The onetime home of the Human Scratch N Match also ran a silly story, on produce prices rising, that actually quoted a woman stupidly musing that it might be “the economy” to blame. Not bad weather and diminishing water, of course. As I noted over on the Twitter, anyone complaining about the price of tomatoes in March is cooking it wrong — this is the season of “better dead than red” in the produce aisle, at least if you want flavor and fair prices. But then there was the way a protest at the newish Upscale Aldi’s was covered elsewhere. Most shoppers interviewed thought it was all about those softballs next to the flown-in blueberries, not the fact that so much processed crap is cheap because tomato pickers in Florida are paid slave wages. Really, if a chain can’t Shetland-pony up a penny a pound more, you really have to wonder how exploited its grape harvesters are. Two bucks might be more than a price.
I know we live in an up-is-down world, with a slothful glutton sermonizing on (fiscal) discipline in Jersey, but it was still astonishing to hear of the obese Capon attacking Mrs. O as overweight. I guess a voice of the people who lives on caviar and porterhouse would not know the difference between a short rib and “ribs.” But my favorite reaction from one of his useful idiots was: “Stay out of our cubbards!” Obviously, if they need no help with readin’ and writin’, they can eat smarter on their own
If any spouse thought long or hard about what he/she would have to put up with from the White House press corpse, only singles would ever get elected. Certainly the questions posed to Mrs. O by the creme de la overpaid creme at a “Let’s Move” lunch were cringe-inducers. What does $Palin think? Or, stupider, how dare you serve Super Bowl food on Super Bowl Sunday? No one ever asked the Lump in the Bed why the Chimp kept turning up bruised and battered while she blathered between cigs about reading. Some days I suspect what goes on in the Imperial Bedroom is not terrorist fist-bumping but good old American face-palming.
Summary of the week’s controversies: Banh mi, eat the Atlantic. The hometown paper might really want to hire some editors, cuz readers obviously can’t distinguish between legit stories and blog filler. And the A-holes really should realize Al Gore set up the series of tubes so anyone could quickly learn a 2007 screed has only been updated to add new insults. Why micturate all over “Omnivore’s Dilemma” when the later prototype for the Egopedist would do?
And in yet another example of why politicians should not come anywhere close to food, I read that some Maine legislator wanted to fight the designation of the silly Whoopie Pie as the state dessert because its “primary ingredient is lard.” If that actually happened to be the case, it would, of course, be one of the healthier choices in the cookie kingdom.
Even acknowledging this probably only encourages the willfully stupid, but a certain heritage hire who will never learn that a Nobel prizewinner won for a reason decided to take him on, yet again, for his smart post saying kitchens really are not the space-age transformations we might have once expected — many more advances were made from 1900 to 1950 than from 1950 till today. Ms. Idjit of the Himalayan Pink Salt, being younger and of course smarter, begs to differ. She owns a 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook, you see, and the recipes therein prove no one had a blender or a mixer or whatever back then. Even aluminum foil was unknown! Start with the Googleable fact that stand mixers were not rarities in American kitchens 60 years ago — you can find models from before 1954 on eBay today. (My dirt-poor mom taught me to bake using hers.) Blenders? More than a million sold by 1954. And crappy cookware pre-All-Clad? Our dirt-poor family did fine with cast iron. Ms. Born Yesterday really needs to get in more. I cook in a 1929 kitchen, only moderately altered: I can stand at the stove and reach the refrigerator and the sink — the cabinets she cannot imagine holding up are doing fine; a stove older than I am, and in better shape, kicks the BTUs out of anything you can buy now. The design abides. What’s saddest is that one of the leaders of the Food Coven hyped this horseshit, just after touting the Julia letters compilation in which Mme. Child and her Cambridge correspondent endlessly document how advanced kitchens and appliances (and ingredients) were even in 1953/4. They even talk about foil . . .
And speaking of the burger blight, the Daily News made it very clear why not every American should be allowed to vote. It’s running “best of New York contests” this year, and the latest was a readers’ poll on cheeseburgers. Which decided Corner Bistro ruled. It’s been donkey’s years since we succumbed to the hype, but I still remember the most gruesome thin patty of overcooked, tasteless ground cow on a supermarket bun with processed cheese. We’ve had better incinerated off a grill by friends who buy the kind of big-box beef I’m sure is cited in the latest recall. All this proves is that you can lead your readers to lapin a la moutarde. But you can’t make them think.
