I always half-joke that I recognize more names on the obit pages than in the Vows columns these days. But I’m seriously surprised whenever a face and name pop out in the news or arts or other sections. Mostly recently both brought back a memory from 1988, and my first trip overseas, where my consort was shooting a story on what today seems like an unimaginably lavish expense account. The writer was a famous one, back in those days when magazines paid for marquee names who liked traveling large, and he’d brought along his wife, who spent most of the trip sitting in their car as he went interviewing. (Not to brag, but the first thing Bob did was take me shopping for a wax jacket so I could join him in the damp and cold.) Our time together was minimal, but one Sunday we all wound up at a big, fancy, drafty restaurant in the countryside. This was in the early, early days of what would become New British cuisine; we were still operating under the old “you can eat well in England if you eat breakfast three times a day” rule. But the menu here would not have seemed unsurprising in Berkeley. Still, she made a royal fuss with the waiter, insisting she wanted her fish with no sauce, no garnishes whatsoever. Bob ordered the same bright, jazzy dish while drooling over the description. And when the team of waiters arrived and pulled back the gleaming silver cloches on each plate, her fish was fully accessorized. And his was completely naked. Both he and I watched in sadness as she blissfully, and obliviously, tucked into hers. Guess you can guess what the first line would be if I wrote her obit. . .
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I like that there’s a new sheriff in Cookbook Town. I don’t even want to think how often I was told there was no money for test-cooking whenever I got a freelance gig to pass judgment on others’ “Blood, Sweat &” compilations. And for 30-plus years I’ve contended there is only one way to assess a cookbook. Get it down and greasy. Even if you have to eat the “profits.” Imagine a world where no “first the duck must be dead” corrections would ever be needed. Best of all: Now it will be harder for ghostwriting drivelists to get away with the verbal equivalent of punching out microwave sandwiches for drunks.
Usually I jump right on any armchair activism, but I’m resisting hitting send on emails pushing a boycott of the Hobby Lobby of food. How can you promise to stop buying shit you gave up already because it totally sucks?
I would wonder why so many food and wine entrepreneurs are expanding to Istanbul even as the country’s own GWB is clearly going all medieval on drinkers’ asses. But then I remember: Eataly’s wine shop didn’t do so well in the progressive state of New York . . .
Thinking some thoughts. Underlining them twice. There must be something really wrong with me. I do not want sick people cooking/serving my food and am very happy NYC now has a law requiring paid leave for restaurant workers (and, of course, others). With all the scaremongering over increased prices, I guess I need to point out that the food biz finds many ways to pass along increased costs. (Try to find a bottle of wine on a list for under $40 these days). As I have noted many times, the sickest I’ve gotten beyond the incident with the baby butt on the falafel counter was after the waiter in Florence wiped his runny nose and set down my plate. FFS, I washed my sauvignon blanc bottle the other day after a cashier with pinkeye merely touched it. So I guess I have to say this one more time: Typhoid Mary was a cook. And Hepatitis C is out there, waiting to shut down your establishment after one worker goes on an unfortunate vacation. It had to be someone like Escoffier who first realized an ounce of prevention is worth 10 pounds of cure. That new miracle remedy, after all, runs a grand a dose.
Speaking of names, here are two I certainly never expected to hear in the same sentence coming out of our kitchen radio: Dunkin’ Donuts. And Newspaper Guild. In all my years as a cursor-linked wretch, that union did me zero good, which is why I never joined, just paid the dues as I was forced to do. The stultified organization kept me from earning equal pay when I was first hired at the NYTimes (no college degree? sure, you have a right to work alongside the Ivy Leaguers, but for less) and in my estimation protected the weak at the expense of the strong (lookin’ at you, poor Sid struggling to finish one story a shift). Certainly it stood by and let the newspaper industry get hammered all these years since Saint Ronnie first came for the air traffic controllers and it said nothing. So you could have knocked me over with a feather pancake to learn the very definition of uselessness has actually scored a raise for a few fast food workers in New York. Today the crappy coffee. Tomorrow, the world.
