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Sherri Papini’s Abduction and Release: Everything We Know So Far

California mom Sherri Papini mysteriously disappeared during a jog in early November, and more than three weeks later, she was found on the side of a highway chained and beaten. Watch the video above to find out everything we know so far about the chilling abduction, and learn more about her ordeal below.

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On November 2, Papini set out for a jog near her Redding, California, home. Sherri’s husband, Keith Papini, became worried and started searching for her after she failed to pick up their two kids from daycare that day. Keith used the Find My iPhone app to locate her phone and headphones about a mile away, but Sherri had vanished. He called the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department, who launched an extensive investigation into the 34-year-old’s disappearance.

After 22 days, Sherri was found just before dawn on Thursday, November 24, Thanksgiving Day, along a highway near Sacramento, 150 miles away from where she was jogging. Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said the mom of two walked to a nearby church after her captors threw her from a vehicle. No one was at the church, so Sherri then walked to I-5, where she flagged down a passing motorist. Bosenko said she was “very emotional” when found and was treated and released from a hospital with her husband “at her side.”

Sherri PapiniSherri Papini Shasta County Sheriff’s Office

Keith issued a statement to Good Morning America on Tuesday, November 29, describing the gruesome details of his wife’s condition. “My first sight was my wife in a hospital bed, her face covered in bruises ranging from yellow to black because of repeated beatings, the bridge of her nose broken. Her now emaciated body of 87 pounds was covered in multicolored bruises, severe burns, red rashes and chain markings. Her signature long blonde hair had been chopped off. She has been branded,” he wrote. “Sherri was taken from us for 22 days and suffered incredibly through both intense physical agony and severe mental torture.”

He also slammed people who questioned whether her disappearance was a hoax. “We are not going to allow those people to take away our spirit, love or rejoice in our girl found alive and home where she belongs,” he continued. “I understand people want the story, pictures, proof that this was not some sort of hoax, plan to gain money or some fabricated race war. I do not see a purpose in addressing each preposterous lie.”

Bosenko later confirmed Keith’s account in an interview with Good Morning America. “I was familiar with those details. We had not released them yet to the public,” the sheriff said. He also said that a “message” was branded on Sherri’s skin by a “very sick person” and reiterated that there was “no reason to disbelieve” Sherri’s account amid the hoax rumors.

Authorities say they are looking for two armed Hispanic women driving a dark-colored SUV, but many things are still unclear in the case, including the motive and why her captors let her go. No ransom was sought for Sherri’s return.

During the GMA interview, Bosenko acknowledged a post about Latinos on the now-defunct website Skinheadz.com, which was reportedly signed with Sherri’s maiden name, Sherri Graeff. According to the Sacramento Bee, the post recalled a woman growing up in Shasta Lake who got into altercations with Latinos who targeted her because she was “drug-free, white and proud of my blood and heritage.”

“We are familiar with that posting,” Bosenko told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “That is about 13 years old, and our investigators are looking into that as well.”

However, Sherri’s ex-husband, David Dreyfus, her sister, Sheila Koester, and husband Keith have all denied she wrote the post in question. “[The Papinis] are very private people and they do not post things on the internet,” Koester told the paper.

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Museum Cafeteria Serves Black History and a Bit of Comfort

“It’s extremely intense,” said Jerome Grant, the executive chef at the cafe, which is managed by Restaurant Associates along with Thompson Hospitality, the largest black-owned food service company in America.

Mr. Grant recently sat down at a table where a church group from Houston was having lunch. A woman he estimates was in her 70s gave him a tough critique of the cafe’s smoked meats. Mr. Grant explained that the restaurant used a smoker that can hold 800 pounds of meat, built by a company in Oklahoma.

“Oh, that’s where you’ve gone wrong,” she told the chef. “People in Oklahoma don’t know anything about barbecuing or smoking nothing.”

Mr. Grant had been the chef at the Mitsitam Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian, which opened in 2004 and was the Smithsonian’s first attempt to embrace the idea that a museum’s cafeteria was as important to understanding culture as the art, literature and historical documents on display.

Sweet Home Café is intended to both expand the understanding of the black experience in America and comfort museumgoers who spend hours exploring a collection that is both painful and powerful.

“That’s why the name works,” said Mallory Bowen, one of the lead cooks. “We want people to feel comforted and feel at home after seeing some harsh things. We tell people: ‘You’re home now. Welcome home.’”

Of course, a cafeteria line is not the most comforting setting, but once you pick up a tray and start wandering from station to station, the history lessons start looking delicious.

