September 7, 2022


Constructor: Zaineb Akbar

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
FRENCH ONION SOUP (4D: Savory bowlful topped with bread and cheese)
DUTCH BABY (7D: Fluffy oven-baked pancake)
BOX OF CHOCOLATES (10D: Valentine's Day gift)
BRAID (67A: Word that can follow the first words of 4-, 7- and 10-Down)

Theme synopsis: Each of the theme answers is a food item whose first word, as the revealer tells us, is a type of PLAIT. Today's SERVING of PLAITS: FRENCH BRAID, DUTCH BRAID, and BOX BRAID.

And now a word from our constructor:
Zaineb: i love french onion soup!!!!!

Things I learned:
  • TIVO (62A: DVR brand with a peanut-shaped remote) Never having used a TIVO, I did not know that it had a peanut-shaped remote. The answer was inferable, though, as I recognize TIVO as a popular brand of DVR.
  • STEP (66A: Bhangra movement) Bhangra is a traditional Punjabi folk dance.
  • SODA (8D: Doodh ___ (fizzy milk drink)) Doodh SODA is a beverage in Punjabi cuisine. Also known as milk soda, the drink is a mixture of lemon-lime soda and milk.
  • ALS (49D: "The Women" author Hilton) Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, Hilton ALS is a staff writer at The New Yorker, a teaching professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and an associate professor at Columbia University. His debut book, The Women, published in 1996, uses a mixture of memoir, literary criticism, and political musing to discuss racial and sexual identity. 
  • OLIVE (54D: Al Badawi tree's fruit) The Al Badawi OLIVE tree is one of the oldest trees in the world. Located in the village of Al-Walaja in Palestine, it is estimated to be over 4,000 years old. 
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ABAYA (9A: Flowy robe) An ABAYA is a loose over-garment worn by some Muslim women. The robe covers the body except for the hands, feet, and head. It may be worn with a hijab which covers the hair and head.
  • CATER (17A: "___ 2 U" (Destiny's Child hit)) I like the inclusion of the answer CATER in a puzzle titled SERVING PLAITS. "CATER 2 U" is from Destiny's Child's 2004 album, Destiny Fulfilled.
  • MACAW (21A: Bird that's been called a "winged rainbow") The MACAW, native to Central and South American rainforests, is known for its colorful plumage. Though I hadn't heard the nickname "winged rainbow," it makes perfect sense. There are at least 17 species of MACAW, several of which are endangered or extinct. 
  • BOOK CLUB (31A: Group discussing Bessie Head or Colson Whitehead) Perhaps your BOOK CLUB is discussing A Question of Power or When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head, or The Underground Railroad or The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. I have previously written about Bessie Head and Colson Whitehead.
  • OREOS (36A: Cookies used to model moon phases) This is a great clue for OREOS
  • CAT NAP (50A: Short sleep) and YARN (12D: Ball for a kitten or a knitter) I do not
    Willow taking a CAT NAP

    have a photo of Willow playing with a ball of YARN, but I do have a picture of her taking a CAT NAP on a yarn blanket.
  • EAT ME (64A: "Don't ___!" (prey's plea)) This clue made me laugh! I also enjoy the appropriateness of EAT ME for today's theme answers.
  • DUTCH BABY (7D: Fluffy oven-baked pancake) A DUTCH BABY, also called a German pancake, is similar to a popover or Yorkshire pudding.
  • ARTS (13D: The A in MMA) MMA = mixed martial ARTS
  • SPELLED (44D: What Harini Logan did 22 times in 90 seconds to win the Scripps Bee) Harini Logan is the winner of the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee held in June of this year. Those 22 words she SPELLED in 90 seconds were part of a lightning round spell off. 
  • ATTA (59D: Flour for panjiri) Panjiri is a dish made from ATTA flour fried in sugar and ghee, with dried fruit and spices. Panjiri originates from the Indian subcontinent.

    Geography review:

    • BALI (42A: Coral Triangle island) The Coral Triangle refers to an area around the Philippines, Indonesia (BALI is one of Indonesia's 17,000 islands), Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. The tropical waters in this area are located between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The Coral Triangle has a high degree of marine biodiversity, containing 76% of all known coral species, in addition to many species of fish, turtles, and crustaceans.
    • UTAH (2D: Bears Ears state) A butte is an isolated hill with steep sides and a small, relatively flat top. A butte is similar to a mesa or plateau, but generally smaller. Bears Ears are a pair of buttes in southeastern UTAH, so named because they resemble a bear's ears sticking up from the horizon. The area is sacred to many Native American tribes. Bears Ears and the surrounding area were declared a national monument by President Barack Obama in 2016. (The area of the monument was reduced by President Trump in 2017 and restored by President Biden in 2021.) 
    • MIAMI (53D: Major city in Florida) MIAMI, located on the southeastern coast of Florida, is the second-most populous city in the state, following the city of Jacksonville in the northeast corner of the state.
    This puzzle is SERVING up some delicious theme answers and a clever theme! I like that FRENCH ONION SOUP, DUTCH BABY, and BOX OF CHOCOLATES were presented as Down answers resembling the strands of a BRAID. I had already deduced the theme by the time I uncovered the word BRAID, so it was a nice bonus as well as confirmation. Other great answers: MEANT TO BE, NAIL SALON, and MELLOWS. This puzzle was much more than SO-SO! Thank you, Zaineb, for this puzzle that was a delightful way to start my Wednesday.