Zombies on iPads

ReTweeting myself, but I was pretty amazed that a flack would actually send out an e-release, in this the year of equality 2011, hyping “Mrs. Wolfgang Puck.” My first thought was: Which one? But it got worse. This was actually shilling a profile whose second graf states that “she prefers you not to know her simply as the woman behind the mogul chef.” Then why not show us what she does before you tell us who she is? And how insulting is this? “The Puck family isn’t exactly counting on Gelila’s share of their income to make ends meet.” That’s as far as I got. But I now know a new epithet. It’s the job description of the profiler: content producer. Which is very different from sentient being.

Lost color

I’m not speaking ill of the dead here, but I did wonder why the hometown paper would run a substantial obit of a guy whose role in the popularization of Mexican TV dinners sounded so peripheral — dad and bro appeared to have done the big enchilada lifting. The other hometowner is always printing megatype-heds over mystifyingly long homages to women who appeared to have done nothing more than give birth, which I assume is payback to some longtime pressman (do they still exist?) But given the popularity of all things food-related these days, this just reeked of link bait.

On the other hand, if you missed the rare laudable NYTimes take, on the no-win salt study, check it out for sure. So much “journalism” seems to be “some say the sun comes up in the east” even-handed nonsense, with total disregard for facts. But this laid it bare: The study was flawed, and no study ever done will be anything but flawed. If only food science reporters had been covering the run-up to the Iraq war . . .

Straw basket, meet Awl video

This was a disturbing weekend for readers of newspaper supplements. In one I actually read this phrase about peeling asparagus: “it will look, taste and bite more nicely if you take the time.” Diagram that sucker. Unless you mean “good dog!” And then there was the bizarre correction on a featurette on the most pretentious dinner party hostess ever featured by T for Twaddle, one so dumb it had to be run twice. Seems to me, if a blogger changes her domain name after a piece goes to press but installs a redirect, that’s not an error. It’s a glitch. The real correction should have been on the site itself, which I looked at only to see if there was any there there. “Desperately seeking saffron,” indeed. That’s one way to do a 404.

But I got more annoyed on skimming Useless Weekend and the profoundly stupid Mother’s Day food feature. Note to the daughters attaching themselves to mom’s apron strings: Eggs without hollandaise cannot be Benedict. Substituting salsa went out in about 1995,  when fat was being scorned as the high-fructose corn syrup of its time. What you “created” is just huevos rancheros on an English muffin. And I kinda doubt any mom who was presented that for breakfast on her big day would be flattered to think you were worried about her getting fat. Better to buy some lo-cal chocolates.

Sue Taco Bell, push up ad sales

The kerfuffle over the bogus cups of tea has been revealing, mostly for the ugly acknowledgment that whoring publishers don’t want fiction labeled fiction because it’s not lucrative enough. No wonder the world winds up with reality books. I’m waiting for someone to bring up how much truth gets stretched in food memoirs. So far, crickets. But maybe that’s because savvy readers know what happens all too often when recipe writers try their hands at novels. Tums could do tie-ins.

“With ice, size matters”

I’m very glad the FCC is making sure bloggers disclose all freebies they take. Keeps the agency distracted from wine writers who persuade restaurants in the top 1 percent of prix fixes to cook eight-course dinners for their wives who drink only the finest. Even if the antichrist employer picked up the tab, you still wanted to pick up a pitchfork. Not least because the chosen wines ran with no prices given. Message: Let ’em drink “Yquem.”

