New abbreviation: t(oo)s(tupid)/d(idn’t)f(inish). And that would apply to two “buy the book!” journalism-as-shilling features. One made me wonder why an old, and an old white guy at that, would be given such a platform to lecture moms on cooking for kids. (Didn’t help that I threw the magazine down shortly before heading out to lunch with a friend whose two young sons complained only that they had been eating too much Burmese and would prefer more from the Yunnan and Malaysian side of the menu.) I would have plowed on if Mme Ami had been weighing in.
And then there was that cold mess over to another weekly, a recycling of a far smarter writer/thinker’s typing points coupled with random cheap shots (the day I spent handing out campaign literature for my neighbor running for office opened my ears: Hotel union guy teamed with me said his young boys are learning to cook because fud teevee has gotten them interested). All I can say is that anyone who follows advice to make soup with (presumably canned) stock and frozen vegetables flavored with just onion and garlic is going to fire up the garbage disposal and head straight to the Progresso aisle. “Hack” is not just a kitchen verb. It’s a noun.
Mme Ami had some good thoughts on the sorry state of old-line food writing as a career these days, but I thought she was most right in directing people toward more tangible ways to connect with the third-most essential element of life. So many MFK Wannabes just seem vacuous. Maybe if they did something, they could say something?
Speaking of this Beardshit, though, I can’t be the only woman stunned by the bizarre coverage in the hometown paper — not in the party pages but in the food and under-advertised-wine section — of two restaurateurs who won a big award. Readers learned almost nothing about their Basque boardinghouse (note: one fucking word) and everything about what rubes these Bakersfieldsians be. Christ on a Continental Trailways. Probably three-quarters of the “winners” were just as new to the rotten apple. Why shit all over women with what appeared to be an authentic “heartland” story to share? Besides: Either one could undoubtedly write a more sophisticated wine column. Even though probably neither “loves” barolos. The new reefer should be “are you sauvignon-savvier than a fifth-grader?” Mme Ami has carved out a wonderful new life. But oh, the wine columns she could have done. . . .
Obviously, I don’t get out enough. My consort treated me to “Long Story Short” on Broadway, and I was first stunned to see not just a whole new hotel at the top of the subway stairs at 44th Street but a whole new, and huge, Shake Shack. And then, as we rushed to our seats, bypassing the bar, we were both amazed to see a woman working the aisles, as if we were in a baseball stadium, hawking wine and candy and Jell-O shots. This is what the theater is like these days?
As for the performance, it was well worth seeing, a smart connect-the-dots on empires and hubris through history, but I wish I had not read Monsieur Ami’s stilettoesque take on the director in the New Yorker on the C train to Midtown. I liked one line in the monologue about America being “a bouillabaisse of failed states” until I learned the annoying comedian was responsible for it, and of course I then started thinking what a dumb metaphor that is. Bouillabaisse is not a melting-pot concept; what goes into it is pretty rigidly codified. Figures Mr. Jessica would slip something deceptive into a real thought piece. Eat your spinach. It’s someone else’s brownie.
Thanks to my addiction to digital doughnuts, I look at so much stuff online I can’t recall exactly where I saw someone quoted as saying viewers might be confused by food shows — “What the heck’s a Buddha’s hand?” Funny he should ask. The very first piece I edited of Mme Ami’s was on exactly that fruit. And that was nearly 12 years ago. By now it should be ready for prime time.
Speaking of which, Mme Ami ran a TwitPoll the other day on what the best word is to describe people who are interested in food, rather than the execrable “foodie.” I suggested “normal” but now see it should be “SoBe-shunning.” What in kitchen hell does that clusterfuck have to do with real food? I care less about the Tiger Beat antics there than I do about the way Amex treats its wine writers. But at least we’re seeing a serious divide in this country, between lemmings flocking to culi-gangbangs and people who care about what they eat and who produces it. Give me the New Amsterdam Market over a Smithfield hog promoter any day.
Out in Second Life in food, I was not surprised that Mr. Cook’s pulled back his asbestos gauntlet so soon after throwing it down before Mme Ami. Someone must have reminded him he relies on a Maroons-style cadre of cooks to test recipes before the serious sort has at them. Live by the mob, fry by the mob.
My compliments to I Feel Bad About My Dreck. The turkey is officially off the ground, although it was not surprising to read that the stinker that is “GI Joe” is actually flying. I may have to break down and see the thing eventually now that we just heard our friend and neighbor has a role in it, proving real actors were involved; I had been wondering if the entire cast was made up of food and media personalities who would help in the relentless promotion. (Some time ago I Twittered that if this thing were a cow, its udders would be aching from being milked so hard.) But first those seriously annoying trailers are going to have to stop popping up on so many websites. From the look of them, Meryl Streep disappears into a role about as well as a wiener does into a corn dog.
