As for the clearly suspect organic-is-no-better study out of an allegedly incorruptible university, may I remind everyone of Larry Summers and “Inside Job”? The crazy-making research that wound up on the wrong rural route really was problematic, but the pushback on it reflected a couple of encouraging trends. Simplest: Readers don’t have to just yell at the teevee anymore when they hear “news” that is so clearly wrong. They have many ways to push back and hold “real” reporters’ feet to the flaming fire. Strongest: No one just yells “but I know it’s better” — the sentient line up arguments that touch on the larger issues, ecological first of all.
Given that “We Lie” is apparently going to be the Rmoney campaign’s slogan, it’s probably not surprising that the usual bogus bake-off between the womenfolk has been ratcheted up a notch. Mrs. Cleaver actually staged a photo op in her kitchen as she whipped up a batch of Welsh cakes (not sure where she hid the help). And then she was brazen enough to hand them out to the gullible stenographers on the plane. I didn’t know you could buy Christmas cookie tins at Costco in August.
Given the blatant deception the Wall Street Crier engages in every day these days, I should just ignore the lizard-brain action going on over at the Antichrist’s lesser organ. But I did have to wonder how a paper that falls over itself to celebrate every $1,000 gold-leaf truffle-burger of an ice cream sundae can condemn a serious restaurant for an $18 vegetable entree. Mouth breathers probably bought right into the math: three carrots that cost 90 cents at Holy Foods marked up 2,000 percent! I would ask where the editors were, but that would be pissing into the wind even farther to the west in Times Square. That crew would probably be equally confused by what else goes onto a plate. Just for starters, freekeh is not free (buy/try it sometime). More important, you would never see this same team feeding those empty beaks the reality of all they eat. As I learned in restaurant school, chicken is the rising tide that lifts all other entrees. Given what the white slime sells for in supermarkets, even KFC is a gouge.
Just as Twinkies can never go stale, neither can my ranting about how clueless the coverage of the Hostess Brands scumbaggery is. When news broke about one of the all-time icons of processed crap, food writers everywhere scrambled to whip up puns as if supermarket shelves were about to be wiped clean. Then as now, though, the real story was not about the death of unkillable junk. It’s about the same Pony Express horse shit involved in willfully bleeding the USPS dry. The Bread Wonders just want to magically erase benefits for the human beings they happened, so unfortunately, to acquire along with the assets of a limping company. Ho Hos, indeed.
I do feel seriously bad for everyone trying to maintain a livelihood in the Gulf of Oil these days. But I have to say that I saw a promo Tweet for shrimp, touting them as fat-free, and could only think: Not with added BP they aren’t . . .
A very eloquent Occupy essay by a former poet laureate brought home how easily minds are warped by deliberately warped language: A baton sounds so much more delicate than a truncheon or a billy club. And a Facebook friend subsequently noted that pepper spray sounds less threatening than mace. She’s right — doesn’t everyone love sriracha, even when it’s atomized?
The National Day of Food is coming, and the flacks are getting desperate. Some of these pitches must be parody. We’re really to be convinced that readers would pass up roast turkey for turkey “cupcakes,” frosted with mashed potatoes and garnished with raisins and cranberries? Trust me: This is no time for novelty. I read that and could only remember one of my favorite Maurizio Cattelan pieces. And the squirrel blowing its brains out in the kitchen could be either the pitchee or the poor soul who had to type that.
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.
And I’m blaming the Reagan grave robbers for the disturbing phenomenon of Zombie Gourmet. I would be entirely unaware of it if not for the poor soul tasked with flogging new posts, whose doctor, I really hope, is named Kevorkian. Parisian myths, debunked? The genealogy of eggs Benedict? What is this, morning in America, 1983?
I’m not speaking ill of the dead here, but I did wonder why the hometown paper would run a substantial obit of a guy whose role in the popularization of Mexican TV dinners sounded so peripheral — dad and bro appeared to have done the big enchilada lifting. The other hometowner is always printing megatype-heds over mystifyingly long homages to women who appeared to have done nothing more than give birth, which I assume is payback to some longtime pressman (do they still exist?) But given the popularity of all things food-related these days, this just reeked of link bait.
