on helping little ones navigate the culinary world. She eats ice cream cones from the bottom up, dunks cookies in milk ’til they crumble apart, and loves whipped cream with pie (as long as it’s in a separate bowl to the side), and I feel more relaxed about letting her explore food in her own way. She’ll figure out how “adults” eat ice cream soon enough; there’s no need to rush her along with corrections that take the fun out of our time together. —Stella Parks, pastry wizard
Is it a faux pax to choose something that you not only wrote but are the subject of? Oops. I’m not a writer, but I had so much fun working on the essay that Stella and I collaborated on for Valentine’s Day to celebrate our work marriage. We had a Google doc going, and one of us would write a paragraph and then the other would pick it up and write her perception of the same event that shaped our relationship. The kicker was I thought we were all done, but then the piece was published and Stella had added a last paragraph that legit made me cry. —Vicky Wasik, visual director
I’ve learned a lot about food since I started working at Serious Eats in September, but one of the most surprising pieces of knowledge I’ve gathered is that the world is full of so! many! sweet potatoes! Elazar’s field guide is pretty extensive, and knowing how passionate he is about the vegetable made me even more excited to read it. I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for different varieties at the grocery store recently, and I’m excited to experiment with the versatile vegetable in the kitchen. Now if I can just learn to tell a sweet potato apart from a yam… —Yasmine Maggio, social media intern
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