This was quite the week for the Big Homme. One day he’s hanging in the White House garden with Mrs. O, and on another his restaurant bathroom is the talk of the town. If the celeb in question had a better handler, that “cocaine” could have been laughed off as sugar from the bombolini. As it is, I’m thinking we need tax cuts for the ridiculously rich so they can trash more super-high-end restaurants. No wonder white-tablecloth joints are dying. They attract the sleaziest sort.
Archive for October, 2010
If a word could be stoned to death, I would nominate culinary. Food or kitchen or cooking would nearly always do just fine instead. So what kind of writer describes herself as “culinary-obsessed”? One who doesn’t know an adjective from a noun and should get in the Shirley Jackson line. I’d cast the first stone.
I never know quite what goes through a certain junkyard dog’s mind, but I do know the shiv inevitably comes out where it’s least expected (ask publishers who’ve been scalded by weighted praise). So I wonder what the agenda was in having a Thai chef say Niman Ranch tastes no different from “regular” beef. I thought flavor was just one reason to choose your meat in this day and filthy age? Also, too, whole lot o’ floatin’ going on that issue. And one image you do not want in your head is a “pea soup floater.” It conjures a very unfortunate punchbowl.
For some reason I cannot convince my in-law equivalent she’s wasting her money buying me a Christmas subscription to the world’s highest-circulation fud magazine. So it looks as if I’ll get material to mock for yet another year. But I really am not sure how much sillier it can get as it aspires more cravenly to the GE Profile level of ad. Of all the things Champagne is made for, basting a goddamn turkey ranks pretty far down the wine rack. And “the secret is to use lots of fresh parsley” only adds insult to injury to reader intelligence. If you’re going to bust out the big booze, at least reach for sage. And hold the canned consomme. The funniest part is that the idiotically pretentious recipe comes with a “test kitchen tip” to buy a full bottle of the fancy sparkler to have some left over to sip (I presume they needed at least a case to ease their consciences). And it has a prayer printed alongside. I do hope the mercy it asks from God our loving Father is destined for the editor who chose it. Because Champale is not quite Pol Roger.
I forget where I heard someone on the radio noting that it’s the anomalies that now make news — the old three-is-a-trend rule seems to have fallen by the spent-teabag wayside; the lone wingnut always gets the spotlight before three sane minds. But it was still sad to see the new game played with Halloween candy. A few cretins with issues hijack a holiday, and a foodstuff, and get the kind of coverage someone who discovered a new meat or a cure for the oyster die-off deserves. It’s almost enough to make you quit wearing deodorant. No matter that the stranger-danger-is-a-myth take gets even less coverage than what’s actually in candy corn. Me, I’m looking forward to all the gluten-free Thanksgiving stories.
I Tweeted a version of this but still think it’s worth repeating: A new cookbook from an old Appalachian restaurant includes a top 10 set of business rules, and one is one I hope the Seconda Tenuta guys do not read: “If you consistently have lines of people waiting to get in, your prices are too low.” Scammin’. You’re doing it wrong.
On Halloween I saw a girl dressed as a box of McDonald’s fries and wondered where Child Protective Services was hiding. The company is really a national security threat thanks to the way it indoctrinates the gullible. And that includes the media as well as its patrons. Bad enough that the WSJournal was taken in by its insurance steer manure. Now, while everyone’s chortling over the court decision to make the chain pay for making an employee fat, the company is off breaking electioneering laws. Message: They don’t care.
Which is why the ad I came across for an insidious new product was so disturbing. Years ago Harper’s ran a great story connecting the dots among dollar meals, diabetes and the potential for drug companies to cash in beyond their craziest dreams if the whole country could be made insulin-dependent. And now here’s this chilling little pen being marketed like a watch, as essential as the air you breathe around a sunflower. I was worried when ads starting showing the portly as if they were normal. Now diseased is the new healthy. If there’s enough of our “civilization” for future archaeologists to excavate, I hope the ads survive. Just to give the diagnosis.
Gourmet has become the zombie of the food world — there’s no way to keep the damn thing buried. The latest ghoulishness comes in the form of a cookie cookbook rounding up 68 years’ worth of recipes paired with easily the most disturbing photographs I think I’ve seen outside “The Gallery of Regrettable Food.” Maybe it was meant to be arty. But it made me wonder if the missing ingredient might not be Zoloft.
Another new cookbook is unsettling for a different reason. It’s missing the sticky bun recipe, I guess because rat turds are hard for the average home cook to come by. And it makes me realize a heart-breakingly devoted employee was really just chopped liver. Not a mention of the West Indian who worked longer and harder than the boss herself. Instead there’s a guy who, if he was around 27 years ago, was not makin’ the muffins. Talk about shaking cockroaches out of aprons. . .
In chaos is a terrible place to live, so I’m pretty late and seriously out of it with verbal bile this week; I’ve been doing more up-close-and-furious venting on the home invaders who took an elephant gun to a mouse in our apartment. But I’m checking in briefly to say the high point of my week was sitting down to a press lunch and seeing “amouse” on the menu. Someone should have “pre-fixed” that sucker.
Just back from a flying trip to Buffalo (no restaurants were harmed), I’m still marveling at the rather porcine cashier at Office Max who mocked the sales tax charged on the phone my consort bought his mom. She had no idea what the 7 (or so) percent was used for, which puts her right up there with the idiot running for Congress who believes salmonella in eggs could be prevented if only we got the government off the chickenshit producers’ back and simply let buyers beware. Can’t these cretins just move to Somalia and start food blogs, please?
How bad are things at the Four Seasons? Giving-away-wine bad. How clear was it that Bon App needed a shake-up? A 10-pound cookbook in the age of Epicurious just arrived on my doormat. How embarrassing is it that Seconda Tenuta’s birth was off in print by half a decade? Enough that I want to send a sympathy card to a critic clearly eating so hard his sidebar echoes his mainbar and his workload makes Sisyphus look like a slacker.
The alleged big debate continues to be whether food blogs have gone mainstream, but I think no one is asking a bigger question: How horrifically has old media allowed itself to be degraded by blogginess? Not only did our hometown paper print a recipe that had clearly never been vetted by the Dining section, let alone tested, let alone copy-edited to conform with style. My old check-writer let the water-carrier for the Lump in the Bed trash the new occupant of the White House dining room for ordering a cheeseburger. And the stupidity actually had traction. I’m not quite old enough to remember, but was this what it was like when the Pill first made it possible for women to “communicate” with men without the guys having to pay?
Probably the saddest thing I read all week is that people died from eating celery from a listeriosis-plagued plant in Texas. Could there be a less satisfying food to succumb to? If I’m going to go prematurely, please let it be with foie gras. While someone is stealing someone else’s script.
I was trying to ignore the kkkrazies’ boycott of Campbell’s for making halal soup in Canada, but apparently the ugliness is only spreading. Wonder if anyone thinks about the slippery slope — after they come for the “muslins,” will good cooks one day be denied kosher salt?