I know we’re all supposed to pretend 2001 to 2009 never happened, but I had one thought on hearing — and hearing, and hearing, and hearing — the big White House party was crashed: The Secret Service must have been worn out by all those years of chasing the Skank Twins on their margarita binges. Not to mention hiding the pretzels from the Chimp. The return of honor and dignity and a wine-drinker in chief must be freaking everyone out. But I really blame “Iron Chef.” Once the freckled calves got in, the barbarians were through the gates.
Having had no problem procuring the canned pumpkin that was supposedly in scary-short supply for Turkey Coma Day, I quite enjoyed reading the real reason the ridiculous frozen “waffles” vanished from stores. Yep. Listeria. And I wasn’t even surprised that the manufacturer was able to get the country worked up to the level of Colbert over the shortage without mentioning either the bacteria or the recall. With everyone in the media so easily manipulated, it’s all Faux News now. Next: Stock up on Land O Lakes or no cookies for you.
Speaking of processed crap, I can only guess at the obscene amounts of cash being funneled into rescuing high-fructose corn syrup’s reputation. Not only are producers running full-page ads in the highest-priced newspapers. But the sweetener realm’s equivalent of what Christopher Buckley called the MOD Squad (Merchants of Death) is now hounding me over an online piece that ran so long ago I don’t even remember what it said. And I wrote it. Naturally, they want to have it both ways, denying there’s any problem with the stuff while pointing out that many foods contain very little of it. It all pretty much proves the awful truth of eating in America: One of the cheapest “foods” has the most money to throw around, and your tax dollars help. We’re a country too strapped to pay for Medicare Part E (for Everybody), but corn subsidies will continue until all Americans have diabetes. Then we underwrite the insulin — if we aren’t already. Have a Coke and a coma.
Rule No. 1 for persuading Americans to slow down and eat better: Whatever you do, do not invoke the name Saint Alice. Keep her and her blithely effete disconnect the hell away from your sermon. Otherwise, you’ll have readers gagging on your Araucana egg cooked over an open fire on a made-by-an-artist-friend’s spoon. Give me the proverbial fucking break. A Knoll Krest egg scrambled in real butter would be revelation enough for the average consumer of whatever the hell that rubbery yellow stuff is that’s slopped into McMuffins. Very odd that the self-anointed leading advocate of ingredients insists on a special tool and special “stove.” The saddest part was that it was one of the most inspiring and lyrical artists in the whole country who was rooked by this absurd pretentiousness. Next time her boots need to go walking cross-country, they might want to head toward Pollan’s place instead. At least he doesn’t kill a boar for every media drive-by.
Maybe it’s because I grew up with dead deer hanging in the garage to be butchered every fall, but the one lying across my hometown paper the day before turkey struck me as the print equivalent of the annoying PETA “grace.” I guess this is what you’re reduced to when you blow your trimmings wad so close to Halloween. Coulda been worse, though: Imagine Rudolph bleeding out the red nose on December 23. But then I guess the latest wave of buyouts has many staffers in the offices they can’t afford feeling a bit addled (and not in the Middle English way). They’re clarifying brussels sprouts and still can’t get poundcake and potpie right. And what was with the story celebrating the manly man catching his tuna, running so close behind all the end-of-fish hoo-hah? Has everyone married a cousin down there?
Now my shock meter must be broken, because the news that one in four kids in this country is subsisting on food stamps just didn’t surprise me. I was a little amazed that so many more retirees are having to go to food pantries to get by these days, given that they represent the one sector of our defiantly nonsocialist society that proudly benefits from sharing the wealth (which is a good thing, considering the price of cat fud is going up like everything else). The one thing that left my jaw dropping was the ugliness of the comments on the NYTimes lede story on how many people are now relying on government help for food. If you need any proof that this is not a “Christian country,” wade into that cesspool. The same sort who believe women should die rather than get an abortion, and would ban birth control if they could, are damning parents for producing too many mouths to feed. And that’s the least hateful reaction. At least some commenters noted that the map of the needy was darkest in the “red” states, the ones that elect the con men who talk up the culture wars and fiscally fuck the voters every time. Reminds me of that old saying: Give a conservative a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and you’ll never eat again. . . .
