Ahh, the year in eating. In 2011 we saw food trucks find critical mass all over town, beer lovers rejoice over the influx of microbrews in Houston, Paula Deen become her very own meme, and international attention on our restaurant scene thanks to a strange little social media snafu. Without further ado, here are the 10 most popular stories from Eating Our Words this year.
10. Top Five: Cheap Booze: As we searched bartending sites, mixology blogs, culinary forums, print stuff and liquor reviews, these bottles of gin, vodka, rum, whiskey and rye were most often cited by professionals as the best bottles for $20 or less.
8. The Best and Worst Celebrity Endorsements: Despite Julia Child's admonishment that commercial endorsements were demeaning to chefs, there have been a few truly great endorsements over the years from both celebrity chefs and celebrities that set precedents and made memories. Our list starts with the best celebrity endorsements, then moves to the absolute worst.
7. Top 5 Coffee Hacks: The first step is simple: Don't buy Folgers. You may think it's easier just to buy coffee by the tub, but it's just as simple to buy a pound of beans at the farmers' market, local coffee shops or even your grocery store and grind the beans yourself.
6. Restaurant Ejects Diner for Tweeting While Eating: Tweeting and eating go hand-in-hand these days. So what happens when a customer is Tweeting something negative about a restaurant as they're dining in it? In the case of one local diner, it can get you kicked out.
5. Escolar and Uni at Aka Sushi: Did you know that U.S. originally viewed sea urchins as pests, until Japan started purchasing them from Maine fishermen 20 years ago?
4. Top 5 Ramen Hacks: Here are five of our favorite Ramen recipes, good for small budgets and large appetites. (And none of them involve breaking off pieces of Ramen blocks and dipping them into salsa. You're welcome.)
3. Whatever Happened to Baked Alaska? The Fates of Five Once-Faddish Dishes: Here are five old favorites that have already fallen off the average foodie's radar, and are now resigned to food history timelines and the odd octogenarian-supported restaurant.
2. 20 More Commonly Mispronounced Food Words: First, we ran a list of the 20 most commonly mispronounced food words that we run across day in and day out. You, dear readers, went nuts and proceeded to forward and Facebook the link far and wide in what we can only imagine was a frenzy of "HERE UNCLE FRANK, THIS IS HOW YOU PRONOUNCE QUESADILLA FOR CHRIST'S SAKE"-inspired passion. But a list of only 20 words was, naturally, far too short to include some of your other favorite Malaprops or mispronunciations.
1. The United States of Beer: You asked for it, we delivered. While many of you were enjoying our map of the United States of Soft Drinks, just as many of you alcoholics were demanding a United States of Beer map instead. And so we hunkered down all weekend, doing the kind of brutal and difficult work that it takes to determine a fitting beer for every last one of our 50 states.