You say patitas . . .

First the wingnuts went batshit insane over the Big O ordering Dijon mustard on his burger. Now they’re freaking out over a Supreme Court nominee who eats arroz con pig parts. What do these loons think is appropriately American to stick in your pie hole? Oh. Right. Strangers’ dicks in an airport men’s room.

Bad pennies found in LA produce, too

I can’t keep up with all the “is it scandal or is it business as usual?” coverage of the wine world. But I was happy enough to see it break through into the MSM, with the Journal finally running the fight bloggers picked. It was just funny to see the piece come out the same week I got the brochure touting a class on “how to be a wine writer and get wine free.” Add a few trips, and that sounds not like a bonus but a job description.

Sausage + pepperoni — that’s bruschetta

My in-law equivalent keeps my subscription to the No. 1 Cooking Magazine in the World  up to date or I would be blissfully unaware of how thoroughly big media ownership has destroyed it. Were the recipes always so horribly dependent on processed crap? Was trend confusion ever so rampant (south of the border Caprese? WTF?) Every time I think it is about as cat-messy as it can get, they come up with a celebrity chef feature that must play particularly brilliantly with the Amish, in the land of the teevee-free. Worse, the more they tart up the pages, the trashier the food looks (and, sometimes, the people). I always think there is something masturbatory about over-design. But here it almost makes the reader go blind.

No Nora, no way, no how

Here’s one guessing game my consort and I never played in the Chimp Reign of Error: Where might the First Couple eat on a trip to New York? We both ruled out Per Se and Daniel as too expensive/ostentatious. I said Le Bernardin because it seems to be the reflexive choice of the high-profile who won’t want to seem too indulgent/ostentatious (and who have eaten at Citronelle). Bob thought a Danny Meyer joint was a possibility. But of course the Big Os are too smart for any of us. Blue Hill was the right restaurant on the right night. Although I can’t wait until the wingnuts start bitching that “green” food was involved, I do like how the cult of Saint Alice has been cut off at the local/seasonal/sustainable pass. Best part: Imagining Mrs. Chimp sulking in envy over her successor getting to drink martinis in public. Complete with a sentient husband who can have all the wine he wants without trashing the joint. The Os both deserve a burger today.

Skinny arms and all

Of course, just after we get in from the theater a block from the Os I stumble across more of the self-righteous hectoring that seems to be guaranteed publication in all the newspapers that were either rendered mute by the Chimp or just content to regurgitate the horseshit his handlers fed them. Now the divine Mrs. M is supposed to strap on an apron and save the world by cooking. No matter that she sends a more powerful message by dishing up healthful, affordable food at a soup kitchen, or by looking so fit herself, or just by not apologizing for hiring cooks to keep her family fed in Chicago because she had more rewarding things to do. It’s been a long, hard fight to get this country to understand a woman’s place is not always in the kitchen. The last thing we need is to have the President’s wife out “yummo-ing” on the talk shows with chef in tow when food is already on the teevee 24/365. This kind of incoherence was never on the opinion pages when the Chimp was talking with his mouth full on the international stage and forcing guests to gag down hot dogs because that was what the literal son of a bitch preferred. No one worried about the example set for the kiddles then. And really, how tone-deaf can you be to advocate roasting as one of the three essential kitchen skills right now? Judging by the crap I sometimes get for my idea of frugality, forget salmon — most families in this Bushed economy cannot afford chicken. (Let alone “lazy dinners” of esoteric salumi and imported cheese.) Cooking is like anchovies or lamb: Not everybody has to love it. If you don’t, and you work hard, you can pay someone to put food on your family.

Next they come for the escargot caviar

My cranky cheesemonger friend forwarded me the release touting Costco’s caving to the foie gras nutcases and I laughed it off as ridiculous grandstanding — how many 50-lobe packs of the stuff could the chain possibly be selling? More important, foie gras really is not a food that ever belonged in big box stores; if it did, Smithfield would be on it like stink on hog shit. But my beleaguered friend has made me see the error of my thinking. Once the most powerful outlets give in to the crazies, the crazies will come after the weaker ones. And this is like the proverbial fight between two elephants — the grass getting stomped is the producer. So far, fattening livers is still perfectly legal. But this is a country where they shoot abortionists, don’t they?

