Archive for March, 2008

Watch out — mom coming through

March 2008

New revelations oozing out about the Chimp’s illegal wiretapping would be more sickening if not for the entertaining aside on what the Skankier of the Twins was up to right before 9/11: having the Secret Service organize a bar-hopping trip to Mexico after she was caught bingeing illegally here in the homeland. Apparently that wall should have gone up much sooner, and not to keep immigrants out but those genes in, away from the good mescal. Start with one body in an intersection and before you know it 4,000-plus are piled up far, far from the WTC. “Salud” in Simian is a very scary word.

No. 60 with an AEY bullet

March 2008

I tuned it out, but a friend had an interesting reaction to Panchito’s pathetically dribbled top 10. She saw “Vantage Point,” the film about an assassination attempt viewed through many characters’ perspective, and said by the fourth re-enactment people in the theater were yelling, “Not again!” Johnny Rotten must be spinning in his bath at never having realized high-amortization stories could be milked until they curdled.

Cage for baby pork

March 2008

Too bad Citizens Against Breast-Feeding is a media hoax. If this country managed to ban “offensive” public consumption, we could move on to outlawing something truly disgusting: Mickey D on the C train. But I could see a real group forming, one that would actually encourage breast-feeding in restaurants if it shut the howler monkeys up — up to age 12, if necessary. Failing that, my friend Groffoto has an interesting idea for fighting back against oblivious parents whose human larvae are allowed to ruin everyone else’s meal. Their photos should be taken with cellphones and posted in an e-hall of shame. It works for flashers down where the Whoppers go. Why not for parents instilling bad behavior in their spawn? Unfortunately, I was going to say we could call it fulldiaper.com, but that’s taken. By someone selling more crap to the overindulged to keep them too strapped to hire baby sitters.

Put the rum in the mouthwash

March 2008

I guess we can declare the mojito officially over. A drink that is only worth drinking just after the fresh mint has been muddled is apparently now sold like prefab margaritas. Hemingway would shoot himself if he hadn’t already.

Brillat-Savarin, too

March 2008

“To be immortal you have to be dead” is one of my favorite sayings (the third clause in “drinks at 5, dinner at 6 and . . .”) But immortality is being granted for lesser and lesser achievements lately. The founder of Popeyes at least led a life worth reading about. But national obits for the guy who invented the EggaMuffin? WTF? They all dutifully regurgitated his inspiration as eggs Benedict, but how do you get from a freshly poached egg with hollandaise to scarifying yellow rubber with fake cheese? The attention paid would be annoying if not for another great saying: “Success has a million fathers, failure but one.” Dude, you got it.

Buckets of brains

March 2008

In other fast food “news,” KFC is wallowing in tons of press for switching to grilling from frying. A Philadelphia friend said the headline in his tab was “What the cluck?” And that would apply as well to the group suing the company for allegedly raising a cancer risk (apparently we now know what wiped out the dinosaur grillers: charcoal). Another friend sent me a release on it, noting that the benevolent “concerned physicians” name is really just a front for animal rights crazies. To which I have to say: If your cause is so noble, come out and fight like real doctors. You might actually win. The WSJournal just ran a good story on the pork crisis unfolding in Britain as hog farmers’ expenses have gone up while income has dropped. Although the key graf was buried on the jump, it’s clear that the trouble began when the government started banning cruelty on factory farms. Raising bacon humanely does cost more. But then hell is forever, and pork should never be cheaper than rice. Let alone chicken.

Counterfeiters, you say?

March 2008

Of course there’s ingredient abuse and then there’s ingredient abuse. I generally ignore the foie gras whack jobs outside Fairway, but next time I pass them I hope to be packing a few printouts of photos and stories on force-feeding at Guantanamo. It’s one thing to shove corn down the throat of an organism genetically programmed to gorge before migrating and another altogether to snake yards of rubber tubing up the nose and into the stomach of a helpless guy in an unlawful prison. Ensure sounds nasty enough, but true torture would be having it forced upon you “Titicut Follies”-style while strapped into a “restraints chair.” Someone needs to remind PETA that humans are animals, too, and this is a long, long, long way from ethical. Not to be uncharacteristically flip, but ducks at least get to be organ donors.

Gold in that ethanol

March 2008

Unlike at least half a dozen other neck-snappers in the audience at the Asia Society, I managed to stay awake through a long discussion of China’s environmental crisis and came away with one clear thought, offered by the moderator at the beginning: There is no such thing as a national issue these days — everyone everywhere is in this mess together. (Although, as one panelist noted, China is in much better shape than America simply because “their leaders believe in science.”) And so everything that seems like a distant “Darwin’s Nightmare” is just disaster moving closer to us: the Chilean salmon industry collapsing from the lethal combination of antibiotics and greed; rice running short; dioxin in the buffalo mozzarella. (Hey, was that garbage strike ever settled in Naples, or did a shiny new object just get waved at correspondents?) Reading how the U.S. “farm” bill is shaking out was the pissiest part of the week, though. Crop prices are heading skyward, average people cannot afford basics, but still the handouts are unceasing. Beneficiaries can have income of up to $2.5 million a year, the WSJ reported — and it wasn’t talking about the mesclun producer at Union Square whose greens go for $48 a pound and had a passer-by marveling: “The salad is more than the meat?” Big Agribusiness will inevitably prove the Rolling Stones wrong: You can always get what you want. Just let lobbyists give Congresscritters more than they need.

