The collapsing tent

It sounds like nighttime in the switching yard down in the Bloomberg HQ’s commissary. I guess John Tesar was tied up, because the rumored choices for new chef are not exactly super three-stars; their resumes are long but not deep. When the only requirement for the food is that it can be inserted tidily between Botoxed lips, though, why would you need an Adria?

Faux News with flags at breakfast

Had a drink the other afternoon with a lovely friend in from Italy for a couple of months and, as always, he was full of sharp observations. He wanted prosecco but the bar had only cava and when I repeated, “Spanish prosecco,” his head almost swiveled off in a big no. “I tried that here once,” he said (I’m paraphrasing). But mostly he was astonished at how America eats; it’s killing him. If he chowed down like one of us, he said, “I would be big and soft.” Wait. Everyone knows pasta makes you fat. You mean it’s really crap consumed on an irregular schedule that does it?

Would you like Xanax with that?

When I stopped to pick through the great bargain bins at Acker Merrill the other afternoon, the two clerks at the register were deep in debate on the newest addition to the Upper West Side Dining Wasteland. Those lines you’ve been reading about on the blogs? Not so much, apparently. I jumped in to ask how the burger compared to Fairway’s, and the guy stopped cold. “Well, it’s fast food,” he countered. Okay. Say no more. BK with strollers for Baby Jesuses is a very particular level of hell.

Blogging’s just another word . . .

That old saying about how there are no atheists in foxholes should be updated to “no ethicists in struggling media.” Once upon a time a freelancer who had taken even one junket would have been banned from the imaginary cathedral. Today, friends of friends in the right places can get a  regular gig on the liquid trail. Did no one learn from the Chimp travesty? I also made the mistake of Googling for blog reaction. Holy moose poop! Old guys are getting boners again, and wet starbursts are short-circuiting keyboards. I want what they’re drinking.

Como se dice “chemical additive”?

Speaking of embattled publications trying to make fast-food profits in a business that once took its civic duty seriously, has the copy-editing really all been outsourced to India? Forget one more headline splitting poundcake in two. A peculiar story on Caesar salad in its birthplace had a misspelled word in the lede graf, a garbled sentence in the fourth graf and the idiocy of a reference to “sauce” on the salad in the penultimate graf. But what was even stranger was the blithe tone in a piece about a city the State Department has been warning Americans is too dangerous to visit. The same reporter has been detailing gruesome mierda there himself, yet the caption with the photo references “tourists fearful of the local water.” Is this what you have to do to expense a lunch anymore?

Don’t even ask about the sea cat

This isn’t snark and probably doesn’t belong here, but I do have to say the paper of sometimes ridiculous record did run a short out of Alaska on a fishing boat that sank and killed maybe seven guys, and even in its AP brevity it gave me worse than chills. My consort and I spent nearly a week on a halibut boat while working on our ill-fated harvest book, and I still get queasy thinking of the first day, when we had to do a survival-suit dress rehearsal. Up until then it had felt like a giddy adventure, motoring away from the gorgeous port of Kodiak and through the stunning inlet out to “where the big boys go.” But the suits were terrifying, as were the tales of why there could be no joking around as we wrestled our way into them. You go overboard in those frigid waters and you count yourself lucky to drown. The crabs will clean your bones. And then, of course, end up as an all-you-can-eat special in some seafood chain down here in anti-America.

What made Camden famous . . .

I cannot wait until this campaign is over. Not the one between the cool guy and Caribou Barbie/Bible Spice, and not just because the latter really oughta get those girls back in school before they turn out as hollow-headed as she is. The true annoyance is the mega-bucks ad war between Andy Warhol’s inspiration and Thomas Keller’s pantry staple. This is as stupid as a horny old guy choosing a second-rung beauty queen and then trying to concoct attack ads about inexperience. If you’re going to trash the competition, clean up your own lab first. And why do I suspect the whole hoo-hah has been underwritten by the latest better-cooking-through-chemistry MSG substitute? Soup. It’s scary food.

After that salmon lunch

And just cuz I’m realizing this all makes it look as if I only read my hometown paper and not the other daily and Sunday and many magazines we still spring for, I have to add that David Sedaris deserves a Nobel in political food writing for his take on the media-idolized “undecideds” in this election. No one could have put it better than to say it’s like the flight attendant offering a choice between chicken and shit with broken glass in it. The kicker is worth a closetful of Palinwear.

Party like it’s 1929

And I guess we should all look forward to eating brioche. An LA restaurant chose the worst week on Wall Street to announce its opening with a Versailles theme. It’s actually named after the predecessor of the Chimp of France, but that’s close enough for discomfort. Second prize for “oops, wrong era” goes to the meat purveyor pushing $825 ribs of beef as the ideal Christmas present. At this rate we’ll be lucky to afford lumps of coal for fruitcake. 

I know. I know. It’s deadly serious.

So I’m at a lunch where the focus is on food designed to be the most nourishing and antioxidant-rich and good for you it can possibly be, with dishes developed using a nutrition guru’s vast storehouse of information. And we’re all well into the exceptional raw Tuscan kale salad with teeny flecks of pecorino when one woman says, “I can really taste sodium.” To which NG responds, “Oh, you’re picking that up from the cheese. It’s a pecorino Toscano” etc. etc. etc. At that another woman drops her fork, roots around for and in her bag and pulls out a little white packet from which she extracts a pill to pop. When I can safely get away with it, I sneak out my reading glasses to see what’s written on the white paper next to her wineglass. Yep, it was something for the lactose-intolerant. These guys have their work cut out for them in the land of the chemical cure, where people would bring bottled water to Lourdes.