All The Swirl "Must Reads"

Each month, our staff takes a break to think about which of the many great food, beverage and lifestyle stories of the month caught our attention and are worth sharing.

Kimberly Charles

My "Must Read"What Makes a Sandwich a Sandwich (It's really a Must Read and Must Listen)

AuthorDan Peshman

Source: Sporkful

Why does it stand out to you? 

I really enjoy Peshman's every man approach to food.   He covers subjects that might appear mundane with a fresh, humorous but always savvy approach.  On the way back from Lodi the other day, we heard his debate about what makes a sandwich a sandwich which you can listen to here.  I'm a fan of America's Test Kitchen and a subscriber to Cook's Illustrated so I love the science behind food.  This discussion of how a proper sandwich is designed is entertaining and educational.   That one episode made me a believer, tune in!


Alex Fondren

small talk.png

My "Must Read": The End of Small Talk

Author: Tim Boomer

Source: The New York Times

Why does this stand out to you? 

Confession: I'm terrible at small talk. I recognize its professional utility, but still can't help considering it a quaint, Victorian and unfortunately necessary skill in which I am a bit lacking. It doesn't come naturally to me to ask friends and loved ones "how was your day?" when I know response is almost always "fine" or "ok" or a vague "good and yours?" Conversation for the sake of conversation.

To me this dull but somehow mandatory ritual just gets in the way of an opportunity to actually learn something interesting about the other person. It's probably a bit odd, but my go-to conversation opener for my boyfriend at the end of the day is usually more akin to: "describe the best thing you ate today" or "what are you most looking forward to this week?"  

My favorite aspect of this article was that the story in and of itself proved useful as an excuse to avoid small talk over the weekend when meeting a close friend's shy new beau for the first time. He seemed a bit taken aback when I immediately launched into a few questions about his film-editing work that required thoughtful, detailed replies. I explained this article and how I was using it as an experiment to do away with small talk (starting with him), and he loved the idea. We ended up having a tremendously interesting conversation that we may have otherwise missed out on had we obeyed the traditional rules of opening dialogue regarding the weather and our respective commutes. (Truly a must-read for anyone about to embark on a first date of any kind!)


Ana Roselli 

Photo Courtesy of Eros Dervishi - The New York Times

Photo Courtesy of Eros Dervishi - The New York Times

My "Must Read": The Marriages of Power Couples Reinforce Income Inequality

Author: Tyler Cowen

Source: The New York Times

Why does this stand out to you?

This article stood out to me because I had never thought before about the fact that marriages could be related to income inequality and ultimately, development. The author discusses the fact that power couples and the assortative mating phenomenon are to blame for the growing achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families. Ultimately, the theory posits that now-a-days “an investment banker may marry another investment banker rather than a high school sweetheart, or a lawyer will marry another lawyer, or a prestigious client, rather than a secretary”. And the problem can go much deeper in the long-run, once it gets harder for one to “marry up” to improve their life conditions. So if a family is not well-connected their children might be too discouraged to even fight for a better future.

It makes me wonder, how can society fight a phenomenon like this? We should be free to choose our partners but I can’t ignore the fact that I myself only have around me people with the same education level as mine. Is inequality a fate that societies cannot escape? I don’t think we can fight assortative mating but we can for sure invest in equal educational opportunities for all. This way every couple could be a power couple. Again, the answer for social problems lies on one single word: education.


Lauren Seward

My "Must Read": 2015: The Year Recycled Water Became Cool

Author: Matt Weiser

Source: Water Deeply

Why does this stand out to you? 

Having spent the majority of my young life in a northern California town with a four-month-long rain season, I never worried much about a dwindling water supply. Water was everywhere, so I really didn’t think about it much at all (excluding that in my drinking cup and the nearby rivers that were seemingly always under threat by the mining industry.) We lived a touch off the grid and had our own well system for drinking water (the modern kind… the kind that operates with more than a bucket and rope). My father kept a 3 foot tall rain gauge to keep track of how many inches fell during each rainy session, and it often overflowed overnight. Our green-thumbed family friends wasted years of effort on a garden that drowned winter after winter as the neighboring river crested to four times its normal height during a heavy storm.

Water was so much a part of my daily life that we stopped thinking about it as something special (and actually felt it to be kind of annoying). Flash forward 15 years and I can feel the drought every time I use a dish, enter a bathroom, or save my plants as they cling on to their last moments of life. So when I hear of programs like the Residential Recycled Water Fill Station from northern California's Dublin-San Ramon Services District I feel a bit less guilty about dumping out my extra coffee in the morning. Dozens of similar programs have sprung to life across California in 2015, providing thousands of residents with free recycled wastewater that can’t be consumed, but is primarily used in landscape irrigation.  

These programs not only educate customers about recycled water and the importance of conservation, they also give Californians whose homes require extra water a chance to keep their yards alive while contributing to the devastating drought at a much slower rate. Here’s to protecting the future and fulfilling the dream of having the greenest lawn on the block!

All the Swirl is a collections of thoughts and opinions assembled by the staff and industry friends of Charles Communications Associates, a marketing communications firm with its headquarters in San Francisco, California. We invite you to explore more about our company and clients by visiting