The World’s Best Restaurants

What does it take to get onto the world’s best list of restaurants? Certainly a lifetime of dedication and an incredible atmosphere and menu. It helps, apparently, for you to be in Spain as well since many of the top restaurants are situated in that culinary heaven.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants is a list created with the assistance each year of 1,080 culinary specialists and a very specific voting process. The process is certainly an interesting one and one that’s worth learning more about.

Spain has definitely solidified its position with three of the top five restaurants and five in total of the top 50. Barcelona’s Disfrutar clinched the top spot, impressing with innovative dishes like the caviar-filled Panchino doughnut. Asador Etxebarri in Atxondo ranked second, renowned for its exquisite barbecue under chef Victor Arguinzoniz. Madrid’s Diverxo took the fourth spot, further highlighting Spain’s culinary excellence.

Paris’s Table by Bruno Verjus came third, while Lima’s Maido, emphasizing South American cuisine, secured fifth place. Notably, Mexico’s Quintonil was the top North American restaurant at seventh.

The top ten of the list includes the following. It’s certainly worth browsing through the entire list and having an experience of this sort on your “someday” bucket list.

1. Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)

2. Asador Etxebarri (Atxondo, Spain)

3. Table by Bruno Verjus (Paris, France)

4.  Diverxo (Madrid, Spain)

5. Maido (Lima, Peru)

6. Atomix (New York City)  – Best restaurant in North America

7. Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico)

8. Alchemist (Copenhagen, Denmark)

9. Gaggan Anand (Bangkok, Thailand)

10.  Don Julio (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

The World’s Declining Birth Rates

The world is facing a significant demographic shift due to consistently falling fertility rates. A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlights a stark decrease from 3.3 children per woman in 1960 to 1.5 in 2022 among its member nations. This drop below the replacement level of 2.1 children necessary to maintain a stable population signals profound future changes.

Economically, the implications are severe. An aging population could strain labor markets, potentially heightening inflation as the balance of working-age individuals to retirees shifts. Historically, a ratio of six workers per retiree has dwindled to nearly two-to-one. This evolving demographic landscape is prompting business leaders and policymakers to adapt strategies.

For instance, U.S. companies are increasingly discussing labor shortages, with major corporate executives pointing out the need for adjustments in their workforce planning. Furthermore, immigration, previously a remedy for labor deficits in affluent nations, can no longer be solely relied upon due to the global nature of declining birth rates.

The future economic policy may need to consider incentives for higher birth rates or integrate alternative solutions like enhancing productivity through technological advancements such as artificial intelligence. This demographic trend is not a transient issue; it necessitates immediate attention to prevent potential economic disruptions and ensure a sustainable socio-economic framework.

Saying “I Do” With a Different Look

The bridal industry is undergoing significant changes as modern brides shift away from traditional norms and seek unique, personalized wedding attire. Once dominated by established brands offering conventional gowns, the market is now seeing a surge in demand for diverse, fashion-forward options.

Today’s brides are not just shopping for a single wedding dress but curating entire wardrobes for pre- and post-wedding events, including engagement parties, bachelorette weekends, civil ceremonies, and receptions. This trend is fueling growth in the global bridal wear market, projected to expand at a rate of 3.5% annually, reaching $83.5 billion by 2030.

Unlike previous generations, contemporary brides are looking beyond traditional bridal retailers. They are exploring non-bridal fashion labels and bespoke designers to find attire that reflects their personal style. Retailers such as Anthropologie Weddings, Reformation, and even fast fashion brands like ASOS and Shein are now offering wedding collections to meet this demand. This diversification allows brides to find less conventional, more personalized ensembles.

The shift is also beneficial for emerging designers who offer custom bridal services. These designers provide an intimate experience, crafting unique dresses that cater to the bride’s specific vision. This approach not only meets the bride’s desire for individuality but also allows designers to establish deeper connections with their clients.

Retailers are recognizing the need to update their offerings to appeal to this new generation of brides. By launching collections that feature unorthodox gowns and accessories, they are tapping into the evolving attitudes towards weddings. Brides today value versatility and style, prompting the industry to innovate and move away from the cookie-cutter options of the past.

It will certainly be interesting to watch the bridal space and to see how today’s brides continue to shake up the market.

Is Your City Expensive for Expats?

