Archive for September, 2010

Matt Bai for restaurant critic, tho

September 2010

I know we’re not supposed to blame the Chimp for anything anymore in the United States of Amnesia, but I do want to note, one more time, that I was not the one who nicknamed Panchito Panchito. But if the diminution fits, why not run with it? I kinda like “Malto,” though. Misspell the second half as Eggo and you’d have a very Boehner-colored frozen waffle to accessorize the Crocs.

And “the Indian Nigella Lawson”

September 2010

With the kkkraziness spreading, I also find it fascinating how the wingnuts seem to model their headliners on Food Network stars. Jon Stewart nailed it with “a less slutty Rachael Ray” for the train wreck in Delaware, but most of the other candidates look as if their oversized heads and flashing cleavage belong behind a “meez on PLASS” on a fake set somewhere. It’s also telling that campaign contributions were apparently stolen to pay for a meal at a chain boasting of “fresh quality ingredients, bold flavors and handcrafted cocktails.” Don’t real ’mericans eat at Applebee’s?

Oxymuffin blues

September 2010

The only thing dumber than publishing a comfort food cookbook in the year 2010? Feeling compelled to define comfort food. . .

Pot pies or pot brownies?

September 2010

Lately I find myself walking by a certain restaurant on Columbus as often as I can just to check out the goofs on the specials chalkboard on the sidewalk, especially the spelling du jour of “meuniere.” Once it was “muñyer;” another day whoever scrawls apparently gave up and settled for “scallops muni.” The silliest part is that it’s not a French joint. Write Italian, damn it! Still, the confusion is not as embarrassing as a newish faux-retro diner’s overdesigned printed menu, which promises stuff “hot off the girdle.” Should I assume all drinks come fresh from the bra?

But it says “weiner” on the neon

September 2010

Plus it’s annoying to see a “juice” “beverage” advertised as “mother freakin nutrified.” Don’t play games to avoid cussin’. Just call the stuff what it is: fucking scam water.

Where is the lard?

September 2010

Speaking of which, it’s been entertaining to watch the high-fructose corn syrup marketers contort themselves to shed the scary name rather than the crappy ingredient. Turns out “corn sugar” is taken already, so it’s back to the obfuscation table. But at least they’ve accomplished something: They have totally redeemed sugar’s reputation, maybe even polished it. Which is wild considering I came across a clip on my desk from USAWeekend, from March, titled “Healthier alternatives to sugar” (raw honey, agave nectar and stevia). I had had some crazy idea of pitching a story contradicting that. But now that we know the white stuff’s not so bad, I guess it’s not surprising the same magazine is still peddling the biggest lie in food equivalencies. The latest issue has a tout for yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. Yeah. Right. And espresso granita is as richly creamy/satisfying as coffee Haagen-Dazs. But consider this message accomplished: All the blather about cutting calories and fat was balanced by the full-page ad for microwaveable French toast sticks, with sausage, as a great choice for children. Breakfast of fatties.

Stew and abstinence

September 2010

And even that is not as obscene as what Taste of Home has become. A magazine that most subscribers loved for the lack of advertising is now one blurry mess of editorial and promotion. I was stopped cold by an ad for liners for slow cookers, with a “Cook Smart” feature on the facing page on using your slow cooker. Last tip, for an easy way to clean your crockpot? Use a liner. I guess the oceans are not fully clogged with enough plastic crap yet; why not start selling something a nonstick gadget should not even need? And at least the all-white, all-female, deliberately naive “field editors” have been retained for comic relief. One, in Smalltown, Texas, submitted “Fire Island ziti.” Obvious missing ingredient in her heartland intro: Teh gay.

Panko seasoning for Lesser New York

September 2010

I’ve clearly been homebound and overdosing on print media, because my take on the WSJournal’s new weekend section is that it should be renamed Stuff Rich People Like. I’ll give it points — it’s dense with featurettes, to the point that it took me three tries to get through it (the last after Tweets started popping up noting what a mess the paella recipe was — olive oil is the first ingredient, tomatoes the first step, etc.) And it does have savvy things like what your $9,920 for new Louis Vuitton pumps could buy you, including a week’s worth of Starbucks. But in the same month the new figures came out showing one in seven Americans is now living in poverty, the hotel/cooking school feature showcases a Tuscan resort where rooms go for up to $4,000, and where the unlucky ducks can become members for $1.6 million plus $53,000 a year in dues. I didn’t slog through the piece, but presumably the classes focus on cucina povere, just to keep irony alive.

