As always, food writers discerning mega-trends at the food show were like blind people trying to describe an elephant. I thought there was more popcorn, and an encouraging amount of non-GMO labeling, and more Korean and Indian inroads, but any of those perceived phenomena could have just been the trunk, or the tail. Also as always, the most popular ingredient was either “no” or “-free,” especially with gluten. When I ran into a big importer friend, we were laughing about all the fads we had seen come and go over the decades as companies seized on anything to get consumers freaked about. I noted that sodium-free used to be the buzzterm, and now there were no end of booths showcasing nothing but . . . salt. And I’m also so old I remember when Brooklyn hipsters were so scornful of the show they staged their own little rebellious counterpart. This year they were in the soulless Javits Center themselves, having ponied up the big bucks to push their artisanal jerky and $7.50-a-quarter-pint mayonnaises. At least none of them appeared responsible for the kale chips that foretell the end of that craze. These crispy messes weren’t just the leaves, as has been the style; instead the greens had been converted into Lay’s salt+grease. Only the bacon cheeseburger cheese from another producer was more absurdly American.
Archive for the ‘processed crap’ Category
Don’t ask why, but I had to spend way too much time recently in the baby food aisle of every store in our neighborhood. And there was not a jar of lamb and rice to be found, as the vet prescribed. There was, however, a generation of diabetics foretold. Nearly all the options, jarred or pouched, were fruit or fruity vegetable. Even the turkey had to be sweet-potatoed up. Maybe Darwin is intervening from the Great Galapagos Beyond, though. All those thirsty kids set loose in a water-deprived world will speed up extinction. And then the planet can finally right itself.
For once I blast out my instant reaction on an issue and I get burned. Of course there was more to the story of the FDA ban on aging cheese on wood; it was not all about a 2012 law promoted by fascistic libs and signed by ol’ Obummer. And of course I’m on the side of the artisanal cheese producers, after having once spent the better part of a day watching Parmigiano-Reggiano being made outside Parma — that small plant was cleaner than any operating room in a hospital catering to hyper-rich Saudis. But I still understand why the government might want to err, even ridiculously, on the side of caution. The great free market simply cannot help itself. With no watchdogs, any producer would be tempted to cut corners; even with policing listeria happens. As for the great free-market argument that “no one would hurt a customer; it would kill sales,” why did the FDA also announce this week that it had set safety standards for infant formula? Think about it. American manufacturers can’t even be trusted not to poison babies . . . .
My favorite wingnut finally got me to pay attention to the new FDA rule forbidding American cheese producers to age their stuff on wood, ostensibly for sanitary reasons. He was all wrought up about libs and Obummer, so I had to point out that neither likely bears the blame and shame for this bureaucratic overreach. Somewhere, you can be pretty sure, someone from the industrial cheese world got paid to get the law changed. Legislators are not looking out for “we the people,” because we only pay their paltry $174,000 salaries, not make them into millionaires. Artisanal cheese producers have even less clout. But if there’s an upside to all of this, it is an acknowledgement that Big Cheese does feel threatened enough to try to stifle the competition. Once you’ve had a Jasper Hill, or a Rogue, processed crap just won’t do it. Meanwhile, the Big O has set in motion a way for “we the people” to let the White House know what matters, as one more way to undo the damage wrought by his predecessor, who famously never “listened to focus groups.” Another way for the little guy to fight back would be to launch an insidious campaign to send the message that the dread feds are forcing us to shun home-aged goodness just to prevent the occasional outbreak of listeria. Make the bought-off in Congress own their sellout. Call it “Buy Imported.”
Also, too, I never thought we’d see the day when riot cops would show up at a McD’s shareholder meeting, but we are living in interesting times: repeating history by refusing to learn from it. All the money can’t go to the bosses without necks starting to look a little blade-worthy. Protesters weren’t too happy about the marketing of processed crap to kids, either. Which must be the only reason they aren’t saying: “Let ’em eat Happy Meals.” Pitchfork Factories R Us.
So a company will spend a bloody fortune on a commercial, and a columnist will dutifully write it all up, without either addressing the fact that no amount of smoking and sizzling will ever turn industrial beef into food fit to eat. I believe that’s what’s known in scientific terminology as “polishing a turd.”
I’m so old I remember when a coupla hippies from Vermont were among the good guys in food. But they sold their soul to the corporate store, and the other day the slingers in the Murdoch Crier included a coupon for a buck off a gruesome example of overkill under their once-good name: two types of ice cream in one pint carton with a “core” of peanut butter or salted caramel fudge etc. It’s Mad Dog 20/20 in the freezer aisle. At least you can get fat for a good cause. It’s “fairtrade.” Probably gluten-free, too.
