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Happy Thursday, dear readers! Here in the U.S., I am returning after last week’s holiday, refreshed and ready to be scared of all new global political fracas. Onward and upward!

Lots of people are taking a week off of epicurean thoughts to focus on beating back the carb, fat, and sugar induced hysteria our nation collectively entered last week. We at R&K, however, have never been ones to rest on our gluttonous laurels. To celebrate The Perfect Dish, a video series we created with Anthony Bourdain for R&K sister-site Explore Parts Unknown, we got together for a shindig in New York last night and ate outrageously good food with some of our favorite people. The inimitable Yasmin Khan interviewed Bourdain himself on why he travels, sexism in the food industry, and when he became such a hippie (she said it, not me). I’m biased, but I was particularly excited for the fermented tea leaf salad courtesy of Desmond Tan, owner of San Francisco’s Burma Superstar and my recent guide to all things tea leaves in Myanmar. Check out the videos, which feature yours truly inexpertly spitting betel juice onto the streets of Yangon like a real newb.

No rest for the food wicked among us, in other words, so why not double down on your culinary media diet? Did you happen to read our new story on fonio, a super-grain from the Sahel? It’s rich in protein, drought resistant, and sounds delicious. I’ll admit, I was so intrigued that I ordered some online. Which, of course, raises questions of sustainability and appropriation and the ethics of global food commodities generally, but I’m not ready to re-hash The Great Quinoa Debate of 2013 just yet, so for now, let’s focus on sustainable growing and sourcing responsibly and supporting local businesses and hope for the best.

But the internet cannot live on gluten-free grains alone, and the news continues to pummel us with the weird, the bad, and the weirdly bad. Personally, I’m drawn to the weirdly bad. For example, did you see this bizarre story of a convicted Bosnian war criminal who drank poison at his trial? How did that happen?? Where did he get the poison??? How is he the THIRD person accused by this court to do this? That is some serious old-timey spy novel action right there. And speaking of poison… Elsewhere, a look at Europe’s hidden fractures, which I would argue are not so hidden. The Continent had like five seconds of peace and mutual support and now no one can believe it’s ending! They tend to measure their wars in decades, if I recall.

And a few other things I’ve been reading: I love this article on trying to game frequent flyer miles programs to fight the free market. And while you’re contemplating air travel, consider that flying this holiday season sounds like it will be even more miserable than usual. Apropos of nothing, here’s an old-ish article on fantastic beasts I meant to share with you weeks ago. The true story of Ghana’s fake U.S. Embassy, by R&Ker Yepoka Yeebo.

Back to food: I recently attended a dinner by Olia Hercules and now her cookbook Kaukasis is on my gifting list for every cook I know. You can listen to her on Cherry Bombe radio here. Inside the hidden world of restaurant menus (which contains some dubious claims: “‘Grandma’s home-baked zucchini cookies” sound much more appealing than “courgette biscuits’.” Does it? Does it really?) First they came for our curry houses, and we said, “Meh, I guess maybe we can do something.” Finally, I’m am so excited and scared of this panettone recipe. I tried to make panettone a couple of years ago and it somehow cost me about $75 and was inedible. Do I dare try again? Is this something we’re all doing this year? Or are we buying one from Balthazar’s and calling it a day? Help me, dear readers.

See you next week for more food, travel, and politics stories from around the web. Tweet me stories you’d like to see here @caraparks.