Barbecue lies

Forget the migraines and the pray-away-the-gay husband. The most insane thing about the crazy-eyed one is her assertion that she loves celery, the vilest vegetable ruining tuna salads everywhere. Of course, she did qualify it by saying she could eat an entire stalk by herself. Apparently she doesn’t understand true love would be a whole bunch.

You say tomato?

And with the wingnuts holding the economy hostage, I guess this was the perfect moment to argue for higher taxes on junk food (definition to be determined, with of course no marketing money involved). The only good thing about the kkkrazies taking over is that epithets need one character fewer; tax is the new four-letter word. But since this notion would hit the poorest hardest, maybe it does have a chance. Which makes me long, yet again, for the good old days of recycled “French Cooking in Ten Minutes.”

Nutway 1961, revisited

Also, too, I keep thinking how bizarre it is that no one would ever have considered Julia for an op-ed gig — she was just a “chef.” But when you read her collected letters to Avis  DeVoto, all you can do is marvel at her hyper-informed, agile, open mind and her often poisonous pen. In real life, even at her peak, though, what marked her was modesty. If someone had thought to ask her to solve all the world’s problems through food, I suspect she would have had the good sense to STFU. If you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, you also can’t pivot from fat to fear with credibility.

Tamed jalapeños

I didn’t expect to like the new Vosges filled with black salt caramel, not least because I was expecting Indian black salt. But it is addictive. So I’m only going to mock the idea that anyone would need printed instructions on how to enjoy a chocolate bar. Do vibrators come with how-tos?

Coming soon: Big Mad (Cow)

I didn’t read it, but I did see a widely disseminated link to a piece on “what not to eat at chain restaurants.” And I’ll admit I’m a total food snob, but I just had to wonder how cretinous Americans have become. Or how out of touch journalists are. People don’t go to the Cheesecake Factory because they want to eat well. They’re thoroughly programmed Americans: They wanna shovel. The whole silly story could be summed up with another budget line, cutting expenses for whichever section assigned the piece: Don’t eat at chain restaurants. Just say no to shit.

And in other nonsense, I wonder if the link-baiters who compile lists of kid-friendly restaurants understand the unintended consequences. I see something like that and make a mental note in ALL CAPS to stay the hell away.

Sparkletinis? Don’t ask.

On a related topic, though, I have to say I was glad I schlepped to a screening of the short film Terry Gilliam made for a pasta company based in Naples. Clearly, his sponsor did not get between him and his inner demons at all. This baby is dark. And funny, of course. You could almost call it “Mangia, Brazil.” And the best part is how it makes clear that as much as you may want to storm across a restaurant and throttle a screaming baby, it’s the bad parents who are the true villains in any piece.

Cured or corned

One reTweet because I can’t think it enough: If there really has to be a National Tequila Day, it should be followed by WTF-An-Ambulance-Costs-$500? Day.

(I also had to respond to one of those reflexive “rich farmers feed poor people, poor farmers feed rich people” Tweets by noting that more and more people are using food stamps to shop farmers’ markets. The situation can’t turn around overnight, but it’s willfully stupid to promote the meme that only the prosperous can buy local quality. And not least because food is not overpriced or out of reach in farmers’ markets. You also have to think of longevity. A $1.99-cent head of red-leaf lettuce is geriatric by the time you fish it out of the water in a supermarket, while a $2 head of red-leaf lettuce harvested the day before will last weeks before turning to the same slime. Odd how some of the same people advocating ending farm subsidies continue to mock the little guys out standing in their fields.)

Old doughnuts, new outrage

Finally, there’s something beyond ironic in the Germans of all people stepping up to declare foie gras a product of such unspeakable cruelty that it can’t be sold in their homeland. Of course, the fact that the Israelis have mastered mass production of the stuff is also unsettling if you think about it too much. But how can a country that tortures cabbage be passing judgment on any food?

Peas, not eaten

Given my twin obsessions, food and pol’ porn, I am living in interesting times. Half of the links I click/things I read insist we’re on the eve of destruction: “Somalia/’Mad Max,’ here we come!” The rest are blithely advocating making your own Popsicles/paletas. Potential meltdown, either way.

Dog-whistling raccoons

That said, every time I see the furor over the 1,700-calorie cheeseburger — the shit heard ’round the world — I just think: Dead boyfriend in the middle of the road. The Lump in the Bed was damned lucky with the media. Now they’re so desperate for traffic they’re throwing out the same red meat to the kkkrazies that was chewed over endlessly in 2009 and again in 2010. Imagine the “whitey tape” hysteria if Mrs. didn’t eat cheeseburgers.

“We’ll hire copy editors if you pay ’em”

I lost a little of the iota of innocence I retain when I Tweeted about book blurbs, after hearing one for an apparently terrible cooking memoir was written by someone who apparently hates the writer. Jeebus. Has everyone’s phone been hacked? If you can’t tell the truth, can’t you take a pass? And I’m not going to surrender my last wisp of innocence and believe people are actually blurbing without reading. Next you’re going to tell me the Kwanzaa cake wasn’t created by the governor’s arm candy.

Now, beef irradiated naturally

I slogged all the way to the last word of Time’s cover story on the end of ocean fish and just Tweeted, then sort of gave up. But my first reaction keeps coming back to me. Why would that huge feature (by weekly magazine standards) miss the whale in the newsroom? It kept hammering away at the idea that fish farming is essential because the global population keeps growing. And it never once paused to say, “Hey, you know what? Fewer mouths to feed would solve this problem before nature has to bring out even bigger guns than earthquakes and tsunamis.” On a planet running out of water, multiplying the loaves and barramundi is not enough. But I’m just being silly. I’m sure it won’t be long till they run a huge cover story on advances in in vitro.

Praise the room and pass the potpie

I’m a little behind, but did we really need a Brit advising Americans on how to cook on a camping trip? As Paul Theroux must have wondered, shouldn’t she be sitting in her underwear staring out to sea in Cornwall? I would ask if they’ve lost their fucking minds, but the answer is too obvious. I could deal with bangers on the barbie before fava beans in the field. It’s been 40 years since my family would pack up the bedrolls and the old Coleman stove, and I still remember what a hassle cooking anything but freshly caught trout was. And we had a wood stove to practice on at home. What’s most amazing is not just that a recycled book is being passed off as fresh. It’s that I was the most recalcitrant Girl Scout ever and still know you do not approach a campfire barefoot. You may start thinking s’mores with those marshmallows. But watch out for napalm. . .