Root of Silhouette, indeed

Woke up yesterday morning and something gruesome unfolded in my hometown paper. Something that almost took me back to a certain younger inconvenience. Clots is clots, is all I’ll say. That was it for me with that section, especially given how I did ribs-in-the-oven spin four years ago (parboil/sauce/bake/no beer can required). But then a Twitter nudge made me check out the alleged Brie Syndrome just to the left of it, and I suddenly found myself shoveling Barbero droppings out of my cranial sieve. Having actually lived through the “cold wheel of Brie” era, I wondered where the editors were. Certainly not reading the business press, which has been industriously pointing out that other people’s money is the same as it ever was — selling off assets and digging in deep with debt until the golden goose is damn near hollow. What killed the biggest scam in underripe fruit was not changing tastes, or even a world of Fast Company-anointed chocolatiers. Assholes bought a solid company and bled it dry. Just consider that Pat LaFrieda and a million “Farmer Clarks” have stepped right up to the FedEx scale lately, but it’s a rare week when I walk into the elevator in my building and don’t encounter an Omaha Steaks delivery. Maybe those organ-transplant boxes, though, contain the fixings for another food cliché — as I have written many times, fondue is the Scandinavian furniture of food: always on the verge of a comeback but never really out of style. The real news was in the third paragraph from the bottom.

Tell it to the blog

While I await that correction on “dumpling holes,” I’m joining the hordes scratching their pates over the hit job on one of the good guys. How do you say “what was the point?” in WTFese? Of all the chefs in all of this overcheffed country, why pick on this one? Or at least: Why pick on this one without pegging the pick-on to any news? And there is very definitely a back story. Or two. Bring us the head of Larry Forgione. Or Patrick O’Connell. (No Vegas outlet? Loser!) Or just find us a guy selling his soul in a spa in the desert. . .

Coming soon: the Somalian cookbook

The WSJournal just took out a hit on NYC’s Green Cart program, framing the issue through the sad tale of a Korean grocer in Brooklyn whose business is way down but waiting until the penultimate graf to note that both the Bushwhacked economy and construction near her store were contributing as much to her Fail as the competitive price of bananas. A liberal neighbor took up the cause on Facebook, where I had to point out that these carts are going into neighborhoods where bananas are overpriced if they’re available at all, not like the carts of hustlers who commandeer so many corners in our little corner of privileged Manhattan (the one opposite Whole Foods is particularly tenacious, putting the lie to the notion that “no-overhead” vendors have the edge on bricks and mortars). Jay Gould must be reincarnated, because this whole country is proving what he said more than 100 years ago: “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” While the “little people” never notice if Monsanto is paying any taxes at all. . .

No D before Fog

Not to pick on the WSJ, because its Off Duty really is best in show these days, almost enough to compensate for the slovenly copy-editing in other sections of the paper and the batshit insanity in its opinion pages. But, really, how could such a savvy section fall for the Chatty Cathy string-pulled salad spinner? Sure, it seems like a good idea in a quick test on a weekly deadline. Use the sucker for a few months, though, and you’ll see why old fucks prefer the OXO with its pump. What’s saddest is that I feel as if I’ve been watching this argument get lost for easily a decade (I was overruled at the NYT when I pointed out the obvious — that string goes flaccid faster than Newt’s patriotic organ). A seltzer maker is a wondrous thing on its first shot, too. Not so much when you try it without a fresh cartridge.

Triscuits and taskets

This is no reason to defund NPR, but the interview with the memoirist of the moment over the weekend was more Peoplesque than New Yorkerish. I can see why everyone’s going for the mother and husband nasty bits. But why record a “celebrity chef” in her noisy restaurant without asking anything about her food?

Leaves on a prickly pear cactus

This was not a great week for reviewer/book match-ups down at the hometown powerhouse. The Forelock prolly shoulda walked away from the competition, for any number of reasons, and his assigning editor shoulda brought in the G that starts with D. Plus Panchito was clearly sulking after reading the “inevitable memoir” after seeing it, by all accounts, reviewed so much better than his own. I didn’t think I could get one more laugh out of his lack of self-awareness, but I have to say reading a guy who was criticized for TMI now bitching about another memoirist not laying out TMI was pretty fucking rich. So, Ms. Prune: Two fingers or three?

Mighty fall

I know what it was touting is only a content farm, but I was still astonished by the most cretinous story pitch ever: using fast food to save time when entertaining. Great basmati rice takes 20 minutes start to finish, less time than cold crap could be biked to your kitchen. And a branded biscuit is a hell of a way to show guests you care enough to serve the very best; cold fries in congealed grease fries would be even worse. But any reader too stupid to think of ordering in a pizza and laying some prosciutto across it really should have her/his cellphone taken away before he/she hurts her/himself. Ditto for the flack.