When my no-longer-consort made a sweet little video about my baking 150 different cookie recipes over the last three years for a free-lunch program, he wanted to avoid the political angle: All rot leads to Reagan. So it was rather amusing when he just reminded me of one reason I walked away from the NYT the first time. One night a higher-up stormed over to the national desk to object to a story on Capitol Hill staffers passing out sandwiches after hours to newly unhoused people. “We can’t run this — it makes Washington sound like Calcutta!” Forty+ years on, and here we are…
One of my regular updates over to Twitter Dot Com is “‘I’m gonna’ is not much of a plan.” But one of my “I’m gonnas” is to eventually write seriously about all the lessons this atheist has absorbed baking over the last three years for the weekly free-lunch program at a neighborhood church. I got sucked in during semi-lockdown, when everyone wanted to bake but no one wanted to put on the LBs; giving away the sugar-and-butter results was one way to scratch the oven itch. And I almost bailed after my third week when a neighbor/friend told me she used to volunteer in that “soup kitchen” — 30 years ago. The “food insecurity” problem seemed intractable. But I forged on, baking two recipes a week, one I knew would work and another new to me so I could keep learning. And then the other month the church gave a party for the program’s 40th anniversary. Which led me to do the math and conclude, yet again, that all rot leads to Reagan. So many food giveaway programs are marking the same milestone. Before that dog-whistling hater of the poors came into power, everyday people could get by without lining up around the block for a little kindness from strangers.
Can’t remember which friend it was who said cassoulet is just French pork and beans. But after improvising my own again I realized all it would take to elevate the American version would be Shake ‘N Bake dusted over Bush’s best. // Also, too: Any recipe that starts with melted butter always ends well.
@JohnFugelsang Tweeted the other night that “remember, the first US President to have a neck tattoo has probably already been born.” And I responded: “I think we met them at our table in a restaurant the other night, when they said ‘it’s the sauce that makes it’ about our hanger steak au poivre. #knowhope
Lately I’ve been starting way too many Tweets with “So old I…” as history just keeps echoing, repeating and sequeling. But it was still both surprising and sad to see the latest news on killer cantaloupes. Salmonella, again, 32 long years after I had the great honor of a cartoon by the awesome Seymour Chwast accompanying my little rant about eating local. Clearly, no one listened. It’s cranberry season, FFS. And maybe one day we can have an honest talk about working conditions in the fields warm enough to grow and harvest melons?
If I ruled the food newsroom, I’d assign a story on just why a Butterball is so cheap while the “elitist” bird the paid-gazillions FauxNews guy bought has to be so pricy. (Sad thought, tho? Probably neither farmer is really breaking even.)
How New York is New York? I sent my consort out via text to find poppy seeds and suggested Trader Joe’s first for price considerations, but he wound up at Zabar’s cuz of course the chain conceived as an oasis for the “overeducated and underpaid” didn’t carry ’em. I anticipated they’d be crazy-expensive, especially when he came came home and said they were shelved behind the fish counter, where the caviar and dried morels (and Angostura bitters) are kept. Joke’s on me, though: He had no idea how much to buy, given that I tell him 5 ounces is for fish and 4 ounces for meat and never let him near the spice rack. Two ounces, in short, is a shit-ton when you’re making lemon cookies and not hamantaschen.
I think the Sacklers have gone into a new business. How in holy hell have my consort and I spent the last three years facing down dozens of home-baked cookies every week and nibbling only one or two but can’t stop gobbling a PayDay after a Twix after a Snickers? Maybe there are drugs in Halloween candy.
My last Tweet ever will probably be about canned peaches. We are so fucking fucked on this #RoadToNowhere. (I mean. I was born in Phoenix. A swamp cooler used to be enough. Now the Murdoch Crier is in full-on climate denial. #DontLookUp)
Just hit me that 2023 should be a bigger year. I dropped out of college in 1973, quit the NYT (the first time) in 1983 to go to restaurant school, spent 1993 fighting with a publisher over an ill-fated cook/photobook and hit my Gastropoda stride in 2003. (2013? Twittered away…)
Almost have to feel grateful for Meatball Ron for educating Americans on how propagandized we’ve been on real American racist history. I now read cookbooks from plantation gift shops in a new light: Never see any mention of enslaved cooks, just praise for the “skill” of the “mistress” in “managing” “a large staff.” Margaret Mitchell did a number on this country…
We just had the misfortune of eating Mama’s Too’s reliably awesome pizza next to a table of apparent “influencers” performing for their phones — not sure what was grosser, their narcissism or the bro at our table talking about his sister hurling in an Uber on the way to the Hamptons (“and the driver didn’t even charge her extra”). One realization was that it really should be spelled “influenzers.” Another was that they eat as if they’re in Barbieland: Not one bite actually ingested.
And speaking of influenzers, I can’t be the only food old who found it pretty rich for the Dash Daily to run a screed insisting young narcissists who work the system are the new threat to restaurants cuz they dine and sometimes don’t deliver. I mean. I repeatedly tried to warn the powers that be. (Typical exchange? Editor: “They’re like the family retainer.” Me: “But they’re stealing the silver.”) And no one listened…
Always suspected steelhead trout had no flavor cuz of how it’s “raised.” Passed the factory “farm” in the Hudson Valley on the ride back to NYC from a tick wedding &? Holy fishfeces!