Archive for September, 2007

Nose to tail

September 2007

Maybe if Panchito had not been so distracted by towel snaps on the butt we would not have had to wait all these years for Vicente Fox to reveal that the Chimp is afraid of horsies, and the world might have been spared a fraudulent Cowboy in Chief. The detail is not surprising, but just imagine how far Molto Ego would have gotten if anyone thought he was scared of pigs.

Long knives

September 2007

In other candidate charades with food world analogies, I cannot understand why old media lets Herr Giuliani get away with euphemizing his current wife’s former career. Everybody knows she sold medical equipment demonstrated on dogs that were then offed. In other words, she was a nurse like Sweeney Todd was a sushi chef.

A fine day for Feline salami

September 2007

A sandwich board outside a restaurant in the Garment District the other day was maybe too revealing: “Best Chienese food.” I just hope no poodles were harmed in the making of it.

What would Elton say?

September 2007

I guess I have to weigh in on the Saint marching into Union Square, since even my friends outside this incestuous little world reacted to it. One, a cynic in Philadelphia, noted that the shilling for the book “served as one of the more prominent personals ads I’ve seen in a long time (Currently, Ms. Waters is not in love, though she longs for ‘a good pal to be in the world with’).” My by-multimedia-possessed consort got me to watch the lurching video, and I greatly enjoyed the interaction with my favorite go-Cheney-yourself vendor. Talk about a reality check against a table covered in countless small piles of produce in separate bowls waiting for the muse to alight. Of course the market, when I got there midmorning, was swarming with video crews and other digital aggressors; I watched one Hispanic witness with child being led into saying the prices are higher than in supermarkets. Oddly enough, it was also overrun (well, overwaddled) with the most seriously obese women I have ever seen in one place in Manhattan. (I hope they weren’t looking for love.) Her place in history is assured; there’s no reason to come down off the pedestal and get everyone stewing about what she’s done for us lately besides put out a book to buy. That aioli was pretty damn good the first time she had it written up.

Gag me with trans fats

September 2007

And okay, I’m awful. Why do the people ordained to hector us about eating better always have such weird vices themselves? I thought surimi was bad. But Diet Pepsi? A real revolutionary would get that crap off the nation’s table yesterday.

When the levees choke

September 2007

You know it’s predawn in America when food manufacturers start begging for more regulation. In a week when E. coli was detected in lettuce yet again, even after all the blustering from the same Pinocchio who also promised to rebuild Katrina, the WSJournal reported that private companies have come to realize they need public help policing what they sell. To quote the president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, “A strong FDA is in our interest.” And when big business gets hungry, government has to feed it. Grover Norquist, the phone in the bathroom is ringing. Your salmonella tub is about to run out of water.

Little oysters on the prairie

September 2007

I can’t reveal the identities or the publications, but I had an exchange recently that keeps making me laugh. I had said a poor editor was “saddled with some pretty lame old mares,” and the person I was talking to responded, “Oh, he could get rid of [insert big male name here] if he really wanted to.” Funny. I thought my consort was the only one who took that guy for a gelding.

We’re out of BlackBerries?

September 2007

A new candidate for most idiotic invention ever has to be the $149.95 machine advertised over on allhatnocattle for some reason. You stick it on the refrigerator and talk to it whenever you run out of eggs or flour, then it prints out a shopping list. Apparently no task is so elementary that a gadget can’t be designed to simplify it. The insane thing is that while the shopper who would really need that silliness would be of the age when CRS has set in (Can’t Remember Shit), the list it generates looks too tiny for fading eyes to decipher. Maybe someone can invent a magnifying glass, four AA batteries not included.

A million little pies

September 2007

The most basic rule of reviewing cookbooks has to be that you can’t judge them by their text. A recipe collection is only as good as its recipes, and the only honest way to determine that is to take the book into the kitchen and beat it up. Otherwise, you’re like a restaurant critic who only reports that the striped bass looked delicious, not whether it was done right or had any flavor. They’re how-to books, for Child’s sake, not vicarious eating opportunities. I know the goal is to be skinny, but this is typing clearly stretched too thin.

Or are you just happy to see him?

