Does “pompom” juice come from cheerleaders?

The produce show held in the very “Brazil” setting of the Hilton in Midtown is one of my new favorite events, not least because every time someone at a booth asks me Where you from? and I say I’m a writer, he/she just responds Oh and turns away. Those guys are very definitely there to sell their stuff, not their stories. So I can walk around and stock up on promo pens for the year, taste a few things, take a few photos and generally work in peace. And, in the process, learn that tofu is produce. That Tofurky is even viler than you could ever imagine, let alone describe. That Dustin Hoffman’s character really did miss the megaboat with plastics (individual potatoes and sweet potatoes are inevitably wrapped in it, and now even those synthetic baby carrots are being packaged in individual bagettes, like raisins). That the pros who are slicing and dicing vegetables for nukable sides have even worse knife skills than I do. That the cucumber world is definitely dominated by guys (even the Santa suit I saw was occupied by a zaftig woman). And I absorb all that while wondering why all Vinnies either look or sound alike. And whether I really overheard a cantaloupe promoter, demo-ing three varieties, saying “the Sharon Tates don’t last. . .”

Oaxacan spelling of locavore

I also realize that by referencing my many decades in this business I am beating a very old horse, but I have to say no visionary 40-some years ago would have unleashed a promising new fruit onto the market with a name like baobob. Come on, in a kiwi-ized world even “monkey bread” would sound more enticing. But I guess baoguette was taken.

Wrench cookies

Not sure this was intentional, but a review copy arrived on the doormat the other day with the press release obscuring three letters of the title so that it read “The Bris Book.” I doubt even MFK could say how to cook a foreskin, though.

Turn those bottles ’round

Relatedly, I’ve been forgetting to write about this, but I am still in shock over seeing a tip jar in a wine shop (in Williamsburg, no surprise). Maybe I’m too cynical, but don’t the wineries and distributors do enough kickback? I’m happy to drop a few bucks on the delivery guy. But if you steer me to California when I ask for New Zealand, go tip yourself.

Got cheap lobster?

Speaking of processed crap, I get most of my serious food information from the coupons in the slingers in the weekend papers (and I’ll add that I will never get used to having them spill out of the Wall Street Journal — how bad is the economy if its readers need to save 30 cents on three cans of Goya?) So now I know that Minute Rice is just too fucking slow for fat Americans with teevee they need to be watching. The new and improved stuff comes “ready to serve.” Which is advertised, oddly enough, as helping to make “nutritious and delicious meals in minutes.” Do low-information consumers understand  that quantity of time is plural?

Like batteries for food banks

Only New Yorkers would feel cheated when a hurricane did not flood every Starbucks and kill neighbors (in that order). It’s all “and I filled my bathtub for nothing!” After the lessons of 9/11 and the blackout, though, I was surprised so many people needed to pour into stores to stock up. But maybe they take the expiration date on the Poland Spring seriously.

Once was a D&DL, now it’s a Sur La Table

Too much time has elapsed for me to rant much about all the things that seemed pertinent before I took a couple of weekends off, and it’s not worth slogging back through Twitter, so let that be a lesson to me to either move my pub day or go back to claiming Sunday as my day. I do realize arguing over whether deep-fried butter is less ridiculous than deep-fried Crisco was pointless; most people don’t seem to understand either would just be an Iowa slop dumpling — really, butter is a vehicle; it needs another ingredient in the driver’s seat or you might as well fritterize corn oil and get the taxpayers to subsidize. And I only wished the tainted turkey had been discovered in China; those guys don’t fuck around with food fraudsters these days (at least if they’re caught). Also, too, the term food writer is getting seriously abused. If the silliest profiler ever merits it after one stupid stunt, I should start bulking up my bio as an Irving Penn.

Filling baklava from a can

Beyond that, my little expedition to Kadikoy was definitely vaut le voyage. It took me a while to find the market away from the Atlantic City-bleak ferry terminal, but I had an excellent afternoon exploring produce stands and cheese shops and fish stalls and meze vendors. One store sold only pickled vegetables, and when I stepped inside and signaled my appreciation of the vinegar-infused air, the owner insisted on my trying a cucumber, then gave me a glass of his good lemonade to wash it down. I asked to take his photo out front, and a vendor from across the street ran over to hug and mug, too. Which made it all the more surprising when I stopped into a bakery and spotted macarons in the case and the salesclerk vehemently declined my mimed request to take a snapshot of such an un-Turkish phenomenon. I just left laughing. Hate to tell you, lady, but you may think you have something unique. But if they’re lying there next to the baklava far from Paris, they are so over. Contemplated cupcakes yet?

Tamed jalapeños

I didn’t expect to like the new Vosges filled with black salt caramel, not least because I was expecting Indian black salt. But it is addictive. So I’m only going to mock the idea that anyone would need printed instructions on how to enjoy a chocolate bar. Do vibrators come with how-tos?

Peas, not eaten

Given my twin obsessions, food and pol’ porn, I am living in interesting times. Half of the links I click/things I read insist we’re on the eve of destruction: “Somalia/’Mad Max,’ here we come!” The rest are blithely advocating making your own Popsicles/paletas. Potential meltdown, either way.

No Rocco, please, we’re English

Apparently only outsiders read the hometown paper’s public editor’s lament about trash-tracking, which noted that three different sections had run silliness about a non-story. This week readers were subjected to back-to-back gluten-free BS. Of course, this is the pinnacle of journalism that sold the world the connection between yellowcake and WMD. But still. Would a better story not focus on whether this trend should even be a trend? Humans have been eating wheat/wheat products for millennia. Why the pushback now? Has everyone gotten lactose-intolerant to oat bran with pomegranate juice? A few years ago I met a woman in Tuscany whose brother’s guts were being corroded by celiac disease, and I have taken it seriously ever since. Still, I somehow doubt half of America could be similarly afflicted. But I am looking forward to Nivea in Thursday Styles . . .

Dispirit in the diet aisle

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.

Frothy: Not a good food word these days

Apparently I’m not aware of all internet memes — after the Facebook founder got press for saying he only eats what he kills, meatwise, I Tweeted that the competitive twins should be very nervous. (Guess they’re Winklevi, not Winklevossi.) But even his admission was not as unnerving as McLame’s daughter’s. Who says her last meal would be “my father’s ribs.” Did torture make them tender?