Every time I hear some drooling report on $tarbucks or its ilk, I always wonder why it is that Americans who are so wrought up about pressing 1 for English never bitch that they are actually being forced to use pidgin Italian just to get a burnt coffee.
Archive for the ‘cretinism’ Category
Much as I love the Murdoch Crier’s local news pages because they actually cover a beat the hometown paper has pretty much abandoned, I’ll also admit I read it because I also love counting how many copy-editing glitches make it into print when anything involving food is involved. Last week it was “charcuteries and salumis.” Which I guess are like swines and geeses. So when I saw a mention of “mou sauce,” I was sure the slot had nodded off again (or was still in shock from having proofed the wackadoodle editorial pages, with all those Uranus datelines). But whaddaya know — it is a thing. Not something worth explaining, of course, so I will even though I couldn’t find it in any of my many Italian cookbooks/references, including Waverley Root and the exhaustive “Silver Spoon”: It’s a toffee or caramel or butterscotch sauce, depending on which Google link you click. Of course, you have to click. . .
Our new game is getting in and out of Holy Foods while spending as little as possible and extracting maximum pleasure in the whole brilliant marketing experience. When I go in for milk and leave with just a half-gallon of local/antibiotic-free at a bargain $3.39, I feel as if I’ve won. But I also love the little things that mean a lot, like 365 brand milk chocolate that comes encased in a wrapper with a label warning it contains milk products. I Tweeted about that and got some pushback on the stupidity of consumers and the greed of lawyers and then was reminded of the Nutella marketing coup. Sued for deception in marketing chocolate-sugar processed crap, the producer settled and reaped no end of free publicity. Lesson from that stunt: People will believe any old bat guano. Put out a crazy claim, get sued, offer refunds, bask in endless buzz. Do not rinse. Do not lather. Just repeat.
Only editors raised on hamburger that never needed helper could be swept up into the drought panic enough to produce this headline: “Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists.” Their message is “be afraid, be very afraid,” which is ridiculous — going meatless would not be the worst thing in the world (spend a couple of weeks eating in India and see if you ever miss red-blooded anything). The real scare is that there will not be enough water or arable land to produce protein substitutes for sacred cows on an overpopulated planet. Actual truth-tellers would type up a hed along the lines of “Food shortages could force Chipotle into leaving both rice and beans out of tortilla-free burritos.” And eventually: “Rat — it’s what’s for dinner.”
Relatedly, I really wanted to make fun of a stupid roundup on “food insecurity” with a link, but I can’t find the original (maybe for a reason). So I’ll just rely on trust, not verification to say it lamented that people are now so down and out they have to “create their own dressing.” If you can’t mix oil, mustard and vinegar, you probably shouldn’t be allowed down the Wishbone aisle. And it whined that people were reduced to buying canned rather than fresh fruit. If we had any sort of education in this country, those sad sack grocery baggers would understand they can buy several cans of no-sugar-added pineapple for one 50 percent-waste fresh one — not all canned is crap. Worst of all, it had people whimpering about having no hamburger. With no directions to the Goya aisle.
This might not be the dumbest thing to see print in donkey’s years. But it’s close. In a thumbsucker on how sweltering it is in Phoenix (Phoenix, I tell ya!), we were informed it’s even “too hot for spicy Mexican food in the barrio.” Funny, I don’t remember giving up chimichangas for August. Better pass that along to the Oaxacans, not to mention the billions in other torrid climates who know chilies are to food as salt is to sweat. When the sun starts beating, you don’t get out the blanc mange.
Not to pick on that one paper too much. We also get the other, self-branded hometown paper on Sundays only, and one of our penalties is USA Weekend, which has decided it’s 1988 all over again on its food page. Not only are the recipes all low-fat this and reduced-sodium that (and without even the payback of any craptastic processed ads), they also seem divorced from how real America eats. At the most glorious time of year for produce, when the hardest part of shopping is resisting buying every piece of bursting-ripe perfection you see, why run a recipe for macaroni and cheese made with frozen squash purée? Yeah. Turn on your oven on one of these 90-degree days, coat your baking dish with cooking spray and open up a box of Birds Eye. I’m a big believer in recycling, but not of tired ideas. At the very least the damn thing could have been freshened up with kale — before that frenzy passes its sell-by date.
Maybe I’ve traveled too much. But when I see someone in the hometown paper mocking Rome for being swept up in Eataly mania, I just wonder if she had any idea what the Italians thought when New Yorkers lost their shit over Disneytorino.
