Hoping for new signs on the bridges: "Welcome to Brooklyn! Come for the hot dykes! Stay for the hot gruel!"
Under the right circumstances, paying someone to fix you a hot farinaceous breakfast might be just the thing. Asked the porridge folks a menu question, and they use Bob's Red Mill grits, which is nice, in that they did not say "corn grits," but also disappointing in that it's not Anson Mills, or Red Mule, or Timms Mill or other grit with more personality. They were at pains to tell me the grits were gluten free, which considering grits are made out of corn seems unnecessary. However, the entire resto is very focused on being gluten-free, which is nice for those folks, though alarming in that there is a market for a gluten-free restaurant. Also, the grits are "creamy," but all the porridges are "dairy-free"? Butter is available, for a seventy-five cent surcharge on your seven dollar bowl of grits. We are not quite in gravy sommelier territory, but not far off. Would welcome intel from any boots on the ground in the Slope.
Like many of you, when Lou Reed died recently, I went on a VU/Lou binge. I bought New Sensations, listened to Rock n Roll Animal for the first time all the way through in forever, and so on. And now the news that Judy Rodgers, of Zuni Cafe, has died. I only had the chance to eat at Zuni once. I had the chicken, of course, and it was good, of course. What I learned from that meal, however, was how good Judy Rodgers was at writing cookbooks -- when a dedicated home cook took the time to read the receipt, get the proper ingredients, and take the time to do it the right way, the result was within maybe not spitting distance, but within a biscuit toss, maybe, of the restaurant version. That's rare for chef cookbooks. There is a lot of great stuff in the Zuni cookbook, and you should go get one now if you don't have it, but the bond between Ms. Rodgers and her roast chicken and bread salad is about as strong as any I can think of between a chef and a dish. As it happens, it's also figured in some moments in the Cod's life - I cooked it the night my mom died, and I mention cooking it for the first time when I remembered my father.
As it happens, we have the cinetrix' grasshoppers over for dinner tonight. I was tempted, for a moment, to scrap the plan and make the chicken and bread salad, in the same way I went on a Lou Reed binge recently. Then I remembered the recipe, and that starting now and making it for tonight would mean a series of halfass compromises, inimical to the spirit of her cookng. So I'll fire out something nice for the kids, and plan on roast chicken and bread salad for the weekend when I can get good chicken, good bread, and take the time to dry brine. With luck, I might be able to find the Charles Joguet Chinon she suggests as a pairing. I might just pick up Live, Take No Prisoners as a soundtrack.
For reasons easy to imagine, but tedious to relate, not the Cod's favorite time of year, specifically the part where we pivot from being thankful to trampling oneanother for flatscreen discounts. And "cyber Monday" is not part of the solution - a) it carries this spasmodic consumerism into the next week, and b) "cyber" is a word best left to the 900-baud era of online pornography.* That said, it is phyisically impossible to get mad at a Cheerwine robot telling you how to get some Cackalacky** hot sauce for Xmas giving:
I guess you have to move back catalog, and I guess it's harder with a dead cookbook author than with a dead rapper, b/c you can't release posthumous duets and stuff, but still, kind of a weird move from Knopf:
Yep, that's a banner advertisement on the online version of DI/DO suggesting that the answer to your Thanksgiving agit is... Julia Child? This is not quite like having Martin Luther celebrate Mass, but it's a headscratcher. Child dropped one (2 volume) cookbook that changed everything, and had a TV career that was even more infulential. TV chefs have to publish cookbooks b/c people want to buy them. Her bibliography reveals some essential titles, and some far less so. If Julia Child is the Wu-Tang Clan, then Mastering the Art of French Cooking is clearly her 36 Chambers, but there are some titles in the list that are more akin to Raekwon solo joints. The Way to Cook may be more of an Iron Flag, but I've never felt obliged to pick it up, what with a shelf full of books covering similar generalist territory.
So, yeah, "Traditional roast turkey" is sort of the opposite of what MTAOFC was all about, but curiouser still, the livery of the Knopf advertisement, steering people toward Julia's Way to Cook, is the iconic fleur-de-lys and whatchamajig of MTAOFC.
I have been thinking about icons and the wonkiness of our affective attachments to them at my day job, and this feels sort of similar. Anxious thanksgiving hosts fly to the pages of DI/DO in search of succor, and see the familiar face of Julia Child, click, and feel better. I would be sorry if this became a thing, as it works to reduce Julia to something like a posthumous career as a soigne 1-800-BUTTERBALL hotline. The essence of Julia's achievement was that she challenged home cooks, even as she made them feel they were up to the challenge. Situating Julia as the answer to Thanksgiving agit makes her more akin to a culinary Xanax, which is a shame.
Just when you think you might make it to kickoff with a Monday that is Guiteau-free the forces of Terrible say "not so fast." Via FOC TWM, news of Trader Joe's frozen poutine. Frozen french fries are terrible at home. Can't imagine that either gravy (or "Beef Sauce" for Trader Joe) or cheese curds take well to freezing. It's not so much that this is something to be avoided at all costs, as an item that discredits an entire grocery chain. If they allow this to happen, who knows what what else? Is the Trader Joe's store brand of pumpkin pie spice made entirely out of ground cicada corpses? No reason to be confident the answer is no. In any case, your fair warning to keep the entire fuck away from Trader Joe's, and to remember that you can only ever hope to contain Guiteau Monday.
1) In the context of eating a meal at a fast casual restaurant chain, how sure can one be of a server's sexual orientation? Is it like: "Hi! Welcome to TGI Pancho's! My name is Lisa, and I'll be your server today! Why don't you take a minute to look over the menu while I go over there and eat out my girlfriend, and I'll come back and tell you about today's specials?"
2) If we presume that it is ok (it is not) to punish the gays economically, wouldn't the thing to do be to ask to be moved to a different section with a heterosexual server? Instead of having filthy gays handle your plates of crab rangoon, etc? Or are these Christian stiffs all "hey! our server is a catamite, we walk out of here with 18% of the check total still in our pockets, because we do not have to tip depraved sinners. Cha- CHING!" Really?
3) In at least one case, the server was an ex-Marine. Just saying.
The Cod's initial reaction when I saw this story was "people who voluntarily eat in fast casual Italian restaurants, not to mention "Asian bistros," feel that they have a leg to stand on when it comes to disapproving the lifestyles of others? Surprisingly though, the Italian place, Carrabba's, on paper at least, seems to be fairly cromulent. No mention of unlimited breadsticks, and mostly recognizably Italian items on the menu. I doubt it would give Del Posto much to worry about, but it looks like it would be a better look than say, PF Chang's in an emergency. Also, out of curiosity, I took a look at the diversity tab on the website, and it appears to be an actually more thoughtful and more inclusive statement thann I would imagine:
Thanksgiving torture porn has been a thing ever since the intermission of Grindhouse, but it reaches macabre new heights this year, via the unexpected medium of the employee newsletter.
The same sociopath who sends out an email every feb suggesting getting a room at the campus conference center for a romantic Valentine's getaway is now encouraging subcontracting campus catering to do your Thanksgiving cooking. The rest of the story here is that the Cod's day job's catering is in the steely grip of Aramark - thus what you would be saying to your guests who brave the vagaries of holiday travel to sit at your table is: "Happy Thanksgiving! I care so much about this harvest celebration that I contracted with Aramark to feed you, after a fashion!" There may be more emphatic ways to say "fuck you," but I can't think of many.
Feast your eyes on the choices, if you dare. Because it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a jug of sweet tea and a red velvet cake. Seriously - forget Eli Roth, this is some Lars Von Trier stuff happening.
A friend we will call Regina shared this. It was an invitation to faculty at a university where Regina works. Food fanciers will enjoy a classic example of the putatively fancy but still shitty menu: "Tossed salad with three dressings, dinner rolls, sun-dried tomato crusted chicken breast, etc, sliced sweet potato with maple glaze," etc. It's better than what the kids get, but still a hearty fuck you served on a steam tray. Other folks besides the 'Fesser on the higher ed grind might enjoy the unfathomable condescension of a) having an event like this and b) inviting faculty. Finally, it is delightfully self-defeating, in that it would seem to teach this university's current faculty good enough table manners to flourish at a school that treats them with just a little bit more respect.
As you know, the Streep Award is awarded every year to the individual who has done the most to piss all over Julia Child's life and work. The award is named after Meryl Streep and her grotesque and hamfisted portrayal of Child in the movie based on the book based on Julie Powell's blog about Child's book. The Cod will not rest until Streep is brought to justice, AKA forced to spend eternity on a Carnival cruise ship sailing between Tampa and Jacksonville performing a one-woman adaptation of Mama Mia.
But the Streep is strong in Mark Bittman. Evidently, the way to praise one icon of American cooking is to denigrate another:
Exactly. Hazan exists in a universe that Child created, but whatever. It's also symptomatic of a broader problem in writing, which is that women are often presented to the public in pairs w/ some sort of presumed rivalry expressed in some sort of binary. Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, Adele and Amy Winehouse, etc. Meanwhile, men exist in more nuanced and complex constellations. But I digress, The lede is even worse, and does more of the same pairing stuff:
Say what? I have my doubts about Alice, but again, there is an order of magnitude difference, Hazan is the Diana Kennedy of Italian cooking, while Alice Waters has transformed living in Northern California into an ideology.
Also, it's curious to read this so soon after the much discussed Time Inc sausagefest shitshow, in that Bittman's points of reference for Hazan are other female cooks/authors. It would be interesting to do a more systematic comparison, but for the sake of comparison, this remembrance of Charlie Trotter invokes a whole bunch of dudes: Grant Achatz, Wylie Dufresne, Ferran Adria, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, Tetsuya Wakuda and Pierre Herme, and not one lady.