Every day I wake up and think: “It could be worse. At least I don’t have to scrub toilets in the White House.” And then the day goes on and more awfulness pours on and I flash onto why that orange shit-eating grin looks familiar. It will put you off your bloody Mary . . .
And it gets worse: Climate change is killing off Champagne grapes. We will go through End Times with nothing to ease the pain.
Saddest thing about the Magnificent doc? How directly My Biggest Fan nailed what has happened to the food world, and why I have lost so much interest. Used to be you had a week’s or month’s respite before being ka-slammed with a barrage of hottest/newest bullshit. Now it is nonstop.
Big scandale down NOLA way might have an easy answer: Locals can’t write “see it like a local” stories cuz they have no idea where to sleep. AMA about Manhattan, and I am clueless on where to drop $300 a night beyond our own AirBnB. . .
The Chinese must be laughing at us all for living in such interesting times. Immigration authorities are cracking down even harder even though immigration is way down thanks to the Kenyan Muslim. So in one day you will read that Tyson Foods is so desperate for workers willing to do hard, dangerous jobs that it’s actually (OMFG) raising wages. And that food pantries and other social services are finding immigrants are going into hiding, too terrified even to seek help, let alone sign on to suit up to whack up chickens. I guess safety through unaffordable food was always the plan?
A whole beat could be devoted to covering how the Taint affects big-name chefs who made deals back when he was just a weasel who stiffed contractors. Meantime, I’m enjoying the pushback. First our true national hero persisted. Then the high point of the #sciencemarch came when hundreds of people in the cohort I was among stopped to boo, at four-star levels of loudness, in front of Nougatine/Jean Georges. I go up and down on whether hitting the streets matters, but if it cuts into business for those who lay* down with vermin, I’m all up in it. (*Past tense is a form of forgiveness. Who knew how evil the orange might go?)
I know I’ve said this many times in the going-on-15-years here, but an old Redd Foxx joke increasingly comes to mind. It was about the waitress (as they were professionally correct to be called back in the Sixties) in a skimpy uniform/costume who was serving coffee in a Las Vegas cafe. “Sugar?” she asked, pulling out a couple of packets from her bosoms. “Cream?” she proceeds. Punch line? “You wouldn’t dare!” Starting to think of that every time I see tops teasingly tweaked open to sell cookbooks. I might wonder who really did the recipes, but I do not need the dairy.
I never know quite what to make of this kind of stuff but am certain of one thing: The most money I ever made in my life before I landed a job at the (now dead) Louisville Times was as a waitress in the summer before I dropped out of college. People, even down-and-outers (or especially down-and-outers), could not leave enough on the diner table to encourage this working-her-way-through-college striver. Unfortunately, I moved on to Nebraska and learned in a single day how the serving pros are perceived. As one of those, I made exactly 15 cents in tips on my first and only day. There’s a big argument lately over whether everyone should go to college. I vote yes, if not just to feed your head by expanding your horizons. The attaboys at part-time jobs will keep you going.
Today in “how to keep your head from exploding:” My consort and I were happily chopsticking through another typically great lunch at Jin Ramen on Amsterdam when “Stand By Me” came on the sound system. Noodles and soul — what could be American-better? Next day Bob’s studio manager came in after a week of skiing in Vermont and said she and her husband had mostly cooked (after provisioning from their fancy Brooklyn meatmonger) but every day would have lunch from a food gondola run by a Japanese woman and her American husband. Because it was ramen and because it was good. And that hummus-and-guacamole reality reinforced how unpossible it is that the #MAGA crowd can really take a country backward when it is so consumed with moving forward at the table. Overcooked steak or no overcooked steak, this pot will always be melting. Ketchup, after all, is un-American . . .
It was an Albanian waiter in a fancy Italian steakhouse who first made me wonder if dark days might be coming. This was back in about October, at lunch with a client. An officious tip-dependent fuck took it upon himself to lean in as my client and I were finishing our mediocre meatballs and volunteer: “How about that xxxx! He’s got the right ideas!” Client and I both politely kept our pieholes shut until we were walking back to the train and marveling: “That guy thinks he’s going to be better off? That guy?” We’re certainly paying for our arrogance now. I’m not a Christian, but I still think it would be wrong to hope he pays even more. He could be deported in a stone-cold heartbeat.
