Pepper through a grinder?

Even acknowledging this probably only encourages the willfully stupid, but a certain heritage hire who will never learn that a Nobel prizewinner won for a reason decided to take him on, yet again, for his smart post saying kitchens really are not the space-age transformations we might have once expected — many more advances were made from 1900 to 1950 than from 1950 till today. Ms. Idjit of the Himalayan Pink Salt, being younger and of course smarter, begs to differ. She owns a 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook, you see, and the recipes therein prove no one had a blender or a mixer or whatever back then. Even aluminum foil was unknown! Start with the Googleable fact that stand mixers were not rarities in American kitchens 60 years ago — you can find models from before 1954 on eBay today. (My dirt-poor mom taught me to bake using hers.) Blenders? More than a million sold by 1954. And crappy cookware pre-All-Clad? Our dirt-poor family did fine with cast iron. Ms. Born Yesterday really needs to get in more. I cook in a 1929 kitchen, only moderately altered: I can stand at the stove and reach the refrigerator and the sink — the cabinets she cannot imagine holding up are doing fine; a stove older than I am, and in better shape, kicks the BTUs out of anything you can buy now. The design abides. What’s saddest is that one of the leaders of the Food Coven hyped this horseshit, just after touting the Julia letters compilation in which Mme. Child and her Cambridge correspondent endlessly document how advanced kitchens and appliances (and ingredients) were even in 1953/4. They even talk about foil . . .

Also, too, socialist Spudnuts

Apparently the word most Americans recalled most from the Big O’s State of the Union was salmon. Which proves it really has become the chicken of the sea. I only hope all those Villagers who think arugula is esoteric heard the adjective that made the joke: smoked. Once upon a time that would have lain there like a lox.

Preservatives are free

Speaking of underpriced food and cut corners, though, I admit to feeling slightly queasy on reading about the tortilleria worker killed on the job in Brooklyn and realizing the two-pound bag in my refrigerator was from that very factory. I’ve often wondered how $1 or $1.25 can buy so much, but I should have known safety had to be sacrificed (really: the bag, twist tie and shipping alone — not to mention the masa — have to eat into the bottom line on each package). Someone mocked me on the Twitter for wanting “humane tortillas,” but I doubt Upton Sinclair would be laughing heartily. The most appalling part is that the same tortilleria that was shut down for not keeping up with workman’s comp apparently had all the money in the cyberworld to commission a jingle and set up a lavish website to promote the cheap product. For the Flash music alone it earns a special place in hell.

When POW is not enough

Felix Salmon sent one of the best dispatches out of Davos, verifying why great wealth is wasted on the obscenely wealthy. He described a wine gang-bang where the only thing that mattered was price/label/cachet with what was guzzled. It sounded like 1987 all over again. Or 1929. But it figures it ran in an outlier outlet. Newspapers have some Zachys ads to sell.

All fat husbands are alike

One of the more amazing displays of audio hubris in recent history came when Mrs. Maroon hijacked a radio segment on restaurant reviewing in the Age of Yelp. Imagine Hungry Girl calling in and yapping endlessly while the Fed Up With School Lunch blogger was being interviewed. Of all people not to realize dial-in comments and questions are for the little people. . .

Did someone say “Metropolis”?

Say what you will about Martha Stewart, she did the time after getting rooked into doing the crime. Too bad the pubic justice of the Supreme Coke will never do the same — even though in not disclosing his wife’s serious income from wingnut think tanks, he appears to have violated the very same law that sent the beacon of style to the hoosegow. I do wonder why she’s slapping her name on the made-in-China crap I got for xmas (which I suspect was re-gifted, because who would keep a timer so flimsy, or a tea infuser so cheesily overwrought?) But at least that’s better than taking money through the back door of your wife. In an ideal world, the silent one would be condemned to an eternity of “singing and dancing” while baking, on a channel no one watches.

Connect the Hawaiian dots

Even I wanted to mock Dennis Kucinich for suing after breaking a tooth on an olive pit in a sandwich eaten at the public trough. But the more I read, the sadder it seemed — what does it say about a country that even its best-insured are treated as if teeth are from another organism? Why does health care not include dental, and why should someone with good coverage have to shell out of pocket? Especially since even the WSJ noted that bacteria from bad teeth can migrate from the mouth to the brain and even cause dementia. Maybe we should all sue for Saint Reagan’s kalamata-cracked molar.

Came out of nowhere, new pundit said

I pissed in the teapot at an impromptu party in our co-op on a snow day by bringing up the awful truth that thunder and lightning are not normal in a January blizzard, and by wondering how we the little people can push back against undeniable global warming. The Guardian ran a pretty good story recently noting that rationing in World War II actually strengthened British society, and by chance one of the guests had firsthand tales of trading kitchen scraps for eggs, surviving on powdered eggs from America and watching her mom weigh out candy once a week. Surely we could do something, anything while our “leaders” dither and pocket checks from Big Oil and “Clean” Coal. While I wait for suggestions, I was happy to hear a report on PRI’s The World on the teacups of Kolkata: They’re made from clay, used once on the street and crashed to the ground, where they dissolve to be recycled into fresh containers. The rest of India is giving in to plastic, but the reporter interviewed a family responsible for baking these eternal-life cups for now. And she had the details down to the little bit of grit in the bottom of each cup — I can still taste the chai we drank one long morning while my consort was shooting there in 1993. I think of it every time I go into some snooty coffee joint in NYC when the dishwasher is (inevitably) broken and the clerks are serving in disposable cups rather than having someone get his/her hands clean scrubbing the china ones. My big fear will always be reincarnation, but if I have to come back, I hope it’s to Kolkata.

Thimerosal rising

And speaking of what a grim world spawners are leaving, my consort came home the other day from picking up movies at our own public Netflix, the NYPL, marveling that he had overheard a woman saying she had a child in a “dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free school.” While the knuckle-draggers argue about evolution, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this country is breeding the weakest generation. The Ingalls family would have curled up on the prairie.

Jesus. H. Chicken.

I’m still scratching my head over the assault on the “regional food experience” available in no fewer than 39 states. The framing of the story was bad enough, because I’ve lived in six states and smelled that smell in malls in every single one. But was the whole “shyme, shyme” (as they yell in Oz) only a single donation of sandwiches by one franchisee? My sympathy to the displaced, but this was probably not the wisest target on which to deploy your Big Gay Weapon, the admirable and articulate ice cream vendor. As always, though, I do not blame the byline. Only the too many cooks with cursors who always spoil the broth.

Five heads, better than one

I can never tell what’s real and what’s parody in my Writeme inbox, but I’m assuming the release for the “automatic pot-stirrer” was the latter. Otherwise I have to think inventors are planning ahead to a world when immigrants are no longer around to staff kitchens. Because, really — who would trust risotto to a machine sold online?

Tip the waitress. She’s his daughter.

Friends gave me another copy of “Omnivore’s Dilemma” for my birthday and I may very well keep it. One in every room might not be enough for sourcing the newest opinion columnist’s deep thoughts. Echoing forever in my head are the words of an editor who warned “he’s not a very sophisticated writer,” and I’m still marveling at the zucchini soufflé in kabocha season. Really, someone should remake “Zelig” with a food theme. Helen Mirren can play Marion Nestle.