Archive for February, 2008

Whoppers of mass destruction

February 2008

Mississippi is taking its share of crap for a proposed law prohibiting restaurants from serving the obese, but I kinda like the whole idea. By the same logic, drugstores should have to cut off whatever pharmacopia gets Mrs. War Criminal through the night. And Congresscritters should be banned from cutting any more checks to military contractors until they slim down big time. Supersizing them is what got us into this 100-year siege.

No wig, no service

February 2008

After “No, we can’t,” the buzz phrase of the week seems to be “Suck my dick.” Certainly it seems to have been in play over at the Big Tent (a k a Satan’s Waiting Room), where the most elaborate game of “I did not have fawning relations with that critic” appears to be going on. Someone shoulda had some ’splaining to do in praising the open-arms treatment at a joint infamous for giving the little people a trashing for being dumb enough to mistake a private club for a public restaurant. But I guess no one could have expected a guy who is served “venison fallow” and thinks he knows from “bolito” to get to the meat of the matter in his weirdly timed stenography session. I would kill to be a bedbug on the next NYTimes reader who books a table at this newly ordained hospitality central and comes face to ass with the real experience. . . .

Wok of Spam

February 2008

I could almost see the collective shudder when the WSJ ran its story on rats as the other white meat in Vietnam these days. But the video-documented revelation that a California slaughterhouse has been torturing downer animals to get them up and moving past federal inspectors and into school lunches in this country somehow just warranted another cheap what-are-you-gonna-do? shrug. The same “America, fuck, yeah!” attitude also permeated the NYTimes story on feeding athletes at the Beijing Olympics. If a patriotically obese chef were not brought in to oversee the cooking, the poor fragile flowers might have to eat icky stuff. Maybe even chicken bloated on steroids, something they surely could not get at home in the land of the hyper-conscientious, overly endowed FDA (you know, in the country where workers are, for some reason, getting sick blowing brains out of hogs’ heads?) Ironically, Fred Ferretti got his 15 seconds to have what was clearly a long-simmering say on the same day that bizarre piece ran. Mistaking chop suey for anything in one of the world’s top three cuisines is the least of the sins he could have cited. And why do I assume ground-up cows and pigs will always be on the menu for the champions of the world?

I’ll have what he’s charging

February 2008

Speaking of the Journal, whatever else Murdoch is doing to that paper, he at least is keeping subscribers up on what matters: how the Kravises eat. Sending Ray Sokolov to drop almost half a grand a head at Cafe Gray was sheer brilliance at a time when the borrower in chief is getting ready to dispense alms to revive the economy. But this was obviously the right reporter on the luxury front lines, not realizing Rome has already fallen: He knew there was a pea under his seat cushion. And gol darn it, when they say chef’s table there should damn sure be a chef around to kiss some derrieres. I think he forgot this is W’s America: To make it here, a celebrity has to work three or four or 18 restaurant jobs. More of those tales, please, sir.

Good for your heart

February 2008

Editors are notorious cynics, but I had to wonder what it is about VD this year that brought out so much slyness. First I saw a headline that used the words “thinking outside the box” (at least it didn’t talk about snatching anything), and then there was a menu for the romantic dinner that started with pasta puttanesca. What’s that all about? Pimp your date?

$500 and change

February 2008

All I have to say about the new clogger on the block is that he will be cranking it out on a site that actually thought “grandma hides cocaine in bra” was one of the top four news stories one hour. The one that used to give a flying fig about copy under a byline,  about making sure it was generated by said byline. And while I could never top Stephen King’s observation in Time that “60 is the new 50 — and dead is the new alive,” I must note that the baseball cap is the new toupee. Eat your roots out, sorry old waiters.

