Gwinnie, et al, seem to be in the throes of an heroic romantic notion of authorship, which is a relatively recent phenomenon, and exists for the sake of copyright as much as anything. But to be an author is to be that kind of author, so there is an idea that a book springs from the brow of its creator. For novels, sure, maybe, academic monographs, sometimes, but for cookbooks, less so. Recipes in a cookbook need testing, in a way that chapter 12 of the new Marcy Dermansky novel does not. It is, by its nature, a collaborative product. Here is where auteur theory might help. Scorsese, for instance, makes movies, but Thelma Schoonmaker edits them. It's silly for Gwinnie to beef, much as it would be silly for Scorsese to insist that he shot every frame of Raging Bull himself. It's not true, but it's also not the point. Scorsese makes Scorsese films, and other folks help him realize his vision, just like if Mario does a NASCAR cookbook. Moskin's article seemed to be more of a memoir ("I was the literary equivalent of a plongeur"), than an expose', but the reaction from various cookbook producers turned it into a scandal.
So The Cod saw where the Eaters were teasing a piece w/ "the problem with food porn." Glad to see it, b/c the Cod used to wonder if people who used the term "food porn" were clear on what pornography is.* A refresher. For instance, the CSPI called Hardee's Thickburgers "food porn," cuz they are, like really bad for you. Like porn. But wait! Porn, the regular kind, is usually involves looking at kinds of people doing kinds of things for/with/to/at oneanother in contexts that are not accessible to the viewer. (Yes, Slammy from Miami, and yes, Rod Huggins, but they are exceptions that prove the rule.) What makes it bad, then, is the distance between the object and the consumer, which produces degrading objectification, etc. But the problem with the Thickburger is not that exists only in print or pixels, creating unrealistic expectations of hamburgeruality in our youths. You can't wander into your local Hardee's and fuck Sasha Grey, but you can order a Thickburger. That's the problem. On the other hand, the folks Eater linked to w/r/t "the problem w/ food porn" conflatepornography and desire in a way that's just kinda effed up:
Via, as usual, EMD, Michael Pollan or Michel Foucault* -- the game that's sweeping the nation. Bald dudes kind of all look alike -- just ask Avery Brooks -- so this game is pretty hard. As a warmup, The Gurgling Cod presents Pollan or Foucault -- prose edition: A) "Speeches and books were assigned real authors, other than mythical or important
religious figures, only when the author became subject to punishment and to
the extent that his discourse was considered transgressive. In our culture
and undoubtably in others as well discourse was not originally a thing, a product,
or a possession, but an action situated in a bipolar field of sacred and profane,
lawful and unlawful, religious and blasphemous." B) "Complicating matters is the fact that the price and abundance of food
are not the only problems we face; if they were, you could simply
follow Nixon’s example, appoint a latter-day Earl Butz as your
secretary of agriculture and instruct him or her to do whatever it
takes to boost production. But there are reasons to think that the old
approach won’t work this time around; for one thing, it depends on
cheap energy that we can no longer count on."
Take your best shot, and leave your guesses below! *MF is pretty important for my day job, and responsible for possibly my favorite TGC post. He also spent a lot of time in the Bay Area in the 70s. I wonder if he ever got over to Panisse. Michel and Alice is a meeting I would like to see -- come to think of it, some of Alice's cookbook collaborators have also asked, "what is an author"?
Or, in other words, more of the same. Even if I don't post about every abuse of this word, it does not make it OK. So, Ruth Reichl* -- I fight meme for meme: *Or so it says. It could, for all I know, actually be Shaq posting as Reichl.
Deconstructed, yes, in the same sense that Bill Maher deconstructed Karen Finley. Only the town that is the home of Neiman Marcus could possibly foster an entree this vulgar -- suggested slogan: Nana! Come for the caramel-chocolate-mustard vinaigrette, and stay for the "foamy bearnaise." Seriously, what the hell people.
