It was nice to see the Chimp actually did manage a legacy, although it’s not so nice (or so surprising) that people have died as a result. The evisceration of the FDA, to the point that inspectors have been begging the Big O to save them, pretty much guaranteed that salmonella would infect America through the unlikeliest but most ubiquitous edible. Somewhere the last GW — Carver — must be in anaphylactic shock.
Don’t ask what took me to the Gerber aisle in the Food Shitty, but I found the scariest product there since Hormel’s pork brains in milk gravy: Meat Sticks. Seriously. Little logs of mystery substance submersed in slime. How much would you have to love your kid to pop open a jar of those suckers and shove them down his/her gullet? Beyond the grossness, the amazing thing is the paucity of imagination in the naming. The best they could do was sticks. Even string cheese is not as lame, and that sounds faintly tamponesque.
I said this over at the satellite operation, but it bears repeating: First we really should kill all the “nutrition experts.” Especially those who felt compelled to weigh in on the once-in-a-country inaugural luncheon and trash it as too high in fat and calories. As if anyone eats seafood stew and a brace of birds every day. For Richard Simmons’s sake, don’t these people have McDonald’s salads to tout?
The DC Connection was a day late and a Heimlich short when it came to Saint Alice. Everyone online already knew the woman who presumes to tell the world how to eat had no idea how to save a choking victim herself. Maybe she’s like Go Fuck Yourself and should be traveling everywhere with an ambulance. The funny part is that I was starting to think better of the chef who finally challenged her presumptuousness about the White House, and then I read about the inaugural dinner he cooked using everything from Krispy Kreme doughnuts to Coca-Cola to honor fat-cat donors. It might be time for all involved to shut their pie holes and move on.
I’m spleen-deep in copy editor blowback right now (at the very least, the “fixes” should not have to include correcting your own byline), but I still think a certain cookbook publisher might want to go back to the grammar pool. No fewer than three of its books I have flipped through lately have had screw-ups. A collaborator’s name here, a famous chef’s name there, and pretty soon you’re talking real embarrassment.
Down at the mortgaged Taj, meanwhile, it’s increasingly clear the last competent copy editors have turned out the lights. In the death knell posing as a Metro feature that was the At Vermilion agglomeration of words, the steak that queered the deal with critics was either a skirt or a strip — depends on how far you could read. Even so, I’d take 16 anal editors on Eighth Avenue for the one at a propaganda catapulter who let a description of chicken confit go through as “gossamer.” One thing schmaltz never is is filmy.
Judging by the coupons I diligently study in my two hometown papers every Sunday, the Depression is officially upon us. Glossy ads for evaporated milk have suddenly started turning up, and with the message of “don’t waste your ‘drinking’ milk on your macaroni and cheese.” When I was growing up my mom bought exactly two kinds of milk, powdered and canned. And she barely had a pot to simmer beans in. If this is the future, it looks rather grim. Of course the funny thing is that the canned stuff is now priced much higher than the fresh. Maybe to pay for the ads?
The WSJournal had to reach all the way back to August in San Francisco to make its point that the restaurant business is waist deep in the big doody, but anyone who’s paying attention can see the strains closer to home. Relatively near me, Jonathan Waxman was obviously not enough of a flotation device for Madaleine Mae, which is becoming yet another Mexican. And when I got briefly swept up in Restaurant Week frenzy, I was able to reserve everywhere I chose, then when I called to cancel Bar Boulud for a Monday lunch I snared a Friday dinner slot with no trouble. I think it says it all that there are $4,700-plus bottles of wine on the list upstairs but empty slots in the racks in the eerily deserted downstairs. Maybe I was hallucinating, though. We could swear we saw Bernie Madoff outside, and those old people in furs could not really all have been trannies. Could they?
It’s pretty bad when a guy who famously types with his dick comes off as restrained, at least in comparison to the tale of the 4-year-old Adria. I skipped to the overwritten end only to hear the biker character in “Decline of the American Empire” echoing in my cranial sieve: All that yakking and all you made was a fish pie? If ever a recipe begged to be reduxed . . .
For the first time I almost felt sorry for Molto Ego, after Jay Rayner flew in to have his gimlet-eyed way with him. You could almost understand why the guy is challenging a certain debunker to a virtual Diamond Jim duel. If he keeps eating and drinking, he won’t have to face the reality sketched by the out-of-towner in the tersest of phrases: More is not always better when it comes to restaurants. It figures, though, that just hours after I found the Guardian piece at my usual fourth stop of the day I spotted the Maroon leaping up to say Molto’s parish hall is just the pope’s pajamas. You can fool some of the fools some of the time. . . My favorite detail was that the orangeman had to do the Brit-and-pony show with a flack in tow. Number one, if he’s so big, why does he need one? And number two, if it’s for damage control, someone might want to invest in a drool bucket. The whole world is reading.
With the whole country awash in more hope than the floodwaters over New Orleans, I should be moving on from the derangement the Chimp has induced. But the seven-eighths of me that is my cynical half still cannot believe he will actually leave the scene of his eight years of crime. Going on the teevee to lie that he kept the country safe was like a chef ignoring the sell-by date on his chickens, killing 3,000 diners in one day and then boasting that no one had died at his tables since then. I’m not the religious type, but I can’t help wondering if the salmonella in the peanut butter is not a sign from the sandwich-eater’s imaginary friend. Please, let it turn up next in the “non-beer.” In the bars in hell.
I was also happy to see the Economist put the weight on Panchito for the disaster the country has suffered. The bumbling candidate was Sarah Palin without the verbal acuity and moral core, but his star turn as suckered enabler-turned-restaurant-babbler led the press pack straight into the abyss. And the scam lasted right up until his second inauguration. Where were all the chef’s aprons on high horses when the Chimp served asparagus and “Georgia peach crumble” in January 2005? Hawaiian shave ice by another name notwithstanding, I kinda think a new president who takes his wife to a birthday dinner at Equinox does not really need to be told how to eat. Although I did like Wylie calling in to say: “Save the foie gras.” Engorged livers on webs on the White House lawn would be a refreshing change from the lame duck.
I also read that restaurant inspectors in a Dallas suburb are being laid off for budget reasons. Given how easy it is for rats to infest a Taco Bell, more than one village in Texas must be missing its idiot. . .
The fever will break soon, but that might mean I miss flip-flops like a dis of DC restaurants one day and a shout-out for DC restaurants the next. By the same writer. Someone should invent an exercise machine for thighs straddling two worlds. Call it the ButtBoy.
Okay, I’ll admit I feel a bit guilty sometimes knowing a rant will sound directed toward a person and not a person’s work. There is a big difference. Or there should be. But this is the age of the internets. Contradictions count. Or maybe I just need me some interns. And I’m always learning we should be wary of our obsession — I was looking for places to eat near the Target in Brooklyn one day when I was feeling almost brave enough to schlep halfway to hell and back, and Citysearch recommended La Grenouille. If I were more flush, it would almost be worth reserving just to see the reaction when I showed up a borough away with my new laundry basket in tow.