Finally, of all the sillinesses of the entire week, the Philadelphia story should have been laughed out of the queue. It’s at least 30 years too late to lede off with cheesesteaks. Johnny Rotten must be spinning in that great bath in the sky.
I shouldn’t be surprised, considering how inured Americans are to ordure in their beef. But it says it all that a few people died from drinking Four Loko and the stuff was banned. Thirty thousand a year die from guns and loons are allowed to run out and buy more after a massacre. Maybe someone should mix caffeine and alcohol in Glock clips.
Over at the Twitter, I got some “ra-mens” for expressing my wish for a Super Bowl shelter where I could hide from any mention of that idiotic spectacle. But if I had one, I would have missed the most astonishing concoction for an idiotic spectacle known for astonishing concoctions: “Oreo truffle footballs.” And even the Semi-Ho could not have dreamed this one up — smashed Oreos mixed with cream cheese, covered in chocolate melted with Crisco(!) and decorated with Betty Crocker icing. Forget the fact that even Deen’s gorge would seize up at that mess. USA Weekend was so skinny from so few ads that the actual food story and other recipes only appeared online. Why should Big Food spend when it gets all that brand recognition for free?
One of the most pathetic stories I’ve skimmed lately was on honey buns as currency in Florida prisons. Leave aside the obvious jokes to be made on that name. Weren’t we already informed sardines are the new jailhouse dollars?
Not sure why I don’t feel very amused lately, because I’ve certainly had no shortage of annoyances. Like false analogies and seasonal sins and general “how did that see print?” as in octopus “legs.” Describing anything as being as complicated as a Thomas Keller recipe makes me think no one ever heard of butter-poached lobster, and this from a paper that just advised how to cook a Christmas tree. And what was up with saying New Year’s resolutions fizzle like a glass of chilled Champagne? Even in one of those Marie Antoinette tit glasses, Champagne does not fizzle. And then there’s zucchini mock soufflé in butternut season. Apparently summer squash is okay if it’s “flown in from Peru”? But at least no quote whores were dragged out to offer improbable origins of restaurant color trends. Oh. Right.
My consort laughs at me for wandering into the cesspool that is the WSJournal’s opinion pages, but many times it pays off. You need to know the enemy to see what’s ahead — ugly so quickly accelerates. Take the letter to the editor after a rational column advocating calming the fuck down about butter, cream and bacon. Rather than attacking the writer or the science, the Astroturfer went after a dead icon, noting that Julia Child had breast cancer at 51 and asserting that she had “chronic weight problems.” (Call this anus the jerque who mistook a 6-foot woman for Paul Prudhomme.) “Child Wasn’t a Good Health Model” is a helluva hed when you consider she lived to 91 (they could look it up) and kept her bile well contained. I’m assuming the Murdoch health insurance plan comes with very good drugs.
After 27 years in this business, I’m not often totally gobsmacked (astonished/amazed/shocked, yes). But this week, dangerously late on a column I could not be late on again, I resorted to the last resort of desperate freelancers and hit a PR agency with a blanket request: HELP, find me a notable chef with three or four bits of advice to offer. Sure, sure, came the answer. And at the end of the day, I got exactly one quote from some obscure idiot that read like an outtake from a particularly cretinous episode of one of the cleaver-rattling shows on the teevee. I wanted to hit reply with: “This is a joke, right?” Instead I moved on, more confident than ever that dinosaurs are languishing between chefs and reporters. Surely those scores of restaurants could be putting those fat fees to better use. Maybe not coincidentally, my consort and I were just at a party where the photographer host was lamenting the shutdown of all the photo agencies that once marketed his work for a percentage. As I pointed out, why do you need the middleman in the age of the internets? One day, probably soon, a restaurant with a high-profile flack will be like a website with annoying music.
It’s getting so it’s impossible to count all the reasons to despair over the state of “journalism” these days, what with nine-hour spiels on the Senate floor written off as a tempest on the Twitter, and self-proclaimed valley-trash fame whores on magazine covers. But the stunt a privileged kid pulled in gaming the food stamp system for an “exposé” hit a new low. And guess what he discovered: You can buy $19-a-pound swordfish with government benefits. Math is a weak point with wingnuts, as evidenced by the mess they’ve made of the federal budget over the last decade, but you would think he would understand one extravagant shopping trip does not a month’s meals make. I’m just amazed he didn’t go down to Holy Foods in a pimp outfit.