Maanvi Singh

Say you want to escape the doldrums of daily life — but you can't quite afford a trip to Hawaii. Why not to head to your local tiki bar for a sample of the South Seas?

Why do onions make us cry?

Many a poet has pondered. Is it because their beautiful, multilayered complexity moves us to weep? Are we mourning the majestic bulb as we cut it up and consume it?

Or are these tears induced by the tragic tedium of chopping, chopping, chopping?

Yes, yes. All of the above.

Sughra Hussainy makes her own watercolors — which she uses to paint intricate miniatures in the traditional Persian and Afghan styles. Her favorite hue is blue — made from powdered lapis lazuli gemstones.

Renate Senter clearly remembers the first care package she received, in 1946. She, her mother and her sister had fled Poland. In the aftermath of World War II, they'd ended up in a small town, in the British-controlled section of West Germany. "It was my first day of school and all the children got one," she says. "And I remember it was a small package — burgundy. And in white letters, it said 'CARE' on it."

The federal government is getting into hip-hop — well, sort of.

You know that feeling when your body is really craving a nice salad, but the only thing in your fridge is day-old pepperoni pizza? And you don't want to go through all the trouble of heading to the grocery store to gather all the ingredients for salad, so you settle for the pizza?

Well, Neanderthals feel you — kind of.

See, researchers are finding that Neanderthals and early humans weren't all that different — they even got together and made babies every now and then.

This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, and here at The Salt, we wanted to celebrate with a selection of the sauciest, most scrumptious verses about food.

The tiny Samoan islands have among the highest rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in the world — and diet and weight-related health issues have been rising in these Pacific nations since the 1970s. Now 1 in 3 residents of American Samoa suffers from diabetes.

Chinese food has become ingrained in this country's culinary landscape over the years — giving rise to some uniquely Americanized dishes like General Tsao's chicken, beef and broccoli, and of course, the ubiquitous fortune cookie.

But some of the Chinese food you'll find in and around Boston is something else altogether. Bread often comes as a standard add-on with any takeout order. There's chow mein sandwiches and Peking ravioli (aka dumplings). There's the thick, dark lobster sauce.

So, maybe your Instagram pics of #delicious #foodporn never look nearly as scrumptious as the real thing.

Don't despair — it's not you. It's just that your food is too real.

Pot-infused edibles are big sellers in states that have legalized marijuana. The problem is, it's been tough to measure and regulate the potency of these ganja-laced gummy bears, lollies and brownies.

Editor's note: Last fall, NPR's Maanvi Singh embarked on a months-long quest to find her ideal pumpkin pie recipe. As she discovered, there's a lot of science involved in getting the crust and filling just the way you like it. To celebrate Pi Day, we reprise this story, first published last December.

It was the best of pies, it was the worst of pies. I have baked many, many, many pies.

And when I first began making pumpkin pies this autumn, my results were at best inconsistent and, at worst, disastrous.

Attend any conference on global health or peruse the United Nations website, and you'll find some ambitious thinking. World leaders say they want to eliminate tuberculosis and malaria, end AIDS and ensure that every pregnant woman can get the medical care she needs. And they want all that to happen now.

But is any of it actually achievable?

When Dr. Etheldreda Nakimuli-Mpungu graduated from medical school, her mother told her, "OK, good. But you know it's not good to just be a doctor."

Umm, what?

"She, said, 'There's some doctors you go to and they don't make you better. I want you to be one of the doctors that really makes people better,' " Mpungu recalls. "And I thought, 'Oh, no. What does she mean now?' "

Mpungu went on to work in a surgical ward. And then with children. She was helping people — but couldn't say she was really living up to her mother's high expectations.

The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes really suck — literally and figuratively.

They're really good at finding and sucking on human blood. Which especially sucks, because their inescapable, insidious little bites can infect people with the Zika virus as well as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

These buggers — like most mosquitoes -- will bite where we're least likely to notice — at the ankles, behind the knees and at the back of our necks. No matter how much you cover up, one or two will home in on even the smallest cracks of exposed skin.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with quotes from an NPR interview with Dr. Michael Abrahams, the rapping OB-GYN.

Jamaica has had only one confirmed case of the Zika virus, brought in by a traveler — and the government wants to keep it that way.

If you've been following the news about the spread of the Zika virus throughout Latin America, you've probably gotten lost in the jargon once or twice. What's a vector? A reservoir? What's local transmission — the opposite of express transmission?

So we went to the experts to help us wade through all this murky language. And they were helpful — sort of. Because it turns out that even the experts don't agree 100 percent on the definitions.

The T.b. gambiense parasite is truly a menace. It causes African sleeping sickness — a disease that attacks the nervous system and brain, disrupting sleep, causing rapid mood swings and confusion, essentially driving people mad before it kills them.

Researchers have been studying the parasite for years, looking for leads to help them develop a vaccine or drugs that would wipe it out.

Last Friday, as the East Coast braced itself for the huge snow storm, we began to wonder how folks from places where it never snows were thinking about the crazy weather.

We asked readers from non-snowy parts of the developing world — and indeed from anyplace warm: What was your first experience with snow?

This week, after we finished shoveling ourselves out of our homes, we began digging through the responses.

And we got some truly hilarious ones.

Here at Goats and Soda headquarters, we were discussing the huge snowstorm expected to hit D.C. this weekend when we remembered the one thing you won't find in much of the developing world (or the "Global South," as some call it): snow.

Investigators discovered this month that United Nations peacekeepers in the Central African Republic were paying girls at a camp for the internally displaced less than a dollar for sex. It's the latest of several such incidents plaguing the U.N. mission there — 22 other cases of alleged sexual abuse or exploitation have been reported in the past 14 months.

On any given episode of East Los High, the highly addictive teen soap on Hulu that just got a fourth season, you'll see love triangles and heartbreak, mean girls and bad boys, and some seriously skillful dancing. Think a Latino Degrassi meets Gossip Girl meets Glee.

Photographer Steve McCurry has been frequenting — and documenting — India since 1978. His new book, Steve McCurry: India highlights the extraordinary moments of ordinary, everyday life across the subcontinent.

We caught up with the man most famous for his portrait of a fiery young girl in Afghanistan and asked him about some of the more colorful scenes — and colorful people — that caught his eye.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Pages