Petra and the pour-over remorse

In fud politics, I’ll admit to being beyond entertained by the uproar over the 50 Most BS awards. As I Tweeted, the biggest mistake the presenters made was not starting with journalism awards — first you co-opt the “reporters.” I did not Tweet that those so outraged by a rigged game had no problem for decades with a system that allowed anyone to use a ballot like a bucket list and check off everywhere h/she had eaten, no matter when. (Also, too, one that proved tabulations are for the little people.) The Maroons just didn’t think big enough. And how could you tell the newer contest was bullshit? The acres of coverage it fertilized. It’s either bogus or it’s noteworthy. Not both.

Salad, egg, in ad-free black and white

Apparently the reason the big dogs can’t take home the gold from the Westminster of the food world has morphed. Having been present at the creation of the ban, I can say it was not about any notion of perception of a restaurant trade group. It was about whether taking awards from an organization compromised reporting on an organization that might be compromised. Whatever. The result is the same: A cost-conscious media outlet at least saves megabucks on entry fees every spring.

Somewhere Johnny Rotten is spewing d’Yquem

I was fortunate enough to be locked out of the Internets during all the Enron on 12th Street celebrations, for which I will be eternally grateful. Beforehand I did hear an inneresting tidbit from someone kvetching that the “journalism” categories have been clumped together to the point of even crazier unfairness: With media outlets committed to squeezing every penny out of overstretched hamsters, how many have the resources anymore to pay into the medal-making machinery built on entry fees?

Like for lobster (comma not included)

As for Enron on 12th Street, I have to admire the savvy. You want the big fish in the pond, throw the net wide. Hackery should be its own reward, but a Hefty medal will do if you need to draw the circle large enough to encompass those banned from participating because, as was once decreed: It’s like the environmental reporter accepting a reward from the timber industry. Next year look for the best troll award. (Also, too, I started reading the Claiborne bio backward and was rewarded with this nugget: He passed on the “lifetime achievement” ceremony because he was “previously committed.” As in doing a supermarket demo. His nonprofessional life may have been a mess, but he could dodge it like he saw it.)

“Open up everyone’s palettes,” get paint everywhere

Finally, I’m trying to train myself to focus over here rather than tossing off 140-ers over to the Twitter. Meantime, here’s a mix of what I merely thought and what I actually sent:

–Feeling like such a loser. Haven’t figured out a way to cash in on Julia’s 100th birthday . . .

–Happy for everyone who was happy to walk away with bling from Enron on 12th Street. But a large part of me feels the way I do when I see some bodega regular collecting a $2 win on 4,220 lottery tickets. . .

–You name a cat “Cinnabun,” don’t expect it to be adopted. Any more than you would a pit bull named Baconator.

–Burgers in the sky? Does no one remember the Eleventh of September?

–Please tell me weaner is not a word. I got that e-release and actually hoped the photo would be of Anthony’s.

–And I see new documents on Hitler’s habits present the best argument yet for carnivorism. Because he was a vegetarian, “he farted constantly.” And kraut will definitely do that more than foie gras.


Are those the best new restaurants or are they the most easily shaken down? And can you really judge a cookbook by its filler (I mean, I’m no fan of the Goopster, but she did hire a good cook to do the important writing: the recipes — and besides, when was the last MFK Pulitzer for a Tin Chef collaborator)? And here’s one way to rake in the dough:  Expand your prize categories and charge $100 for every entry — just don’t call it Lotto for bloggers.

I also had to admit to new admiration for the Top Tin among Chefs. For all the Barbaro droppings about kids as critics and cooks these days, he produced the most graphic evidence that they just do not have palates evolved enough to appreciate serious cooking. I have cleaned up similar with my own hands. Cats, of course, are another story.

Quick: Find a scholarship

My biggest fan seemed a bit miffed when I Tweeted that the Beard awards are not the Oscars of food but the Golden Globes. Apparently his great mind had run into the same gutter first. But it struck me on reading all the frothing coverage that the awards would be worth so much more if they were handed out the way the movie Oscars are, by a jury of peers. Instead, you get the industry, the dilettantes, the journalists acting like film critics from furrin countries. Nothing proved my point more than the pen wielder formerly known as Mr. Cutlets jumping into the fray with a “real” story on the awards. He nattered about the NYC winner winning more for her book than her restaurant, then segued into his butt-hurt over not winning for his “journalism.” The FlimFlammer must be so envious. Enron on 12th Street has come up with the perfect scam. Co-opt food writers and they’ll swallow whatever smoke you blow our your ass.

