Archive for August, 2009

“Descent is patriotic”

August 2009

It always both amazed and depressed me that countless war protests got almost no coverage under the Chimp. Now all you see are a few KKKrazies making noise everywhere you turn. It’s as if the Food Network turned its programming over to the foie gras fringe. Who of course are not against cruelty so much as restricting what others eat. You really want to shove a sublimely fat liver into the mouths of these wackos essentially saying get your government hands off my FDA.

From Escoffier Room to Escoffier Room

August 2009

Meantime I’ve started wondering if everyone might be confusing Julia Child with Dinty Moore. WTF is up with all the beef stew in hottest August? Did the poor woman codify no other recipe? Or is everyone just needing to hit the Burgundy right now? Plus, did I actually spot someone Tweeting about getting out the pressure cooker to make it? Sole a la microwave would make more sense.

Jell-O on the hoof

August 2009

The ancients had entrails to encourage them. I root around for any printed sign of hope as I’m despairing over health insurance reform thanks to the gutless wonders in Congress and the gullible fools out in “the heartland.” And I found one in the e-release I got from Stanford’s hospital announcing it has started to clean up its food act and is now boldfacing all the buzzwords: organic, local, sustainable. If an outpost of one of the last emblems of truly shitty food is on the right track, help might be on the way. Americans no longer confined to crappy insurance plans but set free with single payer could choose where to be laid up by searching Menupages. The brains behind this innovation in blanc mangery, though, might want to lose the “tray liners featuring images of Stanford’s farm heritage.” If we learned one thing from “Food, Inc.,” it’s that the more bucolic the picture, the uglier the reality. Don’t inadvertently remind us how many pig parts are in use in operating rooms — and how few are heritage guts.

Real estate on 4

August 2009

Maybe I’m just cynical, but could it be possible the NYT started a wine club as a ruse to lure full-page ads from the WSJ wine club? Certainly that would be smarter than trashing JC Penney with the “Mouthpiece Theater” of fashion snark. But there really is something unseemly about it. The hack’s predecessor could be a sumbitch to deal with, and still I have to say I not just read but enjoyed all his columns and only understood why after a wine flack complained that “he doesn’t move product.” Once upon a time, journalism was about illuminating a subject, elevating a reader’s understanding or at the very least purely informing the populace. Now Señor Slim and his ilk are breathing down newspapers’ back offices. The only surprise is that the paper did not start a mezcal-of-the-month club. Although marijuana of the month, come to think of it, would save journalism.

How’s that carrot-cinnamon oil working out?

August 2009

I read but didn’t actually see that the Forelock’s book hit the best-seller list; if it’s true, big props to the writer Claudia Fleming really should have had if she couldn’t get Nancy “Desserts” Silverton’s. Nasty old me, though, suspects this will be the “Simple Cuisine” of the Oughts. I still remember the guy at Bumble & Bumble who kept me in perms through the Eighties gushing one day over how this new cookbook from this big chef was going to change his life forever — everything is so easy; you just make these sauces and oils and stuff and you get food as good as Jean-Georges’s. So, yeah, if you like exactly one type of cookie, knock yourself out with formulas. If you want to learn how to cook, know at the outset that you will never know it all.

Vitamin Z for zinfandel

August 2009

Funny to see the Holy Foods honcho have his wingnut nonsense come back to bite him in the ass. The last place anyone goes looking for sane solutions is the op-ed swamp of the WSJ. Publishing in the pages that showcase that criminal Turd Blossom is bad enough, but to propose unworkable ideas while pushing your own product just pisses people off. Even funnier to see everyone saying they’re bummed that they can’t boycott because they can’t afford to shop there to begin with. You need more than an organic apple a day to keep the doctor away.

A blight on all your houses

August 2009

File heirloom tomatoes under “no new rants, only new writers.” If anyone can find really great tomatoes of any stripe this year, please alert all the food pages and sites blithely running gazpacho and salsa and tart recipes. We had three pretty decent ones from Ray Bradley, but even they were better as metaphor. . .

