Tom Waits to the Small Batch piano . . .

Got up and told The Cat WCTLWAFW I was going to spend the whole day eating and calling it work. Let him envy me for a change.

And he was getting all ready to come with me until reality intruded. His day would be spent sleeping on the refrigerator as usual.

Second thing I heard on walking into the press office: “Did you bring The Cat?” (His fame was my fortune: fast retrieval of a badge despite some glitch in registering.)

Walking to the show I felt 23 (I have been to old age but got to come back). Three hours in I was 83. Feets don’t fail you. Guts do.

Vosge banner reading “what would chocolate not marry?” makes cacao sound like a total whore. (Raspberry is also shameless. Even lies down with wasabi.)

Sriracha apparently can be rendered tasteless.

Brooklyn aisle was almost an alternate universe of hipster overkill. Jarring to walk out and encounter a booth with sampling from the Ozarks. #clichesareclichesforareason

As always, “no” and “free” were the most ballyhooed ingredients. And more and more, it was ironic to notice “salt-free” and “low-sodium” were nowhere to be seen. At least 20 vendors were shilling salt, salt and more salt, even shaped into a mortar and pestle.

So much water being flogged you’d think there’s a drought on somewhere.

Jerky went crazy and I finally realized why: It’s the new power bar, gluten-free and high-protein.

Terrible crimes have been committed in the name of gluten-free.

Chickpeas can be made into many amazing things. Pasta is apparently not one.

Saved myself many letters in my notebook all day: Foul could be reduced to F. Why don’t their loved ones tell ‘em it sucks?

Probably not the best week to roll out your crab sensation with a shoutout to the Robert E. Lee plantation. . . Especially when the recipe yields nastiness.

So “fancy” latkes are just Jewish pakoras?

I actually tried a “sea salt caramel cheese straw.” Cannot say I tasted it.

Things I saw but did not try: Frozen risotto from Italy. Sun-dried tomatoes from England. Jalapeños from Vermont. Camel milk. Things I kinda understood: Powdered blue cheese. Powdered peanut butter. Thing I did not: “Autism approved.”

You can put beets, orange and quinoa together in a jar. But you really shouldn’t call it salsa.

One more place you will never spot Bill Cunningham: The Javits Center during the food show. #glamourdonts

Props to Jeni’s for having a presence if nothing to sell in the midst of the listeria crisis.

“Troll-caught tuna” makes you think those online assholes should just get out and fish.

Indian, with so much overlap with Mexican, should be taking over the world. Instead, Korean rules. And don’t get me started on how many weird juxtapositions with kimchi there were.

Funny how the backlash against the “fancy” food show looks even more ridiculous now. Not only did I see more artisanal, more vegetables, more fresh (or frozen) meat. I also noticed at least three booths with a certain kimchi that apparently only wanted to be invited into the club. Call it Dumboing Down.

Two more changes in the show over the decades. The frenzy to find a distributor seems to have subsided — many people just told me I could find their stuff on Amazon. #greatdisruption And “press” on your badge no longer marks you as prey. “Old” media is clearly not essential to getting a product promoted.

And while the amount of garbage generated is still staggering, with all those plastic mini-spoons and plates and endless plastic cups, there are hints of hope: Paper spoons and edible spoons might save the oceans a tiny bit.

Nothing, however, will save us from grownup kids of moms who didn’t check English homework. Cow’s and cook’s also on board.

Oh, and there was a lot of drinkin’. Ice creams touting alcohol content, wine brownies, bitters on bitters and Bronx ’shine. I’m not crazy about Mr. Semi-Homemade, but he has been very, very good to NYS firewater, both the making and consuming of.

Finally: If all this food is so super and so smart, why does it all wind up in the toilet?

Reformable torte, now with no artificial flavor

Maybe the wingnuts should actually want the poors to be able to buy beans with food stamps. The Cat WCTLWAFW once snared edamame at a dinner party and wound up too full to steal the magret.

Cubano in a $3,000 refrigerator

And I’ve typed this many times before, but the relentless focus on food stamp “fraud,” that phantom that accounts for at most 1 percent of tax dollars spent on nourishing kids and olds, really would come to a sudden fizzle if the whole debate were reframed to make it clear the program is actually a federal subsidy for supermarkets. If it weren’t, beneficiaries would get cash benefits to spend wherever the hell they wanted, like the fruit cart outside our neighborhood Holy Foods selling produce for a pittance. No wonder drugstores have morphed into hypermarkets. Big Food is a bigger racket than Big Pharma. Now the Duane CVS Walgreen Reade lobbyists just have to get cracking on getting sushi included in the few allowed food groups. At least it’s not lobster. Or canned tuna.

Petra and the pour-over remorse

In fud politics, I’ll admit to being beyond entertained by the uproar over the 50 Most BS awards. As I Tweeted, the biggest mistake the presenters made was not starting with journalism awards — first you co-opt the “reporters.” I did not Tweet that those so outraged by a rigged game had no problem for decades with a system that allowed anyone to use a ballot like a bucket list and check off everywhere h/she had eaten, no matter when. (Also, too, one that proved tabulations are for the little people.) The Maroons just didn’t think big enough. And how could you tell the newer contest was bullshit? The acres of coverage it fertilized. It’s either bogus or it’s noteworthy. Not both.

“Garlic aioli” is “bland in flavor”

Not sure what goes on in editorial meetings these days, but somehow “mom cards know best” results in 10-inch recipes (It’s coconut cream pie, not molecular gastronomy, for pop’s sake! ) and “you don’t need an Italian grandma to learn to make pasta” turns into “consult a bunch of American chefs.” Spring is to be celebrated right before the Fourth of July, with peas not in Greenmarkets and second mortgages required for $60-a-pound morels and $10-a-softshell feasts. And the wackiness is everywhere: Advice on wasting less food runs with ridiculous sell-by dates that result in, yes, more wasted food. But at the main outlet, the one hoping “recipe cards will save the day,” Helen Keller is clearly running the design show. All gray and no white space would communicate better in the original Braille.