The most amusing feature was “Slow Food Fast: Seasonal Recipes for Cooks Who Don’t Have All Day.” Not only must these time-strapped readers track down, and spring for, fresh porcini. They also need to make three elements for bruschetta, which should be synonymous with simplicity. And one involves halving green grapes. I guess the miracle is that peeling them is not also required.

Five burns

September 2010

In my alternate life on Twitter, I came across some mini-tempest over a food blogger recruiting recipe testers for no fee, ingredient costs to be absorbed by honored cook. This is worse than pennies as the new dollars. And no amount of visibility can compensate for it. As some wag Tweeted: “Getting ‘published’ online is like getting a ‘blow job’ from your hand.”

And on a related topic, I can’t describe how depressed I am on learning that MFK wannabes are taking these big-name food-writing classes and coming out not knowing the most basic, basic skill. To put it succinctly: If you aren’t fast with a pen and notebook, use a goddamn tape recorder.

Let ‘em eat pretzels

September 2010

Some other random thoughts: American cheese will have finally arrived when any story about a store specializing them does not refer to processed Kraft in the lede — it’s been a long time that no one has been wrapping Vermont Shepherd in plastic singles. And the dustup in DC over the ban on chocolate milk in schools makes it even more clear that Americans are enslaved by Big Food (does everything need raspberry-chocolate-ranch flavoring?), although I wonder if kids might like the white stuff better if it were whole and not skim or whatever watery crap they’re being served. And, cynical as I am, I actually felt proud to be an American when Mrs. O took the foreign dignitaries’ wives to lunch at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I’ve only been once to eat, but the place feels like France. Now we have Freedom Food to show off in our own country. And Saint Alice was not involved.

Permission to bring older Riojas

September 2010

I know the first black First Lady can’t pick a chocolate brown pepper without getting slimed by the knuckle-draggers for being an out-of-touch, overspending elitist, so it’s fascinating to realize the same press corpse that dutifully regurgitates the rabid foaming is so clueless, too, and not just at the Rupert Rag. Vacation or not, was this really the best time for a wine writer to be reporting back on an oh-so-fortuitous reservation at/expedition to one of the most expensive restaurants in the world? The big debate this week, after all, was whether a country drowning in debt from two wars could afford both food stamps and improved school lunches. Thank allah for Stephen Colbert’s mega-cojones in going before the House to talk about who’s picking our cheap lettuce and tomatoes, and why. To the “serious” “journalists,” and the lobbyist-owned Congresscritters, it was all a stunt. To the rest of America, it looks as if they all deserve some serious corn packing.

2,000 words to say: Prep as U go

September 2010

Taking a short bile break to restart my wit engine. But first have to wonder if anyone knew you can grate shit in a Cuisinart. Everything but a whole snapper, apparently. And last I read, the iPad was the Typhoid Mary of tech — touching one in an Apple store would give you serious cooties. Now it’s the greatest thing to caress before eating? I need a drink. Or a week’s worth.

But the whine in first class is “delicious”

September 2010

When I read about the flight attendant who was fired for admitting she can’t get by without food stamps, half of me started to hope the DC bloviators are right and the guys who drove the country into the ditch get a fresh chance at the wheel. Maybe people will finally understand capitalism lets airlines gouge for pretzels while relying on socialism to keep the help fed. Heckuva job, free marketeers.

Common-sense cornflakes

September 2010

Fish tacos are now officially over. A coupon arrived with one of our daily papers touting the unholy matchup of Gorton’s and Ortega. Coming soon: The Jimmy Dean banh mi.

Petroleum is forever

September 2010

It’s also entertaining to see everyone freaking out over fast food chains starting to serve from trucks. It actually makes perfect sense: What they deliver already arrives on multiple wheels. Why not just eliminate the real estate brokers and dish up semi food anywhere and everywhere?