Mary Hennigan, the legend, in all of her gastronomical glory.

When Mary Hennigan started as a city reporter in 2022 for the Arkansas Times, she was fresh out of grad school and her young, untrained palate was still maturing. She seemed eager to experience new cuisines outside of her comfort zone, but she was nervous.

In her two years in the newsroom she’s flourished as a reporter and become a more curious eater. She’s now wise to the fact that every restaurant she yearns for on a Monday is likely closed; she’s endured the crushing experience of having to resort to cheap, sad and often adorable desk meals to accommodate the budget of a working journalist; she’s always down to toss you a snack from her desk stash; she’s developed some creative modifications at restaurants around town; and if there’s an option to add an egg, she’ll do it every time.

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Today is her last day at the Arkansas Times. She’s taken a gig as a reporter for the excellent Arkansas Advocate, so she’ll be consuming most of her lunch meals down the street. But hopefully she’ll still send us food selfies of her pitiful desk meals (girl dinner!) and find time to meet us at La Hacienda for cheese dip (she never skips out on cheese dip). Here are some shining moments from Hennigan’s Eat Arkansas correspondence and her Arkansas Times diet.

“What’s your favorite type of egg? Mine’s hard boiled.” — Mary Hennigan

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There was a week after Thanksgiving when Hennigan was heading home for lunch to eat air fryer sweet potato fries almost daily. But these weren’t just any sweet potato fries.

Mary Hennigan

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You’re looking at sweet potato fries with melted Thanksgiving marshmallows on the side, which she said provided “perfect fry dunkability.”

Hennigan’s random food correspondence can be works of subtle genius, like this picture of a piece of fruit she decided to send our way with the caption, “This is my plum”:

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Mary Hennigan

Here’s a recent haphazard pairing of delights that fueled her through a day of tedious reporting:

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Journalism glamour shot.

One of Hennigan’s finest Eat Arkansas moments was discovering an off-menu item that inspired her to write a seven-word food jingle. One night at Three Fold last summer, Hennigan opted for the restaurant’s noodle soup, and her partner chose the dumpling soup. While they were slurping, Hennigan found herself longing for the broth in her partner’s bowl.

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“My meal was great, but the comforting noodles with the saltier dumpling broth base was what I craved,” she wrote.

A sesame butter is added to the noodle soup, which makes it similar to a miso soup texture. It’s softer. The dumpling soup broth has a saltier soy base, she said.

In the days leading up to her next Three Fold visit, she feared that ordering noodle soup in the dumpling soup broth with no cilantro might give her a reputation for being fussy with her orders. To steady herself, she started singing the words “noodle soup in the dumpling soup soup” around the office.

After a few modifications (and almost surely developing a reputation as the customer with the weird soup order), she sent us a Slack message explaining that she’d finally found the words to nail down what she likes:

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“I perfected my noodle soup in the dumpling soup soup order. Here it is: Noodle soup. No cilantro, shredded chicken, add an egg. No sesame oil. Medium [spice level].”

Mary Hennigan
Noodle soup in the dumpling soup soup (We forgot to add an egg. Sorry, Hennigan).

We have to hand it to her, though. It’s delicious.

I really don’t want to watch it [a 2022 mayoral forum]. I want to eat dinner and carve a pumpkin. — Mary Hennigan 

Hennigan’s top five Halloween candy rankings:

  1. Skittles
  2. Reese’s
  3. Smarties
  4. Airheads (White Mystery is best)
  5. Twix

Not so sad lunch. Hennigan’s a sucker for marinated artichokes and Babybel cheese.

“Last time I went to a Buc-ee’s there was a mascot in there, like an actual buc-ee, and he was chasing me around! — Mary Hennigan

Happy faces after escaping the editorial office for La Hacienda.

Sad lunch? More like school lunch:

Mary Hennigan

A true sport around the office, Hennigan didn’t hesitate to rock some new swag to add some flair to the millionth 7 Brew story of my career:

Rhett Brinkley

This sad lunch really does fit the bill, but Hennigan said the burritos were actually pretty good:

Mary Hennigan

Here’s some meals Hennigan enjoyed enough to send food selfies our way:

Barbecue nachos from Count Porkula.

“Pepperoni calzone from Layla’s was one of the best things ever,” Hennigan said.

Pretty sure this sad lunch was a winner:

Mary Hennigan

Fittingly, Hennigan’s last lunch as an Arkansas Times employee hailed from neighboring Iriana’s. Arkansas Times editor Austin Gelder (one of the biggest Iriana’s fans in Arkansas Times employee history) and Hennigan have Venmoed each other for Iriana’s slices no less than 30 times.

Rhett Brinkley
We’ll miss you, Hennigan.

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