All my good stuff gets Twittered away, but I’ll repeat that I was amazed at the e-release I got using culinary as a noun. The stupid word should be banned even as an adjective. And I didn’t Tweet this but have thought about it ever since wasting good credit on lunch at an old favorite: You will never get great fries in an empty restaurant.
Language was a real barrier. Almost no one spoke English, including cabdrivers and waiters. Luckily, the amazing Attaturk made everyone switch from Arabic letters when he force-birthed the republic in 1923, so at least it was relatively easy to decipher signs (the only two words I was sure of after seven days, though, were Bay and Bayan on WCs). And so I shouldn’t laugh that I spotted a hip Mexican restaurant with a sign outside promising “Borderline Cuisine.” Talk about truth in branding.
Because not everyone speaks Twitter, I’ll translate another recycled one. At the Greenmarket on Union Square Saturday, I pointed out a white-haired guy in a sport coat to my consort and said he was an old NYTimes copy editor. “Retired?” Bob asked. And I said: “Aren’t they all?” Next morning I had more evidence, in the obit for the founder of Oldways, which described olive oil as “the principle source of fat” in the Mediterranean diet. This was after a story that lowercased Buffalo wings (when bison fly?). And in one column I found a sentence ending in a preposition, plus “the couple is . . . and have,” not to mention “presumptive” for “presumptuous.” The only consolation is knowing a certain head is also exploding every morning over in the Jersey town where the elite retreat.
Glitch of the week: My Biggest Fan was described somewhere as “a former heroine user.” Guess that means he’s treating superwomen more respectfully these days? And in other silliness, I had to go and notice part of the URL for the public editor at the hometown paper is “pubed.” Given how much they resent him, tell me that’s an accident. . .
With all those buyouts, though, I really do wonder if any copy editors are left down at the glass house of hubris. Not only is Drew described as a chef, but his Sunday special is lowercased as buffalo wings. What state are we in? Good Enough to Eat is called a sandwich shop. Sentences that would not hold up to diagramming wind up in the restaurant review. Then again, maybe the bought-out ones are now writing restaurant menus. My writeme inbox was graced with one mentioning “butter filet of beef” and “farmed Vermont goat cheese,” not to mention “creme fraiche light as a feather.” The killer, though, was “pan flashed” duck. Which I could only assume was the skillet exposing itself to the breast.
Maybe it’s because I grew up with dead deer hanging in the garage to be butchered every fall, but the one lying across my hometown paper the day before turkey struck me as the print equivalent of the annoying PETA “grace.” I guess this is what you’re reduced to when you blow your trimmings wad so close to Halloween. Coulda been worse, though: Imagine Rudolph bleeding out the red nose on December 23. But then I guess the latest wave of buyouts has many staffers in the offices they can’t afford feeling a bit addled (and not in the Middle English way). They’re clarifying brussels sprouts and still can’t get poundcake and potpie right. And what was with the story celebrating the manly man catching his tuna, running so close behind all the end-of-fish hoo-hah? Has everyone married a cousin down there?
More and more, I’m wondering if I’m getting too old for this business. I saw endless references to Le Fooding and just could not give a frying fuck. Vendy Awards? I kinda like food served from establishments with running water in real bathroom sinks. My disinterest in the professional sports of television food is pretty well-documented. And when I read that lamb is the new pork, I felt so bored I went back to torment myself by reading a very un-Timesian piece on how the mayor eats. (If his diet sucks and he’s a hypocrite, stalkers, why run a recipe for his favorite dish?) But then that got my juices flowing again, imagining the antithesis of a pinhead exploding over in Jersey on spotting all the errors. Salt shaker? You could look it up. JG Melon? Publisher’s son got the periods placed right in a front-page story five days earlier. Bronzini? Really, when a wingnut does Italian more correctly, you have a problem. Unless that Staten Island restaurant actually cooks a painter’s whole family.
Typo of the week, from the hole in my computer where all my time goes: Fries cooked in “dick” fat. If only the Twitterer had meant Cheney. That would be the ultimate freedom/French revenge.
If I thought $5 a month would help the hometown paper rehire a few copy editors, I might take its plan to herd the cows back into the barn more seriously. If it’s not egg yoke one day it’s Bunyonesque another — both in ledes. (I shouldn’t say anything about bedbugs being one word, though.) I now find myself reading any food story outside the food pages with particular fascination. And my reward: Wondering what in the hell “confectionery powder” might be on a beignet with “French pressed coffee.” Jeebus, you’d almost think Google was charging for information.
It’s not surprising to see Panchito generating more buzz by ambling off to the magazine than he ever did with his chewing and typing. Once upon a time the speculation over his replacement might have mattered, but he did manage to make a big job very small (sort of the opposite of what he did with his coverage of the Chimp), and now the more amusing debate among bloggers is whether the position is being downsized. Filling that small hole in one section is rather expensive, and this would be a fine time to reinvent it altogether rather than rummage through clips looking for a correspondent who’s lunched overseas with Saint Alice. My newish friend down at the Casa de Slim has the best idea ever for saving newspapers: charge for comments, not for content. So why not dispense with the critical middleman, let restaurateurs post their own reviews and watch the feces fly?
The same friend and I had a long discussion of which came first, dying newspapers or newspapers committing hara-kiri by canning half the worker bees and churning out pap. I wondered the same thing about food magazines after opening the latest issue of one where the already stretched phyllo-thin staff has apparently just been trimmed. Turning at random to one article, I see the President’s first name misspelled and a statement that a DC soup kitchen was founded “exactly 20 years before to recycle the leftovers of the Clinton Inaugural balls.” I know Bill and Hill killed Vince Foster and stole money in Arkansas, among other nefarious deeds, but did they really crash GW the Elder’s parties? Some days outsourcing copy-editing to India doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
I know I’m not the only one whose head explodes at least once a day while skimming the hometown paper. One morning that bitter bitch who never got over Bill is talking about Michelle O’s “flare,” and she doesn’t mean the rockets’ red. Or an essayist is undercutting his bathos by describing a “grizzly” reenactment of a murder, and he doesn’t mean the Werner Herzog documentary. Or the blogosphere is inundated with purloined images of a graph whose caption mentions “deductables.” And, no, fixing the fuckups online doesn’t make the newsprint go away (but maybe that’s why it’s happening). I’ve given up on anyone ever getting potpie or poundcake or wineglass right. But even my jaded jaw dropped a bit on reading about the affordable option near Carnegie Hall that offers a “prefix” menu. I guess that means all the introductory syllables you can eat.
Amid all the doomsaying on the economy lately, a graph in the paper that runs Turd Blossom columns as its funny pages was rather revealing: Americans are cutting back on poultry, beef, cereals, sugar, pet food and alcoholic beverages but spending more on eggs, fresh vegetables and fresh milk and cream. No wonder the catapulters of Spam propaganda have had no success boosting that scary product. Shoppers are skipping Alpo and flipping omelets.
I’m spleen-deep in copy editor blowback right now (at the very least, the “fixes” should not have to include correcting your own byline), but I still think a certain cookbook publisher might want to go back to the grammar pool. No fewer than three of its books I have flipped through lately have had screw-ups. A collaborator’s name here, a famous chef’s name there, and pretty soon you’re talking real embarrassment.
Did the paper of Al Siegel really use “froo froo” in a story on the Emerald Inn? Did a blogger really describe a muffuletta as a “cold cut and tapenade juggernaut”? And why would a restaurant boast that it’s considered “a surefire closer” for “Romeos?” Eat, drink and get laid is a weird come-on, even for V.D.