“Things aren’t easy in Spain”

Exchange at a certain kitchen counter this a.m.: Hey, this sounds like you, in this story on how careful people have to be in learning slang in a second language: “Literally—While this can mean truthfully or without exaggeration, English students learn it can be used to exaggerate. Example: “We have literally been waiting for a table at this restaurant for a million years,” says Mr. Hayden.” LOL, I respond. Then turn back to what I was slogging through: “Everyone is talking about the chicken for two at NoMad . . .” Of course. The elevator guy, the panhandler at the corner, the fisherman’s wife at the Greenmarket, the lost tourist on 14th Street looking for Bleecker, the 6 million people I follow on Twitter — every goddamn one was talking about that chicken.

Caduta Parmigiano

Nothing funny about this, but we met up with friends for the awesome “Moonrise Kingdom” and they were all excited about starting to compost at the Greenmarket. I just said: “I didn’t even bring my reusable shopping bags tonight. Doesn’t seem like much point when they’ve found radiation in tuna 6,000 miles from Fukushima . . .” Maybe Wes Anderson can remake “On the Beach.” Fast.

Glutton-free bakery

Speaking of which, the successor to the JGold Wannabe is mighty optimistic that uni etc. will be supplanted by something more miraculous when the rest of us with no expense accounts are wondering if there will even be sushi from the sea tomorrow. And speaking of all that eating for a preordained rating, it was exactly 10 years ago that my consort and I went to the newest/oldest four-star for his birthday and rode home in the cab wishing we had put that $320 toward plane tickets to Paris. Our socks were still firmly on, after  giving the corporate/cold place one last try. When only the tab is memorable, you’ve had a seafood Nothingburger.

Ponzu scheme or ponzi sauce?

As I was buying a last-minute shirt for Bob on his big day, the charming salesguy made chitchat of the “is this a gift?” sort. Which led to, “Are you having a party?” I said we were going out to dinner, he wondered where, I told him Acme and he’d never heard of it. “What kind of food?” “Sort of Scandinavian, or ‘new Nordic.’” “You mean, like, stroganoff?” “No, it’s like Noma in Copenhagen, with local foods foraged . . . “ “Oh, yeah. I’ve read about that. It’s eating like a caveman, right?”

Luckily, it was not.

Back page at the Plaza

About the only thing to be thankful for this election is that the people behind POM do not see Willard as a wonder. Imagine if they could put $35 million into selling that cypher as healthful for America. Worse, imagine if news organizations realized, as the hometown paper did this week, that they could have their bogus elixir and drink it, too. All day the day of the FTC ruling, the home page was blinded by the blight of paid deception. Only the next day was it reported that the ads were not to be believed. But as I keep saying, at least they didn’t get us into a war with yellowcake this time.

Bacon schnecken

I’m half-relieved the “fancy” food show will be in DC this summer, for the first time in my memory, not least because I can legitimately avoid that exercise in temporary bingeing. A bigger reason is that it points up how the center of power is shifting in this country as the banksters reveal themselves to be not masters of the universe but greedy fucking cretins. Both buyers for “gourmet” shops and vendors will be flocking to a different city, eating in different restaurants, now that the money’s moved. So it was good timing for Time magazine to finally do the elephant-in-the-media feature: Why is that backwater now booming? And of course it had to take an ideological bent. Much was written about “government contractors.” But the word lobbyist was never mentioned. You’d think they never bought a Congressperson (dinner).

Turbid gravy

It’s “a chain restaurant. Its first branch opened in 1964 in Madras . . . today it has some two dozen outposts . . . Accordingly, the menu aims a little wide.” Hope snarky bloggers in the subcontinent had a field day with this, not least cuz the folks in the photo did not reflect the description in the review. They coulda been chowing down at the newest Olive Garden out in a “snippet” of real America. And I doubt even there too much “dismembered” garlic is a worry, although those unsophisticated but authentic diners might actually need thalis translated as set meals. Who would ever have expected we’d be pining for the good old days of endless gyros and “corn tacos”?

Guildhall, 10 Downing — what’s the diff?