Paging Leonard Cohen

I had torn feelings on seeing a great outlet lose out on an award last week — on the one whisking hand I want the mastermind to rack up every honor imaginable, but on the other I know we’re talking Enron on 12th Street. It’s fool’s gold. And at least @RuthBourdain stayed the hell away from the orgy of self-congratulation, proving him/herself the Stewart/Colbert of the food world in showing “real” journalists everybody knows this is nowhere. In two sentences in the Gray Prison, I never really felt as if I had much impact on the hometown paper, but I did persuade the honchos that cooperating with this Beardshit was all wrong — and who cares if they based their decision on the idea that journalists who cover an industry should not be lauded by it? The important thing is that every year a third-rate newspaper wins is another victory for integrity. As my biggest fan asked: How’s the shrimp?

Make salad. Avoid raw food.

The food world is gearing up for its annual orgy of self-congratulation, but I guess I’m about as likely to find a Peeps shelter as refuge from the endless dithering about restaurants/books/chefs whose names don’t even ring a dinner bell for me. So I’ll volunteer that changing the location of the announcement of your nominees makes about as much sense as dancing about charcuterie. And that another list of nominees should never have gone out with so many misspellings at a time when copy editors and proofreaders and better are in huger supply than busboys. Coleman? Daries? McMeel? Randon House? Pilgramage? All that spewed, though, I will admit that the idea of a People’s Choice award is smart. It would save the stupid Oscars. And it could be a baby step toward Dancing With the Chefs’ Ghostwriters.

And who won the Cordon Bleu awards, huh?

One of the awful truths of the food world is that honey really is more effective than vinegar. Some serious snakes out there know exactly how to play nice to co-opt if not defang critics. Then they can keep on with their snakiness and be assured no one will call them on it. So I got a pretty good laugh seeing how easily the allegedly riled-up counter-”foodies” were led to the Center for the Removal of Rocky Mountain Oysters. A simple ticket to the prom did the trick, and next thing you know they’re profiling a schtick that would not exist if not for the phenomenon they claim to revile. I mean, I had no idea who he even was. But he said some nice things, so he’s a good guy now. Unfortunately, I can’t be too appalled, because I realize I was hesitant to write about a contest proudly judged by someone I met once and liked. First prize was industrial chicken for a year. Second prize, I assume, was two years’ worth?

Downstream from Wild Salmon

I guess there’s a video going around of another Texas chef living it up at Enron on 12th Street. I couldn’t bear to watch it, but I do hope the poor guy is not as naive as the last one who came north and believed they liked him, they really liked him. Undoubtedly there’s a Realtor on 21st Street who would happily separate another fool from his million.

Did Beard even want people partying in his throne room?

Can “I Feel Bad About My Dreck” hustle that movie any harder? Or should the question be: Will there be anyone left to pay to see the thing once the free screenings are exhausted? Countless food bloggers have already been thoroughly co-opted, and food writers with bit parts are doing their swooning part in promoting it, too. But I find it rather amusing that formerly arboreal and other so-called legit media are apparently being asked to keep their reactions to themselves until the official opening (if you can believe one annoyed reporter on the other coast). And I wonder if that all started once the New Yorker got a whiff of turkey.

But I saw backpacks and notebooks

Thanks to my NRN pal, I now know I am somebody. But I disagree on the imperative of obeying the Big Homme: I saw a number of tables sitting empty on at least one side of the room at that amazing lunch. I’ve only been to the place a few times in the 10 years that have just certifiably flown by, but the food this round really was outstanding. As intended, it made me want to head straight for Vancouver that very evening. As for the redesign, the room will always look to me like the swimming pool at San Simeon. But the graciousness on display more than made up for it. Which is why I stayed on my best behavior, even though I did freak a little when the last of my tablemates to be open-seated turned out to be the head of what I heedlessly refer to as Enron on 12th Street. Luckily, she heard only the word “freelance” when she asked what I do and pretty much paid me no mind the rest of the lunch. Nobody is sometimes a very good thing to be.