I could spend another week mulling how to make any of this amusing, but I just need to type these revelations from various conversations while I can still decipher the chicken scratches in my notebooks.
–Thyroid cancer is apparently quite common in Turkey and “they think it’s because of Chernobyl.” I still remember the housewife in North Wales way back when who was worried about just that effect despite official denials and spat out: “They think we’re stupid.” And it’s a reality to harsh your caffeine mellow as Fukushima radiation in tea is now being detected in Japan.
–Twice I had extraordinary eggplant, smoky but buttery after it was roasted or grilled and then mashed with milk. But my lunch date one day was shocked when I mentioned it: “It’s not in season. You can find it in the supermarkets, but it has no flavor when you don’t see it in the markets.” There’s a concept!
–And when a great server at my last supper asked about Turkish food in New York and I said it was pretty lame, his response was: “The vegetables don’t have the heat. They put vegetables in the fridge and it kills them.” He also, finally, explained why Turkey is the only country where I have ever been able to not just tolerate lamb but actually enjoy it (and I ate tongue, cheeks and brain in one dish): “There’s no grass here. The lambs have to eat what they can find, herbs and weeds.” No wonder their severed, skinned heads appear to be smiling in all the markets.
Ideal implement for cracking Turkish pistachios? MOMA letter opener. // I’m enjoying imagining the Sysco truck traveling the back roads, searching in vain for a resto not supplied locally. // In Pierre Franey we can always trust. // Food photos should never look like an unscooped litter box. Unless you want to be video’d. // Pope sez he wishes he could go out and eat pizza. Fud world wishes it could trash him for doing it wrong. // Kinda shitty for a new Californian to say the magic ingredient in a pasta dish is water when the state has only a year’s supply left . . . // And NYC chefs really need to start smoking butter.
I read KKKrazy people, so I know there was a shitstorm over the Big Os’ dinner destination on New Year’s Eve. Somehow it’s beyond the pale (so to speak) when the most powerful man in the country if not the world chooses a $295 prix fixe. Personally, I’d rather have a president worthy of perks. Not a dry drunk choking on pretzels while sneaking O’Doul’s.
“Not the Onion” is the easiest joke in the lead-in book, but the news deemed fit to print on the new California cage law for laying hens really did need a disclaimer. The reporter (or editor) was working so hard to give what Jay Rosen calls “the view from nowhere” that the story nearly veered into parody. One Midwestern producer bitched that having to provide a few more inches of space for each bird would force him to install heaters “to replace the warmth provided by more closely packed chickens.” (Good thing the MTA never realized it could dispense with heat on the L train.) Then there was the faux concern that “low-income people who rely on eggs as a cheap source of protein” would be hurt the most. As the price goes up, on average, 27 cents a dozen — about 2 cents an egg. (Maybe the penny should not be phased out just yet.) But the real LOL was the whining from a lobbyist that “roomier pens” would “cause injuries” because “chickens are more likely to run, raising the risk of a broken leg or wing.” Cuz that’s how it works in nature, so teenagers must still be strapped into strollers. The view from somewhere is pretty clear: The losers in this six-year fight are full of manure.
In the beginning there was the recipe headnote. Then stories expanded to fill the ad space allotted, and readers got a little foodplay along with four or five recipes. Now the headnote sprawls across two pages. And the recipe is someone else’s. And has been made ridiculous. Having clipped his interpretation way back in the last century, I’m pretty sure Pierre Franey must be spinning in his walk-in in that big kitchen in the sky. From 60 minutes to two days. Next up, barrel-aged pasta puttanesca?
Just learned the best word ever for kids: crotchfruit. ($Palin’s, of course.) // Behind paywall, but WSJ has a good story on Citymeals helping olds with their teeth. Can’t chew, can’t be nourished. // To the point where it’s only noteworthy when Marcus is not in the WSJ. // Whose bright idea was supersizing spice jars? // Surimi is not food. // You cap the K before lime because Key is a place. // Things that are one word: Potpie. Snickerdoodles. // Ridiculousness of the day: “amateur chef.” // New rule: If you have to sniff it, maybe you shouldn’t eat it.
For once I’m feeling glad America has Panchito to kick around again. He’s out bloviating on the Florida PAC-attracting monogram, and on a fiscal fraud in New England, when people are still reeling from the Bushwhacking. Fool us once, shame on him twice. And he can’t be winning many converts by complaining that paying $10 for coconut water is the equivalent of rectal rehydrating. Even critics of Karen Finley should be cringing at the thought of hummus up your country’s ass.
