One of the most bizarre ads I’ve spotted in some time shows a seriously depressed-looking guy decked out in chef’s hat and jacket plus knee waders, sitting with chin in hand on rocks at the edge of the ocean. The display type reads, “Been thinking about how to make that lower sodium dinner taste good?” Given that the recipe it offers is for chicken casserole made with canned soup, it should be: Been thinking life is still worth living after shilling for this shit? The only marvel is that a “real” chef was not hired. Rocco must have been busy buffing his can opener.
And I see there’s a new snack for cretins (or, as they prefer to spell it, creationists). If the ad didn’t have a Big Food name in it, you would swear it’s a spoof. The brand is Flat Earth. The bag is held up by flying pigs. And the copy promises half a serving of vegetables in an ounce of chips. That is a lot of disbelief to suspend. Even the trademark sounds straight out of the Onion: “impossibly good.” They paid lawyers actual money to register that? It must have tested really well with the lumbering throngs down at Dinosaur Adventure Land, riding the Leap of Faith swing.
I wasn’t going to point out that this was not the optimum year for food editors to be reaching for the Hoary file and digging out that beyond-hardy perennial, the Oscar story with dishes pegged to nominees for best picture. Most reflexive examples I came across were merely predictably cringe-inducing, but the home of the Human Scratch N Match deserves a statuette of its own. A sample caption: “Nothing says bloodstain like a puree of beets.” And that’s for the movie just begging for a milkshake. “Silver dollar blinis” in honor of Javier Bardem’s penchant for forcing victims to play heads-you-die was equally tone-deaf idiotic, although even it was not as bad as deviled quail eggs for “Juno.” (That’s all the anti-choice crazies need, moviegoers craving ova.) Oh, and that “bread pudding” the wealthy British family in “Atonement” would have been familiar with? They forgot the bread. Are we really only weeks away from Erin-Go-Stupid on corned beef and cabbage?
What’s with this ridiculous outburst of “when crazy met narcissism”? People want to spill their twisted guts for publication to the point that the next story will probably be about what foods give them gas and which go totally escolar on them. Sometimes what happens in your kitchen should stay in your kitchen. Otherwise, to swipe from a couple of verbally agile political bloggers, it’s either a trend casserole (Tbogg) or a schadenfreude sundae (Trex). Neither goes down well.
Mississippi is taking its share of crap for a proposed law prohibiting restaurants from serving the obese, but I kinda like the whole idea. By the same logic, drugstores should have to cut off whatever pharmacopia gets Mrs. War Criminal through the night. And Congresscritters should be banned from cutting any more checks to military contractors until they slim down big time. Supersizing them is what got us into this 100-year siege.
Yet another sign that new media may turn out to be more corruptible than its predecessor: The food blogosphere was in one long Super Bowlgasm all week, and most of those sites do not even have enough serious advertisers to make sucking up defensible. (What’s that old saying about buying the cow when the milk is free?) You would think every cook in America, serious or vicarious, had nothing better to think about than a hackneyed nachoburgerchilistravaganza in front of the teevee. And what’s next on the table? VD — all chocolate, all the time. It almost makes a Food Network magazine sound like relief from the lockstep online. I wonder if Al Gore realized when he invented the internets that he was just creating a bigger black hole for a calendar so cliched February makes you want to swear: Fuck aphrodisiacs and the “romantic dinner for two” they rode in on.
Travel is wasted on the incurious, which is why it’s even more depressing to watch the Chimp parade around the Middle East with his usual dazed demeanor, security-blanketed by his monogrammed gift bibs. The only thing that makes it bearable is imagining a guy who eats like a 5-year-old having to take his 45-car motorcade into drive-throughs if he wants his Big Mac felafel and side of fries. Oh, the tantrums he must throw.
A more clever writer than I had the perfect take on DI/DO’s bizarre take on food allergies in children: Someone looks to have been poached in the crazy sauce. And if Mr. Sneaky Food gets away with saying worse than that on national teevee, why are we all so hesitant to call a pignoli a nut?
I had actually dropped $6.95 on a copy of Harper’s in December after spotting a cover line on how hyped that “trend” is, and I had actually thought the debate was closed after reading that taut takedown. Fear is America’s most lucrative industry anymore, though, so it’s no wonder the next allergy item I read was on Slashfood: Some delis in Wegmans supermarkets will no longer allow unaccompanied minors to order food for fear of the big A. As if it wasn’t bad enough that you can no longer get a peanut on a plane and have to suffer pretzels that would choke a Chimp. Forget the nanny state. The crazy mommy state is going to be the death of all of us.