Many people don’t live in the country of their birth. They might leave in order to search for a better life; to find better work; to join a family member; or to enjoy a change. Certainly, the cost of doing so and the cost of living in this new country isn’t the same from place to place and it’s important to be educated before taking such a leap.

Each year the Mercer Cost of Living Survey examines 226 cities and over 200 items in each location. These include items like transportation, clothing, food and entertainment. Cost of living has certainly been increasing around the world in the last few years, and the survey reflects that. In the US, for instance, seven cities appeared in the top 20 most expensive locations for expats.

The impact of such findings is explained by Vince Cordova at Mercer US as he explains, “As US-based companies continue to source talent globally, inflationary pressures may give some inbound foreign nationals pause to accept a position in some of the high-cost cities and metro areas in the US.”

The survey reveals that Hong Kong remains the most expensive city for expats, followed by Singapore. Swiss cities, including Zurich, Geneva, Basel, and Bern, dominate the top rankings, indicating high expenses related to housing, transportation, and general goods. New York and Los Angeles represent the U.S. among the top ten, with New York securing seventh place and Los Angeles tenth. London has risen to eighth from seventeenth.

Limit TV Watching for Aging Well

Swapping television time for physical activity is a trade with considerable benefits for healthy aging, as evidenced by a new study spearheaded by Dr. Molin Wang of Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This study, involving data from the Nurses’ Health Study, followed over 45,000 individuals aged 50 and above from 1992, assessing their sedentary behavior and physical activity over two decades. The results, published in JAMA Network Open, highlight a clear correlation: every additional two hours of TV viewing decreased the likelihood of aging healthily by 12%, whereas increasing light physical activities by the same duration improved it by 6%.

Prolonged sitting is detrimental to health primarily due to its negative impact on various body systems. When we sit for extended periods, our body’s metabolism slows down, leading to reduced blood flow and decreased calorie burning. This sedentary behavior can contribute to the buildup of fats in the blood and lower the effectiveness of insulin, escalating the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Furthermore, sitting for long durations can lead to muscle degeneration and weakening, particularly in the lower body, which is crucial for stability and movement. The posture often associated with sitting—hunched shoulders and a forward head position—can also lead to chronic back and neck pain, compounding stress on spinal discs and contributing to long-term issues like osteoporosis and decreased mobility.

Dr. Andrew Freeman of National Jewish Health, although not involved in the study, supports these findings, noting the physiological drawbacks of prolonged sedentary periods. The study’s definition of healthy aging includes reaching 70 years without major chronic diseases or impairments in memory, physical, and mental health. The study underscores the detrimental effects of sedentary habits, such as increased cardiovascular risks and higher blood pressure, which are exacerbated by typical American diet habits, like high salt intake.

To combat these risks, Freeman suggests practical workplace adjustments like standing or treadmill desks and encourages regular movement breaks. He also advises integrating activity with television time, such as exercising or setting screen time limits. This holistic approach not only combats the ill effects of sitting but also promotes a lifestyle conducive to long-term health.

Art for Longevity?

While we often view art as a form of leisure or luxury, a growing body of research suggests that engaging with the arts could be as essential to our health as exercise and nutrition. Whether creating art or simply appreciating it, studies show that art-related activities can profoundly impact our physical and mental well-being.

Healthcare professionals are increasingly recognizing the therapeutic benefits of the arts. Engaging in creative activities has been linked to improvements in a range of physical and mental conditions, from heart disease and obesity to depression and dementia. These activities stimulate our brains, enhance neuroplasticity, and trigger the release of beneficial neurochemicals and hormones.

Authors like Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross in their book, “Your Brain on Art,” argue that art engagement is a crucial aspect of human experience, offering benefits that can promote healing and well-being. Similarly, Bianca Bosker in her recent book, “Get the Picture,” discusses art not just as a luxury but as a fundamental human need, rooted in our evolutionary history.

Art’s power to evoke emotional and physiological responses is remarkable. It activates multiple brain networks, impacts our sensory experiences, and can even lead to profound physical reactions, such as those experienced by people with Stendhal syndrome when encountering particularly moving artworks.

These experts suggest making art a regular part of our lives, emphasizing that it is not the quality of the art that matters but the act of engaging with it. Regular interaction with art can enhance cognitive functions, lower stress levels, and even extend life expectancy. Thus, integrating art into our daily routines might not only enrich our lives aesthetically but could also be essential for our health.