Sad to realize whoever invented “dough conditioners” will probably get an obit. And ponzu will always sound like a scheme. Also, sadly, too: It’s a good thing Orwell is not around to hear “botched execution.” You use that verb for brownies, FFS.
File this trollbait under: Someone is wrong on the Internet. If we lived under a dictatorship, I would be the first to lay all the blame on the White House for the lack of huge progress (as opposed to “the fail”) in changing the way Big Ag forces America to eat. But it is impossible for one branch of government to push back hard enough when the two others have been bought off along with much of the media. (Even the so-called heroes among the latter are villains to dairy farmers, BTW. Lookin’ at you, Mr. Cream Cheese For Me, Not For Thee.) I do want to hope that one day, when all the black smoke has cleared, the country may see the bigger picture. But look at what’s happening with the fight over the minimum wage for fast-food workers. What the NRA (either of ‘em) don’t want, the country don’t get. The 10.10 bucks don’t stop in the Oval Office. But at least now it’s perfectly clear: Kale was brought in as the arugula assassin. Call it the Manchurian Crucifer.
Meantime, I have to sorta RT myself from the other day, after we got back from an outstanding outing to the West Indies of Queens: I saw a sadly, seriously obese toddler on a subway platform and realized how rare such a sighting is these days. Somehow the Obama Fail and the Nanny State have helped moms realize there is such a thing as nutrition, and it matters more than cheap sugar water sucked from a baby bottle in a stroller. Too bad we don’t have a dictator who could return home ec to the kiddy curriculum so future parents of America could learn my NYC-public-school-educated mom’s math: beans + cornbread = complete protein.
Way back in the last century, when Brie was too funky for me, I remember one of my overlords at the hometown paper saying his wife insisted they boycott the Coach House because she had spotted cans from processed-crap bouillon in the (pre-recycling-era) garbage. Today I’m followed all over the Internets by ads/links to that gruesome saline solution. It’s pretty bad when I’d prefer the Chimp’s dad’s garish socks — if only to strain out that little clot of creepy fat floating in every tin.
I also saw an uplifting little piece on how the site of the meatpacking plant in Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” has been converted into a vertical farm. My sad reaction was that of course it had to involve tilapia; all these enterprises seem to do so. And that just means mud with gills.
I’m sure I’ve ranted before that there is nothing more foul-smelling than a Subway, and I don’t mean the kind that allows the people to ride around in a hole in the ground. But suddenly the chain is looking more alluring, now that it has brought out the kkkrazies to protest its teaming up with Mrs. O to try to get kids to eat (somewhat) better. Their racist hysteria is so over-the-top you have to laugh. As you do on thinking the Big O has done it again: tricked them into either boycotting everything until they starve off or, better yet, making themselves roundup-ready for when he opens those FEMA camps.
Not that I’m cynical or anything, but is there really any chance an indestructible faux food could actually be in short supply when guacamole is as close as the avocado aisle for Super Bowl? Somehow I suspect Krapt swiped a page from the cocky playbook to generate hysteria. And did anyone really ever run out of the rooster sauce? Shelves were full in every store I happened through whenever I broke away from the online panic. Also, too: The gullible coverage makes it sound as if there is no substitute for the cheez substitute. Maybe the real deal, cut with cream or, for maximum gooeyness, bechamel? Seems as if this is a dangerous game Big Fud is playing. People might try the fill-in and never go back to the orange slime.
As for my losing my food festival virginity, I wound up schlepping way the hell over to the Hudson after succumbing to curiosity about NoMad, a place I had avoided like $79 chicken but figured was worth a try if a car company was picking up the tab for a bunch o’ bloggers in a private room. My consort and I had to sit through a slideshow on the new models, none of which was honey-colored to fit this year’s food theme, but we were rewarded with tickets to the foodstraganza that weekend. Since he was traveling, I was going to toss them, but I went online and saw what they were worth and felt obligated to do my research. So I recruited a friend and we ate and drank our way through what I expected to be a gangbang but was actually rather civil compared with many “best new chef” awards parties. Regular peeps who paid were much more restrained than the professional locusts.
Here’s what I expected to see everywhere but what turned out to be, luckily, in the minority:
Here is the elixir someone actually thought people would want to drink in a cavern lined with wines good and bad (well, it was an event where people were lining up for “free” Chipotle just steps from Blue Smoke’s pulled pork):
And this is an image that only needed the Delta pedicabs outside to make more of a mockery of all the Tweets later on about what skinflints that airline’s operator are. Drinks up front, pretzels back by the toilet. . .
Finally, I didn’t snap no photo, but I did find it rather revealing to see the NYT booth flogging subscriptions with its fud issue of the magazine on that particular weekend. You’d almost think they planned it. . . .