Archive for August, 2008

Tacos or no tacos?

August 2008

I guess I have to say something about the postmortem outing of Julia, so here goes: You know that idiot son of an asshole sullying the White House? He’s a lying war criminal. Read the papers, the blogs, anything; listen to the teevee and the radio. It’s no secret. As her biography and obits disclosed way back when, America’s kitchen sweetheart worked for the OSS, which was very clearly defined as the predecessor of the CIA. What does the CIA do? Funny, though, how everyone wants to trumpet her having been a spy while still insisting Valerie Plame was just a glamour girl. News at 11: Bourdain did drugs!

Calling Chrissie Hynde

August 2008

Probably the most abused word in the English language, after gourmet, is chef. Whatever Rachael Ray is, she is not a chef. Stuntwoman, maybe. But she has never really run a kitchen. In some ways, she’s her generation’s Martha, but it’s funny how no one ever called Ms. Perfect a chef, and she had somewhat more claim to the title. And all this is by way of saying we live in one fucked-up society when the donut terrorist is the top earner in the “chef” category, ahead even of good old Wolfgang, who once ruled the branding game. (Guess that wingnut boycott worked out well, huh?) It used to be you got rich and famous by doing. Now it’s by being. What’s more chilling is that the butter swiller is so close behind her, No. 4 on the bucks list, after Gordon Ramsay. John Prine should reissue his great old song about blowing up your teevee — that one invention has clearly made the whole country cretinous. Another news report claimed 25 percent of calories are used by your brain. Obviously, those are empty calories. The kind you’d take on with a nutritious egg white sandwich and oversweetened coffee down at Dunkin’ Kefiyahs.

Maybe Trinidad was overbaking

August 2008

Those who heart schadenfreude can take pleasure in the news that Mrs. Fields has filed for bankruptcy, having too greedily engulfed and devoured what my consort calls The Country’s Most Expensive Yogurt. Little Debbi once ruled her world, too, and it’s almost amusing to see what fells the mighty. Laudatory profiles used to tout her shrewdness in choosing to market the hell out of a product whose ingredients were so cheap and could be marked up so greedily. Karma’s a bitch, though. Flour, butter, eggs — these days you’re talking real money.

To Michigan with fleur de sel

August 2008

Some days it’s hard to slog through the series of tubes without hip waders. The amount of horseshit piled up in one tiny brief about Molto’s vacation valise was enough to choke the hungriest herd of dung beetles. Eight to 10 kinds of cheese? Dehydrated corn in summertime? Crespone salami? Give me the proverbial fucking break. Of course, I don’t blame him or his beleaguered people, though. Idiots ask idiotic questions, and you have to provide pretentious answers.

Less qualified, more gagging

August 2008

The craziest notions sometimes turn up in my writeme inbox. The weirdest lately was the email promoting cheeses to eat while indulging in the Olympics. Which got me wondering if there has ever been a bigger gap between object and affection. Does anyone really sit in front of the teevee watching the beach volleyball competition and nibbling on taleggio in between schmears of Brie de Nangis? Look at the Fan in Chief, for war crimes’ sake. We’re talking Velveeta on a pretzel at best.

If U have to be shown, U can’t afford it

August 2008

Speaking of which, Holy Foods must be very happy to have as distractions both the tabloid sensation and the Olympics; otherwise we might be seeing serious coverage of its big recall of shit-contaminated ground beef. Still, this dirty wrinkle does take away from the rollout of its absurd new image as a bargain hunter’s best friend. The boss should have listened to the Chimp’s bogus-war team: When it comes to marketing, August is a bitch. Ask the Georgians.

The salt stands alone

August 2008

And speaking of America’s bizarre willingness to overlook the filth in the food chain as long as the cheap beef keeps coming, the most viewed story at the WSJournal last week was on McDonald’s cutting the cheese on its dollar double burger. I imagine a billion page views were registered in India alone. And 300 million of those users might have been wondering how two burgers could possibly cost what they themselves have to spend on food in a day. What this country needs is another food scare — with a headline-grabbing “attack of the killer wheat,” they could eliminate the buns.

Medal of horror

August 2008

Somehow I don’t think these developments are unrelated. Apparently the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country is one that builds its menus around “wings and rings” — deep-fat-fried crap for cheap. And “competitive eating” has just been declared the world’s most popular sport/hobby/whatever. Archaeologists 100,000 years from now will only wonder where we put the vomitoriums.

