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As drug fiends usually know, peyote is a Mexican cactus with hallucinogenic properties; the visions it conjures are so strong that a religious cult once sprang up to worship it. And a pretty hefty restaurant cult has appeared in the UK that worships simple Mexican cuisine.

In The House Of Ishmael: A history Of The Jews In Muslim Land, By Martin Gilbert

The subtitle to Martin Gilbert's new book (his 81st?) is a little misleading. This is not really a general account of the fortunes and misfortunes of Jews under Muslim rule from the seventh century until the present day. The early centuries are rushed through and, although Gilbert is aware of the magnificent and fabulously detailed account of Jewish life in medieval Egypt provided by SD Goitein's five-volume A Mediterranean Society, he makes little use of it.

Michael McCarthy: With the death of the Emperor we mourn the passing of an ideal

There is an innate and unquenchable human facility for recognising beauty, and that is what we saw in the stag killed on Exmoor

All the fun of the fair: The eccentric British country show is alive and kicking

From bonny baby competitions to giant marrow contests, the country show is a peculiarly British institution. Christopher Hirst weighs up the contestants at North Yorkshire's Thornton le Dale show

DJ Taylor: In a philistine age, who is still willing to speak up for Auntie?

And, given politicians' problems with the English language, who is able to? Even the corporation's most loyal supporters are feeling alienated by it

Cantina Laredo, St Martin's Courtyard, 10 Upper St Martin's Lane, London WC2

Spoiler alert. This review contains details of the single worst dish the reviewer has yet encountered in her professional career. If you don't want to know the ending, or are reading this in the hope of finding a great new Mexican restaurant, look away now.

Medieval history in the making

Eleven years ago, John Lichfield witnessed the birth of Château de Guédelon, the 13th-century castle being built by hand in modern day France. This week he went back to see how work is progressing

Tigers strengthen with Wood after scrum-half Sherwin departs for the Dragons

Castleford have explained their decision to let Brent Sherwin leave and have signed a short-term scrum-half replacement.

In defence of a great novelist

We should ignore a week of hype and manufactured controversy. Martin Amis remains a literary giant

The devil eats finger food: The caterers creating the last word in canapé chic

Lena Corner discovers what the world's style leaders to eat during London Fashion Week

Gyan crowns Ghana's advance

Ghana 1 Nigeria 0

Buzzing again: Why 2009 was a good year for wasps - and the rest of Britain's wildlife

It began with an Arctic blast, suffered the heaviest 24-hour period of rain on record, and ended with another icy bombardment sweeping down from the North. Yet 2009 was surprisingly kind to much of Britain's wildlife given that the two previous wet summers had decimated many species of birds and butterflies.

Boyd Tonkin: Touches of spice at the seasonal feast

The Week In Books

It's glam up north: Peter Jensen's whimsical style

Peter Jensen's autumn/winter designs are inspired by the national dress of Greenland – and have sparked a diplomatic incident, he tells Carola Long

World Cup round-up: Martins revives listless Nigeria in nick of time

Africa, host of the World Cup finals, provided a final flourish of breathtaking excitement as the continent's qualifying campaign drew to a close. Virtually simultaneous late goals in Nairobi and Maputo resulted in Nigeria booking a ticket to South Africa against the odds and Egypt sweated until the final moments of added time in Cairo to score the goal that kept their challenge alive.

Snakes, wasps and spiders...Anna Pavord is enchanted and mystified by the residents of her garden

At last I've seen it, the snake that, over the past two seasons, has left perfect casts of itself in the garden. The skins, dry and crisp, were each about 130cm long, rounded like long sausages, each scale perfectly overlapped on the next. You could see where the eyes fitted in, where the mouth had been. They were light, translucent, fabulously beautiful things. But how could I have been sharing the garden with a creature four feet long and never seen it?

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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
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Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

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