Times must be getting less tight down to the Taj Pinch. Dinners that cost almost as much as a Chanel bag are getting written up (surely no one only spat). But the bigger laugh was seeing how the sausage was made with the Putin placement — flacks typed something up and “it went through the normal editing process.” Maybe that explains so much about how someone I was warned “is not a very sophisticated writer” can stiffen up to 20 inches.
And this is why the world will never see peace in the Middle East: A cookbook (call it the tome of the unknown chefs) produced to emphasize similarities over differences in kitchens of Jews and Arabs gets the trend treatment and only Israelis are consulted on how it’s going over in the city that happens to be occupied by, shall we note, Palestinians among others. So much for hummus as the healer. . .
Given that we get all that arboreal media delivered to our door, I was able to marvel at how much coverage one death garnered and blame/credit 45+ years of journalism experience for setting off my bullshit detector. So I felt vindicated when my path crossed with someone who’d actually worked for him and who suspected just what I had: Cannoli situation. And despite all the “what a saint” stories, she recalled that she always made certain to be on the opposite side of the DR when he was on the premises. I’m with her on not “wanting to speak evil of a dead dude.” But I’ll never understand why newspapers insist on making all the departed sound dear.
I also quite enjoyed a long “bloggers killed the restaurant world” screed that quoted not a single restaurateur pointing a finger at “new” media. It used to be that bad restaurants blamed bad reviews for their failure; now it’s the impossibility of keeping the buzz machine fed? Somehow I just can’t imagine most patrons of a Ducasse joint were making their dining plans based on the noise and not the signal. Far more persuasive was the actual restaurateur who pointed out that the Old Gray Lady ain’t what she used to be. I’m clearly in the minority in actually struggling to read the thing in print, and I can barely find the review in the acres of dull type. Increasingly I think the paperguy has brought me the Des Moines Register. A picnic story with ants in the hed? A picnic story with a tuna sandwich as the photo/recipe? As someone Tweeted, there should be a separate section for readers who don’t go back decades with the section; we never forget while moths fly out.
I was happy to learn I was not the only reader feeling cheated by the Omnivore Goes to MetFood stunt misplayed as “let’s draw in our own staffer with his own book to obfuscate on how the fuck you make a pizza for lunch when the oven needs proper heating.” It had more missed opportunities than Trader Joe’s has processed crap. A friend out in Portlandia emailed to say: “thanks for letting me know that Berkeley is a Northern California (!!!!) town that is also home to Chez Panisse. THAT clarifies things. And for letting me know that you can make a decent meal simply by shopping in a supermarket. How does that garbanzo soup sound to you?” At least I had a response to the last point: Soup needs fermentation.
The scandal was presented as rat sold as lamb. But old copy editors never die; they just bitch away. So I’ll point out that lamb ain’t mutton. Much as I can’t tolerate the former, I know vermin could much more easily pose as the latter.
What the hell ever happened to Go Ask Ms. Fuckyourself? With luck, editors realized insisting on linen napkins over paper might be a bit much in the Great Recession. But I only ask now because someone over to the Twitter mentioned a certain avocado shake and my longtime suspicion was confirmed: A Filipina maid has to be locked up in the kitchen, doing all the work.
My first thought on hearing Roger Ebert had died: The lede of the obit had better not mention the rice cooker. But the worst part of reducing the rocket scientist to Mrs. Mom With Mushrooms was how the offending dis/dish was simply disappeared. From a paper whose policy is not to “unpublish.” Then again, fast food workers just went on strike all around Manhattan. And all they got was one stinking photo, with a single-line caption.
While I continue procrastinating about spelling out the flaws in a certain muddled doc on “food insecurity,” I have to present without (much) comment: NYT versus WashPost. The former natters. The latter matters, making such a great case for the simple solution without ever even spelling it out: Pay people a fucking living wage.
Not sure this was quite the right week to run a feature exploring what the wrecking crew literally feeding at the public trough is eating these days. They get the Styrofoam cafeteria; we get the screws. Considering Congresscritters poll lower than cockroaches lately, maybe next Wednesday we can be treated to what’s cooking in the Cheney bunker. (Chickenhawk heart, probably.)
And given that I’m coming up on my 30th anniversary of fleeing the NYTimes the first time, I particularly enjoyed thinking back to those days when the Escoffier Room was truly fusty. Bob insisted I check out the top university before making the leap, so we drove up one day, took a tour and had dinner in the swankiest restaurant. And oh, jeebus. I don’t remember the specifics, just that everything represented as what Calvin Trillin famously called “stuff-stuff with heavy.” And it looked and tasted if it had been cooked by amateurs. I wound up at the New York Restaurant School after marveling that those students’ touch was so assured after only 12 weeks of training. Now, aside from the cold and corporate dining room, the CIA seems to be the same as it ever was. As was the food in the inevitable slide show. Fried “frog legs” with what appeared to be toothpaste? Deja vu all over again. Condolences to them, but no wonder the American team came in seventh in Lyon.
For only the second time I’ve clipped a recipe out of the Murdoch Crier’s Indulging & Spending section. The first was for Sang Yoon’s oatmeal with sriracha and egg, which I’ve never tasted but have made many times for my consort, who likes his fetal chicken really runny. And the latest is for Danny Bowien’s Henan chicken, which calls for enough chile heat to ignite the beer. What’s fascinating is that his column was downplayed in print, while the two previous (Western-oriented) chefs taking their “slow food fast” turn were given huge display for snooze-inducing blandness. But of course that reminds me that the rich are not much different from the condemned — their tastes apparently do not evolve. And the latest evidence of that is the brave art project documenting last meals. Many of those are probably on the menu nightly in the priciest Fifth Avenue coops.
Apparently Helen Keller was exhumed to redesign DI/DO. What a hot honeyed mess that debut is — the iPad version is actually easier on the eyes, and it’s just a list o’ links. Given that only olds read the damn thing in print, why make it even harder for us? (And I’m RTing myself, but someone really needs to start the equivalent of the bad-sex-writing contest for cheese excess. Some real stinkers were on display, proof that imitation is the sincerest form of stupidity. Besides: Typing about cheese is like dancing about architecture.)
I suspect ours will be among the very last households clinging to our print subscriptions, if only to see what online readers are spared. The other week, in the hometown paper, it was a photo that illustrated a little too graphically the line I once had to excise from a secretary-moonlighting-as-a-feature-writer’s piece on boned quail: “Legs splayed like the town prostitute.” For once those editors chose to show rather than tell.