Diners who take the time can learn how pan-roasted trout glazed in hazelnut butter and stuffed with mustard greens or a bowl of beefy son-of-a-gun stew with barley and root vegetables tells the story of freed slaves who headed west to work as ranch hands.

Both the trout and the stew are in the Western Range section of the cafeteria. It’s one of four stations attempting to categorize the culinary history of a group of people who cooked in everybody’s kitchens and so have an outsize influence on the American diet.

“It’s a dining style that transcends race and region,” said Albert Lukas, a supervising chef who for two years traveled the country like an anthropologist, seeking recipes and advice from black home cooks and professional chefs.

The intellectual architecture for the cafe sprang from the work of Dr. Jessica B. Harris, the food writer and scholar who provided a research paper on the food of the African diaspora to the museum’s scholarly committee three years ago. She narrated parts of the museum’s culinary exhibition and donated personal items, and even hand-carried a chef’s jacket from Leah Chase, the New Orleans Creole cook, to give to the curators.

Dr. Harris proposed dividing the cafeteria into five sections. Four made it, including the Agricultural South station, with its emphasis on familiar dishes like fried chicken, chopped pork barbecue and Gullah-style hoppin’ John made with the small, ruddy Sea Island red peas that were an essential crop in the antebellum rice culture of South Carolina.

The Creole Coast station features Gulf shrimp over Anson Mills grits, as well as a catfish po’ boy and Alabama-style barbecued chicken, with its white sauce built from apple cider vinegar and mayonnaise.

Picking exactly which version of which dish to serve remains a challenge, and the menu will continue to evolve, Mr. Lukas said. Early debates included whether the Caribbean pepper pot served with a piece of oxtail on the bone should reflect a style more common in Jamaica or in Guyana, whether the cornbread should have sugar, and whether the collard greens should be seasoned with pork, smoked turkey or no meat at all. (They went with the Guyanese, the cornbread with sugar, and the collards with turkey.)

Mr. Lukas also had to be mindful of what diners may want, or not want, to eat. “Obviously, chitterlings would be wildly significant in terms of dining culture, but it would be a tough thing to sell,” he said.

A curated walk through the hallways of the newest Smithsonian museum before it opens next week. 13 years in the making, it attempts to depict the pain and pride of the black experience in America.

The balance between authenticity and palatability is the biggest challenge with museum food, said Gillian Clark, a former Washington chef who now lives in Alabama and is developing a menu for the Mobile Museum of Art.

“Think about a hoe cake,” Ms. Clark said. “I’m in a field with water and cornbread, and I am starving, and I am going to wipe my sweaty handkerchief on this dirty hoe and rub it with this piece of meat that was in my pocket. That’s authentic. But if I serve that in my restaurant, people are going to run out of here.”

At Sweet Home Café, the back story is often a bigger factor than the recipe. Thomas Downing was the son of freed slaves who became an oysterman in New York in the early 1800s and went on to operate one of the plushest oyster restaurants in New York, join the Underground Railroad and help form the city’s antislavery society. His story is represented with a proper New York City oyster pan roast, which sells for $ 12.95 in the North States section.

A fifth station, Dr. Harris had suggested, should be called Culinary Cousins. The idea was to more clearly underscore the connection with Africa. For example, diners might eat the food of Senegal as a way to understand the rice culture of the Carolinas.

“Africa had an enormous influence everywhere, and the whole notion is that the food we eat here and now is not monolithic,” she said.

But Dr. Harris is mindful that she is an academic and not a restaurant designer, and that only so much culture can be reflected in a kitchen that serves hundreds of people a day.

Even with all the scholarly thoughtfulness and culinary skill brought to bear on the rest of the menu, the buttermilk-soaked chicken, which sells for $ 14.95 with two side dishes, remains the most popular order. It sometimes accounts for more than a third of all sales, leaving the chefs a little forlorn that people are missing out on the other offerings.

What’s the attraction? People have their theories. Carla Hall, the television personality who runs a fried chicken restaurant in Brooklyn, has signed on as a culinary ambassador for the museum. She’s an advocate for vegetables in the cafe, because she thinks too many people think of Southern food as pork and macaroni and cheese. But she gets why fried chicken is so popular.

“Fried chicken is the one thing I would never want to make at home,” she said, “so that becomes that celebratory item.”

Even Dr. Harris, who visited the cafeteria this month for the first time, after hosting a discussion with Pierre Thiam about his book “Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes From the Source to the Bowl,” took a box of chicken to go. “It’s portable,” she said. “I don’t want to carry son-of-a-gun stew in a box on a plane.”
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