Also funny to watch Panchito get his expandable knickers in a knot over the Big O’s choice of a date-night destination. Anyone with a quarter of a brain understood any restaurant would be the wrong restaurant to some idiot or other. So his rant reeked of the same link-craving desperation as the silly attack on Mrs. O for being honest about her feelings about cooking. Worse, it reminded some of us of what a truly lousy judge of presidential character he is. Didn’t he cover the Chimp eating cheese sandwiches at the “ranch” right up to the 8/6 warning of 9/11? Inadvertently more amusing was Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum, who got his wedgie over the audacity of a couple even heading to Manhattan for a night out. His prescription for a good time is to stay home and fuck your turtle.
Of course, just after we get in from the theater a block from the Os I stumble across more of the self-righteous hectoring that seems to be guaranteed publication in all the newspapers that were either rendered mute by the Chimp or just content to regurgitate the horseshit his handlers fed them. Now the divine Mrs. M is supposed to strap on an apron and save the world by cooking. No matter that she sends a more powerful message by dishing up healthful, affordable food at a soup kitchen, or by looking so fit herself, or just by not apologizing for hiring cooks to keep her family fed in Chicago because she had more rewarding things to do. It’s been a long, hard fight to get this country to understand a woman’s place is not always in the kitchen. The last thing we need is to have the President’s wife out “yummo-ing” on the talk shows with chef in tow when food is already on the teevee 24/365. This kind of incoherence was never on the opinion pages when the Chimp was talking with his mouth full on the international stage and forcing guests to gag down hot dogs because that was what the literal son of a bitch preferred. No one worried about the example set for the kiddles then. And really, how tone-deaf can you be to advocate roasting as one of the three essential kitchen skills right now? Judging by the crap I sometimes get for my idea of frugality, forget salmon — most families in this Bushed economy cannot afford chicken. (Let alone “lazy dinners” of esoteric salumi and imported cheese.) Cooking is like anchovies or lamb: Not everybody has to love it. If you don’t, and you work hard, you can pay someone to put food on your family.
Given all the brouhaha over a code of ethics for food bloggers, though, it’s probably worth remembering how the gullible guy with a taste for towel-snapping wound up in such a position of ostensible power: Panic. MSM fill-in had fucked up as restaurant critic while the paper, still in that KK-induced Nigella fog, floundered around trying to replace the author of such unforgettable lines as “give me pesticides and flavor.” And don’t get me started on all the times I tried to point out that the family retainer was stealing the silver. . . The Wild West of cyberspace needs no stinking code. Those who do the dirty are gonna get exposed. While the old world of media continues to deny it has some ’splaining to do.
I actually liked the Seawinkle piece on the nutcase who bakes so many cookies her husband barely knows what to do; my consort and I thought it was sidling toward worthiness of the other hubby’s publication. But while I’m happy to acknowledge math is far from my strength, I kept dividing 11 pounds of butter into 500 trillion and coming up with wallboard — I seem to go through that much for an average company dessert. No wonder people would rather die than get another rewrapped candy box. But as I noted over at the satellite operation, the whole enterprise sounded misguided, especially in this new Depression. Why go through all that insanity just to inflict cookies on friends when you could put your oven to charitable use?
What should be scaring the Barneys pants off print journasaurs is this: In the time it took me to gimp the mile and a half home from the press lunch at Cafe Boulud, someone got a blog post up. I was reading about what I had eaten before I had even begun to digest it. Which makes me worry for onebonyass.com — my consort had the same “Shades o’ Molly/How do you make a million in cyberspace? Start with three million” reaction I did. Free is an unbeatable price on the series of tubes.
What I wouldn’t give to read Mrs. Friend’s chef-driven update of that had-to-be-a-spoof recipe for duck roasted under a blanket of bacon. The instruction to test for edibility, then microwave and feed to the dogs could have applied to the housing for the vegetables. The only thing greasier would have to be pork belly braised with both guanciale and lardo. Put that in your latte frother and foam it.
I forget where I read the gossip about the editors on the book review at the NYTimes who once saw a co-worker on the Sunday magazine being taken out by ambulance and guessed that “someone must have had an idea.” But I know where I read the proof that it was not a joke: On gawker, which bared the recovering Botox addict’s pathetic plea for help in coming up with trends to obsess on for T for Twaddle. Here’s a suggestion: Food editors who persist in dropping their friends’ big names. If it ain’t one J, it’s another. And next thing you know it’s an oily mess.