For once I blast out my instant reaction on an issue and I get burned. Of course there was more to the story of the FDA ban on aging cheese on wood; it was not all about a 2012 law promoted by fascistic libs and signed by ol’ Obummer. And of course I’m on the side of the artisanal cheese producers, after having once spent the better part of a day watching Parmigiano-Reggiano being made outside Parma — that small plant was cleaner than any operating room in a hospital catering to hyper-rich Saudis. But I still understand why the government might want to err, even ridiculously, on the side of caution. The great free market simply cannot help itself. With no watchdogs, any producer would be tempted to cut corners; even with policing listeria happens. As for the great free-market argument that “no one would hurt a customer; it would kill sales,” why did the FDA also announce this week that it had set safety standards for infant formula? Think about it. American manufacturers can’t even be trusted not to poison babies . . . .
Okay. This drove me off the Twitter long enough to dust off this little 11 1/2-year-old enterprise: Someone started approvingly Twit-nattering about “family meal” being such a great deal. OMFG, they’re eating foie gras and sashimi together, in a Reuben, no less! Can’t anyone just be serious and admit restaurants are actually not in the bidness of keeping the noncustomers happy? Ask a waiter (and why is that word less politically correct than “server”?) and you’ll nearly always learn he/she has barely tasted the stuff on the menu, let alone indulged in the equivalent of the exclusivity of a Chipotle quesadilla. As I had to Tweet: Someone sneak a smartphone into staff lunch without gullible media present and reassure @gastropoda that grownups actually eat better than schoolkids on a GOP budget. No middlemen allowed.
How clueless is my old two-time employer these days? It appears to be booking seats in the shouty car on the “Reefer Madness” train rather than doing the obvious: Baking up some rex for edible weed, senza green corduroy jeans. For once an ounce is an ounce the world round. (Click here to buy a digital scale.)
My favorite wingnut finally got me to pay attention to the new FDA rule forbidding American cheese producers to age their stuff on wood, ostensibly for sanitary reasons. He was all wrought up about libs and Obummer, so I had to point out that neither likely bears the blame and shame for this bureaucratic overreach. Somewhere, you can be pretty sure, someone from the industrial cheese world got paid to get the law changed. Legislators are not looking out for “we the people,” because we only pay their paltry $174,000 salaries, not make them into millionaires. Artisanal cheese producers have even less clout. But if there’s an upside to all of this, it is an acknowledgement that Big Cheese does feel threatened enough to try to stifle the competition. Once you’ve had a Jasper Hill, or a Rogue, processed crap just won’t do it. Meanwhile, the Big O has set in motion a way for “we the people” to let the White House know what matters, as one more way to undo the damage wrought by his predecessor, who famously never “listened to focus groups.” Another way for the little guy to fight back would be to launch an insidious campaign to send the message that the dread feds are forcing us to shun home-aged goodness just to prevent the occasional outbreak of listeria. Make the bought-off in Congress own their sellout. Call it “Buy Imported.”
Also, too, I don’t know why anyone would be surprised to learn Panchito is a sucker for get-thin-quick scams. This is the gullible dunce who sold a dangerous dry drunk as a harmless good ol’ boy. Of course he would spring for snake oil. And here’s all you need to know about his kitchen cred: Tabasco in the age of sriracha? Might as well confess to finding French’s mustard ass-licking good.
I would wonder why so many food and wine entrepreneurs are expanding to Istanbul even as the country’s own GWB is clearly going all medieval on drinkers’ asses. But then I remember: Eataly’s wine shop didn’t do so well in the progressive state of New York . . .
Also, too, I never thought we’d see the day when riot cops would show up at a McD’s shareholder meeting, but we are living in interesting times: repeating history by refusing to learn from it. All the money can’t go to the bosses without necks starting to look a little blade-worthy. Protesters weren’t too happy about the marketing of processed crap to kids, either. Which must be the only reason they aren’t saying: “Let ’em eat Happy Meals.” Pitchfork Factories R Us.
Old, but I’m not wasting: Imagine a real food movement with clout. // Things I learned today: Time needs a tax break to move to cheaper offices downtown. While farmers pay land taxes. // Restaurant Guys who read NYT Style section for latest pants/shoe advice should also check out WSJ on how to buy a jacket that fits. // See a guy eating alone & chewing with his mouth open & you know why he’s eating alone. // Just saw “potatoe & beacon soup.” And “humanly raised chicken” (which would be an oddity). // Remember when Corner Bistro was considered a top burger place? Get the shivers every time I walk by. // “Vibrant frizzante character” sounds like a casting call. // OMFG: there are gluten-free aphrodisiacs? // With seven tons of hummus recalled, you can safely consider ground chickpeas the new ground beef. // And some chains’ food trucks would be better labeled as port-a-johns.