The latest evidence America just ain’t exceptional: Brits are going hungry, too. I did like this line, that the working poor have been “long a part of the social landscape in America.” Sorry. I remember there once was a shining moment when the rich didn’t have to wonder what the poors were eating that night. But then, as the muddled but good-hearted “Place at the Table” illuminates, along came a useful idiot out of California. My consort “rented” that doc the other week from our own public Netflix, the NYPL, and I saw new merits in it even though it remains a mess. “Food insecurity”? It’s complicated — li’l kids can be obese, hungry kids can own horses, well-meaning teachers can sweet-sell $5+ honeydews to kids whose families can’t even afford an apple to slice up for five. But in the end, you walk away from the teevee thinking food banks and soup kitchens are just like everyone else in this country post-Alzheimer’s-Patient-in-Chief: Trying to pretend the trickle-down is not actually a golden shower.
Funny how fast a month flies by when you’re distracted by the kkkraziness on the Internets. But I’m rousing myself to update here after reading just how wildly teh stupid, it burns, these days. To keep a small percentage of fellow citizens from getting access to health insurance (not even access to fucking health care), the wingnuts forced a shutdown of the carefully cultivated, inspirational vegetable garden at the White House. That’ll show us libtards! Bring on the pointless rot and waste. Which is sort of a metaphor for the Somalia they dream of.
Worse yet is the disaster out in South Dakota, the one given nowhere near the media attention forest fires endangering private homes inevitably attract. A blizzard directly due to climate change hit the state with five feet of snow, causing countless amounts of damage and pretty much wiping out the beef industry there. But with upscale burger chains dominating the fud news, why would human tragedy get a blip? With elitist obsession focused on foie gras, why would the deaths of 70,000+ farm animals merit attention? Keep opening those burger chains, entrepreneurs celebrated by the media. Cows are just as easily mass-produced as soybeans, aren’t they?
A bit of the latest proof you are what you eat: The kkkrazies in the House feasted like jackals on fast burritos (and booze) as they were plotting how to forestall health insurance for the poors and impose sharia law on ladyparts. The Orangeman should have sprung for Chipotle. Because it’s very clear Qdoba makes you batshit insaner.
In mustier thoughts, having witnessed/heard how so much kielbasa gets made, I can only imagine the scrambling the other week. “Our chickenshit was just seized for P1. Can you cobble together 2,000 words of extended cliché?” I didn’t read far. Only enough to wonder why there were no brother husbands.
And just so it isn’t too obvious all this stuff has been languishing, I’ll add that an out-of-town friend was chortling loud enough to be heard here at the “toiling over your own butter.” I was subjected to just enough of the video to wonder why a buzzard was involved and to note that if you hork after you indulge, you are not a “dining connoisseur.”
I’m not going to link because there was nowhere to link, but I was rather amused on reading some private club in London has apparently caved to the loons and stopped offering foie gras. Really, fools? Fattened duck livers are like abortions. Don’t like ’em? Don’t get ’em. Also, too, what does it profit a cause to save the geese and fuck the Amazon workers?
I also have to note yet again how funny it is every Saturday to open up the Murdoch Crier’s getting-and-spending section and have a slinger fall out. Most recently, tucked inside pages covering $10,000 coats, we got an offer of $1.50 off on TWO (2) bags of any frozen “chicken” “product.” Maybe that’s for the staff? Or at least for the ones who have to make Ginny Noonan’s sloshings publishable?
And I don’t even know where to begin with how fucked up the Teabaggers have made government involvement in food aid. So farmers should continue to get subsidies whether they farm or not, but the poors should pull themselves up by their Nike laces and go get jobs and feed themselves — no matter that taking benefits away from them is literally sucking income out of supermarkets. (Again: Beneficiaries don’t eat those debit cards; the tax dollars are laundered through the Krogers.) The bigger question is why, if farmers constitute a protected species, Willie Nelson was on his bus, out on the road again, raising money 38 years on from the first Farm Aid. Surely billions can trickle down? But what it’s really all about comes clear every time some whiner goes into the comment cesspool to bitch that the food stamp users they see have better cars/clothes/shopping carts. My response? Get a better fucking job, loser.