For Technicolor yawn, just add chutney

Times must not be as tight as all the headlines are hollering. First we’re treated to a celebration of a canteen for the obscenely rich; for some reason it has not failed to thrive, and I only hope all the lucky duckies who are struggling felt much better after inferring all you need to succeed: location, location, Italian arrogance. Worse, apparently there was some kind of circle jerk going on down in Miami, where all manner of reincarnations of Marie Antoinette were running around as the Ponzi State collapses. It says it all that a post about being too strapped to tip the coat check “girl” in Manhattan was followed by one from Miami essentially sniffing, Let ’em eat 13 burgers. What would a WPA writer make of it all?

Can you spare a hundred?

All the hype about canned soup being a boom business also turns out to be hype, with Campbell’s starting to limp. Which I guess explains how restaurants are continuing to spring up with prices targeted at those good old days of gold-flecked desserts. I saw a new Mexican place opened in Chelsea and started to scribble the address in my notebook but thought to check Menupages first. Entrees are in the high $20s, and it looks as if you need to order $7 sides for a real meal. WTF? Worse was the menu my consort brought home from Buffalo, which has surprisingly good restaurants but is not exactly Paris on Lake Erie. He and his mom had dinner at a place near the boyhood home where the pork chops were $24 and surf-and-turf (filet mignon, lobster macaroni & cheese) was $34. Give the owners credit for creativity, though, and I don’t mean the “Brie Stuffed Mini Venison Burger” with “Jack Daniels Vanilla Bean Milk Shake for Dipping.” Last line on that menu reads: “Buy a Round of Drinks for the Kitchen — $8.”

Sayonara, Domino

By contrast, I kinda like the ads now running on the delivery boxes at Freddy & Pepper’s, home of the 5,000-calorie-a-slice spinach-tomato-bacon pizza. As you chew, you can consider some silly abs program. I suspect it works on two levels: No one is ever motivated mid-bite to lose weight. And despair might be one of the most compelling emotions ever. No pie goes unfinished; you just eat, dial and repeat. 

Vienna sausage sounded too furren

Don’t ask what took me to the Gerber aisle in the Food Shitty, but I found the scariest product there since Hormel’s pork brains in milk gravy: Meat Sticks. Seriously. Little logs of mystery substance submersed in slime. How much would you have to love your kid to pop open a jar of those suckers and shove them down his/her gullet? Beyond the grossness, the amazing thing is the paucity of imagination in the naming. The best they could do was sticks. Even string cheese is not as lame, and that sounds faintly tamponesque.

Reggiano all around

Somehow I also suspect American artisanal cheese has nuked the fridge. Of all the ways to celebrate the inauguration, slicing into a $65 selection of East Coast wedgettes strikes me as the most tone-deaf. I guess it’s better than buying an Obama thong and not washing it until curds form.

But not by much.

Two on a Gran Torino

I just saw the first photo of Meryl Streep impersonating Julia, and I have been groping for brain bleach ever since. She is beyond annoying to begin with, but just imagining her self-satisfied imitation of the infamous voice gives me worse chills than all those slobs emery-boarding their nails on the C train. It almost makes me wish the movie being made were of another vintage food personality’s life and conquests. And those have been disseminated so far and wide for so long you can almost hear the labia flapping. . . .

In Hong Kong, an apprentice without a cleaver

I’m still getting my mind around the ad- and comment-driven insanity of starting a column devoted to “a little chef shall teach you,” but I suspect the mom we had lunch with the day the magazine landed expressed a pretty common reaction: “I think I’m gonna puke.” And her spawn is all growed up and off in London on a fellowship. I admit my greatest accomplishment in life has been not repeating my mother’s mistake of producing a litter (seven kids in 8 1/2 years), but even if I liked human larvae I would have a hard time accepting the possibility of inspiration from them. Judging by what I encounter at parties and in public, many are idiots, few are savants. Hollywood dogs would make more sense — just consider the potential of “Marley Under Pressure.” I can hate the sin but admire the sinner, though, so I’ll just say the silliness could have been Baby Gap sillier. So far, at least, none of the fetal Roccos and prepubescent Panchitos springing up all over the internets have been awarded a regular gig. To the 15-year-old doing back flips in the bathroom to get a Per Se reservation, you just want to wearily say: Learn to masturbate. It’s only food.

An ad wrapped in a tutu wrapped in cacao

I used to think the Chimp was the best argument ever for birth control. But increasingly I believe it is the HH III who cranks out so much No. II every week, most recently on chocolate. Junior should have been the signal to call the whole clan off — has there ever been a less worthy Plimpton wannabe? So why do I read the droppings, you might ask? Where else can someone whose motto is “once a copy editor, always a nuisance” find so much absurd pleasure in one sloppy place? Even at my advanced age, I don’t know that I have ever come across a “palate knife” before. But it is a nice image of what readers need.

Only the dead steers work Brooklyn

My comrade in cantankerousness describes what has been flowing out of a certain over-leveraged office tower on Eighth Avenue as “a torrent of sludge.” Which might be an understatement (can you spell Mamma Leone?) But he didn’t even mention the most astonishing clot of coal ash, the porterhouse rules. Has a writer ever more visibly struggled to crank out enough words to justify a multimedia piece? The poor fucker was reduced to describing London broil as “local and distinctive.” Stick that up against your mushy peas and slice it.


One day, when media archaeologists are trying to determine exactly what killed publishing, I hope they come across a shrink-wrapped copy of the new popcorn cookbook. Seriously. An editor apparently with trees to burn plunked down money for an entire book on a substance you consume like, well, popcorn. What were they thinking, that someone has already done the Twinkies cookbook?

Grafs with no nuts

I have to admit that watching (and watching and watching) one heartsick and furious Iraqi do what the whole world has dreamed of for eight years did get my mind entirely off the inanity of the food world. Leave it to the Silly section, then, to bring me right back to reality TV. What in the name of Allen Funt were they thinking devoting an entire page to the Sarah Palin of chefs, only a week after doing the Chicken Little rap on Depression dining? To quote another train wreck, the whole thing was ragged, fallen and fraying around the edges. But I guess it wasn’t a total waste. I learned you could pick his chopped onions right out of the mirepoix — there’s a talent. Funny that I was laughing at a flackmail with a subject line on “local flare,” and now I hope that’s what we just saw burning out at last.

Yawns, in Technicolor

Then again, this really is the season for crazy booze. The relocated Kefi has apparently proudly installed an “ouzo shot machine,” which sounds like something that will make you break out in karaoke — imagine hearing “I Will Survive” in Greek. Or don’t. And a new line of vodka has inflicted flavors like “pumpkin pie” and “black truffle” on the world. Maybe the hog logo is not an accident on the latter’s label, though — it could not be more indicative of swill.

File under Lucre, Filthy

I see “car washes” for supermarket shopping carts are big news, as are horror stories about all the filth that accumulates on the rolling wonders. As always, I gotta marvel at a country that can work itself into a lather over germs on innocuous necessities while never stopping to think about what might be breeding on dollar bills, let alone quarters. From that subway bum’s shit-encrusted pockets to your Purelled hands. . . .