Pallet/palate & mussels, overpowered

A bit more in the same vein: My consort and I still subscribe to two daily print editions. I look at everything but the five pounds of glossy magazines that seem to arrive with one or the other every single week. Luckily, or unfortunately, Bob will flip through and rip out the fud stuff. And so I now know there is actually a chef who can get ink by touting the woods she uses for cooking. She lost me at carpaccio, but the whole exercise struck me as “the Escoffier is wearing no apron” of the first order. Really? It’s hard enough to keep the sel gris separate from the Maldon, but to throw wood into the walk-in? Whoever the publicist is deserves a long trip to a faraway country, too, because when I Googled the joint I actually turned up the line “If Brooklyn and Louisville had a baby, it would be . . .” I’m all for marriage equality, but do we really want boroughs screwing cities to create bogus trend babies?

Wake up, Maggi . . .

My cynical side also wonders about the aftermath of the Blue Bell listeria outbreak. Maybe the whole goal was just to trim the workforce, the same way Hostess sold itself off to do. Somehow smaller, less endowed Jeni’s managed to clean up its plant and get the cream freezing again with no bloodbath. Spin is everything, though:  Look how airlines are learning to manipulate social media for praise whenever a pilot orders pizza for passengers trapped on the tarmac for hours. That’s not goodness of heart. That’s the law.

Actual hed: “When E. coli becomes a biz opp”

Apparently brown lives don’t matter much either — this story of a worker who was baked in a tuna oven, with a pittance charged as the fine, reminded me a construction worker was recently buried alive on the Pastis renovation site. And then I read another story about a day laborer in a hummus factory ground up like so many chickpeas. Upton Sinclair wrote in vain . . .

Pull yourself up by your bread bags

And this week in “I read crazy people,” I actually saw a post on National Donut Day that advised taking two free doughnuts — one for you and one for freedom! Show the gubmint you ain’t gonna be told how to eat. And definitely don’t buckle your seat belt on the way to your free-market handout. It’s as if they have no fucking idea how a designated day gets designated. Little hint? Lobbying of Big Gubmint makes every day a holiday.


If cats had a cocktail, it would be called the Hurlicane. // New rule should not even have to be stated: You cannot go into resto PR unless you know it’s not spelled prefix or pre fixe or price-fixed. // No such thing as an expert in vegan diets. // Even Eve’s stomach had to knot up at the thought of cider-flavored vodka. Drink Calvados, FFS. // Anyone covering inequality should know the price of a lemon. // Can’t count how many people who got paid to trick pinot grigio out for Cinco de Mayo. All need better meds, tho. // 30 years on from Pierre Franey and now you tell us fish is scary? // What kind of asshole insults a customer waiting to pay? A rent-a-cop asshole working for Eataly. // Rillettes are the hot dogs of high-end food — the toasts (buns) never match the meat/fish. // And you never want to look at a slider at a party and want to call @billmarler.


Sorry, no ingredient should ever be described as a chef’s wet dream. // Remember when Guy Fieri in Times Square just shut down in shame when shamed? Yeah. Me, too. #ayernacido // So where are the stories on asp broth? This spring I have tossed out enough spear bottoms to make gallons. // Every spring I joke about starting a contest just so I can collect all the entry fees. I’d clean up faster than a foundation. Award for most crowded: MFK category. // Can’t say this enough: There is no N in restaurateur. // Wonder how much the movie theater pays the guy who sold me the $6.50 sachet of movie popcorn the other night. // Shouldn’t icebox cake come into the 21st century? And be frig cake? (Or would that trigger porn detectors?)

With slavery you get shrimp

Every morning’s food news should come with a warning: If the libertarian in the clown car gets anywhere near the White House there will be no Big Gubmint to get between you and sick chickens and listeria-laden ice cream. The United States of Somalia will have no mandated kills and recalls — live free market and die. But on the lighter side, I was reminded of the first guy I ever heard rave about Blue Bell, a supervisor in a soft-shell crab processing plant on the Chesapeake who described how those beautiful swimmers molt: “They have to be real still after shedding. It’s like a hangover, a bad one, where you wake up and your skin is in the bed next to you.”

Big Eyes on water

Just back from Philadelphia, I have a higher suspicion that the hometown paper’s bacon-saver might not be. Judging by a lively discussion over dinner one night, the more some cooks see it the more they wanna get back to the Garten. And if you search but can’t rate, you’ll go find 17,000 choices elsewhere.

That smell? Oh, just something fresh from the tomb.

Also, too, the whitest, hottest elephant in the room was the libel case that went unmentioned in the all-the-news-that’s-fit for printed and digital pages. Nearly a million bucks is not exactly chump change as penalty for calling a mere bad boy a drugged-out bad boy. Come to think of it, though, facing down barristers while wearing a diaper was one way to get a free trip to London. Even if the rooms were not quite George V.

Washable tattoo-inked glove

Back story on my Tweet that you should always take your camera to the bathroom in Philadelphia: I made the mistake of leaving mine at the table in a ramen bar where a sign over the toilet advised pressing the small flush button for broth and the big button for noodles. Which of course reads funnier in the original handwriting. Elsewhere a sign warned the closet-sized water closet was for patrons only, “no newspapers or magazines allowed.” Take your balky colon elsewhere, I guess. I did tote my camera into nearly every bathroom in Buffalo last trip but only made crappy (so to speak) pics of a revelatory sign everywhere. Usually the rule over the sink says “employees must wash hands.” There the word “their” is included. Which makes all the difference. Not just any hands handle food.