Archive for October, 2011

Just substitute agave for saccharine

October 2011

Of course, by granting cover to the craptastic, I’m guilty, too. I was fascinated by the Guardian’s recent dredging up of a contemporary review of one of my idol’s cookbooks. And it is pretty damned damning. But it also made me realize how seldom you see the truth hurting these days. I’ve Tweeted that “on the internet, everyone knows you’re an idiot,” but it’s equally true that logrolling has overwhelmed any attempts at honesty, at least outside of the comment sections. Print is not only not dead. It’s dominated by shitshows, yet every book’s a winner. And not only can you recycle recipes at will, you can even get an old-line book deal. If only the only woman who went to jail in the financial meltdown had known: Just add a fucking adjective to your purloined shrimp toasts and you’re even more golden.

Home-grown listeria. In the lettuce.

October 2011

I acknowledge that we’re living in interesting times, as the Chinese curse goes, but it’s still amazing how little we know in the most amazing age of shared information in all of human history. Thanks to my consort, I had lunch the other day with a woman who knows from Chile and who mentioned just a few of the “Darwin’s Nightmare” things she’s seeing there: pesticides on northward-bound fruits and vegetables overused to the point of poisoning farmworkers, plus farmed salmon pumped with 700 times the antibiotics even the free-dosing Norwegians are using. Which made me wonder about the grapes transformed into the sauvignon blancs I love. Guess I shouldn’t have asked — there’s a reason why they’re cheap. (And why the industry is flying so many writers down to get snockered and snookered [excuse me: wined and dined]). But there’s always a pony to be found in the heap o’ manure: All this made me not at all surprised to read that wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest are now infected by a virus thanks to their penned-up cousins bound for supermarkets everywhere. Americans wanted chicken of the sea. And have they ever gotten Perdue with scales.

Wedding Fribbles

October 2011

Finally, my goal is to either get back on Sunday track or start posting every a.m. Because too many objects start to look smaller in my rear-view mirror as time fades away. Like the phenomenon formerly known as Mr. Cutlets’ contrarian take on the demise of Friendly’s and other mediocre ubiquities (ubiquitous mediocrities?) He contends that their going under in a country that was sold urine as trickle-down is a bad thing. I would say this will open up the restaurant world to entrepreneurs again. My new mantra is that food is the future. The last few decades of what I call semi-food, delivered in tractor-trailers everywhere, wiped out the places that dominated the landscape back when the Sterns hit the road, when I lived in Nebraska and Iowa. Too often since St. Ronnie of Alzheimer’s my consort and I would land in some little town late at night and be told by the motelier or B&Bkeeper the only option for dinner was: “There’s a Friendly’s out on the highway.” Real “eateries” once thrived. And could again since Americans are now so conditioned to eating in the mid-level between Taco Bell and “fine dining” that chefs who focus on serving good food at a good price should do well once the marked-up, underpriced processed crap is taken off the table. Of course, it may mean one chain in particular has to go under to show how easy the transformation would be: Pasta costs pennies; any mom & pop can make it here. Any downside to losing Olive Garden?

Move to the country

October 2011

No wonder I can’t get focused to snark here. Minus 140 characters will always reverberate around the Twitterverse before I can get my MacBook started: “Television personality is a pretty sorry job description.” I meant it as a retort to all those flacks flooding my inbox flogging babbling heads for a dying medium. But if the dis fits, run with it.

Truffled

October 2011

This is shaping up to be the most food-oriented election in history. We have the frothy “chocolate” candidate, the Subway Tweeter, the many apparent consumers/spewers of bat guano. But the mozzarella-topped elephant in the room is most laughable. Call me cynical, but I somehow suspect the vegetable garden at the White House is really going to be replaced by an industrial pizza oven.

Hide the surimi

October 2011

All that said, half of me hopes some wingnut really does get elected, just to have his faux family subjected to the under-the-microscope treatment accorded the current occupants of the White House. Did an internet outlet really send someone out to food-stalk Mrs. O? And am I the only one a little queasy after eight years of booze-and-cigs unexamined under the former occupants? I guess we’re just lucky the intrepid “reporter” was not required to check the contents of the toilet bowls, too.

They eat horses in Siena?