Just saying: If you want to write about DIY mayonnaise this summer, there’s an actual news peg. The price on the commercial kind has suddenly gone caviar-high. We walked into a Gristede’s the other day, and right back out, on seeing Hellmann’s for $6.99 a 30-ounce quart. On sale — the regular price was $8.19. Even using Knoll Krest eggs and Planter’s peanut oil, you could make your own for less. Unfortunately, I pay for the permanence. Even the best homemade mayonnaise has the shelf life of local strawberries.

Grilled romaine, 10 years on?

Panchito is really the twit that keeps on giving. Lately I’ve been seeing him dissed as an idjit because he was a restaurant critic and so must be clueless about anything non-food. But of course “Columnist Boyardee” was dumb about food before he was dumb about politics again. Although he was clearly a better judge of tuna tartare than of presidential timber.

3 live, 8 roadkill

My consort and I were just at a wedding in the Catskills (where I had plenty of time to wonder why it is all divorce lawyers don’t have to be women — don’t the magic words say no man can put asunder?) The ride back was pretty harrowing because we set out early Sunday morning for the New York State Thruway, and all I could think about was the vodka-soaked mom who also set out on that hellish highway a couple of years ago, in the wrong direction. So I particularly enjoyed the huge restaurant billboard I spotted just outside Kingston: “Full Bar. Last Stop Before Thruway.” Funny how the terror alert is only on high in airports . . . .

No pastel sacks for bridesmaids

Along with pie instead of cake, one of the best parts of the weekend was chatting over cheese with an uncle of the bride, in from Grand Forks, N.D., home of the world’s most infamous Olive Garden. My consort is the real reporter in this relationship, so he of course had to ask what someone who would know had to say about the internet sensation. First he offered: “North Dakota has a lot of unsophisticated but authentic people.” Pressed as to whether he knew the sensational “reviewer,” he just said: “I know of her. Her husband was the editor of the newspaper. She kept writing after he died.” Shoved as to whether he read her “reviews,” he cut it off with: “She writes about what she eats. It’s just not interesting.” Given that he started the conversation by saying he and his family had been Pentecostals before evolving, I was impressed. Eventually he responded to Bob’s “We’ve covered religion and politics. What about sex?” with: “I’m 77 years old. And I still enjoy it.” Give this guy a book contract! Or at least give his wife one.

Little Brownie Bakers, my ass

Way, way before the food world jumped onto the kids&obesity bandwagon, I was bitching that advertisers were routinely using chubbies&huskies to subliminally send the message that it’s normal and acceptable to eat and eat and eat some more. Apparently a certain ice cream chain has not gotten the message that thin is in again. An ad in my favorite part of the Sunday papers — the coupons — promotes sundaes made with Girl Scout cookies by showing a young’un and the doctor she’s grown up to be, each holding a honking huge cone. All you need to know is that it hid more in the first photo. The After had me looking for the insulin.

Debit or “ATM-style” card?

I know I’ve said many times that my big fear is reincarnation, but I sometimes read a wingnut rant that makes me hope there is a hell. And the one the Murdoch Mouthpiece recently ran about food stamps should be a one-way ticket to Satan’s walk-in. This was by a noble character who walks the extra blocks to buy his cheaper groceries because he’s noble and all. Paywalled, of course, but it was a trashing of a mom he spotted buying a $41 ice cream cake at the pricier/closer place he just happened to be shopping in. “I quickly calculate that the woman’s cake was eight times more expensive than the kind I make at home to celebrate birthdays.” Uh. Huh. He condemned her without explaining how melty her investment would have been if she walked the long mile and a half back in his noble shoes. But his big point was that “food stamps” is a euphemism for fraud, that his fellow Americans who get subsistence benefits are just not noble enough, that if we just made them harder to get we’d wipe out the national debt. Because of course unfunded wars are free. His “common-sense” grandma obviously raised a fool. But what’s his editor’s excuse?

Ortolans? Nola? What’s the diff?

People kept emailing me links to the sous vide of the Bitterman, and I first responded with tame thoughts like “everyone involved needs to take a Silkwood shower.” But then I started thinking maybe the food coven is not so bad after all — the circle jerk is demonstrably more despicable. If the guy’s a douche bag (I’d go with scumbag, myself), why even show up at an event for him? Taint is not just a body part. It’s communicable.