Digging into food crime

And we don’t mean raisins in the stuffing, although: gross, y’all. Anyway! As we head into the Thanksgiving break*, we thought we’d talk about the most compelling cases of gustatory malfeasance — poisonings; poisoners suspected of other crimes (Neill Cream); Mafia hits at restaurants; restaurateurs charged with embezzlement, among other things; the list goes on.

My own latest obsession is with Typhoid Mary, about whom I knew basically nothing, except that I bowdlerize the name to call my husband “Typhoid Gary” when one of his super-loud sneezes scares the cats. I thought Mary Mallon was merely the patient zero in a typhoid outbreak, and she was — but there’s more to the story, and with parallels to the present day. Mallon, a cook who had emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland as a teenager, was an asymptomatic carrier of a lethal disease with an incubation period; she also spent decades in forced quarantine on North Brother Island, alone, ostensibly for violating a promise not to work in kitchens again after she was flagged as a super-spreader the first time…but more likely just as much “because she was female, Irish, uncooperative and without a family.” And did you know Anthony Bourdain wrote a monograph on her 20 years ago? Which I’ve got to get my mitts on but these prices, talk about criminal.

What’s your most fascinating food-adjacent felony tale? — SDB

*We’re off until next Monday, but we encourage you to wander through the archives looking for holiday-gift-list inspo. Gobble gobble!