Out of the shoe box

February 2008

Judging by how Earl Butz was verbally ushered off this mortal coil, I’m starting to wonder if the Chimp’s obit will obsess on phrases like “put food on your family” rather than any actual evil he ever did. I was living in Louisville when the agriculture secretary got outed for making his crude joke, and it really resonated there because the city was under court order to integrate its schools and race was, to put it mildly, a touchy issue (the newspapers, whose editorial pages supported busing, got bomb threats). Even so, all you have to do these days is amble through a mall — or get squished in an airplane seat — to see that words could never hurt as badly as misguided policy. As Greg Critser documented so damningly in “Fat Land,” good ol’ Earl’s legacy is high-fructose corn syrup and other cheap happy meal excess. With luck he has gone off to a very warm place to shit.

Honor, dignity, Winehouse

February 2008

Maybe because 935 of his other lies have just been cataloged, the Chimp is now admitting that if you did have a beer with him, he’d puke in your car if not drive it into the ditch. No wonder the Skank Twin will be cutting into the wedding cake at the “ranch.” They can all party like it’s 2000 with no pesky photographers counting the shots.

And it comes in provorella

February 2008

Artisanal is a word now so thoroughly debased that an industrial cheesemaker is selling shredded stuff under that label. So you would think a flack would know how to spell it when naming a restaurant she also described as one of Manhattan’s “most coveted.” Once again, I have to wonder if the Human Scratch N Match is moonlighting.

Steroids in a tin cup

February 2008

Yet another sign that new media may turn out to be more corruptible than its predecessor: The food blogosphere was in one long Super Bowlgasm all week, and most of those sites do not even have enough serious advertisers to make sucking up defensible. (What’s that old saying about buying the cow when the milk is free?) You would think every cook in America, serious or vicarious, had nothing better to think about than a hackneyed  nachoburgerchilistravaganza in front of the teevee. And what’s next on the table? VD — all chocolate, all the time. It almost makes a Food Network magazine sound like relief from the lockstep online. I wonder if Al Gore realized when he invented the internets that he was just creating a bigger black hole for a calendar so cliched February makes you want to swear:  Fuck aphrodisiacs and the “romantic dinner for two” they rode in on.

Punish them with apples

February 2008

Get ready for the return of the Twinkie defense. The Brits are researching whether there’s a correlation between a crappy diet and violence. But it says everything that, rather than actually feed prison inmates better food, they are merely going to test half with placebos and the rest with vitamins and fish oil capsules. Big Pharma must be salivating at the contracts to be had down the line when all gruel is additive-enriched. And actually, the inquiring minds could save themselves mega-quid just by analyzing the intake of the latest King George. Eating nothing but grilled cheese and burgers obviously leads to war crimes.

Bigger than a breadbox

February 2008

My consort and I are probably the last viewers in America to catch up to the British version of “The Office.” And it’s too bad I know this is impossible, but one segment seemed to have been drawn directly from Planet Food. That would be, of course, the one where the losermates are all clowning painfully to raise money for suffering somewhere. In both cases, hearts were probably in right places, but it didn’t even have to be labeled Chuckling for Chad to get the joke.

The truth can be adjusted

February 2008

Random phrases stuck in my cranial sieve: Ghostwriters in the meat. If you feed them, they will blog. The Freaking section. Shafer for sheriff. And, in honor of the report finding the underfinanced, overextended FDA could not find shit in spinach if you handed it to it in a bag: Take the sushi. Leave the Chinese dumplings.

Late for dinner and it’s sloppy Joes

February 2008

I can’t remember how many eons ago a friend down in Fort Worth sent me a clipping about a local business he had just profiled, one that had set up a center where contemporary Peg Brackens could come together and assemble family meals for a week or so in one surge. Now I see Time magazine is right on it. At least they didn’t get Ann Coulter to endorse it. And I have to admit I did come away with two new realizations. A) The Silver Palate’s inescapable chicken Marbella has been rechristened chicken Mirabella and lives on in Ziploc bags everywhere. In 25 years it’s gone from party fare to heat-and-eat slop despite the fact that it takes all of three steps to make it from scratch. B) A word popping up more often than salmonella in the food world lately is norovirus, and jeebus, does a joint where strangers meet to toss together ingredients prepped by other strangers sound like an incubator for that hot new trend. . . .