Given the blatant deception the Wall Street Crier engages in every day these days, I should just ignore the lizard-brain action going on over at the Antichrist’s lesser organ. But I did have to wonder how a paper that falls over itself to celebrate every $1,000 gold-leaf truffle-burger of an ice cream sundae can condemn a serious restaurant for an $18 vegetable entree. Mouth breathers probably bought right into the math: three carrots that cost 90 cents at Holy Foods marked up 2,000 percent! I would ask where the editors were, but that would be pissing into the wind even farther to the west in Times Square. That crew would probably be equally confused by what else goes onto a plate. Just for starters, freekeh is not free (buy/try it sometime). More important, you would never see this same team feeding those empty beaks the reality of all they eat. As I learned in restaurant school, chicken is the rising tide that lifts all other entrees. Given what the white slime sells for in supermarkets, even KFC is a gouge.
File under “once a copy editor, always a nuisance:” I passed an UWS cafe that has “dougnuts” emblazoned on the window in gold type not once but twice — Doug must be speaking in a very high voice. And if one corn picker is selling, it’s a farmer’s market. If more are trying to control their anger while watching urbanites shuck their ears, it’s a farmers’ market. Never is it apostrophe-free. Does anyone go to the mens room? Also, too, I am not sure I would want to eat any sushi joint offering “Grandma roll.” Is that Japanese for Soylent?
Dick around on the internets long enough, and you might even find a new peg for a punch line, American Samoa style. Are the KKKrazies now making Girl Scout boxes a big deal? All of which is by way of saying I can’t even begin to describe how weary the Ann-v-Michelle cookie contest makes me feel this election. So much bullshit, so little oats. Editors with imagination would at least have realized a real contest would involve cake. And I’d guess the super-rich wife bakes a mean brioche.
I didn’t get all the way through the “organic game is rigged” exposé, but that won’t stop me from wondering: So what else is new? Anyone who shops the Greenmarket/deals with farmers knew long ago that the real guys were being priced out of certification. The signs disappeared; the practices did not. Some of us don’t need the Libby’s on the label, just the experience at the table.
I am also deliberately avoiding slogging through the new book attacking the latest local foods movement even though I cannot escape being exposed to its sillier ideas. If I didn’t understand that there’s money to be made stifling entrepreneurship, I would wonder, yet again, why a drone was directed at a caterpillar. No one is being forced to buy/eat local. Throw out every high-minded reason to do so and you’re still left with the most sensual: The food just tastes better. I’m sure I’ve nattered about this before, but I vividly remember the first time I walked through the Union Square Greenmarket, when my consort was assigned by New York magazine to shoot photos for a piece on how farmers might be price-fixing. That was in the good old days when Fairway had the best affordable produce in town, and Balducci’s had everything at any price, but what we brought home that morning was so much better in so many ways it was life-changing. (Especially the bacon our Park Avenue/Wall Street friends worried could not be “sanitary.”) And I have never once gone into Whole Foods after shopping 97th Street, watched shoppers scooping up shipped-in cherries for twice the price and yelled, as the old guy did while storming out of “Magnolia” on Xmas Day one year: BF “What’s wrong with you people?” It’s a free country. Anyone who wants to eat listeria-laced meatballs and salmonella-infused mesclun can have it his/her way.
I Tweeted this but will elaborate: That fetid air you felt after the latest Di/Do click-whoring was ol’ Craig, spinning as he saw how horrifically his accomplishment was being corroded. He spent his career elevating the food conversation in America. And now it’s descended to the allure of processed crap. No wonder they have to define harissa and gribenes — readers are now too confused on whether they should make their own ketchup or glug out what the attention-whoring chefs do. If I hadn’t lost my faith in the stock market thanks to Pinch shares, I’ve be investing in Jell-O. Can Rush salads be far behind? Maybe run the main with a sidebar on “make your own marshmallows”? No ads will ensue no matter what.
I can’t count all the reasons future historians will look back and wonder WTF Americans were thinking as our only habitat heated up while a few lunatics decided to make overfed ducks the cause most celebrated. The real abuse with foie gras has been the tortured uses California chefs have put it to while engorging diners before the ban (“he injects jam in one side of the doughnut and foie gras mousse in the other, then rolls it in peanuts after frying”). If cruelty were really the issue, maybe the loons would be pushing to overturn the law that lets prison wardens in Alabama starve inmates and pocket the money saved on food? And how about these poor animals that appear to be suffering for milk? When does California outlaw buffalo mozzarella?
–Only people raised prosperous enjoy drinking from Mason jars.
–What the world did not need: flavored bourbon. Does everything have to be raspberry-nachoed?
–Would like to think the heat’s making people stupid. But those confounded by checkout lanes at Holy Foods are probably just as addled in winter. [That place really needs a line tamer.]
–If food makes you either laugh with pleasure or weep with weepiness, you might want to adjust your dosage.
I also read an artfully regurgitated page out of a Marketing 101 textbook on how Big Food is appealing to Americans’ emotions. Somehow, when honesty and local and nostalgia are allegedly so big, a company is introducing “pizza dipping strips.” “Cheese” and “pepperoni” on “crust” you can dunk into a two sauces, one “a departure from the standard Ranch.” Why don’t they just fill each one with chocolate and coat it in Doritos?