Manner Matters: How to Order Pizza for a Group

A good formula is to get a mix of 3 types: cheese, meat, and veggie pizzas. Chances are good that any given person will not like one of the topping options and still have two other options to go on. And who really needs more than that?

If you know the group better, I think it's great to get more creative, but to also check if they're in the mood for certain things. It's also easy to build on the 3-variety format for larger groups by adding in 4th or 5th options that might have less universally loved toppings, like Western or Hawaiian.

@AndroidUser, I had a coworker with a severe lactose intolerance, so if the office was doing pizza lunch or dinner together, we always got a small cheese-free pizza that was mainly for him. It always had some meat and veggies on it and was almost like an open-faced hot sandwich, which was definitely tasty and other people always wanted some, so it's not like there was a random sad, cheeseless pizza that didn't get eaten. But even if he was vegan and it was his choice, should we not have accommodated and included him?

Where Do Cocktail Prices Come From?

I'm usually more of a wino, but if I'm someplace renowned for their drink menu, I always try something. Some have definitely been over-hyped, but the ones that weren't were definitely something unique. I'm okay with splurging on a fancy cocktail sometimes in the same way that I'm okay with splurging on a fancy meal sometimes; it's because it involves food sourcing, equipment, and expertise that I just can't replicate at home.

@sdfishtaco, yeah, paying that much for a well drink, sure, but I don't think we're talking about your standard gin and tonics or 7 and 7's. This is about drinks that come in golden pineapples or have bananas carved to look like dolphins. Drinks with mysterious ingredients like falernum and cynar. It's like going to a steakhouse to get a burger and pointing out that you can get one cheaper at Mickey D's. I don't think I've ever seen a specialty cocktail in Chicago for under $10, and even that strikes me as low.

Finally, a Tool for Making Totally Clear Ice Spheres

I begrudgingly admit that the clear ice looks so very pretty in the glass, but I'd also totally forget that thing was in there and bonk it into my face.

Where to Find the Best Ice Cream in Chicago

I live an easy stroll away from Jeni's, Black Dog, and Scooter's, as well as some that don't make this list like Paciugo or Anthony's Italian Ice (they carry Bobtail ice cream). I keep telling people that we should do a crawl starting at my house and ending whenever the last person drops into a sugar coma, but surprisingly no one's taken me up on it.

Manner Matters: Help, My Friend Chews With Her Mouth Open

@Ocean, from the places that I know people from anyway -- Korea, China, Japan.

Manner Matters: Help, My Friend Chews With Her Mouth Open

@Pupster, I've heard of slurping and belching being the norm in Asia -- the former out of necessity when eating something brothy with chopsticks and the latter as a sign of satisfaction with the meal. The only other Asian table manner I've been told of comes from Japan -- a coworker said that cleaning your plate is rude because it's a sign that the host didn't give you enough food. It's more polite to leave a few bites to show that you enjoyed it and are sated. I actually really like that one.

So I haven't heard anything about open-mouthed chewing -- can anyone weigh in with something more specific than "it's a cultural thing"?

@esk6805, totally possible, but I think the onus is still on the person to say "please excuse my chewing, I can't breathe through my nose."

Manner Matters: Help, My Friend Chews With Her Mouth Open

@Kassidy Helfant, in some cultures, putting spinach in your fly is a sign of respect to the chef.

Manner Manners: Splitting Up the Tip

Yeah, I end up phasing these people out. Not on purpose, but because I find that they're also the people who also lack social grace in other areas of life -- maybe you give them rides sometimes but they never offer, or they always want to go somewhere that's convenient for them instead of convenient for the rest of the group. You just naturally distance yourself from people who make it tiring to be their friend.

When someone asks a weirdly blunt question about money, it's one of those moments where you're taken aback by the awkwardness and don't know what to say, but I find it's best to pause and gather yourself, then give them an equally blunt answer: "dude, that's a weird question to ask people." For people who lack the ability to pick up on social cues, the direct approach is usually the only thing that works, but I think you have to do it in the moment and say it playfully to avoid being a jackhole yourself.

What It's Like to Work at a Hot Dog Cart

I've only encountered the lack of ketchup once and it baffled me. Sure sure, it's not supposed to go on a genuine Chicago dog, but not everyone likes them anyway. I'm from Chicago and I just want a good, old fashioned ketchup-and-mustard dog, dagnabbit!

6 Fresh Drinks You Should Grill This Summer

That alcohol-free lemonade would be great with some bourbon.

How I Got My Degree From Hot Dog University

I couldn't help but read that headline in Ralph Wiggum's voice. When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!

