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Friday, February 24, 2017

The Seductive Lie Of ‘Patient Zero’ And The Outbreak Narrative, by Leyla Mei, Aeon

If the story of Dugas as Patient Zero was scientifically inaccurate, the mere invention of a journalist in search of a literary prop, then why did it persist for so long? What makes the idea of a primary case so compelling, and what does our fascination with it reveal about our need for narratives to make sense of what seems beyond our grasp?

The Dollar Menu Through The Ages, by Daniela Galarza, Eater

Based on earnings reports and market research, Taco Bell’s dollar value menu — which it calls Dollar Cravings — is a runaway success, particularly as compared to value and dollar menus among the top national fast-food chains. This year, Taco Bell announced plans to add more options to its existing dollar menu, and as of last fall, introduced a dollar menu just for breakfast.

Taco Bell’s dollar menus can be traced back to America’s most famous burger chain: McDonald’s. The Golden Arches wasn’t the first chain to introduce a value menu at all of its locations, but it did pave the way with limited-time offers and the country’s first real “value meal” targeted at children.

The discounts help get customers in the door, but as Andrew F. Smith writes in Fast Food: The Good, the Bad and the Hungry, there’s a dark side to a good deal. “Research has shown that bundled meals encourage customers to purchase more than they might if they just selected individual items,” Smith writes, and this imperative to overbuy has impacted consumers’ wallets and waistlines for decades. Here’s how Taco Bell and McDonald’s have played off each other’s dollar-menu success over the years.

Know What You Write (Not Write What You Know), by Tim Gautreaux, Literary Hub

At this point in my career, I’m not as interested in setting stories in Louisiana as I am in following what guides me and making that impetus interesting for readers. Writing teachers tell their students to write what they know, and that’s good advice. But that doesn’t suggest that a writer has to wallow exclusively in the local culture or their childhood.

Jeremy Lee: A Cook And His Books, by Jeremy Lee, The Guardian

My parents liked to read, cook and eat, quite liked their brood and made efforts to have us all at the table every day. In the kitchen, a small pile of cookery books (pulled from laden shelves), with a pad and a pencil for notes, awaited my mother’s interest.

To this day this is how I love to read a book: at home, surrounded by piles of this, that and the other. I sometimes find my finger, as my mother’s did, tap-tap-tapping at a recipe on a page.

A Writer Discovers That The Golden Days Of Night Trains Are Over, by The Economist

Sleeper trains occupy a romantic corner of any traveller’s soul. One of Hercule Poirot’s most gripping adventures takes place on the Simplon Orient Express, which used to run from Paris to Istanbul. A famous scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” features a night train entering a tunnel. James Bond, meanwhile, detects a spy on a sleeper train after noticing him behave suspiciously in the dining car (“Red wine with fish!” Bond mutters).