The high-pitched bleat

March 2008

I’ve been cheerleading for eating locally since way before ’vore was a common suffix. But even I suspect maybe the trend is cutting a little too close to the bone when a promotional 100-mile dinner starts serving lamb cheeks. Those pointy little heads cannot possibly have enough meat on them to be worth braising in overpriced New York State merlot. Chefs should be moving from head to tail. And given the trend toward macho gavage, wouldn’t “Bear Mountain oysters” be a more enticing treat?

We could use the wood

March 2008

A new vendor at our neighborhood Greenmarket had a funny sign: “Kosher honey for Easter.” Next: Chocolate bunnies for Passover. Or maybe what another vendor was selling at Union Square: “Hard cross” buns. Will people millennia from now be buying waterboard flatbreads?

Sirloins, girded

March 2008

Maybe it’s all the gubernatorial sex coverage bringing it on, but the internets have been going wild with genitalia-related weirdness. Slashfood turned up a bizarre teevee story on a mom freaked to find kiddy straws she insisted were shaped like penises. Keep that toddler protector away from cucumbers and bananas. And then there was the case of the cook who punished a customer complaining about an overcooked steak by barding the replacement ribeye with pubic hair. He was canned, of course, but not for grossness, only thanks to his employer’s insistence that “food safety is our number one priority.” I kinda doubt a little taste of hair pie is anywhere near as dangerous as all the genuinely scary stuff breaking out all over — hepatitis A here, Sbarro’s typhoid there, norovirus at restaurants at Great Escapes. Most of those are spread by food handlers who skip washing after shitting, just pull the gloves back on again. And all the hand condoms in the world don’t seem to be doing what good old soap and water once did. Hard to believe Typhoid Mary now looks like a kitchen trend-setter.

All the girls love Alice

March 2008

Interesting gossip from a source out in Eden on the Willamette. A certain publication that has always presented itself as the highest bastion of ethics while studiously looking the other way with certain contract writers has apparently now decided freebies aren’t so bad after all. Not with the stock price in the crapper and buyouts all around. Freelancers allegedly can hop on the junket train as long as they don’t let the gravy touch the biscuits right away. As some of us who pay our own way always knew: Hos rule. Gold-plated bidets all around!

We’re not done yet

March 2008

Maybe the most miserable experience my consort and I ever had in a ridiculously expensive restaurant that was not Le Cirque was the night at Jean-Louis at the Watergate when a couple at a nearby table brought their human larva and let it fuss if not shriek through every course. Their obliviousness still stuns me. I had a flashback at Joe’s Shanghai in Flushing when five of us sat down and instantly realized we were trapped next to a howler monkey in a high chair. These parents, too, were determinedly focusing on their food and avoiding eye contact no matter how many pained-to-pissed looks were shot their way. But the screaming just kept getting more deafening. Then a little Chinese boy across the crowded room decided to join in, and then a third kid shrieked in. It was a symphony of misery to choruses of laughter. But the Chinese parents swooped up their tear-soaked kids and headed for the street to quiet them down. The yup couple stayed put, only picking up the kid to swat his/her butt a few times, fannying the fury. Only when a young Chinese couple just seated nearby stood up and walked out in disgust did they take their cacophony somewhere else, leaving me with one question: Why has the CIA been blasting bad music rather than using the children of the self-indulgent for “enhanced interrogation”? That kid could have smoked out Bin Laden. And he/she will grow up to be eating at a table with spawn near you. . . .

Chipped china for sale

March 2008

The sad news is not that the Strand Diner on 96th has closed — I can still smell the morning I stopped in years ago when something had definitely died on the premises and I only hoped it was not a forgotten busboy. What’s depressing is that the place is being torn down. And that undoubtedly means another obscene tower is going to be wedged into a low-rise block, after construction forces us to walk well around it for months for fear of falling cranes (and crane operators). One diner/mortuary has to be worth more than another high-rise in a neighborhood where it seems half the buildings are festooned with “for rent” signs. And I have to admit I’ll miss walking past and wondering yet again where the “top rated” rating it boasted in a big sign in the window came from. The place knew its audience, idiots not worthy of even Maroon deception.

The elephant in the dining room

March 2008

Here’s a new psychological syndrome: Attention Whore Disorder. I was amazed that bloggers would be bummed not to be swept into the Phat Phuck corral. They not only admitted it, they posted at length. As I said before, 8 is the new 12. Now I want to add: Obese food writers are so last century. The one time I went to the Pillsbury Bake-Off, in Miami sometime in the Eighties, I was horrified at the herd of lumbering food editors engaging in gavage at the breakfast buffet in our hotel. All of them were women. Today they would be aberrations. Which is just one objection to that silliness in search of a nut graf. It should have been headlined Boys Don’t Scarf and Barf. Only one woman was quoted, and she happens to be one renowned for wrestling with the object of her profession. (I was happy to see the only other one mentioned, and photographed, was not allowed to sell herself as a role Moss, not with a full Olsen left to drop.) The one story no one could ever do would cover the extent of eating disorders among people who eat for a living; I can’t remember how many press events I’ve been to where women (and one particular guy) disappeared into the bathroom after inhaling everything in reach (one was renowned for an accessory worn to cover the external damage she was doing to herself). So I thought this piece was all about piggishness, then I opened my magazine to see the lithe spirit had not moved the Omnivore to reconsider his intake — he was writing for the shape issue. Don’t read it if you don’t want to think about him in “the teensiest bathing suit,” though. I had to go back and brave the photo of the creature from the gluttonous lagoon to flush that image out of my cranial sieve. And that made me wonder: Forget a gut you would have to lift to be able to pee. Wouldn’t skin the color of a Silkie chicken be a sign that all was not well in Whaleville?