Talk about a confederacy of dunces — the great WSJ story on how horses are suffering as the economy goes to hell is a telling example of what happens when the Chimp’s incompetence meets the cretinism of bleeding-heart airheads. Letting high-maintenance animals starve because the slaughterhouses have been shut down is not exactly enforcing their rights. There are worse things than butchering Trigger for dinner.
If you read only the Human Scratch N Match in the Daily News, you might think her employer has no copy editors. Having done that work for so many years, I suspect they’re just the all-too-common passive-aggressive kind. If she wants to say ricotta is exhilarated, they are going to give her that and all those extra commas she likes so much. If she wants to drop a little fancy French and confuse a mouth with a log, the idiocy is all hers. Grapes permeate, dessert proffers, a journey is storied — they’ll slap a headline on it and move on to something more important, maybe the toilet habits of ready-for-rehab celebrities. But I hope whoever handled this latest assault on the language at least had a pang at letting porchetta into print with the description “light on its feet.” Sounds like the walking dead in Babeland.
Sometimes the horseshit you read actually makes perfect sense. For a developer contemplating a Ferry Plaza-esque market in a city that has Greenmarkets, Grand Central, Chelsea Market, Fairway, Zabar’s, even Dean & Deluca, not to mention Chinatown and Curry Hill and E.B. White’s reality of myriad small towns all connected on one island, of course the right consultant would be a guy who thinks that what this city needs is a biscuit purveyor in the most remote location imaginable. Batali on a tripe truck has a certain appeal, but really. The whole project reeks of Bridgemarket. Which means it will end up as a Food Emporium at best. And next they’ll be telling us little plates have supplanted big-ass steaks. . . .
For 27 years I’ve driven my consort crazy by distilling the semantics class I took in high school with a “textbook” by S.I. Hayakawa. Anyone today who even remembers him probably recalls only the senator* who seemed to suffer from narcolepsy, but he deserves to be quoted into infinity for one observation: The word is not the thing. Or, to put it another way: Words have no power until your brain charges them. (You disagree? Try saying “asshole” to Ferran Adria and see what reaction you get.) All of which is a roundabout way of marveling, yet again, at how a restaurant critic for a once-respected newspaper could confuse a television persona with the food on his plate. I don’t remember who said this, but one of my favorite quotes ever is: Sometimes the news is in the noise. And sometimes it’s in the silence. Bluster makes good teevee. What the fuck does it have to do with cooking?
Oh. Right. This is the guy who informed us the Chimp would be the best candidate with whom to sit down and sock back a few brewskis. Foreign correspondence school should include a class in how “the image is not the person.” And how it’s a slippery slope from Panchito to Kristol-Cloudy.
At the expense of a feeble laugh, I also have to add that I remain amazed at how many people these days will pile on and criticize without reading anything more than a headline. I hate to point out the obvious, but that’s the first warning sign of cretinism. Then again, I force myself to slog through the shallow Bruni waters before dissing, and you can see where that gets me. . .
*Oops — I said he was from Hawaii, but an alert reader notes that the sleepy one was actually from the great state of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan.
Before Pakistan, my consort had been starting every day for the last two weeks railing that there was no news on the front page of the NYTimes — it was all puff pieces and thumbsuckers; one morning the “lead” was actually a picture story that could have run in July, or next February. Given how craven the paper has gotten in pandering to advertisers, maybe it was all a ploy to get readers to turn to the back page of every section. That’s where I learned about a “100 percent juice blend” being marketed to “help nourish your brain.” And if you think flavored sugar water is going to keep Alzheimer’s at bay, you might enjoy Sunday Styles. Whose back page carried a full-page ad informing the gullible that Diet Crap has been pumped up with vitamins and minerals. To paraphrase a British tab’s headline after the Chimp was selected a second time: How can 300 million Americans be so stupid?
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.
My writeme box is always overflowing with gaffe riots from the flack circus, whether straight from the source or passed along by my e-pals who are equally amazed at what people paid to promote actually churn out. Most recently a new variation on the most abused term in the restaurant business turned up (“pre-fixed” menu), but the funniest had to be the release touting a new place and its chef, who hails from TOWN, Italy. Someone must have been too busy writing an invoice and checking it twice to go back and proofread. Then again, she did promise “a menage a trois never tasted this good.” Is the human Scratch N Match moonlighting?