I got a pretty good laugh from the email that landed in my Writeme inbox the other day. The guy who once snarled at me: “Don’t just stand there, go blog something!” apparently now wants me to blog something about his little event. Sorry. Not enough all-the-same T-shirts in my closet, and too many other cards in my Rolodex.
What was really vaut le voyage, though, was Sara Moulton’s keynote speech at the Les Dames d’Escoffier event I was lured down to babble at. I’ll use her real name because she told real stories: How one of my heroes said flatly that he would never allow a woman to work either front or back of the house in his temple to French cuisine, how ex-pats in Florida killed cruises to Cuba, how the Food Network jerked her around as it went for a younger, more testosterone-burdened audience with WWE (my word) competitions, how so many male stars of today were first on her show (can you say my biggest fan?) In 1999 when I was at DI/DO we ran a big story on why New York had so few top women chefs. Too bad no one thought to interview this wonder woman. I just read it again and should not be surprised, though, that the Quote Ho was thoroughly quoted. Because a guy’s point of view always matters most.
It was amusing to see a trend story lead off with “A few years ago I noticed.” If it were an oil, that news would be rancid by now. Particularly now that more and more people are finally grasping the sanity ring on the nutrition carousel and noting that fat is not the killer it was cracked up to be. But even that was not as silly as a front-pager on chefs who insist on having it their way. The one that was so desperate for examples beyond dedicated steak restaurants that it had to dredge up examples both nebulous and imprecise. Not to mention seriously dated. Couldn’t that reporter send out a Yelp SOS?
Not sure why I don’t feel very amused lately, because I’ve certainly had no shortage of annoyances. Like false analogies and seasonal sins and general “how did that see print?” as in octopus “legs.” Describing anything as being as complicated as a Thomas Keller recipe makes me think no one ever heard of butter-poached lobster, and this from a paper that just advised how to cook a Christmas tree. And what was up with saying New Year’s resolutions fizzle like a glass of chilled Champagne? Even in one of those Marie Antoinette tit glasses, Champagne does not fizzle. And then there’s zucchini mock soufflé in butternut season. Apparently summer squash is okay if it’s “flown in from Peru”? But at least no quote whores were dragged out to offer improbable origins of restaurant color trends. Oh. Right.
The hometown paper must have realized it blew the Lukins obit big time, complete with the most ludicrous hed in recent history, but the Week in Review followup only made the crime more indefensible. I guess Sheila should be flattered she got the Cronkite treatment at least, with errors of both fact and omission in her life story. But the cluelessness on who she was and the extent of her impact — on everything from food to publishing — was jaw-dropping. A sportswriter could do a better job finishing off Jancis Robinson. And then they had to go on to run that beyond ridiculous piece on home entertaining. Who’s this “we” of which you speak? If the same paper and “Good Times” were running pasta primavera recipes in 1985, I kinda doubt it was over by the time people were enthralled with chicken Marbella. Calling pasta with pesto “as dated as shoulder pads” was also laughable — what was on the menu at the last party I went to, and on ours last night? At least she didn’t quote the usual quote whore, who managed to insult the dead (“got no respect”? WTF?) And she got Rosso’s name right, unlike a certain expert I heard on radio who was also, like the obit writer, nowhere near informed enough for prime time. But even our dining room table wonders on what planet the perpetrator spends most of her time.
Now, of course, press parties are altogether different, and the one the Big Homme gave at his under-construction latest was worth the journey for sure, especially since it got us within three subway stops of our final destination, Dumbo for the photo festival. The menus were all posted, but even he admitted the food is still a work in progress (only photos of his eminence on a ladder were cleared for publication), so I expect there will be more pizzazz in the sausages etc. in the end. The design looks pretty promising, too, with copper cookware donated by Bocuse et al to create what BH jokingly called “the Hard Rock Cafe for food.” The high point was this exchange with a nice guy as three of us dodged the menace of a ceaseless conversationalist: “She’s about 40 percent sane.” “And about 2 percent interesting.” What was most fascinating about the whole elaborate affair was that I recognized so few old-media people, and at least two of those have more presence online. Then I came home and read the huge laudatory feature in Sunday Business and realized the mission was already accompli.