Archive for April, 2010

Ending? Coffee?

April 2010

Also infelicitous was the use of “papal indulgence” in an overwrought restaurant review. Not the best moment for that phrase. Unless you were referring to the busboy.

Greening down the house

April 2010

The funniest headline I saw all week was on an op-ed in USA Today: “Food industry has improved our recipes, marketing and labels.” Who is this “our” of whom you speak? It’s just amazing that two generations — at least — now don’t understand you can make a casserole without a can of soup. (It’s probably not a coincidence that heavy cream became a scary phrase in that same time span.) And now I see, just as a rather awesome short film about the foreverness of plastic is making the e-rounds, that McCormick’s has decided what the world needs now is pre-measured spices packed in plastic on a recipe card. Why not wrap it in a plastic bag, too, and then a jewel box to tuck into a white baggie? Probably the same cretins out in the streets, protesting with all the misspelled words they can scrawl against Big Government intruding too deeply into their lives, are blissful to know they can now cook mindlessly, never realizing Big Food has far, far more dominion. Even the slogan echoes Faux News: “We measure. You create.” Thanks very much, but I’ll make my own “socialist” borscht.

Circle the lard wagons

April 2010

Speaking of multiple generations, it was nice to see Laura Ingalls Wilder getting some props for seducing yet another age. I grew up loving those books partly because they made my family’s situation seem so privileged by comparison (we had wood stoves for both heat and cooking for a good chunk of my childhood, and what fresh meat we ever saw came off the deer my dad would shoot and butcher). When I was fixing to drop out of college in Arizona, I actually had such a romantic image of the good life in the Midwest that I bought a Continental Trailways ticket to Lincoln, Nebraska, to start over. Fast-forward, as the cliché scripters say, and I’m a new food writer scrambling around for projects in the early Eighties, mining my childhood for material, thinking gauzily about the food described so powerfully in those stories, and I hit on the best idea ever: A “Little House” cookbook. And that, I’m afraid, was my first hard lesson in how competitive this business would be. Barbara Walker had been there and done that. Think it’s too late to prairie-blog my way through all the recipes?

They shoot college-age reviewers, don’t they?

April 2010

I can’t remember where I saw the photo spread on all the new kitchen tools being designed for insecure parents who want to raise the next Jamie Oliver, but it was pretty damn depressing. The best way to teach kids is with real tools, not dinosaured-up implements. I baked my first cake when I could barely reach the counter, with my depressed-flat mom calling out directions from her bedroom, and I needed no special measuring spoons or bowls. If I remember correctly from half a century ago, kids just wanna look/act grown-up (never understanding they will be not-kids for such a very long time). Let them wrestle serious whisks, senza handles in the shape of a plane or an outstretched body. And they most definitely do not need their own magazine. Highlights was good enough for me, for Goofus’s sake. But the diapers-down most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in this silly trend is that some mega-enterprise has come up with a name for kids interested in food. And it’s almost as tone-deaf as the anti-tampon iPad. Koodies? Seriously? I’d rather eat cooties.

No flop sweat, please — we’re British

April 2010

I have to say I never thought in my lifetime the White House press secretary would be not only communicating directly with citizens but also name-dropping chefs. The Big O’s intermediary actually did a #FollowFriday for Bobby Flay and Cat Cora. I guess it’s progress — I can’t imagine Dana Perino having the faintest clue who Maricel Presilla even is, given that if she were ever on Jeopardy she would have picked the Caja China for Bay of Pigs.

Last tango in Dublin

April 2010

I know I rant too much about the predictability of holiday food stories (if this is Easter, these must be Peeps gags . . . ) But it’s still funny to see how the kitchen goddesses of Ireland get cycled through every spring. One St. Patrick’s Day it’s the daughter-in-law, the next Easter it’s the mom herself. And every sprigging year editors fall for it.

Msg to Sicilians: Suck. On. This.

April 2010

And, of course, Saint Alice is always worth a story even at the drop of a dis. The latest fawning profile set off The Gurgling Cod big time, which is the only reason I slogged through it. Only to find a rather revealing detail, about the chickens raised to order for allegedly the most demanding restaurateur (not chef) in the country. A few years ago I interviewed Frank Reese for a piece on Heritage Foods, and he mentioned that supermarket chickens are rushed to market for maximum profit — their bones are so bloody even when they’re cooked because “you’re eating babies.” What he nurtures are birds only ready to lose their heads at 16 weeks minimum, 28 weeks ideally; the extra time eating and moving lets them develop their skeletons and “healthy organs” before they turn to muscle. And for Ms. FussBudget? Ten is enuf. To be fair, though, if Jesus were around today people would be criticizing him for not using the proper water to turn into wine. . .