Everything you need to know about the world within and without fud is that a rich rancher who is resisting paying “we the people” to let his cattle graze for a pittance on public land is celebrated as a hero, not a taker, by the same people whining that the poors get food stamps to buy their sugar fizz and lobster. While the latest revalidated four-star chef in town is Tweetebrating his validation as a U.S. citizen. We’ve come a long way from freedom fries when the true patriot these days is the former Frenchman.
The ancients had entrails to encourage them. I root around for any printed sign of hope as I’m despairing over health insurance reform thanks to the gutless wonders in Congress and the gullible fools out in “the heartland.” And I found one in the e-release I got from Stanford’s hospital announcing it has started to clean up its food act and is now boldfacing all the buzzwords: organic, local, sustainable. If an outpost of one of the last emblems of truly shitty food is on the right track, help might be on the way. Americans no longer confined to crappy insurance plans but set free with single payer could choose where to be laid up by searching Menupages. The brains behind this innovation in blanc mangery, though, might want to lose the “tray liners featuring images of Stanford’s farm heritage.” If we learned one thing from “Food, Inc.,” it’s that the more bucolic the picture, the uglier the reality. Don’t inadvertently remind us how many pig parts are in use in operating rooms — and how few are heritage guts.
Just back from Buffalo, I’m feeling much younger, thank you. At the surprise birthday party we threw together for my in-law equivalent’s 80th, I calculated the average age at 71. At least four guests had reached four score and nine, probably from that good Polish food and those “mmm, mmm good” Easter traditions — horseradish symbolizes suffering, colored eggs represent the tomb, or so the flier I picked up the Brigadoonish Broadway Market insisted. At least I scored the Last Supper in chocolate form, made by fund-raising women of a local church who looked to have used the “one for me, one for the mold” formula. The devout do chocolate differently for sure. I only regret not asking about the protocol for consuming the dark body of Christ. Head first?
The conversation was surprisingly lively at our little soiree, even though only a few people partook of our California “Champagne.” We now know about sexting, for instance. But one guest mentioned she refused to use the self-checkout lanes at the local Topps because they’re eliminating jobs, which is a very good point now that we have inadvertently become a nation of DIY tellers and busboys and gasoline pumpers. Drive around the bleakest parts of downtown and you can also see clearly where delinking the horse from the carriage led, to huge parking lots and monstrous parking garages and neighborhood-wrecking interstates. The car made the streetcars obsolete and the suburbs viable, too. In the 26 years I’ve been going there, even the oldest Polish restaurants have devolved into empty, rotting buildings, and now a scary number of houses are marked for demolition. Yet front-page news on Sunday was the city’s refusal to allow a local couple to buy just two acres there to start an urban garden. Don’t tell Alice. Bad governments still prefer empty lots to locavorism.
The most surreal dining experience I’ve had in donkeys’ years was lunch with our Siamese. In a restaurant. I won’t name it as “now serving cats,” given that the Health Department is on the warpath these days, but the staff deserves huge points for letting us bring Banshee in after we left the vet around the corner right at 12:30. They even chose the perfect table in the front, where we could stow his carrier and still have room to check on him to be sure he wasn’t having a coronary over this second out-of-apartment experience of the day. He seemed mellow despite having his 23-hour nap interrupted, but I was a wreck. For once I could understand those parents who bring babies into noisy restaurants at 10 o’clock at night. It’s totally inappropriate behavior, selfish to the max. But when you gotta eat, you gotta eat. And as Bob pointed out, at least we didn’t take him somewhere where his kind gets cooked.