The Bagel’s Complicated Journey Into Israeli Cuisine


Xoho, a sun-drenched café in central Tel Aviv, is one of only a handful of places in Israel where you can find what most of the world considers a quintessential Jewish food: bagels.

“Many Israelis here order the bagels, but they don’t even realize the Jewish connotation,” says Xoli Ormut-Durbin, Xoho’s Canadian owner and manager. Every morning, her peppy international staff boils small batches of bagels in malt syrup to achieve the delicate chewy-to-fluffy ratio found in a New York bagel. She says this cafe has “come a long way” in getting Israelis to accept the bagel.


The bagel traces its roots to Poland’s bagel-like obwarzanek krakowski, which were stacked on strings and sold individually by market peddlers. Although not an exclusively Jewish food, since … Read the rest

The Conqueror Who Longed for Melons


Zahir al-Din Muhammad, the 16th century Central Asian prince better known as Babur, is renowned for his fierce pedigree and proclivities. Descended from both Timur and Genghis Khan, he used military genius to overcome strife and exile, conquer northern India, and found the Moghul dynasty, which endured for over 300 years. He was a warlord who built towers of his enemies’ skulls on at least four occasions. Yet he was also a cultured man who wrote tomes on law and Sufi philosophy, collections of poetry, and a shockingly honest memoir, the Baburnama, in which he appears to us as one of the most complex and human figures of the early modern era.

Through the Baburnama, we learn that Babur was versed in courtly Persian … Read the rest

Introducing MapLab

Welcome to the first edition of MapLab, a newsletter exploring how maps illuminate the world around us. Here there will be many, friendly dragons: featurettes on newsworthy mapping efforts, fascinating cartographers, snippets of history, eye-popping data visuals, and intriguing map links. I’ll drop you a mix every two weeks.

You’re probably getting this because you subscribe to another CityLab newsletter. Yes, your inbox is jammed. But these dispatches won’t be designed for passive receipt. I want to pull map makers and map lovers together, to share and discuss the incredible landscape of cartographic work this digital century has spawned.

To get started, sign up here. You won’t continue to receive MapLab unless you do!

Anchors aweigh,


Orient yourself: gerrymandering


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The Quest to Save Baltimore’s Iconic Berger Cookie


In 2018, an Obama-era ban on trans fats will come into effect, and it will likely affect at least one of your beloved childhood snacks: Oreos, Cheetos, Pillsbury biscuits, and even Girl Scout cookies. But for one Baltimore bakery, the stakes of the ban are much higher, as their product, Berger Cookies, happens to be one of the city’s most adored food icons.

Trans fats, a man-made fat that improves the shelf life of a product by converting vegetable oils to solid fat, have long been a source of controversy in the packaged foods industry. Research has shown that they contribute significantly to heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol—more so than other, more natural sources of fat.

The packaged food world relies on trans fats to … Read the rest

Can you really be addicted to sex?

When Harvey Weinstein’s abusive behaviour became public, he reportedly checked into rehab as a sex addict. But does sex addiction exist? As Emily Bobrow found, a growing number of therapists suspect the idea may do more harm than good… Read the rest

The Diving Horses of Atlantic City

For nearly half a century, Atlantic City, in New Jersey, United States, was home to an attraction almost too fantastical to believe—an apparently fearless horse with a young woman on its back would leap off a tower some 40 feet high into a pool of water below. The stunt took place at Atlantic City's popular venue Steel Pier, where trained horses took the plunge up to four times a day and seven days a week.

The idea of the diving horse was invented in Texas by ''Doctor'' William Frank Carver, a 19th century sharpshooter who toured the wild west organizing shows with trained animals and shooting exhibitions. The story goes that in 1881, Carver was crossing a wooden bridge over Platte River in Nebraska when the … Read the rest

The Double-Barreled Cannon of Athens

In front of the City Hall of Athens, in Georgia, United States, stands an unusual cannon from the American Civil War. It’s a double-barreled cannon, but unlike other multiple-barrel cannons of the past, the double-barreled cannon of Athens was designed to fire two solid cannonballs connected together by a length of iron chain. The two barrels pointed slightly away from each other, so that when they are fired together the cannonballs would spread to the full length of the chain and mow down enemy soldiers like a scythe cutting wheat on a field, or so was the idea.


Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn/Flickr

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The Art of Mediaeval Book Repairing

In the early Middle Ages, books were made from animal hides known as parchment, rather than from paper. Preparing the parchment was a delicate business. The freshly skinned hide is first washed to remove blood and grime, and then soaked in a strong alkali solution to loosen out the hairs. After staying in the de-hairing solution for more than a week, the skin is attached to a wooden frame and stretched tight like a drum. While the skin is drying, the parchment maker would take a sharp knife and scrap the skin to remove the last of the hair and get the skin to the right thickness. This was the most delicate part. Too much pressure during the scrapping process or a slip of the knife … Read the rest

Paris’s Car Debate Gets Personal

If you’re sick of Paris’s traffic jams, go ahead and tell the mayor directly. That’s the gist of a motorists’ campaign launched Monday, which shared Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s direct phone number in a bid to encourage protestors to jam it.

Working under the hashtag #disleaAnne (“#tellAnne” in English), the motorist pressure group “40 Million Drivers” plans to do to City Hall’s switchboards what they say the administration has done to the roads: clog them up. Their goal is to ensure the mayor can no longer ignore their calls, and, more generally, force her to the negotiating table over the future of Paris’s streets.

The spat—and the distinctly personal assault on one figure—is a sign of how heated the city’s debate around cars has become. … Read the rest