Manner Matters: Should You Tattle on Kids Sneaking Food?

I don't think that the scenario in this question is so odd, just the way that it's framed. I also think that wondering what a column about table manners is doing on a food blog is asinine.

So ignoring the food issues that the asker is projecting on the situation, the question is what to do at the dinner table when a parent doesn't see the kid misbehaving. My method is to playfully ask the kid what they're up to over there. If it's something harmless, the child will excitedly tell you about her pizza. If it's something illicit, the child will broadcast it and the parents can take care of it.

Cook the Book: 'Coi' by Daniel Patterson

Endlessly discussing the route taken to the restaurant per the Californians skit on SNL

An Open Letter to Serious Eaters

Oh wow, so many comments. I was trying to get through them all but don't have the time. Could you publish an update clarifying some of the concerns here so we don't have to comb through all the responses to find specific answers?

It's nice to see that old usernames won't be going away since I'm one of the many chiming in here who values my privacy and only uses anonymous names to comment on public sites, but I'm not sure why this change means the demise of Talk.

Where to Eat Near the Willis Tower in Chicago

Good timing, our European intern was asking where to eat around there today. I'm pretty sure the last time I was in the SEARS tower, I was also in the womb, so I had nothing helpful to tell him.

The Best F&$king Grilled Chicken Sandwich Ever

@Tipsykit37, what about mixing it in with the other sauce? I sometimes have a mayo issue, and after some thought and some interrogating friends with mayo finickyness, I think people often think they have an issue with the texture when it's actually the vinegar smell. Combining it with another sauce like he green one here can help minimize that. Just a thought.

Can't believe that anyone is hating on the idea of putting chips on a sandwich so I'm happy to hear that you're intrepidly finding a way to glue them on :)

Food Huggers Help Keep Cut Produce and Open Containers Fresh

I think I'm unreasonably excited about this. Maybe it's just because I love things that fit perfectly into other things

Know Your Sweets: Angel Food Cake

These were a staple of childhood birthdays in my house -- and we loved it -- though in retrospect it was all just a trick to steer us away from sugary frosting.

Ask the Food Lab: What's the Point of Bay Leaves?

Wow we got the opposite of the poison story. When one of my siblings complained because there was a leaf in their stew, my mom adlibbed "ohh you got the lucky bay leaf." For the rest of childhood, my mom had to make sure there were 3 bay leaves in everything or face insufferable whining from the other two children. God help her if one of us found 2 leaves in our dish.

Make Meyer Lemon Bitters This Weekend

Those are Meyer lemons? The Meyers we get in Chicago are a much more buttery yellow, as opposed to that, well, lemon yellow.

Staff Picks: What's Your Least Favorite Dessert?

@ephraim, that sounds convincing, but it doesn't explain the bizarrely bitter, not sweet dessert items that my coworkers bring back from Korea sometimes, a country that certainly has intense flavor in its cuisine. Those were the only things I could think of (aside from just bad quality dessert) when looking at the slideshow.

Poll: Do You Send Your Burger Back if It's Not Cooked to Your Requested Doneness?

There needs to be a third option: only if it's egregious.

@ccbweb, are you on immunosuppressants? I had a stem cell transplant last year and am on tacrolimus, so I feel you. I've had some mid-rare steak at home where I know it's been handled properly, but otherwise my burger orders have also had to change to medium or better.

Frankly though, like others have mentioned, I'm more worried about contaminated raw produce -- the lemon that goes into water is a sneaky offender -- or items like salt shakers or condiment bottles that get repeatedly handled and refilled but not washed.

Serious Cheese: Be My Cheesy Valentine

*this is. Too busy drooling to bother typing coherently

Serious Cheese: Be My Cheesy Valentine

Is is the sexiest article I've ever read.

Staff Picks: What's Your Favorite Soup in Chicago?

No love for Soupbox? Might not be super fancy, but it's darn good and the staff is always really friendly.
The ramen at Kabocha is good.
The Gage always has great soups. Their lunch special is well worth it.
Bittersweet (a bakery) has a cute cafe with a small menu, and I've always liked the soup.

My first taste of Meyer lemon?

I've read so much about Meyer lemons, but never tried one, so when I saw them at the store yesterday I had to grab one.

Having never tasted one before, what's the best way to first experience it? I know it's sweeter than your typical lemon, but I figured I still shouldn't just bite into it like any other fruit, yet I also don't want to make something too strong or convoluted that doesn't let me taste the difference between it and your run-of-the-mill lemon.

Suggestions and/or recipes would be greatly appreciated!