One argument for teaching history objectively: 18 percent of the country would know what was dumped overboard in Boston Harbor was not Lipton’s. Poor fools don’t even know their namesake was not actually invented until 1909 (in Manhattan, incidentally). And I hate to go all elitist on their asses, but if they knew anything about tea they would evoke the top of the line — just go ahead and call themselves the White Party.
Speaking of unfortunate choices in nomenclature, is Disney really christening a restaurant Remy, after “Ratatouille”? Who doesn’t think vermin when heading out for nice dinner? The specialty should be rat’s ass.
This week was probably the nadir for food coverage. The Huffington Post started what has to be a parody, and the end of the Craig Claiborne line did KFC’s dirty work. The vendors whose fish has to be eaten the same day you buy it were touted as selling the freshest in Manhattan. Airline food was reported to be “striving to be tasty” (and Francisco Franco is still dead). The WSJournal pretty much declared wine coverage will now be only about wealth-worshiping and name-dropping, as Dr. Vino put it. (But that ridiculous adjective “delicious” will live on.) And I seem to recall some nonsense about ramps being the new arugula, hold the fiddleheads. But on the bright side, a new generation (of wide-eyed bloggers) has just learned a sobering and essential lesson: The Pillsbury Bake-Off is about nothing but crass commercialism, a relatively cheap way for Big Food to gauge what Americans are stuffing into their pie holes and an even better way to inspire those same suckers to consume even more processed crap. The only thing I’m curious about is whether the editors gathered from “real” media to cover the charade were any slimmer than the ones I reeled at the sight of 20-some years ago. (Those broads could pack it away; breakfast was always like the descent of a plague of very large locusts. And they uncritically, even gushingly, wrote up the gruesome results of Poppin’ Junk topped with raspberry and spinach and dipped in chocolate.) Personally, I think any cook who can turn a canned biscuit into a fish taco is going places. Nowhere I’d want to go, but still.
I see Eater is declaring the food truck trend over already, but I’m sorry: Nothing has peaked as fast as macarons — and this country has survived cupcakes. They went from Paris delicacy to McCrud staple quicker than you can say “leave out the extra O,” and now someone is getting cash money to lead macaron tours. My teeth hurt just thinking about it.
On the happy side of life’s little ledger, I persuaded my consort to take me to see “Mid-August Lunch,” and we both squirmed through it, wondering if it was ever actually going to go anywhere. But we walked out feeling transported — it’s so very Italian, and you can almost smell the Rome apartment it’s filmed in. I was mostly interested in it for the food, and it definitely delivered, and not in a porn-ish way. Only the Italians would think sliced potatoes and fish fillets will bake in the same amount of time (branzino and orata there are always 375 degrees of separation from crudo). The crisp veal Milanese, the limp roasted asparagus, the cakes both store-bought and home-baked, the gooey/cheesy lasagne, the pasta-with-red-sauce portions are all just right. So much of the movie takes place in the kitchen and around the table it’s well worth watching once it comes to DVD. The poster slogan should be: No smarm, please. We’re Italian.
I think I’ve read about enough about well-paid media types (and chefs) trying to live on a food stamp diet in America. It says it all that they have no innate understanding of how more and more people in this country deal in a bushwhacked economy. Doesn’t anyone come up out of poverty and become a talking head or other media voice anymore? I don’t think a single soul should have to grow up poor enough to understand that a dog and a dozen cats can survive on one can of dog food a day if a mom stretches it with a huge pot of cornmeal mush. But maybe, when all the dust settles on the school lunch program, someone with a megaphone might want to start talking about what kids were once taught: how to feed a family of nine on next to no income. Thank allah my mom was educated in New York’s public schools in the 1930s and learned beans and corn (or rice) make a complete protein. Today, of course, she’d be indoctrinated on Doritos as whole-grain . . .
Apparently it wasn’t just me laughing at the notion of the rudest name in food getting an etiquette gig. Someone else who smelled the sulfur emailed: That’s like Pol Pot lecturing on good management practices. . .
I don’t care who stunt-tastes it, the Double Down is the Special Needs Mom of fud: You’re horrified, but you can’t help looking/yammering. Luckily, it will eventually disappear like every other over-the-top gross-out concoction from the McKFC-type labs that’s designed for buzz alone. While the fame junkie will still be shrieking incoherently after the last Twinkie has gone moldy.
Dear Etiquette Arbiter: I would like to have my restaurant/product/event mentioned in the powerful outlet that has let you hang around for double donkey’s years. What is the proper approach, please?
A: Eat merde and die.
This is the funniest development since a certain desk had to be moved because a big editor complained that the constant barking was “just too unpleasant.” Remember, kids, always raise your pinky when you’re rude.
And I can’t believe one of my correspondents hit the bull’s-eye when she Tweeted: “Last week: Feedlot beef This week: hothouse tomatoes Next week: Joys of iceberg?” It really is way past time to retire the notion that there is anything fresh to say about the most industrial green in the supermarket. Margaret Visser exhausted the topic in 1986, for Kroger’s sake. Beyond that, the cluelessness in this latest condescending ode was pretty impressive. Anyone shocked by $12 mesclun from far away has not spent the winter resisting the temptation of $20- to 48-a-pound stuff at . . . the Greenmarket. And, just FYI, the smart money is on margarine next.
We’re also getting awfully close to drowning in bourbon coverage very soon — with the Kentucky Derby coming, the clichés always win. So I half-admire the booze reps who are trying to pitch a reinvention of the mint julep. Ill-advised as it is, at least it’s something different. (Gin or vodka would be far, far worse, and absinthe scariest of all.) But given what a hard sell juleps are every year at our party, I think the hoariest advice might be the best. You know, muddle the mint in a silver cup, add the ice, pour in the sugar syrup, shake it all up, then throw it out and drink the tequila.
Maybe I had to have been there, but I was a little surprised to see the bestest new chefs were announced at the tiredest old restaurant. Last time I was there it looked like an outtake from “The Shining.” I know it was chosen because of its own bright new star, but that says something, too. Rich fucks don’t want adventurous food; they want their baked potatoes and Diet Coke. Bring in the new and it can never last (can you say Anne Rosenzweig 21 times?) Staging a huge event pegged to transitory talent would be like booking your wedding anywhere “I’m a Chef, Get Me Out of Here” is cooking. . . .
I guess there’s a video going around of another Texas chef living it up at Enron on 12th Street. I couldn’t bear to watch it, but I do hope the poor guy is not as naive as the last one who came north and believed they liked him, they really liked him. Undoubtedly there’s a Realtor on 21st Street who would happily separate another fool from his million.
A couple of damning photos also made the e-rounds, contrasting Teabaggers with wackos the last time that set was so riled up and out in the streets, protesting integration as “communism” in the 1950s. The real reason for their anger is clear enough. But what’s most fascinating is that the wingnuts today are, as Fey posing as Falin pointed out, so obese they have to protest sitting down. Back then they were skinny. But of course that was before government corn subsidies made American food so cheap.
KFC must be determined to make all good Americans fall to their knees and beg for calorie labeling. Its coming abomination is so gruesome I had to Tweet about it, only to have a fellow Twitter junkie respond that it could be the official Teabagger food. Which makes a lot of sense. If you’re talking lowered testicles, of course you would name the thing Double Down.