On the other hand, if you missed the rare laudable NYTimes take, on the no-win salt study, check it out for sure. So much “journalism” seems to be “some say the sun comes up in the east” even-handed nonsense, with total disregard for facts. But this laid it bare: The study was flawed, and no study ever done will be anything but flawed. If only food science reporters had been covering the run-up to the Iraq war . . .
Woke up yesterday morning and something gruesome unfolded in my hometown paper. Something that almost took me back to a certain younger inconvenience. Clots is clots, is all I’ll say. That was it for me with that section, especially given how I did ribs-in-the-oven spin four years ago (parboil/sauce/bake/no beer can required). But then a Twitter nudge made me check out the alleged Brie Syndrome just to the left of it, and I suddenly found myself shoveling Barbero droppings out of my cranial sieve. Having actually lived through the “cold wheel of Brie” era, I wondered where the editors were. Certainly not reading the business press, which has been industriously pointing out that other people’s money is the same as it ever was — selling off assets and digging in deep with debt until the golden goose is damn near hollow. What killed the biggest scam in underripe fruit was not changing tastes, or even a world of Fast Company-anointed chocolatiers. Assholes bought a solid company and bled it dry. Just consider that Pat LaFrieda and a million “Farmer Clarks” have stepped right up to the FedEx scale lately, but it’s a rare week when I walk into the elevator in my building and don’t encounter an Omaha Steaks delivery. Maybe those organ-transplant boxes, though, contain the fixings for another food cliché — as I have written many times, fondue is the Scandinavian furniture of food: always on the verge of a comeback but never really out of style. The real news was in the third paragraph from the bottom.
Also on the Twitter, I got caught up in the lament over the Google skewing results in its new recipe search. Of course there are ways to game the gamers (refine searches by blogs and videos, for starters). But smarter observers than I soon began noting how ironic it was that a site built on users creating content for free, for the profits of others, was up in digital arms over overreach. And that’s why the herd instinct will always pay. Anyone can publish a cookbook today. Or start a successful blog. But it’s more seductive to call it a contest and label it Pillsbury by the Numbers.
The WSJournal just took out a hit on NYC’s Green Cart program, framing the issue through the sad tale of a Korean grocer in Brooklyn whose business is way down but waiting until the penultimate graf to note that both the Bushwhacked economy and construction near her store were contributing as much to her Fail as the competitive price of bananas. A liberal neighbor took up the cause on Facebook, where I had to point out that these carts are going into neighborhoods where bananas are overpriced if they’re available at all, not like the carts of hustlers who commandeer so many corners in our little corner of privileged Manhattan (the one opposite Whole Foods is particularly tenacious, putting the lie to the notion that “no-overhead” vendors have the edge on bricks and mortars). Jay Gould must be reincarnated, because this whole country is proving what he said more than 100 years ago: “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” While the “little people” never notice if Monsanto is paying any taxes at all. . .
Kinda funny to watch people who were so complacent about the Chertoff-enriching cancer boxes at the airports now freaking out about radiation in food thanks to the Japan meltdown. Hope no one tells them most spices are already irradiated, and a whole a lot o’ ground beef is, too. Even so, it’s kinda sad to see Popeye’s magic green bullet reduced to a wimp in the aftermath of Japan’s megadisasters. What is it about spinach that leaves it so vulnerable first to E. coli and then salmonella and now radiation? You’d almost think it was chicken.
National Nutrition Month turns out to also be National Frozen Food Month. And I don’t think they’re talking baby peas, which really are better than fresh. Shouldn’t the former designation get 12 slots on the calendar? And in other flackery gone bad, someone hit me with the big news a chef is “reinventing” shepherd’s pie using lamb rather than beef. I have yet to hear of a crook for calves’ necks. And no one would ever describe New Zealand as a place where the men are men and the cows are nervous.