Much depends on ritual

On a related note, “Departures” may have won the Oscar, but it was no “Waltz With Bashir.” About the only thing that redeemed the Japanese schmaltz-fest for me beyond the out-of-Tokyo setting was the food, and even it would have been better in half the time. I wish I could recommend it for two very opposite chicken scenes, the raw and the cooked, but they go by quickly, as does one where the tormented soul at the center eats alone (sashimi on a baguette) and another where he and his wife liberate an octopus she has bought for dinner that turns out to be alive and writhing. Maybe it’s rentable to fast-forward to one great scene where the two main characters share grilled puffer roe with salt and one glories in “eating corpses.” Unsaid is that they are eating the unborn. Won’t play in Kansas. . .

Like Heinz on freedom fries

Saddest revelation of the week: The best information from a suspected terrorist came not as his balls were being slashed but after someone gave him cookies. Sugar-free ones because he was diabetic. That condition alone should have cleared him, though. Thanks to cheap food and crappy diet, aren’t we all potential diabetics now? (Yes, I do sound as if I have derangement syndrome. If the Chimp and his damage would go away, I could not miss them and go back to mostly fud all the time.)

Let there be blights

And reports that Tavern on the Green reneged on its cookbook deal are not exactly shocking. The only surprising aspect is that anyone really thought a catering hall never known for its food would have recipes worth the sacrifice of trees. I still remember the poor young Swiss chef who was canned back in the last century after the NYT, when it still mattered, awarded only a “fair” for his ambitious cooking. His wife, a then-friend of mine, had given me a tour of the kitchens and the watchword was obviously not quality, only quantity (the only place I think I’ve seen bigger vats was a pumpkin factory in Illinois where tons were reduced for canning). But it’s still a little unsettling to read reports implying potential concessionaires are pulling out because the staff is unionized (read: deal-breakingly expensive). If your plane is going down, would you prefer the pilot with training and benefits or the co-pilot who doesn’t know nothin’ ’bout no de-icing and had to come to work with a cold? Swine flu hysteria made no sense not least because no one wanted to consider how many food handlers can’t afford either a sick day or a doctor. And with sneezing and wheezing, those ridiculous latex gloves are not protection but kabuki. Especially considering the waiters long ago got kinder reviews than the food.

Hunchbacks of the dairy aisle

File under unintended consequences: Some new study (admittedly underwritten by who knows whom) finds regular Vitamin D wards off memory loss. I’m already convinced the demonization of whole milk has contributed to osteoporosis. Now it could be that all those silly women substituting soy “milk” in their silly decaf “lattes” are incubating Alzheimer’s, too. And fake yogurt is not going to help them remember where they ate wrong.

Soup is not food

Also, file this under WTF did I expect?: I wound up starving in the Chelsea Market the other lunchtime and stupidly decided a small square of Amy’s amazing pizza would leave me just unsatisfied enough to succumb to something else within an hour, so I stupidly decided on a cup of what the reeking seafood place sells as lobster bisque, for $3.50 plus tax. The first spoonful was confirmation of what I suspected: Neither word belonged in the description. I spooned up enough to realize I was just hoping for satisfaction where none would ever materialize and threw the rest into the trash can just being emptied. And went off to get that amazing pizza. Within 10 minutes my upper lip was puffed and throbbing. As scornful as I am of food allergies, it is funny that I have that reaction whenever I eat “lobster” or “crab.” But never when I eat lobster or crab.

Real tourists “snap pics” on cellphones

Only someone who had never worked on DI/DO could have been surprised when the curtain was pulled back on the MoDo magic show. She got nailed stealing a Josh Marshall graf (oddly enough, the same one I had thought was uncharacteristically muscular for her) and came up with a clumsy explanation that tamped the outrage that plagiarism generally generates. But I still remember her calling old cronies whenever she needed a food-related bon mot for one of her airy little thought pieces. The OC was always so thrilled to be consulted that it was win-win, I guess. But Times must be tougher. The blue cheese in the follow-up silliness should, given the news lately, have been Roquefort, not Gorgonzola. Wrong surrender monkeys, Ms. Brunello Talk.