What’s the first sign you’re going to pay out the ass for a a glass of wine? Every window in the restaurant is shrouded by drapes, so you can’t see the inner sanctum before penetrating it, sitting down and opening the sticker-price shock encased in leatherette. Private clubs are never cheap. But at least at this one we got a little something extra with our $14 wine: the sight of the bartender soaking napkins in booze to hand to the hostess to wipe down the menu covers. Beware the well vodka . . .
And speaking of personalities behind bars: What’s worse than a mixologist who can’t make a margarita? A bartender who thinks he can “invent.”
No wonder I’m distracted. There seems to be more than the usual amount of teh stupid burning lately. A chilling new aggregation of climate change reports makes it very clear we’re dinosaurs waiting to happen, fast, and still I see idjits asserting that “humans adapt very well — we build houses with furnaces or AC — so too bad about all the other species.” That’s like thinking you can just order in when the food riots break out.
And maybe we won’t have to wait around until the trashed planet totally melts down. Hog farmers, in their wisdom and greed, seem to be accelerating toward the Apocalypse all on their own. They’re feeding piglets pig blood, and what could possibly go wrong? Aside from piglet epidemic diarrhea virus? The story didn’t spell it out, but I assume the cute little critters poop themselves to death before they can grow into real Babes with chops just falling off ’em. Oh, well. Cheap industrial bacon on/in everything was fun while it lasted . . .
To elaborate on a 140-character rant: Somehow I suspect Ferran Adria would know exactly where to shove that monocle merde: Back into the end of the alimentary canal from which it spewed.
Amplifying: I’m so old I lived through a whole restaurant era when Mr. Magooish Luddites could only gift each other little flashlights and credit-card-sized magnifying glasses as the lights went down and presbyopia went up on some victims’ radar. Thanks to my style-forward consort, though, I had the coolest accoutrement early on, so early on that none of the stodges among whom I worked seemed interested. Today I suspect why: A monocle is not a lorgnette. But an asshole will always be an asshole.
This odd, dispiriting, dispirited but “ain’t ancient hippies cool!” piece should have been headlined Funereal Is the New Modern for Farmers. But it did contain one valuable nugget. “An Oregon seed farmer” notes that he got into that corner of the business because he saw “seed was the key to wealth and independence.” Whatever else you think about the GMO issue, know that the key to Big Ag’s patent&destroy strategy is exactly that: Control the seeds and you control everything. (Sorry — nothing funny about it.)
Maybe I have eaten/shopped in too many real-world joints. But somehow I suspect California’s new law requiring food handlers’ hands to be encased in latex is not gonna make anything better. Hands get washed. Gloves, I have seen too often, go into bathrooms and come back out to serve again.
The latest evidence America just ain’t exceptional: Brits are going hungry, too. I did like this line, that the working poor have been “long a part of the social landscape in America.” Sorry. I remember there once was a shining moment when the rich didn’t have to wonder what the poors were eating that night. But then, as the muddled but good-hearted “Place at the Table” illuminates, along came a useful idiot out of California. My consort “rented” that doc the other week from our own public Netflix, the NYPL, and I saw new merits in it even though it remains a mess. “Food insecurity”? It’s complicated — li’l kids can be obese, hungry kids can own horses, well-meaning teachers can sweet-sell $5+ honeydews to kids whose families can’t even afford an apple to slice up for five. But in the end, you walk away from the teevee thinking food banks and soup kitchens are just like everyone else in this country post-Alzheimer’s-Patient-in-Chief: Trying to pretend the trickle-down is not actually a golden shower.
The reaction to the kicking-a-cripple cuts in food stamps made me wish the Big O would indeed open his FEMA camps and start the impounding of the “patriots” already. So much ugliness is being spewed, even by people who would have you believe they believe “food is love.” I keep hammering away that fast food chains and Walmarts are mooching much more, letting taxpayers compensate for their shit wages, but resentment is the stone-soup du jour in this country. Jay Gould was on to something: “I could hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” And his heirs sell Brawny paper towels and Dixie cups.
I could understand the awe the nonagenarian rich guy inspired with his $100 nightly treats for himself. Sure, he earned it. But given that one in five olds in NYC relies on food assistance, you gotta wonder about his priorities and the weird tone-deafness of a section that natters about the great divide but celebrates excess (tell us what was on the table, ye who have no money worries?) Forget the four-dollar organic greens. The average geriatric female in NYC would be happy with a feast o’Friskies.
And I’m way behind on excitable exposés, but the hometown paper’s big one on the mad scientists’ struggle to save the orange industry (not crop: industry) caused a dustup that somehow didn’t produce a single good answer to why the world needs so much juice. I mean, really. What is it good for? Scurvy’s been cured, while the stuff always rationed in teeny glasses when I was a kid is now poured and drunk like water. One of the most valuable lessons I learned in a weeklong course in “nutritional cuisine” at the CIA is that you might as well be drinking Coke — it’s about as caloric and only slightly less nutritious. Better to eat an orange and get the fiber. Or at least read up on how metastasized an industry built on fruit once seen only in Christmas stockings has grown. . . .
But apparently when it comes to the foulest fowl, there really is no end to insanity these days. Most recently there was the airlift of potential “nuggets” from West Coast to East because some loons were willing to spend 50 grand to try to make a loony point — that animals raised as food are not food. Not even for the millions of “food-insecure” human animals in this country alone. And then there was the weirdness of a new regulation that allows the Chinese to export processed chicken as long as the birds were raised in North America, shipped all the way around the world and processed before being shipped back in suitably unidentifiable form. Somewhere, the Wright Brothers and Marco Polo should all be weeping at what they wrought.
We get two newspapers a day except (until just recently) on Sundays, and one informed us that feedlots are now in withdrawal from something I didn’t even know existed: “Vitamin Z,” a growth additive that turns cows into “muscle-bound athletes” in a matter of weeks. I immediately clicked over to the hometown paper to see if I might have missed a big story, and at that point the keyword did not turn up a single instance. And this is so far beyond pink-slime-scary it’s insane. Cows are staggering into slaughterhouses after being drugged to fatten them without the need for suddenly pricey feed. Anyone who eats supermarket/burger-chain beef is ingesting a product so freaky it makes test-tube babies look edible. And yet whole business plans are built on a commodity that was never meant to be a commodity . . .
I grew up with guns and am very lucky my parents were responsible owners; otherwise my 17-year-old blood would have been all over the living room one whacked-out night when a friend picked up a rifle, only to be thwarted by the empty chambers (or whatever the word is). So I really wonder why America’s Most Overrated Coffee Chain won’t keep the people-killers out. After all, what could possibly go wrong? Caffeine is the drug that insures you can’t shoot straight.
I would transition with “speaking of yellowcake,” but whatever Twinkies are, it is not “a mixture of flour, eggs, milk, sugar etc. baked as in a loaf.” What fascinates me is how their “return” is getting so much coverage with so little discussion of why they really “went away.” Greedy guys in suits needed to make more megabucks. So the workers got hosed, their pay whacked and their pensions gutted, while food writers were waxing nostalgically saccharine. With all the cost savings, you’d assume the price would be lower now. But you would misunderestimate American business today. Apparently the bonuses got bigger. It’s the Twinkies that got small. I do hope they’ve upped the high-fructose corn syrup to cut the bitterness.