Cactus leaves

I didn’t get all the way through the “organic game is rigged” exposé, but that won’t stop me from wondering: So what else is new? Anyone who shops the Greenmarket/deals with farmers knew long ago that the real guys were being priced out of certification. The signs disappeared; the practices did not. Some of us don’t need the Libby’s on the label, just the experience at the table.

I am also deliberately avoiding slogging through the new book attacking the latest local foods movement even though I cannot escape being exposed to its sillier ideas. If I didn’t understand that there’s money to be made stifling entrepreneurship, I would wonder, yet again, why a drone was directed at a caterpillar. No one is being forced to buy/eat local. Throw out every high-minded reason to do so and you’re still left with the most sensual: The food just tastes better. I’m sure I’ve nattered about this before, but I vividly remember the first time I walked through the Union Square Greenmarket, when my consort was assigned by New York magazine to shoot photos for a piece on how farmers might be price-fixing. That was in the good old days when Fairway had the best affordable produce in town, and Balducci’s had everything at any price, but what we brought home that morning was so much better in so many ways it was life-changing. (Especially the bacon our Park Avenue/Wall Street friends worried could not be “sanitary.”) And I have never once gone into Whole Foods after shopping 97th Street, watched shoppers scooping up shipped-in cherries for twice the price and yelled, as the old guy did while storming out of “Magnolia” on Xmas Day one year: BF “What’s wrong with you people?” It’s a free country. Anyone who wants to eat listeria-laced meatballs and salmonella-infused mesclun can have it his/her way.

Who really strips down after even a ghost pepper?

I Tweeted this but will elaborate: That fetid air you felt after the latest Di/Do click-whoring was ol’ Craig, spinning as he saw how horrifically his accomplishment was being corroded. He spent his career elevating the food conversation in America. And now it’s descended to the allure of processed crap. No wonder they have to define harissa and gribenes — readers are now too confused on whether they should make their own ketchup or glug out what the attention-whoring chefs do. If I hadn’t lost my faith in the stock market thanks to Pinch shares, I’ve be investing in Jell-O. Can Rush salads be far behind? Maybe run the main with a sidebar on “make your own marshmallows”? No ads will ensue no matter what.

Say dressing, or else

I can’t count all the reasons future historians will look back and wonder WTF Americans were thinking as our only habitat heated up while a few lunatics decided to make overfed ducks the cause most celebrated. The real abuse with foie gras has been the tortured uses California chefs have put it to while engorging diners before the ban (“he injects jam in one side of the doughnut and foie gras mousse in the other, then rolls it in peanuts after frying”). If cruelty were really the issue, maybe the loons would be pushing to overturn the law that lets prison wardens in Alabama starve inmates and pocket the money saved on food? And how about these poor animals that appear to be suffering for milk? When does California outlaw buffalo mozzarella?


–Only people raised prosperous enjoy drinking from Mason jars.

–What the world did not need: flavored bourbon. Does everything have to be raspberry-nachoed?

–Would like to think the heat’s making people stupid. But those confounded by checkout lanes at Holy Foods are probably just as addled in winter. [That place really needs a line tamer.]

–If food makes you either laugh with pleasure or weep with weepiness, you might want to adjust your dosage.

100 million sold in Wasilla

I also read an artfully regurgitated page out of a Marketing 101 textbook on how Big Food is appealing to Americans’ emotions. Somehow, when honesty and local and nostalgia are allegedly so big, a company is introducing “pizza dipping strips.” “Cheese” and “pepperoni” on “crust” you can dunk into a two sauces, one “a departure from the standard Ranch.” Why don’t they just fill each one with chocolate and coat it in Doritos?

Tempeh “tamale”

The internets is a very small place, so as much as I read of the obit for “artisanal” sounded awfully similar to the one for “facts.” But two things about the idea made me laugh. One is that mayonnaise would be the tipping point. Does no one remember Hellmann’s originated small-batch in a shop on Columbus Avenue 100 years ago? So what if it took all these decades for it be flavored like Brooklyn? And the second is that the word that really needs a stake through its heartlessness is “artisan.” Which is the noun being used as an adjective for Dunkin’ Bagels. Just as you have to wonder with “vegan terrine,” what exactly is the secret ingredient involved?

“Things aren’t easy in Spain”

Exchange at a certain kitchen counter this a.m.: Hey, this sounds like you, in this story on how careful people have to be in learning slang in a second language: “Literally—While this can mean truthfully or without exaggeration, English students learn it can be used to exaggerate. Example: “We have literally been waiting for a table at this restaurant for a million years,” says Mr. Hayden.” LOL, I respond. Then turn back to what I was slogging through: “Everyone is talking about the chicken for two at NoMad . . .” Of course. The elevator guy, the panhandler at the corner, the fisherman’s wife at the Greenmarket, the lost tourist on 14th Street looking for Bleecker, the 6 million people I follow on Twitter — every goddamn one was talking about that chicken.

