“Grand Hotel Budapest” is Wes Anderson’s most food-centric movie yet, not least because so much of the plot hinges on a confection. But I’m thinking he should get an Amtrak residency just for the great tip he passes on through his characters: Pack wine to avoid the cat piss on the train.
Even I initially got suckered into thinking that residency would be a cool thing — but I thought that mostly because the rail overlords didn’t need to go looking for writers when I had already done a few rolling odes on my own. It’s undeniably magical to sit in total comfort and type as you glide up the Hudson River and westward along the Erie Canal, particularly when it’s snowing and you know everyone else is stranded in airports. But it didn’t take long to realize the R word is just a press trip by another name. And everyone lauding the concept should be aware that that is how so much delectable travel-and-food sausage gets made. Even worse: It’s like the Pillsbury Bake-Off without the glory. There are no free rides. You take it, they own it.
Some days you don’t even have to wonder how the media got gulled into selling the invasion of Iraq, or the impeachment of a president. You only need to read coverage of a “celebrity chef.” Just as I predicted, the Butter Guzzler’s “$75 million comeback,” splashed all over “real” media, turned out to be a flash in the bedpan. Suddenly she closes a flagship restaurant? You don’t shut down if rabid fans are turning up in droves. Still, it’s not over till the fat lady pantses. She could still team up with the Duck Dynasty or Mozilla bigot and fool “reporters” one more time.
Time flies when you’re DAOTI — I click on a few favorite sites when I wake up, and the next thing I know it’s time to make dinner. So I’m not the best judge of longevity these days. But has anything really sped past faster than the Butter Guzzler’s heavily covered “comeback”? Talk about the proverbial flash in the bedpan.
Funny to see the tree-testicle industry stealing a page from the faux cheese playbook to drum up demand in advance of Big Biz’s brain-busting event this month. How gullible do they think consumers are? Since you can’t hoard this particular fruit, panic buying this far out is only going to result in guacamole negro. What’s next? A Coors shortage because the piss may be running dry?
So I came home from yet another night of yelling and “huhing?” across the table while youngs whooped and hollered in a restaurant, only to find my Twitterstream flashing neon over @alineababy. I’m so jaded I didn’t even click through to read what the shitstorm in a linen Pamper was all about. I just took the opportunity to note that bad parenting/dining is nuthin new. As I’m sure I’ve posted before, my consort and I had our pilgrimage to Jean-Louis at the Watergate shat upon 20-some years ago because a sanctity-of-marriage duo brought their infant to dinner and chose to let the poor creature shriek through our many courses. The waiter commiserated with our lamentation that surely no one who could afford a dinner at that price could not also find a babysitter, but what was he supposed to do? I came home and pinned the receipt to the bulletin board in my office for many years because I thought we needed to be reminded we could have flown to Paris for the price of that disrupted meal. I remember nothing of what we ate, but that might be because I had to ingest through clenched jaws. So, for everyone lamenting the decline of civilization, be aware: Like the poor, over-privileged assholes will always be with us. . .
Not that I’m cynical or anything, but is there really any chance an indestructible faux food could actually be in short supply when guacamole is as close as the avocado aisle for Super Bowl? Somehow I suspect Krapt swiped a page from the cocky playbook to generate hysteria. And did anyone really ever run out of the rooster sauce? Shelves were full in every store I happened through whenever I broke away from the online panic. Also, too: The gullible coverage makes it sound as if there is no substitute for the cheez substitute. Maybe the real deal, cut with cream or, for maximum gooeyness, bechamel? Seems as if this is a dangerous game Big Fud is playing. People might try the fill-in and never go back to the orange slime.
I’m no marketing expert, but if I were trying to persuade the world my product was the world’s best I wouldn’t be enacting absurd laws that will do nothing but contribute to the world’s plastic glut. According to this mishmash, Spain is forcing restaurateurs to jettison their refillable cruets for olive oil in favor of single-use containers. I guess, although I can’t quite tell, that will have the advantage of, maybe, a label? Why don’t producers just do what the Italians did and hype the hell out of their product? Bring a buncha American food writers over to taste a little oil, soak up a lot of sangria and then spread the “news:” Spanish oil rocks and rules. And it wouldn’t even have to be all hype. You can’t make a tortilla without either breaking eggs or breaking out the good oil.
*No shit, Sherlock
You can partially blame the nonstop hysteria over “Obamacare Fail” for my neglecting my blathering here. These days I feel obligated to correct everyone wrong on the Internets/radio/teevee, but of course Sisyphus had an easier job. It’s pretty clear no one in the media has ever dealt with the insurance marketplace on her/his own, so we got all the Chicken Little non-coverage. My new name for these easily manipulated losers is the Poussin Press.
