Samuel Muston

Samuel Muston is deputy editor & food editor of The Independent Magazine. He also writes a weekly food column

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Shiny, happy people: the range of emoticons is now enormous

Emoticons: a :-) :-) thing

They have become so common in online and SMS conversations that we react to a colon-hyphen-parenthesis in the same way as to a human smile, says Samuel Muston

Daily grind: for most of us, commuting is a source of anxiety

Studies show that commuting impacts on our well-being, but creative types are using the mundane slog to work for self-improvement

For some, the journey to and from the office can be a productive one - a time to write their novel, take some exercise or make art, says Samuel Muston

Samuel Muston: The Pauper's Cookbook - delicious revival of Jack Monroe of the 1970s

It was the gravy that did it. Dribbling lazily down the pot on the front cover, it looked so slovenly. So unlike the other cookbooks on my parents shelves. Elizabeth David and the other heavyweights of the kitchen bookcase wouldn't have stood for that gravy.

Time and tide: Alvarenga looked remarkably well after being helped ashore on Monday

The most extraordinary tale of survival ever known?

A fisherman washed up on an island in the Pacific claims to have spent 259 days adrift. It is a record for survival on the waves that has experts all at sea, says Samuel Muston

Natural gem: René Redzepi and Samuel Muston turn a simple celeriac into a feast

Diary of the artist: Noma's visionary chef René Redzepi talks fame, cooking - and why he loves British pubs

When the spotlight became too much for Noma's visionary chef, he took refuge in his journal, now published as a book

Mellow yellow: a warming spoonful of polenta

Samuel Muston: A hug on a plate - my paean to polenta

Opening a new restaurant is often a quick way for rich people to lose money. It is a gamble opening your doors to the public, just like playing poker. But as with cards, there are ways to hedge your bets. The cautious restaurateur might tend towards well-worn concepts such as the burger joint, for instance, or the fried-chicken shop.

Shaken, not stirred: a pre-dinner martini

On the menu: Never go straight through to dinner, and never say aperitif

The aperitif is back, the aperitif is in. At Simon Rogan's joint in the Midland Hotel, Manchester, a guy in a bomber jacket breaks off a conversation with his date, "I'll have Just a Splash – that cocktail with Aperol and Prosecco," he says to the barman.

Phantom cruise: The MV 'Lyubov Orlova' was cut adrift in Canada last February

Ghost riders: An unmanned Russian ship full of rats is adrift in the Atlantic - so, just how many other vagrant vessels are out there?

In happier times, the MV Lyubov Orlova was a pleasure ship, a cruiser accustomed to taking well-heeled Russian holidaymakers on adventure tours around the Arctic. Today, that same 295ft ship is bobbing somewhere off the coast of Ireland, its only passengers a horde of disease-ridden rats.

Star quality: the Milestone Hotel

The Milestone: Is this Britain's best hotel?

The users of TripAdvisor certainly think so. But have they got it right? Samuel Muston checks in to the Milestone in West London to see why its guests are so impressed

A view of Davros

Davos: shadowy summit or ski holiday with suits?

Every winter, the World Economic Forum takes place in Switzerland. Its aim? Solving global problems. That and skiing, schmoozing and star-spotting, says Samuel Muston

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