Cholla buds and Tuscan olive oil

Speaking of whom, I dragged myself off as I do every year to a certain state tourism event solely to see how badly my birthplace is getting dragged through environmental hell with fountains and spas. This year was even more unsettling than usual because the organizers had decided to downsize the venue, which is, admittedly, a very good way of making a McSame-worthy crowd look like an Obaman mob. I managed to get in and out without uttering the words “state rape,” but it was tough when I saw photos of the hideous hotel that has been installed in what really is a natural cathedral, Monument Valley. Even the salsa trail the same promoter was touting as a way of drumming up interest in a dead zone to the southeast was not redemption enough. Depressing as it all was, I did spot a stealable idea: the incredible shrinking hors d’oeuvre. Waiters were passing out crab cakes and risotto bites the size of nickels. And I mean minuscule. If the pros can get away with that, I’m going with quarters at my next party.