Archive for February, 2011

The lime pie? Key.

February 2011

If any spouse thought long or hard about what he/she would have to put up with from the White House press corpse, only singles would ever get elected. Certainly the questions posed to Mrs. O by the creme de la overpaid creme at a “Let’s Move” lunch were cringe-inducers. What does $Palin think? Or, stupider, how dare you serve Super Bowl food on Super Bowl Sunday? No one ever asked the Lump in the Bed why the Chimp kept turning up bruised and battered while she blathered between cigs about reading. Some days I suspect what goes on in the Imperial Bedroom is not terrorist fist-bumping but good old American face-palming.

Woke up, it was a nacho Wednesday

February 2011

I’ll admit I’m a skimmer not a careful reader, but why in the name of Edna Claiborne would you run a story about devotion to Southern ingredients with a single recipe calling for miso paste, soy sauce, yuzu juice etc.? Talk about burying the lede — who knew the South has risen again with farro? At least I could identify with the ode to slave cookin’, tho: I’ve been on too many gigs where the best food is always at little joints off the feed-the-advertising-beast list. Kabocha, kombucha, let’s call the whole thing off. At least by the time we get to Brooklyn.

Time, lord

February 2011

The more my consort and I spend at Holy Foods in our neighborhood, the more I question where our souls are destined. I didn’t like watching how a well-dressed mom and daughter were treated when they came in wondering about the $2.19-a-pound Buffalo chicken wings (three words: like project trash). And I’m sure we’re paying in some other way for the too-good-to-be-real deals we get on peanut butter and antibiotic-free milk, especially once I read the WSJournal on how this is the one grocery chain in America whose profits are up as commodity prices soar (although that could make sense, given that its sales are not dependent on the fake blueberries in cereal that are clogging all other supermarkets). Still. The “air-chilled” chicken I brought home the other night when I didn’t need dinner and Bob and The Cat did was pretty fucking scary. And it was the most expensive choice in the birdcase. Not only did it smell a bit high when I slit open the plastic packaging with the days-away-from-sell-by label. The way it cooked up was heading toward “Eraserhead” territory: The breast came out mushy but still bloody at a technically underdone 165 degrees, even after resting before carving, and the leg bones splintered when I wiggled them. I know chickens sent to market these days are babies that have been force-fed, as Frank Reese the heritage turkey breeder notes. But this was almost as weird as the four hearts in the giblet bag. . .

Click your heels or stamp your feet

February 2011

Summary of the week’s controversies: Banh mi, eat the Atlantic. The hometown paper might really want to hire some editors, cuz readers obviously can’t distinguish between legit stories and blog filler. And the A-holes really should realize Al Gore set up the series of tubes so anyone could quickly learn a 2007 screed has only been updated to add new insults. Why micturate all over “Omnivore’s Dilemma” when the later prototype for the Egopedist would do?

929 e-releases and counting

February 2011

I know I seem especially hard on flacks, but here are two opposites to show why. One follows me on Twitter, sees me begging for help on the most daunting chocolate story I’ve ever done and emails me to hook me up with a young, smart pastry chef who’s doing exactly what I need. The other . . . Where do I begin? My editor has provided me with my most solid lede, but the 9-to-5-er at the restaurant where she thought he bakes never responds. Only after I go Yahooing (which is so often more fruitful when reporting, to screen out the SEO bullshit) do I learn he has moved on, and I turn him up in Las Vegas. So I call the new restaurant, in an allah-forsaken casino, and the nice woman who answers says the best way to reach a pastry chef is to contact the PR person by email. Which I do, giving great detail. Only to get a response a couple of hours later asking: “Who is XXXX?” Yikes. This guy gets paid to promote and has no idea a high-visibility pastry chef is involved in what turns up on the plates for the suckahs? I want the checks he’s cashing.

Set to uke

February 2011

And my cynical side always goes into overdrive when staff meal comes up. I know I did a piece on Mexican cooks feeding the “family,” but even that was fraught with deception.  I remember what my classmates ate in restaurant school, and it was nothing you’d write a book about — whenever a reporter comes close, the food always improves. Staff/family meal is the “celebrity chef upgrades airline food” BS all media outlets swallow. So I was happy to have a server of a sort validate my negativity. He split for a bit to eat and hear about the night’s specials and returned to say, when we asked: “Family meal is the most horrific part of working in a restaurant.” The best you can hope for is “protein, starch, salad.” The worst you can fear is food poisoning. Especially in this economy, it’s hard to feed staff (or family) for free. But it was pretty funny to ask: “Have you ever had Mexican  for staff meal?” and hear: “No. But that would be the best.” Tell it to the Homme.

