“Why Cuba?” more than one friend asked when we told them about the trip we were planning. Why, indeed. Americans of my generation (I’m now 70) grew up on black-and-white TV images of a fierce Fidel, an angry Nikita Khrushchev threatening to beat us to death with his shoe and the Kennedys facing the Cuban missile crisis which promised to kick-start World War III. Cuba seemed dangerous and exotic; the kind of place only Indiana Jones could survive. But Castro’s Revolution is 60 years old now, and Havana will celebrate its 500th anniversary this year. Cuba today is a land of beauty and contradiction, a place where history and politics collide on every street corner, a place where crumbling reminders of Spanish colonialism stand cheek-to-jowl with luxurious tourist hotels, a place where soul-crushing poverty endures in the shadow of glittering Armani shops, a place where a rigid Socialist government rules over citizens who are making tentative forays into private … [Read more...] about A wonderful week of adventures in captivating Cuba
Panama hat grades
By TEJAL RAO OCT. 24, 2018 The story of how Kit Kats, once a British chocolate export, became a booming business from Hokkaido to Tokyo — and changed expectations about what a candy bar could be. The story of how Kit Kats, once a British chocolate export, became a booming business from Hokkaido to Tokyo — and changed expectations about what a candy bar could be. By TEJAL RAO OCT. 24, 2018 Photographs by SPENCER LOWELL The seven-story Don Quijote megastore in the Shibuya district of Tokyo is open 24 hours a day, but it’s hard to say when it’s rush hour, because there’s always a rush. A labyrinth of aisles leads to one soaring, psychedelic display after another presided over by cartoon mascots, including the mascot of Don Quijote itself: an enthusiastic blue penguin named Donpen who points shoppers toward toy sushi kits and face masks soaked with snail excretions and rainbow gel pens and split-toe socks. The candy section is vast, with … [Read more...] about In Japan, the Kit Kat Isn’t Just a Chocolate. It’s an Obsession.
Photographs by CHRISTOPHER PAYNE OCT. 24, 2018 For millions of Latin Americans, the Colombina factory in La Paila is the place where sweet moments are made. For millions of Latin Americans, the Colombina factory in La Paila is the place where sweet moments are made. Photographs by CHRISTOPHER PAYNE OCT. 24, 2018 by INGRID ROJAS CONTRERAS Like any good immigrant, I know on which bodega shelves to find the food portals to my childhood. I know where to turn, where to crouch, where to bow before the ready-made boxes to make Colombian buñuelos, pandebonos, pandeyucas and arepas. But the one food item I cannot find in San Francisco is the candy of my childhood. I grew, as we say in Colombia, a punta de Bon Bon Bum. The strawberry lollipop was such a central part of my diet, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was made of equal parts Valle del Cauca sugar and red dye No.40. Bon Bon Bums (pronounced like the French bonbon and the English “boom”) are lollipops … [Read more...] about Inside Colombia’s Beloved Candy Factory
By MARY H. K. CHOI OCT. 24, 2018 Candy is controversial. Scouring the globe in search of the sweet stuff reveals just how different our palates are — and how much we have in common. Candy is controversial. Scouring the globe in search of the sweet stuff reveals just how different our palates are — and how much we have in common. By MARY H. K. CHOI OCT. 24, 2018 Photo Illustration by MASSIMO GAMMACURTA Whenever I land in a new country, before I’ve even left the arrivals hall, my mind turns to shopping. Not the boutiques or cosmetics counters, no duty-free sunglasses and designer perfumes for me. No, the pressing calculus as I make my way to baggage claim is driven by drugstores, kiosks, supermarkets and vending machines. In a new port of call, I like to know what sort of candy I’m dealing with. As with breakfast foods, I believe candy is often tastier the less expensive it is. I like my confections approachable. Low-rent. Basic. Shot through with … [Read more...] about These Are the World’s Best Candies. Want to Fight About It?
Today’s podcast focuses on story ideas and how to find great ones.Read the stories mentioned in the podcast here:Still shiningBy Lane DeGregory / Times Staff WriterOn the south side of the city pier, across from the hot dog stand, the old man parks his pushcart. He pulls out a metal folding chair, ties two corduroy cushions on the seat, unloads an amplifier, a microphone, a fistful of cords. Then he takes out his battered guitar.It's a sunny Friday, about 2 p.m. A light breeze is rippling the bay. Sea-green trolleys are clanging by. Hundreds of people are parading past the old man.Fake feathers sprout from his red straw cowboy hat; striped paper clips and painted hearts circle its blue ribbon brim. Thick, square glasses magnify his milky gray eyes. His nose is long, his ears oversized. His head looks too heavy for his body. It seems to sink into his stooped shoulders, maybe from the weight of his hat.He says he's just under 5 foot 6. (Just six inches under.) All angles and … [Read more...] about Episode 7: Finding great ideas, part one