Dog “dirt” or tournedos?

And I shouldn’t mock, because I once had an ill-thought-out letter published in the birdcage liner for wingnuts, too. But the (unlinkable) one from a woman responding to a front-page story on wine at White Castle had me almost ROFL for the lack of self-awareness. If Mom was bringing rebottled vino to McD’s and Burger King 40 years ago, it was not because she wanted to evoke midnight in Paris. She was leaning on mother’s little helper before Prozac and Valium.

“A cartoon and easy to caricature”

I’m sure I’ve mentioned I venture into the editorial pages of the WSJournal every morning just to see what color/consistency of feces the monkeys are flinging and eating that day. So I’m pretty familiar with the lies, lies and Barbaro droppings printed there from assorted “think tanks” and other well-compensated ventriloquists for lunacy. And what I want to know is how the wires got crossed and the hometown paper ran a classic surging Murdoch screed. I guess everyone’s so busy blogging insanely (or inanely) these days they can’t stop and fact-check. (Cows in the Willie Nelson ad? Really?) Or even ask obvious questions: Doesn’t Chipotle’s wild success prove there’s a market for bacon (or other pig richness) that costs more? I’m so old I actually lived in Iowa when all farmers raised hogs the right way, but of course that was before Earl Butz. Mostly, though, my consort was smarter than I: He just looked at the bio and bailed. And he’s right: A former hog farmer who now grows corn and soybeans knows most about harvesting tax dollars.

Waste not

Apparently there was some dust-up in a Harlem restaurant. Why it was covered, and at length, in the hometown paper eluded me. And having worked there twice, I remain mystified at how Yelpers came to be validated as sources fit to print. Savvier observers than I just say Metro has gone to the dog, but I suspect there’s something more insidious at work. And then there was the pandering with the slavering coverage of the archbishop in Rome, the guy who considers spinach a local delicacy (also, too, tiramisu, a creation of Treviso). I hate to ask the obvious, but when did gluttony stop being a sin?

President, BTW, is supermarket butter

And I hope to allah no Afghans were able to access the MFK Wannabe musings of the war correspondent stranded in “Restrepo” land. The death of Anthony Shadid kicked everyone in the gut this week, and I have nothing but awe for the brave who engage in conflict reportage. But this was tone-deafness by the desk, yet again. Are readers really supposed to empathize with someone who has to cook with “mangy” zucchini but has milk for her cocoa? What about the poor people whose country we’re still occupying, who live with indescribable deprivation every single day, with no food porn for comfort, no possibility of escaping to Paris at will? The worst part is that the same photographer who had to illustrate that “suffering” also produced these shots. Seriously: What next, after the plight of a vegetarian sentenced to eat in the “Midwest”? Bobo goes to Applebee’s in search of the salad bar?

Sympathy for the critic

Finally for now, I see advertisers are voting with their absence down to the hometown paper and its gutted fud section. Forget chewing. Your jaw will wear out while dropping at the banality of the display copy (and if you wander into the finer-point type, it’s worse: “taco or tortilla base” — WTFF?) But the cretinism is creeping farther afield. I read a bouillabaisse piece days away that came pretty close to journalistic malpractice. Forget the copy-editing sloppiness — the description of the second-largest city in France as a town, the mischaracterization of rouille as saffron-based, the misuse of hardy for hearty — and the lack of history and context and depth and the cluelessness on cooking. Etc. I’m done driving rubberneckers to the train wreck, but it’s really amazing that a newspaper that once prided itself on editing the merde out of every piece of copy disseminated just in print will now slop out slop for all the world to see. I know bloggers come cheap-to-free, but couldn’t spambots go out and eat and regurgitate for even less?

Little pink corn chips

Despite the fact that my next-older sister died of breast cancer when she was younger than the age I just turned, I’ve never been exactly comfortable with the whole beribboning industry. I wouldn’t say I feel vindicated in seeing the lid blown off, but I am very glad to see endorsements like the KFC “bucket for the cure” subjected to some disinfecting sunlight. And I’m totally not surprised to learn the organization is run by wingnuts. I just love that all the Kkkrazies who attacked Mrs. O for her promotion of healthful eating and exercise have to see the Choos are on the other feet now.

Surrender the pink ground beef in B&W

I know I insulted Helen Keller and Curly and Moe by Tweeting that the first must have designed and the second two have edited the latest fud section. But jeebus, was it ever bad. I mean, really, are we not living in the most exciting food city on the planet at the most exciting time in history, and we’re spoon-fed Woman’s Day? Break out the funeral potatoes. Even worse than the inch-deep, mile-wide lede was the surreal pairing with an out-of-town expedition to a deep-fryer, followed by the absolutely cretinous “investigation” into which is fattier/grosser, fried chicken with macaroni and cheese or sausage with polenta. Only someone who listens to the real Dean (that would be Jimmy) would be that dumb.

