I had a book client sorta recently who never mentioned his mother without noting that she was looking up at us at that very moment. I always laughed, cuz I definitely know the feeling. Which makes me almost more amused than pissed that strangers would find a dusty ol’ website and choose the famously departed as excuses to fire off hate email to someone who has always been 50,000 leagues from stardom. The first decided she knows exactly why my biggest fan called me a bitch, and she is damned if she’s gonna waste any time on me. Hitting send musta been like an orgasm (and waiting for a response must be like blue balls). And the second was such a devoted, dedicated fan of Julia he had no idea she was singular. I look forward to looking up at ‘em both one day.
Wednesday whiplash: One story tells you there’s no spring produce, the other says “shell peas!” And then there’s the third, touting the Greenmarket “pantry.” Which of course is better-stocked this time of year than the Greenmarket “walk-in.” You can, after all, cook anything with potato chips and applesauce.
“The Lunchbox” is the best movie since “A Separation,” and it doesn’t even have to be shunted off to the “food movie” category. The food is so seductive, though, that you know not to go in search of Indian afterward because it could never measure up to the celluloid vision. The director gets both the story and the eating exactly right. By contrast, “Tasting Menu,” obviously modeled on the last night at elBulli, is the most craven piece of crap I’ve sat through since the last free screening I couldn’t resist. As I came home and Tweeted, the message seemed to be: Cerebral food attracts truly stupid people. And what a terrible ad for Spanish wine — every glass seemed to be filled with water (they couldn’t even spring for food coloring?) Teh Stupid was so deep and dense it’s hard to list it all — the top two idiocies had to be either the world’s best chef spending her last night musing, yapping and sipping wine, not even throwing copper pots, or the owner losing his shit worrying that a solo diner might be a critic. It’s the last night. It could be AA Gill multiplied by all the female reviewers both in history and yet to be hired in a universe yet to be discovered. And what difference would it make? Cerrado es cerrado.
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.
No wonder I’m distracted. There seems to be more than the usual amount of teh stupid burning lately. A chilling new aggregation of climate change reports makes it very clear we’re dinosaurs waiting to happen, fast, and still I see idjits asserting that “humans adapt very well — we build houses with furnaces or AC — so too bad about all the other species.” That’s like thinking you can just order in when the food riots break out.
Just in from a movie, dinner and a storewide state of panic. We hit Fairway after the much-to-chew-on “Her” for pizza, pork and cheap wine and figured we should pick up a few groceries afterward since we were there. And what a scene. Locusts had to have come through right before us: The fresh bread aisle was stripped bare (although you could have all the plastic-bagged, “good-forever” crap you wanted); the milk shelves were empty (unless you wanted the ultra-processed crap with an expiry date sometime in July), and over to the tomato-pasta area only the finest cans and boxes had been left behind (all the cheap crap was gone, baby, gone). Not for the first time, I had to wonder if blizzards aren’t actually staged by supermarkets. This is New York. Food is never a problem. I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday: I trotted right out for kitty litter and cash in the a.m. but got pizza and wine delivered that night. Even in the last blackout, you could get any food you wanted if you had cash to circumvent frozen registers and weren’t desperate for ice cream. No wonder the clerks and cashiers tonight were laughing all the way to the hedge fund bank. They’ve seen this movie before, and it is very, very good for business. The funniest part was inching across the snowy sidewalks to the C train while dodging delivery bikes and realizing: All these people juggling all these bags with milk and bread and tomatoes are just going to go home, pick up the phone and order in Thai . . . .
But apparently when it comes to the foulest fowl, there really is no end to insanity these days. Most recently there was the airlift of potential “nuggets” from West Coast to East because some loons were willing to spend 50 grand to try to make a loony point — that animals raised as food are not food. Not even for the millions of “food-insecure” human animals in this country alone. And then there was the weirdness of a new regulation that allows the Chinese to export processed chicken as long as the birds were raised in North America, shipped all the way around the world and processed before being shipped back in suitably unidentifiable form. Somewhere, the Wright Brothers and Marco Polo should all be weeping at what they wrought.