And I’m still waiting for the check that will cover my Audi for showing up at three demonstrations so far, but I can see why the “paid protesters” BS has taken off. On the late afternoon of the women’s march, the stalwart I went with suggested we stop for a drink and snack at the bar at the Modern, her previous canteen but kind of out of my league in my all-Twitter/no-cash life. I worried we would not be dressed appropriately, but as soon as we were seated I could see almost everyone around us, with their expensive highlights and haircuts, was in jeans and sneakers. The woman on the next barstool, and on her fourth sparkling wine, was babbling about having come out for her first protest ever: “Everyone here was at the march!” Some of them even still had their signs with them. I was lucky because Mary insisted on picking up the tab for our shared (excellent) foie gras and tarte flambée and my white from Lanzarote, which looked downright affordable when we remembered service was included because some people believe in equality. Surely, surely, everyone else was covered by Soros, though. That would be easier for the biggest loser to accept than the sign we spotted in a resto afterward: “DT: Your hometown hates you.”
Somewhere in that big kitchen in the sky, Pierre and Julia are weeping in their whites and wine. From coattails to contrails. // The fud world has its own Carly. She just drops better brand names. // All whole ducks should come with a can of oven cleaner. // Kinda amusing that Christie’s shit sandwich was meatloaf. // Trying to figure out why anyone would want “zero alcohol” mouthwash. // Consort insisted we set the timer for roasting the beets. Does not have “six days” setting. // Your food video is (almost always) cuttable. // Would rather tip in cookies than cash even though the latter would be cheaper. // Have to say: Seeing “this video sponsored by ConAgra” in the middle of your tough news reporting does give me pause . . . // How you know you’ve lived too long: You know the Frug coulda been made respectable.
Since Taco Tuesday Eve, I have had exactly one night’s good sleep. And then I had to go and ruin it by waking up and remembering who was shitting in the White House. I can’t even track how disruptive the “fascist, loofah-faced shitgibbon” has been to my already endangered productivity, but I’m starting to worry more about what it’s doing to my state of mind. This “expect the worst, you’ll never be disappointed” crank suddenly wants to suggest fud things that might make us, the doomed, feel a tiny bit better as we hurtle toward Armageddon. Like making your own antidepressant (it really is the best stew recipe ever). Or watching the soul-restoring “City of Gold,” an amazingly resonant documentary that makes vividly clear how vital immigrants are to food in this country (the FL-FS should be strapped in, “Clockwork Orange”-style, to watch it). Or, especially, rereading the McCarthy sections of the great “As Always, Julia.” All the food stuff on how “Mastering The Art” came to be is enticing, but it’s the political history that resonates right now. The very sharp and acerbic Mme Child would absolutely not believe she had to protest this fucking shit all over again.
Very sly of Mrs. O to choose another orange act for the last state dinner, as a signal of how reality-teevee-driven American culture really is. At least this one is actually, seriously qualified if too insecure to put aside childish things. And at least the Italians know from international cringing.
I may be repeating myself, but for good reason: In 1992, when my consort and I schlepped to 12 states to document harvests of a dozen foods that come into season only once a year, we both got probably the sickest either of us has ever been after spending a day in a Vidalia onion field in Georgia alongside an industrial henhouse. Whatever was going on in that fowl prison would have put me off supermarket eggs even if I hadn’t already gotten wise to local=safe despite what the catapulters of propaganda will still tell you.
So I can feel North Carolina’s pain as the sad citizens, and the ocean, deal with the aftermath of the flooding from the latest storm to prove denial makes one crappy seawall when it comes to climate change. All the toxins that we inhaled a quarter-century ago are even more widespread in a country that has put a chicken into every 29-cent potpie. Add to the fowlness the 4,800 now-rotting sources of cheap bacon and you’re talking eco-disaster. The feces has literally hit the fan.
Back in the Seventies I worked on a weekly in Iowa where my job description included schlepping to farms to check out the status of the corn crop. Those were the days when farmers dual-cropped, and there were always a few hogs living high around the barn; the poop was relatively minimal and the stench bearable (think Blue Hill at Stone Barns today). Today I’m (somewhat) amused to see everyone freaking out at the photos of industrial agriculture a friend had published in the hometown paper. Twenty-five years ago Bob and I went to the pumpkin capital of the world at the peak of the season and stood by the field thinking: This is not a harvest. It’s mechanized rape of the fields. Now we’re finally seeing the shitstorm that is the reaping of the sowing. Even if a lot of deniers can’t spell the latter.
PSA, BTW: This is one of the most intense food movies ever made.