September 2007

Speaking of one of the first clogs, as thegurglingcod dubbed them, the faux innocence is so pervasive that a plastic case meant to keep a banana from getting squished is featured without even the faintest nod to its obvious resemblance to something a lot less family-oriented. But I guess no one would ever ask an 8-year-old if that was a dildo in his lunchbox. And of course the silly thing is that no banana sold in this country is ever soft enough to need a Bunker.

Cin cin

September 2007

Many years ago I went down to the old Conde Nast offices to drop off a manuscript at Allure and got on the elevator with an employee who was greeted by two other women who gushed, “Great dress!” She stepped off a few floors later and the Heathers started in: “Can you believe what she was wearing? She looked like her grandmother.” I think of that exchange whenever I go to an especially lavish food party: There’s a whole lot of social prevaricating going on. Not being so good at that stuff, I have my share of awkward moments, but at least I’m spared any “bearhugs” from Molto. And I can always tell when the creme de la creme is feeling a little too insular because the BFs will actually come around, whether out of ennui or just to trash me behind my back afterward. That’s how I knew the better party must have been over on the piers, where all the women chefs were strutting their stuff. But I still had a superb time, as did my consort, and I learned a few things. Like the fact that a $700 hotel in the meat district does not have the “services” of a Hampton Inn (coffee in the room). Or why the Liberace of food emcees is at every damned event — he can read the lamest script off a teleprompter and make it sound ad-libbed. And that a strip steak with no fibrous aspect is a bizarre thing to consume. (They didn’t slip us tongue, did they?) But bacon in the streusel with the apple tart? Bring it on.

No cheeks tonight

September 2007

Another party, at a new restaurant, left an indelible image. They were serving whole roasted (and stuffed) suckling pigs, sliced to order in the center of the dining room. Given that the chef is French and a tete is just a tete, the head of each little guy was displayed right on the carving board under the heat lamps, complete with either grin or grimace, depending on how each had gone off to curse its maker. And the second one I saw whacked off was so fresh from the oven its ears were literally steaming. It reminded me of those brains my consort once ordered in France, the ones that, when the waiter whisked off the silver dome, were actually quivering. Even Bob hesitated to slice into them as he said, “They’re still thinking.”

Almost Blue

September 2007

After serving two sentences there, I know the NYTimes lets nothing into print without at minimum three sets of eyes having run over it: backfield, copy editor, slot. So how can it possibly explain what ran under “Avoiding a Heaping Helping of Disappointment” unless that headline was meant to be a warning to the reader with nothing better to do on a Saturday morning than stare slack-jawed at the most poorly organized, sloppily written, careless, confused and simultaneously self-aggrandizing and rube-ish piece of filler outside of a couple of restaurant blogs I could mention? A regional reviewer is presuming to advise New Yorkers on how to find a good dining experience at an upscale joint by touting someplace down the Shore? And she advises looking at a restaurant’s web site? We live in the age of internet chatter, goddamn it. Talk about a classic case of the sauce lapping over the sides of the platter. A smart food writing teacher would let a class take it apart, right down to the misspelled Ariane. After all, you can’t do good until you really see bad. This accomplished the unthinkable: It made Panchito look brilliant. But at least I’m clear on one thing. Salads and “well-made vegetables” are not brain food.

Chipped beef on toast by any other name

September 2007

We always knew he had no brain. Now the Chimp is proving he has no heart. Every shameless photo op lately seems to be in a cafeteria line with troops as camera fodder. The implication is that he’s sacrificing for the cause in eating what they do. But everybody knows he prefers chow to cuisine, tube steaks over Kobe beef. Have the perks of power ever been squandered on a more juvenile appetite?

Albondigas, si

September 2007

Over at the Injustice Department, meanwhile, apparently no one is in danger of encountering an MRE in time of war. Television news was all over an audit that found $13,000 was spent on cookies at one staff conference; at another, Swedish meatballs were catered at nearly $5 a pop. That would be the same event where extravagances like coconut lobster skewers and butterflied shrimp were dished up. It all gives new meaning to the phrase “feeding at the public trough.” And isn’t that just what the party that hijacked the agency claims to disdain?