Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week


Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

Chef (dir. Jon Favreau)

Extrapolating the autobiography from writer/director/star Jon Favreau’s back-to-his-roots effort Chef (out Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray) was one of critics’ favorite parlor games last spring, not that it requires much flair for subtext; Favs plays a marquee Los Angeles chef stuck in a “creative rut” (read: Iron Man 2, Cowboys and Aliens) who gets a scathing review from a food blogger (see reviews for Iron Man 2, Cowboys and Aliens), quits his job in a huff for refusing to keep doing the same ol’ thing, and rediscovers his “voice” by fixing up a food truck (making a low[er]-budget dramedy). It would all come off as more than a little self-indulgent were it not for the picture’s endless likability—it’s flabby but enjoyable, thanks to the comfortable back-and-forth between Favreau and John Leguizamo, the oddball energy of Robert Downey Jr.’s brief appearance, and a surprisingly touching father-son dynamic. It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s a charming and earnest one, and the HD image should please connoisseurs of the film’s abundant food porn. Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Do Tell Your Friends About Blake Mills

I first started hearing about Blake Mills in 2012 when he played on Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel…, but it wasn’t until I heard “Don’t Tell All Our Friends About Me” that I really understood the fuss. He’s a session pro in Nashville’s more sophisticated corners, but his sophomore album, Heigh Ho (out last week), shows off his strengths as a songwriter. Mills bridges the gap between alt-country like Sturgill Simpson, Justin Townes Earl, and Christopher Owens and traditional indie rock. Deer Tick if they spent their spare time writing poetry instead of rabble-rousing. Jillian Mapes, Music Editor

The Nicki Minaj Lyric “He Toss My Salad Like His Name Romaine”

“Salad-tossing” is an interesting little idiom, in so much as the food choice seems misleadingly… healthy. I’ve never fully understood the expression, but always appreciated the surreal culinary images it evokes. Recently, as many know, Nicki Minaj offered up her own verbal spin on “salad tossing” in “Anaconda,” suggesting someone could be so skilled at tossing her salad as to be named after a particular lettuce leaf, i.e. Romaine. I can’t help but wonder (getting into Carrie territory here, after all), though, if she is merely suggesting that the very fact that he’s willing to toss the salad at all – regardless of the quality of his tossing – earns him the name. Alas, Nicki’s always been a master of these fascinating ambiguities. Lastly, just as “salad tossing” doesn’t quite seem to depict the act with which we associate it, the simile here is somewhat askew – but in a way that truly makes you think. It’s certainly led my roommate and I into deep contemplation: one never uses the romaine leaf itself to toss a salad, do they? And if one were to use a form of lettuce, certainly iceberg would get the job done far better. Should the lyric not be, if we’re speaking literally, “He toss my salad like his name is Tongs?” Much contemplation. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2015

Every Spring, Dolce & Gabbana has pretty much the same show, and every year, it fails to disappoint. I truly love Dolce & Gabbana—their commitment to gorgeous clothes in shapes that flatter those of us with more curves than straight lines is a huge part of their appeal for me. And in an era where clothes are either basic and clean and almost suburban — or the polar opposite, i.e., unwearable and more like art — Dolce & Gabbana always spans wearability with luxe, stunning fabrics in simple shapes. And, really, I just want those jacquard shorts. — Angela Lashbrook, Editorial Apprentice

Manhattan on WGN America and Hulu

Fact: for all the talk about this being a “golden age” of television, there are still wonderful shows airing on mysterious networks that aren’t getting enough coverage or even advocates, especially online where hits and interest do matter, which leads to a group of the same TV shows discussed online selected by the internet’s interests, and the cerebral and sometimes considered seem to be left behind for the super-plotty. The superlative season two of Rectify on Sundance TV was a prime example, and I’m worried that the first season of Manhattan — a wonderful, knotty, science-besotted show about the race to build the nuclear bomb in Los Alamos — is suffering a similar fate. It’s a handsome show about science geniuses in a makeshift, spooky town in the desert coming together to save — or annihilate — America during wartime, and it’s well written, thrilling, and with great acting all around. The southwestern vistas are evocative, and the chance to see John Benjamin Hickey play a brilliant man, each frustration and fight worn in on his face, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the show’s pleasures. (Olivia Williams as his equally formidable wife is the bees’ knees here.) Catch up on Hulu if you haven’t already. — Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor