Presumably, all of these products have a farmer somewhere in their background. So the Mystery of the Missing Farmer is a question of the identity of the person who takes your money and hands you your kale being the same as the identity of the person who grows your kale. It's a nice idea. The idea of hardworking sons and duaghters of the soil bringing their wares to town on market day has an appeal. But it's a sentimental appeal. Neither growing nor selling produce is a solo act, so how much time in the field vs. how much time in the market must each employee spend in order to be a "real farmer"? If the cultivator and the vendor are two different people, does it matter if they work for the same business, rather than the produce changing hands? I understand that no-reseller policies exist to prevent stuff grown by migrant workers and sold at the supermarket being resold at farmers markets as grown by actual Bard College graduates, but to think of that in terms of no resellers is to make a fetish out of a supply chain, rather than considering what actually makes local agriculture valuable.
Sifton continues his tour of the canteens of the power elite by looking in at JGV's new hotel spot. At this rate, next week's story will be a sitdown with Henry Kissinger's private chef as he shows how he confits albino infants in a unicorn tusk-fired oven makes crab cakes just like the ones at Le Cirque. The Mark sounds like a Perkins, only really really fancy:
Put Sifton on a plane to New Orleans, and he can find food that is cheap and interesting. (Two big surprises here -- 1) He gets after the Vietnamese options in NOLA more thoroughly than I've seen anyone do in a national publication, and 2) He really digs Emeril's flagship spot, in 2010 which seems as unlikely as actually enjoying a reunion show by punk heroes of long ago. [That did happen to me, once, when I saw the Buzzcocks in 1989.]) But I digress, and shirk my self-appointed task. In lieu of cheap and interesting food, (admittedly, not the purview of the NYT restaurant critic), the attention here to expensive and boring food is puzzling. At least, Creepy Sifton pops up:
I am choosing to treat this as a deliberate attempt to fuck with the Cod's head. We all breathed a sigh of relief when the Academy came to its senses and did not give the Best Actress award to Meryl Streep for her cack-handed impression of a 20th c culinary giantess. Streep followed up the J n J action w/ It's Complicated, a film targeting the handful of Americans for whom the prospect of watching Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep having sex is not guaranteed to make their manly parts flaccid and their womanly parts arid. Evidently, to promote the DVD, the geniuses at Universal are dropping a recipe on the Facebook page for the film every week. Evidently, having done a criminally bad job of playing a great chef means that cooking is now part of the Streep "brand."
And the recipes. Well, there's the croque monsieur w/ mozzarella and basil, but I haven't tried any. Be careful if you do, b/c it looks like someone is working on a deadline. The roast chicken with gravy calls for a "6.6 pound chicken," suggesting 1) a bigass chicken, and 2) someone converting from metric (3 kilos), and not done much else to test the receipts.
Fortunately, John McEnroe is here to communicate my reaction:
Being a) oviparous, and b) male, the Cod is not able to participate directly in Boobquake*, or its rival, Brainquake. I'd considered a 'quake deathmatch, and gotten as far as putting some bleachers out in the sun, and had commitments from the ladies from cajunsexycooking.com and MFK Fisher to square off, but the Internet State Gaming Commission refused to sanction the bout, on the grounds it would be a mismatch.
Luckily, there are other things going on. Like a school where pregnant teens learn healthy cooking. Yay, right? The Cod would argue not so much. For starters, wouldn't more sense to teach teens not to get pregnant? Also, while, indeed, yes, it is better for pregnant teens and moms to eat better, it's also a good idea for nonpregnant teens to eat better. The inference, then would be that it starts to matter what these young women put in their bodies only when these bodies host another person. The takeaway here would seem to be that your body does not matter unless you are pregnant, which is a shitty message to be sending to young women. Who knows? A little bit of education about contraception and nutrition in the junior high years just might kick self-esteem up a notch, and thus discourage eating garbage and having sex with boys who won't use condoms.
*Boobquake is blowing up like a rearended Pinto. Why? Because boobs + social media = giant rock of bacon-flavored crack for mainstream media, esp. during sweeps. In fact, it's sort of depressing how much traction this particular movement has gotten as opposed to, say, protests of Jafar Panahai's detention. Perhaps the cast of, like, Beeswax could pledge to go topless until he is free?
Mother's Day was never a big deal in the Cod's family, but the run-up to the first such holiday w/o requisite mother has been a little bumpy. I mention that by way of acknowledging the grinchyness that may or may not inform this post. Friday, there was a tweet from Food52, thus:
Hey mom -- those snickerdoodles you used to make? The recipe belongs to Amanda Hesser now! Happy Mother's Day!
Hesser/food52 are not the only people using this model -- I'm on the record for admiring the This is Why You're Fat's model of getting paid to have other people write books for you quickly, as opposed to my personal approach of not getting paid to write books by myself, and slowly. If you can get people to do your work for you, for free, then bless your fence-painting, Web 2.0 heart!
And yet. Sending a picture of your dog in a Richie Tennenbaum headband a and a funny caption off to Hipster Puppies, or a picture of a wheelbarrow full of nacho cheese off to TIWYF seems like one kind of thing, and sending your mom's recipe to food52 seems like another:
1) For these Tumblrs, you are creating new content for the purpose of submitting to these sites, for whatever joy might come from having your vision publicized. A recipe, particularly one worth submitting to a contest, existed previously, and represents some portion of you/your mom's intellectual equity.
2) Volition. Presumably, for this to make much of a present, it would have to be a surprise. Thus, the "gift" would be "Congratulations, Mom, you are now a published author! But don't give your Green Goddess recipe to that cookbook fundraiser they are doing at the middle school, or Hesser's lawyers will be here faster than you can say 'Mr. Latte.' Another mimosa?"
As a rule it's a good idea to ask someone if they want their work published before it's published. Just ask noted involuntary author (and mom) Anne Bradstreet. So think twice before you press submit, and consider breaking off a day at an Aveda spa, or a nice (ie non-brunch) meal for mom instead. Play us off, Ms. Bradstreet:
The Author to Her
Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain, Who after birth didst by my side remain, Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true, Who thee abroad, exposed to public view, Made thee in rags, halting to th' press to trudge, Where errors were not lessened (all may judge). At thy return my blushing was not small, My rambling brat (in print) should mother call, I cast thee by as one unfit for light, The visage was so irksome in my sight; Yet being mine own, at length affection would Thy blemishes amend, if so I could. I washed thy face, but more defects I saw, And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw. I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet, Yet still thou run'st more hobbling than is meet; In better dress to trim thee was my mind, But nought save homespun cloth i' th' house I find. In this array 'mongst vulgars may'st thou roam. In critic's hands beware thou dost not come, And take thy way where yet thou art not known; If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none; And for thy mother, she alas is poor, Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.
The President of Bolivia has released his scientific findings that eating chicken makes you into a total nelly. Not surprisingly, other folks have suggested that Evo Morales's insight is, a) unscientific, and b) homophobic. In the spirit of rational inquiry, though it seems worth it to test this hypothesis. If eating chicken makes you gay, than the person who eats the most chicken would be the gayest. Jim Morrison avers here that he eats more chicken than any man ever seen:
While one doubts that the Lizard King would kick any member of the cast of Two Lane Black Top out of bed, "gay" seems like the wrong word for this omnivore. So Bolivian president is wrong, which is not to say that poultry hormomes definitely won't give you man boobs.
My question here is who, exactly, to call bullshit on. On the one hand, it seems like a corporate effort to coopt a (literally) grassroots movement,* kind of like buying a singlespeed at Urban Outfitters** -- these are like the Green Day of tomatoes or something. But, on the other hand, aren't "heirloom hybrids" what make this country what it is? I would cringe at someone who cringes at the idea of ancient bloodlines being tainted by interlopers, because that person would remind me of Ben Tillman. So are heirloom purists fruit racists, or are the hybrid heirloom marketeers heritage hucksters? Or both?
*From his cloud, Malcolm McLaren raises his sherry in approval.
**A company that sells bikes and not helmets is a company that sucks.
With each passing week, it becomes more explicitly manifest that lead NYT restaurant critic Sam Sifton has abandoned his stated charge to review NYC restaurants in favor of a battle of wits with none other than The Gurgling Cod. As the weeks pass, the soundtrack for each Sifton review becomes harder and harder to identify. We began with self-evident choices like Club Med Sucks for Choptank, but in recent weeks, Sifton has inclined to spots so luxe and so austere as to render their connections to popular music almost imperceptible. More of the same this week, with a deuce:
A time machine to where? 1969? 1977? 1989? Some year, any year, with a memorable musical culture? Please? In fact, it's the late 1990s! So, like um... Sixpence None The Richer? Seriously, what were we listening to in the late Clinton era?
The place is a-local, and even defies the laws of time and space to bring out-of-season fish to the menu. But the entire vibe of the place appears to surface here:
It's like the kind of meal one imagines Mr. Spacely having with his mistress. As such, something, luxe, futuristic, and just a little bit fake is the thing. Through the use of my reason, The Cod has solved the clever puzzle put forth by Mr. Sifton, and has identified that the correct answer to this Sifton Soundtrack challenge is Chromeo.