October 2011

And I always hate getting suckered into manufactured debates, but I have to say the latest “best food cities” poll was absolutely Maroonish. Florence has its charms, but fud ain’t one of them. Even the great central market is more Faneuil Hall than real Italy these days. And don’t get me started on Rome. You can eat well there, but only if you are very, very selective. As always, absence says more than top ratings. Where were the votes for Torino? To quote friends, the Piemontese make the Tuscans look like peasants. But how would you know that sitting in your Barcalounger reading the travel glossies?

Cake balls

October 2011

I hate getting suckered into promotions of processed crap, too, but I was mildly entertained by the notion of taco shells made out of ground-up Doritos. Could there be a better metaphor for America today? And it made me wonder why there are no mashed potatoes made out of ground-up chips. Until I realized we already have those. Many Americans will be serving just that wet-and-eat crap on Thanksgiving.

Burgers, burgers & more burgers

October 2011

Given that it’s been July in October here, my consort insisted we break away from our computers on Columbus Day for a long walk in the sunshine through the turning leaves. And it was long, maybe five miles up through the park and Harlem and back down through Harlem and the park. My fantasy was that we would stop for a drink at the Greatest Attraction, but we were still stuffed from our after-dinner-party-lunch when we got there. Now we’re determined to go back to eat, but in the meantime I have to note that the decor is so kitschy you expect the waiters to be bedecked with flair. (You have to see it to believe it, especially if you’ve walked from CPN up Lenox Ave/Malcolm X Bvld.) The staff could not have been more beautifully professional and welcoming, though, which made the reaction from the patrons in the front so unnerving. Maybe it’s because we only walked through without staying, but the vibe was as condescending as it was 30 years ago when we first ventured north of 125th Street in our neighborhood. Which is why I don’t think we’ll be going back at timid lunchtime but only for normal dinner, even if we do (allegedly) have to reserve 30 days ahead. The white balance has shifted.

Mary the cook

October 2011

“Contagion” was pretty much a waste of our discount coupons and 6 gazillion dollars for  popcorn, but (big-time spoiler alert) the ending could have been even more chilling. Bad enough a chef wipes his mitts on his apron and shakes hands with a patron. Imagine if that hand had been in a glove. Used in a bathroom shortly before it went into a pig’s snout. . . .

Wash the gold plate in the bidet

October 2011

I can’t keep up with all the old-media hypocrisy these days, but the trashing of bloggers for taking freebies really makes me snort. The best development in so-called journalism has been the disclosure requirement for online reporters. It’s very liberating to admit you are writing about a friend — in the food coven’s heyday either editors were lied to or everyone danced around the truth. Today, to quote the sheep farmer’s wife we met in North Wales who was responding to Chernobyl denial: “They think we’re stupid.” A few weeks ago I passed a new salon between the C train and the Union Square Greenmarket and saw a sign outside saying something along the lines of “we may look open, but we’re doing an editors’ preview.” Sure as shit, a few days later first the hometown paper had a report on the place. And then the print Faux did as well. And I’m sure magazines will be hair-flogging away soon enough. We all know how the sausage is made. Why not dispense with the opaque casing?

S&B in Torino

October 2011

I always joke about selling decoder rings, but for this you might want to order brain bleach: I slogged through Panchito’s sad dodge-and-weave alluding to his part in foisting a dry drunk onto the country as a harmless good ol’ boy. And all I could envision was Lady MacBeth shoving double bacon-cheeseburgers embunned in Krispy Kremes into her maw. Only guilt could explain it. And was he really saying take the Big Mac and leave the blow job?

John-George: “First the duck must be dead”

October 2011

Huge points to the hometown paper, though, for the photo of the come-hither chicken. If ever a Rorschach test was designed for the “animal rights” wackos, this was it: The sane saw a visual joke; the loons saw a “get out the Nivea and head for fapping privacy.” A sick/smart photo editor would showcase a different meat next week. And a simply clever copy editor would work into a headline that old joke about Oz: where the men are men and the sheep are nervous.

Peanut butter: this year’s pumpkin

October 2011

Just asking for an old-world celebrity: Does going lactose-free stop farting in public? And in other eating disorders, I wonder how many people addicted to sriracha have ever looked at the ingredients. You can’t be “allergic” to chemicals and mainline that stuff.

No choice in poison

October 2011

I’ve over-said my piece on cantaloupes in this age of bacteria mutating faster than you can artificially inseminate turkeys. So I’ll just point out that only a crazy person would eat melons that are not only out of season but grown by one producer who can actually supply 28 states. You might as well risk chicken tartare.