You say super-size it

August 2008

I actually felt bad for the high-profile food-blog overseer who was recently photographed apparently contemplating eating crap at an airport. The awful truth is that no one (except maybe Saint Alice) is immune to the siren song of garbage for either instant gratification or self-abasement. I would add “simple satisfaction,” but fast food never provides that, as I realized after giving it up on losing 20 pounds in the only upside of my little incident four years ago. Consider this depressing tale: I was walking toward the Greenmarket on 14th Street and thinking about how easy it has been to keep that weight off because I would never succumb to the Taco Bell on my route these days.  After filling my Cuba bag with corn and milk and other weighty stuff, I set off in search of lunch, thinking of the tuna sandwich at The New French 1.24 Mapquest miles away, which would be the perfect stomach liner for a birthday party at 7 that night. I got as far as Seventh Avenue and knew it was beyond me, waited awhile for a bus, then panicked about time and headed toward the C train and a cobbled-together lunch at home. Unfortunately, between me and the 23d Street station the new Qdoba lurked. I figured if I was going to fall off the food wagon, I might as well do it big time, so I ordered vegetarian nachos and was rewarded with a pile of chips in what looked like a pie pan, drizzled with “3-cheese queso,” slopped with pinto beans and green sauce and topped off with “lite” sour cream. I can’t remember the last time I tasted anything that delivered so little of anything you expect from food, starting with flavor. It reminded me yet again why people eat fast crap: They keep stuffing it in and hoping at some point their taste buds will perceive something, anything. No wonder the guy at the high table closest to me was either sleeping or passed out. The saddest part was doing the numbers. Killer tuna on pizza bianca with kick-McDonald’s-ass fries at The New French: $9.50. Bleak shit on a disposable shingle: $7. My colon wants its processing time back.

Poke for snoots

August 2008

Considering she was stealing from the bottom of the Rachael/Food Network barrel, the Bud heiress clearly needs help with her recipes. And here’s her chance, certainly one not many non-beer heiresses could afford: a two-hour private cooking lesson with J-G as part of a dilettante’s package in a hotel for a mere $8,999. Remind me why arugula is elitist?

Don’t ask about human poop scoops

August 2008

Oddities of the week: I saw a guy towing a Weber grill through the subway station at Columbus Circle one night. I saw a Spanish family of four (or at least a Spanish-speaking, light-skinned family of four) sharing an ear of corn at the Union Square Greenmarket — a raw ear of corn, husk husked down to the stalk. I heard a vendor at our neighborhood Greenmarket telling a shopper who was wondering about breaking a twenty that he would rather change a fifty than “wait for you guys to grope around for the correct change.” And I read in my hometown paper that using skim milk makes macaroni and cheese a more healthful dish. (Tell that to fettucine Alfredo.) Sorta like a Hail Mary pass of roasting pork rinds rather than deep-frying.

Water? Only bottled.

August 2008

My newfound frugal streak is not a pose. I freak out every time I exit the Food Shitty with a jar of Hellmann’s stickered at $5.39 to replace the one I have just thrown out with a $4.69 label. (And I go through mayonnaise like grass through a goose.) But my real sense of battered-diner syndrome kicks in with restaurants. The other night we met five friends for sunset wine at the uptown concession in Riverside Park and left a couple of hours later $35 a person lighter, after (admittedly) too much wine but only three burgers, three Caesar soups, one order of fries and two ears of corn. Seventy dollars a couple used to buy real food in a room with running water and a working toilet. So I can’t even begin to describe how much more satisfying a picnic was two nights later within eyeshot of the Gouge Bar. We settled onto the intensely green grass with another couple who had brought two V&T pizzas (outstanding even cold), gentle-jerk chicken (actually Cornish hens) and corn-tomato and zucchini salads, all of which we supplemented with curry-deviled eggs, cucumber-chive salad, Kahlua brownies, Paffenroth’s radishes (French breakfast and Easter egg), an epi-baguette from Amy’s and two bottles of rose. Given what a bottom feeder I have become with wine, I doubt the whole too-much-to-eat spread cost much more than $60 for the four of us. And I can’t decide which was more pleasurable, watching the sun set over Jersey in a rose haze or seeing a deck full of suckers getting bled dry just a shout away.

The armadillo in 15E

August 2008

When it comes to politically incorrect observations on obesity, I have a new shorthand: IOIYATB. I agree totally, and laughed out loud, but I wonder how many of his viewers got a big (really big) chuckle out of watching him and Mr. Gun Whackjob trash the hell out of their fans’ physical limitations. If only tapeworms were the new heroin for dieters.

Couture is for losers

August 2008

For longer than I can remember I’ve been wondering what happened to the guy who I was warned was “not a very sophisticated writer” (imagine typing with the clutch on) and thus would always need serious editing. Reams of fluid copy have been printed under that famous byline, none of it even remotely like the ploddingly awkward stuff I had to wrestle into something approximating lively and smooth. Now, for some reason, he’s back. And he’s brought salamis on the ceiling with him. (At Zabar’s? WTF?) The only explanation must be that he’s a superhero, and not just in his own mind. He simply got his identities momentarily confused . . .

Waders by Ferragamo

August 2008

As this campaign threatens to turn into a feces-flinging extravaganza to rival the early days of eRectum, it’s too bad more reporters are not highlighting the main ingredient in a recipe for certain disaster: a private fishing hole. The Chimp has always had his own lake stocked with bass for him at his “ranch,” and now the Old Wannabe also turns out to have a shooting barrel at his ranchette, which is on a creek that actually had fish in it when I was a kid. Guys who want the game rigged should not be the boss of us. When it comes to elitism, worrying about the price of arugula pales in comparison.