You have to give the golden-arched evil empire props for balls. On the same day its honchos were denying any role in the ballooning of the human race, the chain was boasting that it had come up with its most caloric item ever. Which happens to be merely a mega-order of enough fries to feed a village, but I’m sure they’re counting on suckers not realizing the so-called meat is not what packs on the lbs. It’s the sides. And not just the liquid ones.
I was also fascinated by the huge fuss over KFC deliveries coming through the Gaza tunnels, which was a story that came out of nowhere and was suddenly everywhere, Somewhere a flack has to be cashing a mega-check. I first saw the “news” on a British site, with the photo attributed to an agency. Other outlets sent their own lensmen to get the pic, but in every one the logo was front and center and very clear. You’d think it was Coke in a Hollywood movie. Once upon a time you would say you couldn’t buy advertising like this. Now you can ask: Why would you? Journamalists will do it for free.
I heard a fair amount of sad chuckling after the Newtown massacre over the confusion between the two NRAs. The fud one, of course, was perceived as the innocuous lobby. But an oddly combative interview on Lenny, and a flurry of publicity for the book, made me realize again that very few pimps pimp for noble causes. You can hurt people with unregulated guns & ammo but also with laws that keep wages at a Bangladesh-in-the-USA level ($2.31 an hour, FFS?) Uzbekistanstan, indeed.
I got some pushback from a fellow old-school food writer who skipped the olive gravy train, but I was able to defend myself by saying I didn’t say “all” food writers jumped on the greased skids. She is right, though: There is a secret handshake among those who believed in the cause but didn’t need to be led to the story. And everyone knows how rules were bent to let “outlets with integrity” take the cannoli. I tried my damnedest, but no one wanted to hear that “the family retainer” is stealing the silver. A deal’s a deal. Or, cheap is a very good price.
I probably click about 60,000 links an hour, so I thought I’d be forgiven for missing the original “God made a farmer” ad before Tweeting the parody. But thanks to the vibrant multi-culti world of Twitter, I got pushback from an actual farmer, who objected to the portrayal of all farmers as (subsidy) takers not makers. Then my consort inspired me to watch said original, and I noticed it included none of the sort of farmers I know from the Greenmarkets, those with no faith in organized religion, those raising their children to pick carrots but also aware they need trained help (which they complain is hard to find), those who drive hours to bring eggs and duck and once-a-season kale shoots to urbanites. Bob said his students were awed by the ad because it uses stills (photos, not bourbon makers). And he made another good point: The message is conveyed through cowboy hats. America loves cowboys, so the farmers are stand-ins without the horses. While we argue about image, it’s really only about selling trucks. Funny how that happens.
The story of “greens causing most food-borne illnesses in America” is the proverbial bad penny. The latest lame summation was of course in the hometown paper, which actually stated that unrefrigerated mayonnaise causes “digestive troubles.” Forget the fact that that’s an understatement for death, or even for most food poisoning. Mayonnaise is refrigerated to keep it nice and white and fluffy, not to keep it safe; the ringleader in this partnership in crime is usually the eggs or the chicken. But overall the whole story has been twisted every which way but true. Lettuce won’t give you the squitters. Lettuce handled by food workers with norovirus will. Naturally, this country doesn’t want to address issues like paid sick days, let alone sanitation in the fields. It’s easier to scare everyone into giving up spinach or scallions. Just a few years ago the headlines were all about killer chicken. Chickens still are the leading lethality, if you read a second or third muddy graf, but the focus has shifted, with no one detecting a single lobbyist as accomplice. And don’t get me started on why the level of illnesses from beef has dropped. It couldn’t be because so much meat is now treated with ammonia or irradiated, could it? Why in hell would anyone complain about horse in a Whopper?
Then again, bacon hysteria went viral instantly even though half a second of close reading would have made it clear there was about zero chance the scary crap was going to vanish from supermarkets, or that the small farmers who sell the good stuff were doomed. I responded by Tweeting that the only thing to worry about was that Americans would scrutinize other Americans and wonder: Hmmm. Where else might we find endless belly fat for cheap? It’s a little sad that we can tune out all evidence that we’re fast-rendering the only planet we have uninhabitable but lose our shit over phantom fears. We are all Chicken Little now. Although I have to say: If I ran a chain of restaurants dependent on ground-up cow butts and shoulders, I’d be feeling a little nervous these days. Or wondering how Soylent Green would go with fries.
Grey Poupon has chosen a fine time to revive its image as the mustard of the 1 percent. No. 1, the ads are so insulting to the 47% in a Bushwhacked economy. No. 2, it really illustrates how wealth is wasted on the wealthy. If they’re really so hot for a condiment, they’d be buying Maille.