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.
Heard tonight, at a picnic in the park crashed by pissants, a squirrel, three unleashed terriers and two rats, that Keith McNally had the interior of his last great stage set jackhammered out so one could infringe on his signature style. So many eras ending thanx to the #trumpandemic…
Speaking of butter, the consciousness-raising @nyfarmer over to the Twitter posted a photo from the state fair of an elaborate butter sculpture of a food bank. Given that I have a soft spot for a silly comedy, I dutifully reTweeted but had to add that it actually made me sad. All we hear is that this is the richest, bestest country on the planet. And people still need handouts? At a time when a burger is a buck? One thing I learned on a reporting trip, though, is that Big Fud is figuring out how to cash in, with products developed specifically for food banks. The poor, once depicted only as whites to sell the Great Society, will truly always be with us. Mostly because they give cover for wingnut welfare.
I also had a sobering conversation over at the best cookbook store, on whether hard times and hard-time Americans cooking more at home have been good for the printed word, as so much old-style media verbiage has indicated. Short answer: WTF? If people have no money for meat, how in Escoffier’s name are they going to be able to come out and buy cookbooks? If they have Al Gore’s great gift of the internets, they’re gonna be clicking . . .
Only an overcompensated press corps, though, would continue to do Spam’s bidding and flog the ultimate mystery meat as depression salvation when it is far from a bargain in the post-Butz world. I just got some e-release noting that sales of “fresh meat” are up 7-plus percent lately, even as the country is heading down “The Road” if you believe what you read out of Wall Street. Gullible reporters should get in the checkout line behind the people using food stamps. They ain’t buying canned food when pork chops are $2.29 a pound. And why is it only an opinion columnist who is pointing out the awful price the world is paying for the makings of Spam? I guess because, as a friend just noted, the “news” pages are busy doing restaurant roundups devoted to the Mersa white meat. Quote of the week: Jim Cramer was not an aberration. We are informed by fools and knaves.
And I guess we should all look forward to eating brioche. An LA restaurant chose the worst week on Wall Street to announce its opening with a Versailles theme. It’s actually named after the predecessor of the Chimp of France, but that’s close enough for discomfort. Second prize for “oops, wrong era” goes to the meat purveyor pushing $825 ribs of beef as the ideal Christmas present. At this rate we’ll be lucky to afford lumps of coal for fruitcake.
All that said, it was a little sad to see the table out in front of 81, laid with white linen, set with flowers and topped with menus propped up in hopes of luring in passersby. Somehow I kinda doubt $28 brunch or $39 lamb is the hooker in the Amsterdam window right now. A friend and I just passed up a place in the Village that had a sign on the door offering a penny off for each point the Dow fell — even with $7.77 discount, $25 entrees don’t look so appealing. And while I’m no fan of Beacon, I half-admire the ingenuity of its advertising its set meal not just in dollars but euros. Twenty-four sounds almost affordable.