Relatedly 2: I Tweeted the other day that using “infamous” in a bar/restaurant press release should be an immediate firing offense unless you represent the cannibal cook/cop. But what inspired that gets worse: The client is not just infusing Campari with guanciale grease but adding mezcal to his new-wave Negroni to minimize the bitterness. If you want a Negroni that tastes like diabetes, why not just add ketchup, with a French fry as a swizzle stick?
Kinda relatedly 3: I acknowledge I’m an old in New York, one who remembers when you had to run out in a panic on Saturday night, early, if you wanted to serve Champagne at an impromptu brunch on Sunday. The third-largest wine-producing state had/has some of the most restrictive wine laws in the country — if you want to toss a bottle of sauvignon blanc into the shopping cart with the salmon, you need to move to Ohio (as my consort did, for a fellowship year). But apparently journamalists live in an alternate universe, one where they could report just what the NYPD told ’em: Someone in a drugstore was attacked by a demonstrator with a wine bottle. When I Tweeted, sane citizens in other states wondered if I was just dissing sommeliers of Prozac. Nope. If Brooklyn Rite Aids are selling actual wine, I need to move closer to Williamsburg.
You have to wonder about a state (Hoosiers’) that wants to require two transvaginal ultrasounds if a woman chooses to exercise her legal right to an abortion but that also insists it’s unconstitutional to allow anyone to photograph/videograph a factory farm. Apparently they would have no problem with force-feeding and gestation-confining women. And in Oklahoma a nutcase blocked a law banning texting while driving because, you know, it’s a slippery slope to the long arm of the law snatching Whoppers out of drivers’ hands. Oklahoma, of course, is where the new abortion laws were so overreaching a court just struck them down. Apparently a woman can do what she wants with her phone and her diet, but all her lady parts belong to the state.
Having knowingly eaten horse twice, both times in Italy, I remain undershocked at the scandal consuming Eutopia. What I want to know is why The Cat WCTLWAFW always smells like fish after he eats Science Diet turkey or chicken. (No, actually. I don’t.) Mostly I’m surprised there’s so much horse to go around to so many countries, and into so much processed crap — it’s not as if Romania has a Wild West or even equine stockyards. You have to wonder what else might be in the “meals” when horse DNA is not discovered. But from the beginning I’ve been amazed that people would be upset that Trigger is what’s for dinner. Horse is a delicacy. This is like fools whining that foie gras has turned up in their liverwurst.
Wonder why a guy whose byline once appeared under “I Was a Baby Bulimic” was allowed to lecture everyone else about overdoing it. Especially right after he praised Ed Koch for “always overloading.” Bingeing is nothing new. Just ask the president he sold, the one who spent like a drunken bankster.
New rule: Next time any “reporter” writes about a $10,000 cocktail/$2,000 plate of pasta/beefzillion-dollar cheeseburger, he/she/it must find someone who has actually paid to ingest it. Jeebus. In a world where people are still arguing over whether the moon landing was staged, whether the Sandy Hook massacre even happened, how gullible do the food world’s P.T. Barnums think readers are? I could offer my blatherings, or even my duck legs, for $50,000 a word/limb. But it wouldn’t be news until some sucker bit.
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’ve acknowledged before that I should be appalled that all it took to convert me from a Holy Foods hater to a Whole Foods aficionada was having one seductive store move closer to me. So it figures that I am going to pay for my loose standards by being shamed now that the CEO has revealed himself to be a flaming wingnut, one who even denies the undeniable human role in global warming. I could easily give up shopping there, convenience and 365-brand peanut butter and butter notwithstanding, but I might have a harder time boycotting the newly and hugely expanded wine shop next door. All the other stores in the neighborhood roll up the cork early; this one operates on a mall-in-America schedule. So I just would like to make a liverfelt plea to the loon’s handlers: Can’t you just sideline him and his wackawhole ideas so we can skip the boycott, effect the change? Or, even better, sit him down to real food and see if his brain heals? Anyone who claims to spurn processed food but uses almond “milk” is too addled to run a chain.