I’m gainfully unemployed, so I’m sharing this tip for free: Jeebus — if you want to know what’s really going down in the food world, do not waste your time retyping off the Twitter or trawling through Facebook, as the pros do. Just pick up a trade rag. I came home from the “Brazil”esque produce show this week with a clutch of magazines and today caught up to the one with the cover story on “food bloggers and their influence on food consumers.” This went on for pages and did advise produce peoples who are interested in hooking up with any blog to “make sure it’s not controversial.” But I’m not sure I’ve ever read a feature that danced so artfully around the burning issue: We know what you are. Now we’re just haggling about the price.
We get the Daily News, but only on Sunday and that partly to remind us we live in a city where people get murdered on a regular basis, information that seems not to matter down at the imperial palace of debt. So I don’t know how the tab covered the invasion of the Canadian doughnuts, but the hometown paper did a heckuva job. Was it only yesterday that Krispy Kreme invaded and reporters wet their high-priced pants? How’s that working out? Not for the first time, or for only this reason, I dread the opening of the Holy Foods near me next month. Stop the internets! A chain has expanded.
But speaking of formerly arboreal media, it’s funny to see newspapers talking about charging for content this late in the game when Cologne chef Patrik Jaros has just put out his cookbook as an iPhone app. Ninety-nine cents here, ninety-nine cents there and pretty soon you’re talking real euros. Meantime, Grub Street has paved a smart new road. Even if it is missing a link. . .
I must not be as cynical as I’m accused of being, because I am constantly amazed at how predictably the food blogosphere has started to emulate the food coven. A dieter gets dissed, for instance, and they’ll throw Rusty right out of the club. Which is just one reason why the most interesting food stuff I’m coming across these days tends to be buried in political blogs, like Kevin Drum’s musings on how California almonds took over the world. You would like to meet their tailor for sure. But I think it was in the comments that someone noted that farmers were paid not to grow other crops, and now new farmers are jumping on the government gravy train. Coming soon: smoked walnuts, more walnuts in your mixed nuts and more walnuts than you could ever eat, with a nutrition campaign to boot. The free market works in mysterious ways, and somehow I doubt appointing Alice Waters secretary of food would have changed that anytime soon.
Of course, everything you need to know about how this evil fuck has been able to get away with perpetrating his soulless incompetence on the country for eight long years can be found in one detail of his own Thanksgiving menu. For at least the last two years, countless news reports have listed “Morelia-style gazpacho with spinach salad” among the otherwise clichéd trimmings for the Camp David turkey. Normal inquiring minds might want to know what the hell that might be, exactly. But not the stenographers who have covered this evil fuck the last eight years. They wrote it down, published it and waited for the next handout. “Preznit give me turkee,” indeed.
Always-brilliant Irena Chalmers has a new book out on all the jobs that have sprung up in the food world in the few decades since cooking has become so much more than the necessary path to sustenance. I just got my review copy but am still catching up on the crap, crap and more crap on my desk, so I don’t know if this opportunity knocks in her pages: Entrepreneur chaser. I spotted an ad for one on the back page of the Village Voice, from a law firm angling for restaurateurs to sue for wages, overtime and tips. I guess it’s good that the exploited have a defender, but it’s not so good to think about where most of the settlement money will go. Or to consider that the gloating attorneys could very well wind up celebrating in restaurants that are just as guilty.
One good thing about publicly ranting only once a week is that the smart set gets out ahead on the big sins of the day, leaving the venial ones for me to masticate. Ezra Klein rightly took the NYTimes to the cyber-woodshed for its staggeringly condescending review roundup of restaurants where the little people eat, as if the editors who approved that idiocy for publication did not go to Chili’s themselves (Applebee’s, not so much — I remember when it first opened on 42d Street and a co-worker said it was too pricey). Didn’t a political reporter even take Gomer to the Olive Garden, for crap’s sake? Some boss must have been blinded by arugula (although that canard was thoroughly roasted by another blogger who wondered what’s so elitist about a green so ubiquitous it has made iceberg esoteric in all the best restaurants). And Jay Rayner pretty much said fuck-all that needed to be said about Gordon Ramsay and his bombastic notion of fining chefs for using produce out of season. One word: Dubai. It hadn’t occurred to me, but I, too, kinda doubt there are locavores around Abu Dhabi. What’s most energizing about all this smart talk is that it is mostly coming from outside the food coven. While so many food blogs increasingly prostitute themselves to Big Food, emulating the glossies where the wine copy is indistinguishable from the Yellowtail ads, people who love to cook and eat and think about food are stepping up to the plate with really sharp perspective. Minds can’t thrive on asparagus recipes alone.
What should be scaring the Barneys pants off print journasaurs is this: In the time it took me to gimp the mile and a half home from the press lunch at Cafe Boulud, someone got a blog post up. I was reading about what I had eaten before I had even begun to digest it. Which makes me worry for onebonyass.com — my consort had the same “Shades o’ Molly/How do you make a million in cyberspace? Start with three million” reaction I did. Free is an unbeatable price on the series of tubes.
Thanks to Chow’s Grinder, the one clog with bite, I see Chicago is not stopping with banning a food only a minuscule fraction of its population even eats. Now that the village idiots have come for the duck livers, they are turning their evil eyes on chickens raised in backyards. The justification is that chickenshit attracts rats. And if that’s the case, the City Council chambers must be overrun.