Philly Phanatic ice cream

August 2009

One of the more pathetic stunts in some time was the NYT’s sending “Hungry (for Processed Crap) Girl” to some stadium to assess the edible offerings. All she did was stroll through and check the calorie counts helpfully posted on menus, something I guess the average baseball fan would be incapable of managing. The fresh fruit on offer got short shrift because of course someone so devoted to gorging on fake this and low-fat that didn’t remember the old Yogi Berraism: “You could look it up.” Otherwise she had no critical capability or cred to bring to the field-side table. For a million reasons it was ridiculous but not least because: What fat fool with a beer in one hand and a hot dog in the other gives a pitched fuck what a neurotic idiot has to say? Next maybe those editors can have the saddest woman in Styles, Ruth Madoff, rate Upper East Side banks.

The 60-Minute Mark Twain

August 2009

So much for Michael Pollan’s cred. Food & Wine has just declared this the year of the home cook, even as he is swearing cobwebs are covering American stoves. Hmm Balzer notwithstanding, someone is buying an awful lot of groceries these days. Then again, there’s a whole cookbook coming out on ways to doctor up pre-fab cookie dough — with no ways to take shit out, of course, only to add it back in. Leave it to the Guardian, though, to really put all this in perspective with a story on how “Meryl Streep film starts debate on loss of cooking skills.” Yes, Sophie the Prada-Wearing Devil did it. Apparently the paper is outsourcing its headline-writing to Lahore.

When Molto met Marcella

August 2009

And since even I am obviously incapable of resisting the celluloid meth of the summer, I have to add that I’m a big admirer of Madeleine Kamman’s recipes; her roasted duck legs changed the way we eat. But I like a catfight as much as anyone else and so appreciated the dredging up of the old rivalry with Mme Child. It’s yet another gauge of character that the nastiness was kept buried until she was. Could you imagine that today? I Feel Bad About My Dreck should consider making a sequel: “No Reservations, Rachael.” Targeted at two such disparate audiences, it would be a blockbuster.

Doughnut hole in the head

August 2009

If health insurance ever, ever gets reformed in this country, I do hope the batshit insane wingnuts now acting thuggishly at town halls don’t give up too easily. Surely they can get duped just as easily by Big Food as they have been by the pre-existing death panels. Next they can run around protesting calorie counts on menus and salmonella-free beef as un-American. “Get the government off our clean water!” would make a good slogan.

Paula Deen in Padma’s workout wear

August 2009

Similarly, I admit to having watched no “Top Chef” besides what I had to for a story a couple of years ago. But is it common for the loser to get all the airtime afterward? Finding Newt Gingrich back out on the teevee after his epic fail is like tuning in expecting Tom Colicchio and seeing the Frugal Gourmet.

Calling Tom Waits to the piano

August 2009

Like everyone else, apparently, I’m quite fascinated by the saga of the “perfect mom”  who killed eight people on the Taconic Parkway while bombed out of her skull on Absolut and weed. From Day One the coverage reeked, while I kept wondering whether it would have been so gentle if the driver had been a Hispanic woman or a black guy. (Answer: Absolutely fucking not.) If not for the toxicology report, the husband would  probably even have been able to explain away the vodka jug found in the wreckage (frugality — it’s the new indulgence). So far, though, the desperate lawyers have not raised an obvious question: Was it something she ate at McDonald’s? And that is yet another awful angle to the story. Imagine having that crap as your last meal.

In the footsteps of the junkyard ho

August 2009

Similarly, the first thought that sprang into my cranial sieve when I heard Saint Alice was mystified at being told she had won the French Legion of Honor: She wasn’t punked by those pranksters from Quebec who scammed Sarah Palin with the call from Sarkozy, was she?

“Creepy goth” almost makes it tantalizing

August 2009

My compliments to I Feel Bad About My Dreck. The turkey is officially off the ground, although it was not surprising to read that the stinker that is “GI Joe” is actually flying. I may have to break down and see the thing eventually now that we just heard our friend and neighbor has a role in it, proving real actors were involved; I had been wondering if the entire cast was made up of food and media personalities who would help in the relentless promotion. (Some time ago I Twittered that if this thing were a cow, its udders would be aching from being milked so hard.) But first those seriously annoying trailers are going to have to stop popping up on so many websites. From the look of them, Meryl Streep disappears into a role about as well as a wiener does into a corn dog.