Relatedly, it seems like only yesterday the hometown paper was assuring us the Molto Ego I was always accused of maligning was busily and blithely plotting his comeback. Now it looks as if he could be heading Weinstein’s way. How did they get so suckered? Musta been flack magic.
I keep thinking of how the Butter Guzzler was too far ahead of her time. She let her true colors show and was ostracized. Today she’d be a wingnut heroine, waving her doffed hood like a proudly bloody apron.
Also, too, as it becomes increasingly clear what a reality shitshow fraud America was sold (as this great piece on the reverse-engineering demonstrates), it’s also worth considering how the star-making machinery made so many sleazy characters in the fud world household names with ridiculously lucrative empires built on the backs of the gullible. You’d think we’da learned from the Frugal Gourmet, but no. It was all a Croc of orange mierda.
Very sly of Mrs. O to choose another orange act for the last state dinner, as a signal of how reality-teevee-driven American culture really is. At least this one is actually, seriously qualified if too insecure to put aside childish things. And at least the Italians know from international cringing.
For once I’m siding with Goliath. It’s parochial to think the Eataly infringement is about Molto Ego when the brand was built in Torino. Fiat wouldn’t take a Little sitting down, either. Or rolling.
Funny to see the tree-testicle industry stealing a page from the faux cheese playbook to drum up demand in advance of Big Biz’s brain-busting event this month. How gullible do they think consumers are? Since you can’t hoard this particular fruit, panic buying this far out is only going to result in guacamole negro. What’s next? A Coors shortage because the piss may be running dry?
A shit-ton of BS escaped me as I took a little mental-health break the last couple of months, and so much of it seems so trivial now that I’m back in typing mode. But two tin-chef tempests can’t go unremarked upon. One involved the stick-up-their-butts old-media types trying to stir up a tempest in laptops over a certain blow-up doll having been accused of blowing a rush up her nose. I knew forcing journalists to pee in a cup to get hired would not end well. Do I even need to rewrite the title of the classic kids’ book, “Everybody Poops”? Who doesn’t know coke makes the food world go round?
Also, too: For all my dissing, I have a whole new respect for Molto Ego for standing wide against the onslaught of cretinous attacks on his support for women’s health. He clearly gets the reality that the “pro-choice” battle is not about rescuing unborn babies but about controlling the more than half of Americakind who happen to have been born with babymakers. The most entertaining part was watching the loons come out and knowing the last thing he had to worry about was a boycott. Duck dicks ain’t gonna be springing for real meals. Better to let them protest by contracting diabetes by gorging at Chik-fil-A. There’s more than one way to prove the theory of evolution . . .
Finally, for all my scorn for food personalities who are the opposite of vampires and only come out in the limelight I’ve mostly made an exception for Jamie Oliver because he tries to do some good — and also does stuff intelligently. Consider his latest venture. I’ve been to Istanbul twice, and it is one fascinating, seductive megalopolis, but you can eat pretty badly there, even without dropping mega-lira for tortured food with a view. As with any tourist city, the best restaurants have to please the locals, and that is something best done “on cat’s paws” (to steal the perfect metaphor from @carr2n). Which must be why I first learned he was expanding there from an Istanbul news Twitter stream and, when I went to see what’s been reported, found he first had his food magazine run a travel feature on the destination and now has this up. If Molto Ego gets evicted from the old Coach House, he now has a road map to where the West meets the East. Although I suspect diners there, too, will still expect the chickpeas to stay lodged on the crostini.
Getting out of town was also useful for perspective on the $5.25 million Molto Ego Fail. As many of us women wondered, why was it such a tree-falling-in-the-forest decision? Are people afraid to snark it up? Does everyone think it’s just another business-as-usual nonstory? Or are reporters and editors so far removed from “American Way of Eating” Land that they don’t think to ask how common the issues involved here are? Judging by my Twitter DMs, it’s unlikely we’ll be reading an exposé soon on how epidemic the skimming is. But jeebus, have I heard tales.
Figures that it would be Molto Ego who would induce second thoughts on my crazy idea of posting daily. By Sunday I’m sure I’ll have a whole other negative reaction to the bankster brouhaha over his loose lips; right now I love the idea of those guys writing checks for credit default swaps their guts can’t cash. And in the meantime I’m focusing on the rather astonishingly lame coverage of the linkbait. At first I was impressed the formerly arboreal media even jumped on the story. But then I started to count bylines — four for Rupert’s crew, three for Pinch’s — and neither mega-team answered the obvious question: Can you get into the “boycotted” restaurants? Saturday at Del Posto, for the record, is as open as it always was to peons: 4:30 or 10:30. Babbo’s line is nonstop busy. But if you want to know what the commenters are texting, including on whose cash keeps the crudo afloat, just head on over to your hometown paper. For the insights, you know, you can’t get on your own.
A high point of the week, I must say, was talking with a chef and his wife from London who looked at me blankly when I mentioned Molto Ego. Neither of them had the faintest orange idea who he was. This was a gathering, of course, where a megastar from South America moved among us unmolested. But my faith in the globe was restored. Even though I had to agree with the woman who said that without the guy Americans might not today be buying guanciale instead of bacon for carbonara, made with eggs and not cream.
One of many things that amaze me about Al Gore’s invention is how huge it is and how niche it is at the same time. Fud people wanna talk fud, that’s it. Luckily, political types can eat and think at the same time, so you get great links that put fud frenzies into perspective. I have said before that I was paid to consider the cookbook from Molto Ego’s traveling companion in Spain, which could very well have skewed my judgment. But really, it is any more ridiculous that she’s on the cover of a magazine targeted at Middle America when you remember the King of Siam also got his “own” recipe collection in bookstores? And without even including her banhi mi and other Asian accents.
Out-of-towners are always the little kids at the emperor’s parade — we had dinner with a sublimely food-savvy friend in from Chicago the other night and he was ranting about how cheesy the Seconda Tenuta looks. Italians, this Italophile said, do design right. And the Batali-ized translation “looks like a Bennigan’s, where they just shoved in all this shit to try to make it feel authentic.” He was happy with the espresso he’d scored with his wife but horrified by the aesthetic disaster around him. Somehow, he didn’t sound mollified when I said he should, given all the raving about the emperor’s ermine, be happy he got in at all.
I don’t often delete my Tweets but had to last week after a chef called me out for unfairly mocking Molto in New York magazine’s excellent Thanksgiving feature. I fucked up. I felt even crasser after realizing no photos even exist of me and my mom alone together. And she was not as nice as his is. Obviously I’m determined to hit most of the points a certain spouse defines New York by: Guilt, greed, hysteria and hypocrisy.
I Tweeted a version of this but still think it’s worth repeating: A new cookbook from an old Appalachian restaurant includes a top 10 set of business rules, and one is one I hope the Seconda Tenuta guys do not read: “If you consistently have lines of people waiting to get in, your prices are too low.” Scammin’. You’re doing it wrong.
This is, as our friend Leslie Wong always said, a city where “the more people get fucked the more they like it” — the longest lines are always at the pizza shop with the crappiest slices. So when sensible friends reported they tried to go to the Seconda Venuta and were dissuaded by the queue halfway down the block, this old cynic only wondered if the “crowd control” might not really be a scam to pump up demand. People, after all, once swarmed to Mamma Leone’s.