No takers on the buttons out front, tho

How New York is New York? I sent my consort out via text to find poppy seeds and suggested Trader Joe’s first for price considerations, but he wound up at Zabar’s cuz of course the chain conceived as an oasis for the “overeducated and underpaid” didn’t carry ’em. I anticipated they’d be crazy-expensive, especially when he came came home and said they were shelved behind the fish counter, where the caviar and dried morels (and Angostura bitters) are kept. Joke’s on me, though: He had no idea how much to buy, given that I tell him 5 ounces is for fish and 4 ounces for meat and never let him near the spice rack. Two ounces, in short, is a shit-ton when you’re making lemon cookies and not hamantaschen. 

Fresh rice cakes

Before I knew what was going on, I went all ovine and signed a petition to save the Fairway cafe. It always is the best destination after a movie in the neighborhood, when you can seriously appreciate a couple of glasses of wine for less than one ticket cost. And the food is reliable, the noise level painless, the servers a trip. But now I understand the justification for shutting a money-losing amenity down and using the square footage for 5,000 other noble enterprises. Call me cynical, though: Having shopped the store for going on 30 years, I am not entirely convinced even opening up all the space in China would ever stop church ladies from yelling cocksucker at old guys who jostle them in the onion aisle. It’s Bellevue on Broadway.

Lonely Margaret still yearns for Peter

I also was amazed by the WSJ’s story on canning. Isn’t that the house organ of the bailout bonus babies? Do Goldman partners in crime really need to worry about how (in the immortal words of a sly headline writer in my distant past) “you can put cucumbers up yourself”? I’m less worried about swine flu than about the looming epidemic of botulism as Ball newbies go wild with this silly trend. I mean, really. Tomatoes were a disaster this year. Peaches were problematic. Move on — it’s squash and apple season. And if frugality is really the point, newspaper editors need to take a stroll through the Food Shitty in my neighborhood. A 28-ounce can of Red Pack tomatoes was a buck fifty the last time I bought them. The jar alone would consume three-quarters of that price. I can’t wait until they start advising us on how to make our own Joy. . .

They don’t shoot nags, do they?

Risotto would actually have been a good concept for poor, tired The Mice Ate My Tampax to include in a very depressing guide to cooking in the Bush Depression. But I guess it’s been invented since her advice was first written back in the Fifties or Sixties. I mean, really: Was there a single fresh idea in that thing? She almost made cube steak sound as tantalizing as “breakfast runs.” And isn’t that what happens after the coffee kicks in?

Clip those virtual coupons

I’m starting to suspect the world will end not with a bang but with a series of small cheats. The other day I was scraping near the bottom of my jar of Hellmann’s when I noticed it was indented. Sure enough, the “quart” is now 30 ounces. You know that if they added something they would be blasting it in big type on the label. Shave a little and charge nearly twice as much and it’s just the American way. A friend emailed me in puzzlement over Coppola’s chardonnay being sold with a deck of cards as an enticement to spend the 15 bucks, but that actually seems like the perfect message these days: You buy, you lose. Game’s rigged.