Your bad skin won’t get you into heaven anymore 

 We just had the misfortune of eating Mama’s Too’s reliably awesome pizza next to a table of apparent “influencers” performing for their phones — not sure what was grosser, their narcissism or the bro at our table talking about his sister hurling in an Uber on the way to the Hamptons (“and the driver didn’t even charge her extra”). One realization was that it really should be spelled “influenzers.” Another was that they eat as if they’re in Barbieland: Not one bite actually ingested. 

“I got very frightened when you were hired” 

And speaking of influenzers, I can’t be the only food old who found it pretty rich for the Dash Daily to run a screed insisting young narcissists who work the system are the new threat to restaurants cuz they dine and sometimes don’t deliver. I mean. I repeatedly tried to warn the powers that be. (Typical exchange?  Editor: “They’re like the family retainer.” Me: “But they’re stealing the silver.”) And no one listened…

Exit through the Crate & Barrel

Nothing sez “tax the super-rich!” quite like showing up for your reservation at an art museum restaurant, being escorted to a great booth with a view and having the host get shut down by a blonde server who interjects: “Zoe requested this booth for the window.” Host, pointing at a back booth: “She can sit there.” Karen: “She wants the window.” Consort, who has already slid into the booth: “We’re here, and Zoe’s not. Can’t we have the booth?” Karen: “Zoe is a trustee of the museum.” Oh. Kay. So we take the “lesser” booth, which turns out to have not just a far better view of the entire room but a pretty fab window view. As we’re Googling Zoe and where she got her money (hint: the old-fashioned way, married into it with a guy who inherited his starter fortune), she finally shows up, slides into the primo booth and immediately demands that the shades be drawn. For the whole dining room. And they comply. The most 1% thing ever. Actually? Don’t tax ’em. Eat ’em. 

Easter before VD. Or, 2023.

Even before Muskmelon came in to blow up the Twitter, I’d been getting so many “what would you take for gastropoda.com?” emails from Nigerian princes and others that I (and my consort) decided I should dust this cranky old joint off and start posting like it’s the birdsite, where words also go for nothing. Waking up every morning since I last updated Bites and realizing the orange one was not dead yet defeated me. But I’m gonna to give it a shot. Everything is still broken. Might as well say it. 

“Feisty” as “small farting dog” 4evah

After Bob’s and my luxurious outing to the newest incarnation of Gage & Tollner, I would almost think I imagined writing about the gaslit joint after 9/11 for the NYT. The story doesn’t show up in search, but I still remember arguing with the copy desk over my description of the rice looking as if it had been molded in Madonna’s bra. Post-traumatic shock is still with us…

And “soufflés are simple”

Old pro tip: Beware the “sublicensing” clause in any contract that wants to reuse anything with only a can’t-even-pay-ConEd credit. Don’t look for “my” stew in their 2022 calendar. Which is also a reminder of the elation I saw/heard on the national desk when Saint Ronnie fired the air traffic controllers. And then they came for the Newspaper Guild…

Halloween senza white sheets, too

So the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is reduced to slightly less than zero because the con man in chief bungled the #trumpandemic response. Wait till it sinks in that there will be no Thanksgiving dinners this year, either — all these months on, it is still not safe to gather around a table cuz you can’t eat or drink while wearing a mask. Get ready for sheet pan turkey and trimmings. And sadness. Whatever you do, don’t think about Christmas…

Bacon queso at the health food store

Now that we’ve started eating outside at restaurants again, I keep flashing back on our last meal inside one before we went into lockdown for what was supposed to be two weeks and is now in the sixth month. We went to the Tang for lunch after the Sunday Greenmarket on March 15. It was slightly surreal — the few other patrons were spaced well apart, but this was weeks before everyone was warned to wear masks, and we were hoping the three cooks making our eggplant and dumplings in the open kitchen were okay, and it was impossible to enjoy the food without worrying we had made a big mistake risking it. As we walked home, we kept passing bodegas where I had tried to interview the Yemeni owners/managers three years earlier, when the nascent fascist’s travel ban was announced and shopkeepers were mobilizing against it. My story never went anywhere, but in retrospect I can see we were witless to believe he would only come for the Mexicans and then the Muslims. Eventually he would hurt us all because, as Adam Serwer perfectly put it: The cruelty is the point. 

To think we were promised taco trucks on every corner and now can’t even eat inside a restaurant. Let alone in a foreign country. 

10 percent solution

One thing about eating in the street outside NYC restaurants now: You really come to see cars as multi-ton killing machines barreling past. And those beautiful planters delineating the “dining room” start to look as if they were modeled on IED fortifications in Kabul.

Panchito & the Spanish Steps

I spent nearly the entire Bushwhacking on here trying to crack wise as the situation got direr and direr and the bodies stacked up higher and higher and corporate media still pretended the dangerous dry drunk was just a harmless good ol’ boy you could have a beer with. Now my advice under “hashtag we’re all gonna die” is: “Preserve your memories; they’re all that’s left to you.” Too many Americans seem to forget what it was like to travel in Italy and be asked “Americana?” and have to respond, trying to save face: “No, New Yorkese!” Now the orange national nightmare has made that designation humiliating, too.

“Mozzarella cheese”

As soon as the “Fairway is falling” hysteria started, I knew exactly how the saga would unfold in all the news outlets. Instead of seeing it as Chapter EleventySeven of the Twinkie tale, they sold it as the usual “not adapting to online shopping and new competition.” When the reality is that vulture capitalists loaded the chain down with debilitating debt while mismanaging what they had bumbled into. Now the lawyers and other bankruptcy grifters will loot the last assets until there’s nothing in the cash register left for the 1,400 employees, either for their severance pay or, most definitely, for their pensions. Who coulda predicted?