Season with bullcrit

Apparently Panchito would like to return us all to those wondrous days of yester2000 when a presidential candidate’s wife could have a dead body in her past and the story stayed safely buried. How’s that working out for the world? I can’t believe I’m saying this: Put him back on the eats beat. Burgers are totally bush league.

Wrench cookies

Not sure this was intentional, but a review copy arrived on the doormat the other day with the press release obscuring three letters of the title so that it read “The Bris Book.” I doubt even MFK could say how to cook a foreskin, though.

“Influential mom bloggers”

The things you learn when you get sucked into reading protracted attempts to make press releases look like more than press releases puffed out to fill 20 inches: Mayonnaise is a billion-dollar-a-year market. Mayonnaise, I said. I know Hellmann’s is now priced like beluga, but that’s still an awful lot of the white stuff. The mystery is why such marketing is necessary when any sentient being knows a life without mayonnaise is not worth avocados. So I can’t really blame a “celebrity chef” who failed in NYC for signing on to whip up barbecue chicken nuggets while “bantering.” If promoters of an essential nutrient think it needs to spend $30 million a year on promotion, why not take the money and shill?

Kale, addling

And I know I’m heartless, but I did laugh at the “no one coulda predicted” tone of the story on the murder in the Vermont food co-op. Haven’t we all been fed no end of tales from the very same publication on how the Park Slope co-op is fascist and full of infighting and right on the edge? (I still remember the JGold Wannabe telling me just the mention of the place made his fingers twitch.) Plus those kinds of shared labor tend to be fraught with scorekeeping of the most dangerous kind. With the post office being pushed out of business despite the Constitution mandating its existence, maybe the new term will be “going co-op.”

$16 muffins

Also, too, I was not surprised that the grim report from Texas on last meals went bouncing around the internets and email so fast. It had equal appeal to the hang-’em-high wingnuts, who think Scrooge was a wimp, and to us bleeding-heart libs, who both spurn the death penalty and empathize with the doomed. I’ve written before that I think the super saddest true food story ever told was of the condemned mental defective who said he wanted to save his dessert for later. And of course it figures it was a wingnut who had to go and spoil the so-called gravy train by ordering more food than any human could eat and then — wonder why? — not even being able to touch it. Their side keeps clinging to the old saying, but greed is not good.

“Baking in pork chops”

I’m of course not the suspicious sort, but doesn’t it seem odd that two of the three hometown newspapers we get delivered on the weekend had the same commodity crime story, featuring the same victim? So I’m not surprised that neither delved into the uglier part of the tale: If you lose 150 hogs and don’t notice right away, you’re raising them wrong. The WSJournal had the numbers (and the proper terminology): “The hogs are sequestered in four rooms, about 1,000 in a group.” I could joke that that sounds like the GOP dream for class size, but it’s actually sickening, almost literally. And if the burglarized farmer feels “a little bit violated,” imagine how those animals suffered their whole lives, probably dreaming of the lush lives of ducks destined for foie gras. At least I got out of Iowa in time, before it became a stinking waste pond, from the sound of the coverage. The only hogs I saw there in the Seventies ran free in the mud. And no one was thieving. One little suggestion for the elusive pork burglar: Next time sneak in a camera. Show the true price of cheap bacon.

And busboys making $100,000!

I’m with Shakespeare on the lawyers, but I still have to say they are doing some good for restaurant workers in NYC despite the bluster from Molto Ego’s partner. If you screw people, you should have to pay, not blame overregulation and whine about moving jobs out of New York (that should build loyalty here!). It’s ironic that this pro-biz story would run the same week a guy who may have been innocent of a murder was put to death; from the sound of it, restaurants just hand over mega-bucks rather than even try to prove they did not commit the crime. The ultimate irony, though, is that a newspaper that squeezes blood out of its turnips has a rutabaga out taking up the cause of the exploiter rather than its own readers. You’d think the tits-and-ass underclass would empathize more with the beaten-down. Someone should start advertising pitchforks.

Turn those bottles ’round

Relatedly, I’ve been forgetting to write about this, but I am still in shock over seeing a tip jar in a wine shop (in Williamsburg, no surprise). Maybe I’m too cynical, but don’t the wineries and distributors do enough kickback? I’m happy to drop a few bucks on the delivery guy. But if you steer me to California when I ask for New Zealand, go tip yourself.

Chopped liver on the dollar menu

Finally, where do I even begin with the Egopedist’s latest half-him/half-think-tank tirade? Are we talking junk food? Or fast food? Do we really need to trash organics and farmers’ markets and farmers who care enough to grass-feed cattle the way nature intended? Do we, with our uncredited help, really need to shame the couple in “Food, Inc.” even more for working two jobs and doing the drive-through to feed themselves and their kids? Do we — really? — ever fucking eat bland beans with plain rice with a glass of milk that, at that price, has to be produced with hormones and antibiotics?

