Once again, I have to thank my Panchito tracker for tipping me off to the latest embarrassment, which involved damning workers near the bottom of the food chain for getting duped in a movie and maybe in real life. As MPT noted, it’s a pot/kettle black mark on his already abysmal record as a non-S&B columnist. Did he somehow forget who let the hot dog out?
And speaking of W(here)TF are the editors, I liked how the Egopedist got to lay on the faux love for farmers and then revel in the accolades for his enlightened thinking (AKA recycling of a million others’ thoughts). But I assume his praise was meant only for those not doing the devil’s work? You know, like running dairy farms?
I do like how the internets opened a big glass window on the sausage factory. Once upon a time readers could be duped into thinking any rave for a product or place was pure and simple. Now the comments sections are loaded with tip-offs on who bought that affection. Judging by my inbox, look for Mazatlan overload this winter.
I’m also starting to anticipate one side effect of the national fascination with top cheffiness: It could legitimize the return of child labor. Every time I see an 11-year-old trotted out in whites as a media phenomenon I study the face for a hint of kitchens past. Be careful what you wish for, kiddles. Cooking is grunt work. Ask Jacques or Andre.
As is probably obvious from my lack of income-producing work posted over to my rarely updated Stories page, I spend way too much time on the Twitter. But not all of those hours are squandered simply trying to point out that someone (many people) could be wrong on the internets. The food links from followers way outside the comfort zone are addictive. As with this photo of exhausted Egyptian women packing lupini beans — in a glossy magazine, they’d be shiny happy people, and right next to an ad suggesting “Visit Cairo,” with no hint that the pork served in hotels comes from pigs fattened on street garbage. Cover line, of course, would be “107 hot new falafel chefs.”
Only editors raised on hamburger that never needed helper could be swept up into the drought panic enough to produce this headline: “Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists.” Their message is “be afraid, be very afraid,” which is ridiculous — going meatless would not be the worst thing in the world (spend a couple of weeks eating in India and see if you ever miss red-blooded anything). The real scare is that there will not be enough water or arable land to produce protein substitutes for sacred cows on an overpopulated planet. Actual truth-tellers would type up a hed along the lines of “Food shortages could force Chipotle into leaving both rice and beans out of tortilla-free burritos.” And eventually: “Rat — it’s what’s for dinner.”
Relatedly, I really wanted to make fun of a stupid roundup on “food insecurity” with a link, but I can’t find the original (maybe for a reason). So I’ll just rely on trust, not verification to say it lamented that people are now so down and out they have to “create their own dressing.” If you can’t mix oil, mustard and vinegar, you probably shouldn’t be allowed down the Wishbone aisle. And it whined that people were reduced to buying canned rather than fresh fruit. If we had any sort of education in this country, those sad sack grocery baggers would understand they can buy several cans of no-sugar-added pineapple for one 50 percent-waste fresh one — not all canned is crap. Worst of all, it had people whimpering about having no hamburger. With no directions to the Goya aisle.
Finally, I’m holding off on writing my ode to the wonders of PGH until I can’t sell it, so I’ll just knock off some asides here. My consort and I had to check out the Polish shop on the Strip, and I can say this because Mr. Third Generation sort of laughed: On the way out, I noticed potholders for sale that were both tiny and crocheted — as in full of holes. “How’d you burn your hand?” “Oh, I used a Polish potholder.” We also had one of those experiences where the server was just a little too frank about the lamest options on a menu, which made me think it would be a wise chef who wiretapped his tables just to hear what the traitors say. And, without a doubt, this is the dumbest overwritten euphemism for burgers ever: “Hand-crafted handfuls of beef.” Overall, though, this was one of the best domestic eating expeditions in donkey’s years. The only downside was that it started and ended with me strapped into a JetBlue seat watching the Egopedist stretching out a pizza crust with a rolling pin and paving it with clods of cheese. File that under “how to fuck up everything.”
On the morning after, guess I should temper the notion that that nice old lady had a partisan side. In 1953, she wrote while recipe-testing in Paris: “I have just served my husband the most miserable lunch of frozen haddock Dugléré, frozen ‘French’ green beans and ‘minute’ rice. It is just no fun to eat that stuff, no matter how many French touches and methods you put to it. It ain’t French, it ain’t good, and the hell with it.” She wasn’t just anti-wingnut ahead of her time. She was un-American for her time.
This might not be the dumbest thing to see print in donkey’s years. But it’s close. In a thumbsucker on how sweltering it is in Phoenix (Phoenix, I tell ya!), we were informed it’s even “too hot for spicy Mexican food in the barrio.” Funny, I don’t remember giving up chimichangas for August. Better pass that along to the Oaxacans, not to mention the billions in other torrid climates who know chilies are to food as salt is to sweat. When the sun starts beating, you don’t get out the blanc mange.
I can never remember one cappuccino makes your brain larger; another makes it small. And I will never understand how Helen Keller got a job as a photo editor. Also: Never clean your stove before sautéing a duck breast (or, come to think of it: never sauté a duck breast). And I posted on the Centenarian twice without getting to my point: What about making her birthday a national holiday — imagine the food! (Although it would undoubtedly mean fucking beef stew in hottest August.) And, finally: How many times do I have to tell you about lard?
As I noted over to the Epi Log, Julia Child had a whole other side, and it did not take well to wingnuttiness, which was at peak baying-at-the-moon level in the McCarthy years. Funny how on her birthday my copy of her book of letters just fell open to page 215 and to this, from Dec. 8, 1954: “I cannot regard the Republicans as people, somehow, only as monsters, fools, beasts, and foul excrement. Must I turn a new leaf, or another cheek?” And I can’t decide if it’s a good or a bad thing she’s not around to see the current crop.
A secret source who knows him from way back in his word-salad-shooting days does the reading so I don’t have to and has now alerted me that Panchito definitely did not learn his lesson when he was last seduced by a “real” “he-man” — he’s back and fluffing the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver. Will the sequel be “Noodling Through History”?
Meanwhile, the Big O is showing what government of, for and by the people can do: Buy up the pigs and chickens and (unnoodled) catfish that farmers can’t afford to feed in this drought that somehow happened despite the rabid denial of climate change. And the USDA will be doing that while the do-nothing Congress takes a nice vacation rather than finishing the farm bill. Which is stalled partly because subsidies matter more than food stamps. Because wingnut logic holds that paying people to grow food is naturally better for the economy than helping the needy afford that food: Econ 101R — you grow it, they will buy it. And because this is a nation founded by God, whose first commandment was fuck the poors.
Relatedly, I was not encouraged to see the guy who wants to be king of the world crapping out so soon. He was too “exhausted” to campaign at one event in Florida. Maybe next election someone should nominate an Immalokee tomato picker with some stamina. But at least “the M in Willard is for mendacity” did show up to profess his love for mango, Cuban slang for vagina. How many feet can one mouth fit?
The digital guano does pile up, and I spend so much time wallowing in it I forget there might be food wackiness to distract me. Like the news that Ste. Alice is worried about kids eating well in a hotel chain. Will the orange slices with the out-of-season strawberries be local in Chicago?