Capon: Josh on the jacket, John in the caption

Idle thoughts: I’m guessing Holy Foods bagels are not really “hearth-baked.” Red Waddle would actually be a better name for a heritage breed (especially if we’re talking mandrills). Plus it turns out “a new way to eat a burger” is not with your toes; it involves trying to turn beans into a Reuben sandwich and confusing the headline writer, not to mention the reader. And please alert the Page One editors: A hero may be just a sandwich, but it isn’t made with a bun.

Loose meat and Gatorade

Very glad I took my lazy time processing my thoughts on the war story of the “veteran” vegetarian (“nearly lifelong” wouldn’t sound as ruff-and-tuff a struggle at 30ish, I guess). So many other blogs/sites/commenters have laid into the parochialism, condescension and general cluelessness on full display under the most idiotic graphic. What I’m savoring is how it took a silly food story to expose just how under-qualified Dash, Son of Pinch really is for that huge job in an age when no one else invests in standard coverage of “real America.” Way back when, I learned there’s a reason Madame X was hesitant to fall for pitches from correspondents aside from Johnny Rotten: Very few who had not invested the time and forkwork in developing expertise off the “serious news” beat could deliver. Lots of us do it, but food writing is not women’s work. Some heavy lifting is required — if you don’t know it all, you have to find it out.* Over to the national desk they’re probably fine with hiring stringers and throwing emergency ermine over the emperor’s spawn.* But eatin’ and drinkin’ and watching fud teevee is not much to draw on when you get a tossed-off salad of under-reporting and over-padding. You don’t have time to see all the odes to KCMO as the next city destined to conquer stockyard palates. So you go to press with the embarrassment you have, not the one you wish you could kill.

KCMO had some crazy little men, too

And not to get too bogged down in the race to the bottom at a place where I was glad to have worked twice (seeing sausage made does give you insight), but I almost wonder if Dash wasn’t just providing cover for the public editor’s WTF. His smashed beans and lard definition were forgotten once the ugly truth was revealed: Reporters no longer put the truth first. The best reaction I’ve seen so far reaches farther back in time than I understood, since I trace the rot to the Reagan years (“first they came for the air traffic controllers and we said nothing”). That was back when Pinch padded the newsroom in stocking feet, treating us as if we were serfs hunched over keyboards in his den. I know I’ve recounted this many times, but one of the tipping points that tilted me out of that newsroom and into restaurant school* was having an editor storm the desk on deadline and bellow: “We can’t run this. It makes Washington sound like Calcutta.” Up until that very late night, I had always believed journalists operated without considering fear or favor. But if a story about soft-hearted Capitol Hill staffers passing out sandwiches to the homeless in the nation’s seat of power was so dangerous, what else had to be skewed? Whitewater/Coke Can/Yellowcake, here we come . . .

Did someone say inordinately pleased?

This is nothing personal on the phenomenon formerly known as Mr. Cutlets, especially since he once bought me a cheezburger and let me make an ass of myself as he was starting his first “real media” gig. But the Tweets about his take on the end of Ms. Perfect’s teevee run make me worry he has mastered the Clickiverse a little too well — call it “say anything.” Whatever killed her show, it was not a disconnect from America in hard times. Her whole grand scheme started, after all, in the Reagan recession — my going-away gift from co-workers on the national desk at the NYTimes in 1983 was a copy of “Entertaining” that they’d bought for $45, nearly what Keller’s opus went for a full 16 years later. Her whole schtick has always been selling an inaccessible lifestyle. Didn’t this country survive the first Depression through fantasy? And I definitely don’t buy the notion that the EVOO One is the new false idol. Once upon a time in America, Jeff Smith was Martha’s big competition. High and low always coexist on the gravy train. So let me rephrase that “say anything.” I meant to type “verbal mandrill.”

Asparagus paruresis

Ron Paul is making it clear that anyone in this country can now walk away from responsibility for even the most insane guano published under his name. But I was still (somewhat) surprised to see the Egopedist calling for fresh tomatoes and basil in recipes on the same day the front page of his enabler was dissing organic farmers in Mexico for growing and exporting those very same ingredients out of season. I guess if you moosh up beans and oats as a burger you get right with the Berkeley food gods?