And for more “in with the old,” as I try to get on track with regular posting here instead of Twittering my life away, I am still wondering why real reporters finally caught up to a huge food story but refused to call it what it was. A year ago I interviewed a cranberry grower I’ve known from the earliest days of the fresh market who said the harvest was starting with fully 75 percent of the previous year’s crop still unsold. And that was in 2013, with nowhere to go but into more freezers. In layman’s language, that would be “fucked.” My reporting went nowhere slow, for reasons still unfolding, but it has informed my reading. I see “bounty” and “overabundance” and “awash in cranberries” — never the harsh reality of “glut.” When the berries on the bogs are six feet high and rising, though, it might be time to call a man-made calamity a man-made calamity.
Not sure the NYT fully informed the populace on the closing of Cafe Edison. . . // There is no such thing as a “best vegan cookbook.” // I’ve never eaten at an Olive Garden, but I’m sure it has fine spa food. // Food writing was more readable before the dick-swinging started. // Amazing what search engines auto-fill when you type in “yams up” // Anti-foie gras stories are as predictable as xmas — will no one speak up for tortured champagne grapes? // Odd, idn’t it, how Saint Alice’s favorite books of the year were by chefs in her employ? Call it logrolling under the cast-iron egg ladle. // And I wonder if Dorothy Parker would have been able to get any drinking in if Twitter had been around before typewriters.
I’m so old I remember when newspapers would automatically pull airline ads (remember airline ads?) whenever there was a plane crash just to avoid that awkward association with disaster. I also remember a production editor whose job description included yanking ads away from copy that seemed just a little too complementary-cozy. So what to my wondering eyes appeared this a.m. but a full-page ad complimenting a beat reporter for his coverage of that beat, paid for by the people he covered. Journalism makes for very strange bedfellows, ethics-wise, these days. But that did get me to puzzling over whether there would ever be a similar $$$ ad on the food beat. My first thought was that most subjects would just say: Don’t let the buyout hit you on your withered ass. And my second? To get a buyout, you actually have to have been hired. Junkyard bitches are forever.
If Panchito were still restaurant critic, he’d apparently be recommending you avoid the joint he awarded four stars that went on to give you hepatitis. Fool him once . . . And I do hope soup kitchens handed out his smug ode to excess on turkey day. With, what?, one in four kids hungry in America, we are not exactly all Italian immigrants now. Also, too, is it snide to wonder if he pukes after typing? With no train to the plane in his privileged life, he does hoover up so many dollars for so few original thoughts.
Speaking of suckers born every minute, WC Fields would probably drink but undoubtedly laugh at the new bourbon “aged at sea,” since a boat ride is, apparently, just like what laundry experiences in the dryer as it bumps up against the cylinder. And it’s hard not to suspect most of the bottle price goes for the processing and pricing. Isn’t there an old saying about a 1 percenter and his money soon being parted?
Glad to know I wasn’t the only one who thought she got up the other Wednesday a.m. to find herself back in another century. My early emails included two from the other coast marveling that the town crier for most advanced food city in the country would choose to regress to the good ol’ days, as one put it, when the ads had chuck roast for 59 cents a pound. Of course the margarine in the butter biscuits just made that Betty Crocker vibe much vibier.
Then it got worse. Green grapely, and baking-powder-in-the-unbaked-mashed-potatoes, worse. Having lived in six states and eaten in at least 30 more, I wondered why, if they were gonna go back to the Claiborne heyday, they didn’t just pull out their own excellent compilation of regional recipes. Kolaches are not Danish in that compendium. Snickers are not tights, neither.
All this Bill Cosby unscabbing is depressing enough. But, as always, there’s amusement. When someone “reported” that the father of Fat Albert made young women working on a show not exactly known for enlightenment watch him eat, I could only WTF — Big Chicken makes big-time journalists watch him eat nachos. With three scoops of sour cream plus guacamole, to boot.
Big week: You can finally throw out the barely touched fresh cranberry sauce from last Thanksgiving. // Wonder if the people at the high-minded farm-reformation forum who are arguing for eating insects pitch their King Arthur flour when it hatches. . . // Pro-tip: Always use 1900 as your birthdate on entering liquor sites. Makes ‘em drink more. // Your wine should never cost more than your turkey. // Note to flacks: If your client is charging for the food, it’s not aperitivo. // Pumpkin in chili is one of the best ideas ever. In anything chocolate? Squanto would retch. // Even ghostwriters have ghostwriters. // It figures a fatal outbreak of listeria would be linked to a company called Wholesome Soy Products. // Probably not a good thing when you can’t tell whether the splotches on the menu are design or grease spots. // Gluten-free gelatin is in the house. Hope no one sensitive learns what it really contains. . . // Tagine = failure?