They bring a gun, you bring a falafel

February 2011

It’s only two years now, but I’m starting to suspect Mrs. O kinda likes fucking with the kkkrazies. After she’s been declared a nutrition nazi, she puts not one but two sausages on the Super Bowl menu, plus cheeseburgers and deep-dish pizza and stuffed potatoes and wings and ice cream etc. You’d almost think she was a real American.

Jelly bean harmony

February 2011

And in yet another example of why politicians should not come anywhere close to food, I read that some Maine legislator wanted to fight the designation of the silly Whoopie Pie as the state dessert because its “primary ingredient is lard.” If that actually happened to be the case, it would, of course, be one of the healthier choices in the cookie kingdom.

Jamaican memories of Belize and Gstaad

February 2011

I don’t often look at the free papers that litter the subways, but my consort forced me to confront an issue that had one of those Iron Clowns on the cover because he noticed the guy’s mouth and beard looked like a hirsute anus. Once we both figured out it was not the cover but a wraparound ad, I got sucked into a typical carrying-water-for-the-overlords story on “concierges” who provide whatever the super-rich desire in NYC. Of course the reporter swallowed the notion that the new austerity means flying in the In-and-Out burgers not on private planes but commercial jets. Which must be why he or she did not comment on the other big phenomenon in this Bushwhacked economy: Ferrari says it had its best sales year ever in the USofA. Sad to think obscene bonuses are going to people who don’t realize real luxury is the kind of foods children don’t eat.

Shells of bees

February 2011

Exhibit ZZZ for why I am glad to be old and also fear reincarnation: Security kabuki keeps seeping into every aspect of our once free/brave lives. The Food Shitty near us  where we go for the nonperishables and paper products, the one with the chronic drip from holes in the ceiling over the dairy case, now has a sign at the portal of hell warning shoppers they may have their bags and backpacks searched. I’ve seen shoplifting there, so I can understand why (although I will never understand how someone can eat meat after it’s touched meat encased in baggy boxers). But why do they have to insult everyone’s intelligence by saying “this is for your security”? What, to defuse the bomb you’re carrying into the slime back by the sour cream?

“First you make a rue”

February 2011

I’m reTweeting myself to say magazines should be ticketed for running recipes calling for blueberries in February. Especially when they’re for “chilled gazpacho” while the snow’s piled high from Minneapolis to Manhattan.

Just read a book called “Swindled”

February 2011

Someone more clever than I has coined the moniker “egopedist,” which really does sum up what the hometown paper has unleashed on the world: shallow thoughts gathered from here and yon and tediously presented as if they were original. At least this new gig is exposing how many gray dittoheads are out there, waiting for their preferred outlet to “inform” them the great American food chain is kinda fucked up, when the Eric Schlossers and Marion Nestles and Michael Pollans etc. have been the Davids catapulting at Big Food Goliaths for years. Wasn’t there a movie called “Food, Inc.” in many, many theaters not so long ago, now available for free from libraries? Oh. Well. While I’m braising my CAFO short ribs, I’ll be wondering: Who is this “we” of whom he speaks with all that faith in the food supply? And what’s worse, carbon emissions or carbon copies?

A variety of mushrooms, all in shape/form of shiitakes

February 2011

Also, too, you’d think with such a dazzling debut on the horizon, various sections would have coordinated their disparate offerings. Was that pepperoni or scabs printed large over the “Italians don’t eat meatballs on their spaghetti, either” WTF? Was it meant to be a zig, or a zag, on authenticity? And shouldn’t grease-on-grease pizza be taxed as “hazardous to health”?

Caribou Crunch Supreme

February 2011

In another example of this country’s exceptionalism, the inimitable Charlie Pierce notes that the Mubarak family has big holdings in those sportswriter favorites, Chili’s restaurants. Wingnuts’ heads will explode when they see that chain is not just moving into Moscow but is the opposite of Chick-fil-A. . .

Headcheese

February 2011

And there’s a dainty new euphemism out there: prepared. I saw chickens for sale at the Sunday Greenmarket on Columbus labeled “hand-prepared.” The WSJournal ran a caption saying a fisherman “prepared” a huge salmon. “Killed and gutted” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.