No link because I hate to encourage. But mostly what I took away is that readers of a newspaper advertising $900 shoes and touting $245 prix fixes are supposed to reform their slovenly ways and suffer cheap, dirty birds after an hour in the kitchen. I don’t even eat chicken, but there’s no way in hell I would let my consort ingest one that can only be sold for that little because of all the corners cut in its rush to the supermarket. I haven’t fully worked my mind around this, but it just seems like one more disconnect between “journalists” and “real America.”  Do they not know from Taco Bell?

Left out of this whole debate is the minefield the supermarket has become. You go in to buy that cheap dirty bird and you’re going to pass the most amazing cornucopia in the history of mankind in the freezer aisle. Are you really going to bring home poulet perdu rather than nuke a few Hungry Mans? J’doubt it. So, yes, please, keep working the talking points and making it a choice between fatty/sugary/filling McMeals and dreary, bland, time-consuming fodder. That will get the asses onto the kitchen stools for sure.

Oh, and did anyone think to price out the kohrabi slaw? Or the Brussels sprouts slaw with all the exotica? I wonder what the poor folks are making of saffron aioli. . .

BIY beer

Every time anyone whinges about Mrs. O trying to turn around the ship of obesity the USofA has become, I wonder where the Lump in the Bed was for the eight years she allegedly devoted to advocating literacy. One First Lady just got a big chain to promise to make kids’ meals slightly smaller heart attacks on a plate. The other was so invisibly out there and fighting that Borders is now out of business. Maybe if she’d pushed them to add smoking sections in the cafes?

Can’t toss a melting pot

Also, too, I spotted a relatively decent USAToday report on hunger in America and Tweeted that the first rule of empathy is not to be photographed with a cigarette in your hand when you can’t afford more than boxed macaroni and cheese. A reporter T-responded that photojournalists have to shoot what they find, but I’ve lived with one for longer than many reporters have been alive and know the real story. My cynical side suspects corporate media just has to buy into the corporate line: Anyone who’s hungry must be looking for food in all the wrong addictions. Otherwise that smoking-cig photo would not have been taken in front of a big-screen teevee. And of course no newspaper photographer with a steady income and health insurance and a terror of being let go would ever think to shoot a needy mom either shopping or cooking. Get her fat ass over into the most damning setup and keep the editors satisfied.

Attack of the killer turkey (in agate)

After 20 years, I’m about ready to give up on talking seasonal/local with food safety. But this latest outbreak in cantaloupes is rather depressing. Two decades ago the scourge of the day was salmonella, and that was what was turning up in both chickens and melons. Today it’s listeria. If I were the easily duped sort, I would almost think Big Food is just trying to steer everyone toward pasteurized fruit packaged in little boxes that look all the same. Trust in processed food.

Blueberry pickers, forever

I wanted to blog about this over to the Epi Log but figured it would be too sensitive: Why is veal still a four-letter word? My consort came home the other night with a gorgeous locally grown, properly raised chop from Whole Foods, and, given that it cost $18, I did not want to fuck it up. So I went online, after flipping through half a dozen cookbooks and realizing timing in old recipes is way off with the new and improved meat you can buy today. And is veal the Israel of meats? Too contentious to discuss? Because, really, what industrial chickens, pigs and all-grown-up cows suffer is pretty horrific. Veal is not bovine Bambi. None of the old propaganda applies if you buy veal raised right. Otherwise, you might as well rail against poussin not being deprived of a long life. Or against eggs being scrambled before they can become poussin.

ReTweeting myself

Forgot some mashed potatoes w/corn in back of refrig. Just opened container & think I’m halfway to cross between vodka and bourbon. . .

And the food cannot compliment the coffee, even if it lies. At best it can complement, and even then I’m not so sure.

Helen Keller, photo editor

I take maybe too much pride in being a college dropout who somehow managed to get jobs on five newspapers across America and even wind up as a reporter-reshaping editor for most of them. I also remember two stints of long and miserable days crafting crap into readable stories for the hometown paper. So it kills my soul to see a brilliant idea squandered as fucking mush. Even on my high school paper, for Zenger’s sake, Rule No. 1 was: Nut graf before the jump! Beyond that, I just read the stupidity to take it apart the way some overpaid/overcompensated editor did not. Can a scale really replace a set of measuring spoons, as the photo-illustration implies? Are there not rules for measuring? My mom always said “a pint’s a pound the world round.” And one cup of whole nuts yields one cup chopped. Plus there are dozens of scales on the market, and I use one probably 15 years old. Does digital matter? Ounces equal ounces. But five ounces is five ounces. Not “are.” No wonder the scale “has failed to become a must-have tool.” Even its advocates cannot communicate why it matters.