I know foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, but it still seems kind of whiplash-y for the same copy generator to spew 101 make-ahead side dishes for Thanksgiving and then turn around and say “chill the fuck out” about Thanksgiving. I don’t know whether I’m supposed to start stuffing(!) Brussels sprouts or just shoot Martha Stewart.
With all the usual insane rewriting of the Kitchen Kama Sutra, though, one thing that gets lost is the fact that Thanksgiving has always been the one seasonal meal in America. Everything on the plate tastes so good together because it’s a harvest feast, right for right now: root vegetables, and fall fruits and berry, and sturdy sage. So can someone please explain the goddamn corn that keeps popping up everywhere? You can’t get decent fresh ears, and Squanto would be spinning in his fish grave at the thought of frozen. You might as well serve strawberry sauce with the turkey.
It’s also amazing how the holiday seems to bring out so much petty larceny in many souls. I could swear the Bobby Flay game plan for Turkey Day I read in the WSJournal was nearly the same as the one I read a week later in the Daily News. (Double bonus to that flack!) And anyone who believes a poor pumpkin harvest this fall is going to cause an immediate shortage of the canned kind needs a good shot of the bourbon that was supposedly nearly depleted just a few weeks ago and now warrants a full-page ad trumpeting its return. It almost makes you suspect marketers might believe what a woman in North Wales once told us about the politicians who denied Chernobyl had affected sheep there: “They think we’re stoopid.”
Once upon a time you had to pay cash money to see a freak show. Now you just prowl wherever wingnuts froth. After the Center for Nutrition Nazism issued its latest freakout, on movie popcorn, one addled Beckite was incensed that the fearmongers had not been identified in news reports as “left-wing.” To which a commenter ranted that liberal activists had already taken away “real butter” at concession stands. You have to be pretty deluded to think that what the multiplex gougers splash over your kernels ever came anywhere near an udder. Allah help them if they ever realize the cheese-libs moved their Velveeta.
Just as all the culi-pundits are sending people around the bend over the too-muchness of Thanksgiving, the silly government decides to inform anyone paying attention that 49 million people are going hungry in what boasts of being the richest country in the world. Much as I hate the bureaucratese of “food insecurity,” it does hint at the awfulness of not knowing where your next meal is coming from. And much as I hate kids, I can’t deny they’re the future — I want them growing up healthy and strong enough to change my diapers someday. In my lifetime I never thought I would see a cartoon of a family at the table with the parents advising the son and daughter to clean their plates because “children are going hungry in Oregon.” To think it all began with ketchup as a vegetable. . . .
I won’t soon forgive my consort for sending along a link to one of the most gruesome food videos ever produced. Between the moderator and the dish, it was guaranteed to make a gorge rise. Both our stomachs literally turned at the same point, as vileness was being shaped into weirdness in close-up. It could taste like the greatest thing since sliced foie gras. But gefilte fish, it turns out, is Jewish sausage. You definitely do not want to see it being made.
One of the silliest notions touted all week was that a 19th-century guidebook to Paris was the Zagat of its time. What, the producer surveyed strangers and stitched together “quotes,” with no personal point of view or shank’s mare research? In reality, what the voracious Grimod produced did not even sound like a Michelin. It was much closer to early Duncan Hines. And that’s the saddest part of what the Maroons have wrought. Everybody knows their name. No one realizes invoking it is like putting Parkay ahead of Plugra.
For all my ranting that the FTC is unfair in expecting bloggers to reveal freebies while letting “legit” media continue taking with both fists, I was actually amazed at the level of graft in the West Coast exposé of “mommy bloggers.” These saps are being flown around and courted as if they were Sarah Palin with a URL. And the crap they sell their souls for is mostly really crap (the good stuff either doesn’t need or can’t afford pimping). Most revealing was the cynicism of the companies manipulating these women, whom they apparently perceive as being either naive or greedy — neither of which is exactly an admirable quality in a parent. Message: Hos before prose. Targeting “daddy bloggers” might make it all seem a little less unsavory, but somehow I suspect it’s not gonna happen. Guys would hold out for a convertible. Or at least a mistress. Not a lousy case of disposable diapers they’d have to change.
I thought it was just me, but quote of the week has to be from Atrios: “Please for the love of God make Frank Bruni stop writing.” The latest nonfood-but-eating thing was definitely unsettling — talk about throwing drooling editors a boner.