“Spit and image”

Also, too, I tuned out nearly all the fluffing for the hometown paper’s big “morality of meat-eating” debate — it had all the validity of a HuffPost boob-science screamer, with its naked intent to amass links and comments. But I did read a news story in the relatively-sedate-for-Murdoch competition on the sad state of horses in this country that subtly made a very good case for the morality of eating horsemeat: to prevent suffering. Since the animal “rights” wackos got equine slaughterhouses shut down, horses often starve before they are sent off on long, miserable drives to abattoirs north and south of the ethical borders. If I were the naive type, I’d be wondering where all the concerned citizens of California are in preventing this outrage rather than outlawing the practice of letting ducks eat like the poors. But I’m probably among the very few not surprised that a grandstander would publicly ban foie gras while privately bowing to clients for private parties. Give that paragon a cheese-ass medal.

“Soap for people afraid of soap”

I guess Mencken is going to have to posthumously retract his famous assertion that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. Nutella just settled a suit for $3 million after a woman lost her batshit on learning that the first three letters did not lead to nutritious. Sure, who among us has not looked at a jar of chocolate-colored nut-and-sugar paste and thought: Low calorie! But my cynical side started to wonder if the whole thing had not been a click/comment trap when I saw the company is not just giving refunds to anyone who asks but also printing coupons for a buck off on a fresh jar so smart moms everywhere can “turn a balanced breakfast into a tasty one” by adding fruit and a glass of milk. Ask the cuckoo woman: Doesn’t that work with Cocoa Puffs, too?

“Don’t forget the inexpensive Champagne”

Way behind on posting, distracted as I am by all the KKKraziness out there on the series of tubes, but I can’t resist responding to the pitch I just got. The one that was only slightly less Onionesque than yesterday’s promoting a weight-loss “cleanse” as a Mother’s Day gift (talk about shitting where you birthed). This is for a chain whose name will not be mentioned, hyping a new chef transforming its sandwiches (lemon aioli and lemon dressing!) He can layer all the “blank” Angus onto all the “ciabatta bread” he wants. I will still read “all natural chicken” and see the counter guy at LaGuardia one morning responding to my sad request for an egg sandwich by grabbing a round of yellow rubber from the prep bins, flapping it in the air and asking: “You wanna eat this?”

Snopes & the Biscuit Bullet

Which brings me to the grotesquerie that is the doughboy Bake-Off. I see the winner is “ravioli” made from crescent roll dough teamed with whipped cream spiked with caramel syrup and dusted with cinnamon sugar. How “ravioli” can be baked-not-boiled things is never addressed, although my suspicion that these are really empanadas was countered by the fact that some other diabetes-inducing travesty won with that name. I’m sure I’ve written before about going to the bake-off back in the last century and being horrified at how much processed crap could be combined into new weirdness — those contestants made the Semi Ho look like an fantasy-deprived amateur. But I’ll have to reprise what I learned: A million-dollar prize is pretty cheap for a business most interested in getting a sense of how America gorges. The cagey company reveals only that “tens of thousands” of entries are received each year, but no consultant could map the territory as effortlessly as letting the sheep herd themselves into the pen. And now, with the internets, the contest can probably cut the prize to nothing more than publication online (shades of the hometown paper’s payoff for its “ethical meat-eating” contest, which I will not encourage by linking): Dreamers of the industrial dream are giving away all their flavor fantasies in “the community” it has created online. Black garlic ice cream, indeed.

“Love sautéed spinach. Don’t think I have ever had it creamed.”

I wish I could honestly wonder where the kkkrazies were when the Chimp and his Lump in the Bed opened the People’s House for the rare dinner. But I already know (any view is rather dark with head up rectum). Which makes it all the more pathetic that they attacked Mrs. O for serving a festive menu on a festive occasion. Anyone who believes governors on one big night should eat like everyday schoolkids needs his keyboard taken away.

15 cents a day for school lunch: a bridge to nowhere too far

And I can’t keep up with all the wingnuttiness these days, but I do find the growing push for drug testing of food stamp recipients rather bat-guano insane. Not only does it add to costs and bureaucracy (AKA Big Gubmint) and cause needless humiliation. But let’s say you catch one of the little users. You’ll save a couple of bucks a day in benefits. Then you throw her/him in jail and have to provide free meals for years.