I am not sure who this Harris Salat is, but let's hope that his appearances in DI/DO remain mercifully intermittent. It was the "deconstructed,"* a notedCodpeeve, that caught my attention, but the entire second sentence is remarkably unalloyed bullshit. First "suffuse" is to "spread over," so unless it's a parfait, it's the wrong world. It sounds fancier than "mix," but "mix" would seem to be the word that describes what's happening. Split infinitives may be my lonely crusade, but as usual, the adverb here can easily be chopped. Then "applying the emulsion in a deconstructed New England fish chowder"? It might be an emulsion, though I am not confident of that, but what the fuck is a "deconstructed New England clam chowder"? It does not appear on the current Salts menu, though lots of wincing quotation marks do, so it's not clear if the name is Bremer's or Salat's. But if you put the ingredients for a chowder on a plate, you have a mise, not a deconstruction. More generally, this is a contemporary example of the kind of nonsense Orwell got after back in the day. Hard to imagine a single sentence that could manage to piss off fans of both Orwell and Derrida, but this is the one. Am I reading journalism more closely than intended? Maybe, but this is America's Paper of record, so are sentences that make sense asking too much?
So the rant of the day with the higher stakes is up on the Tumblr, but when DI/DO goes out of the way to piss off the Cod, the Cod will take the bait. Steven Stern has a nice piece about how a mini restaurant empire in Brooklyn is buying whole beef carcasses and butchering them themselves. They work with local farmers, etc. Terrific, and au courrant, in other words. They have a diagram of a cow, and what they use the various cuts for -- very nice. However, the whole thing comes to a screeching halt in the accompanying recipe, which is for "pork belly guanciale." There is no such thing. Guanciale is made from the jowl, pancetta is made from the belly.* It's like saying "kidney foie gras." It's great that Marlow & Sons is doing its meat like this, but "pork belly guanciale" makes me wonder if elbow ham is next.
By my reckoning, this is three kinds of sad: 1) Actual health care professionals rolling out the "what you don't know about ____ can kill you" gambit favored by third-place local newscasts during sweeps months 2) That there is a cardiac surgeon who is famous for his appearances on Oprah, and 3) The chilling suspicion that there might actually be readers for whom this would represent useful service journalism.
For the suspicion in #3 to be true, the semantic slipperiness of the word "salad" would have to be beyond the grasp of the average Whole Foods shopper. To review: "salad," as in "I'll just have a salad," refers usually to a lettuce-based preparation of leafy green vegetables, as such, potentially healthy.* "Salad," however, can also refer to just about any refrigerated and prepared food, such as egg salad. A "Salad Bar" usually contains some of each kind of salad item. One could a) make a salad of baby spinach and cherry tomatoes with a light splash of vinaigrette, or b) fix yourself a pail of sausage gravy, and call it a salad. As such, the salad bar represents a series of choices, sort of like eating in general. If your idea of a light meal includes a pound of Southern Sweet Potato Salad,* not even Oprah's cardiologist can save you.
*And the "vegan chicken delight" would delight whom, exactly? Lovers of conundrums? Those who make croutons out of the square root of -1?
Via the Grinder, sketchy behavior from the folks at Cook's Country, the Paula Deeniest arm of Christopher Kimball's publishing empire. Blogger Alosha's Kitchen posted her variation on a potato salad receipt that had appeared in Cook's Kitchen. Kimball's Internet rentacops told her to take it down. She pointed out that she had made significant modifications to the receipt, and they said they did not permit their receipts to appear in altered form. Read the whole tawdry thing here.
As far as I can tell, the CI/CC/ATK positiion is legally, morally, and intellectually untenable. They will, if you ask give you permission, to post one of their receipts on your blog, as long as it is unaltered. But because they test them so assiduously, they will not let you post your revised version of their receipt. Thus, presumably, one could post a different potato salad receipt, as long as you did not mention that it had something to do w/ the CI/CC/ATK version. But the only way they could enforce that would be if it were illegal to mention the name of their publications. To the best of my knowledge, one cannot restrict someone else from mentioning the name of a publication or other entity, as in
"Christopher Kimball is a joyless mandarin, who presides over a triumvirate of media outlets, Cook's Illustrated, Cook's Kitchen, and America's Test Kitchen, which are based on the premise that food is fundamentally unpleasant, and that only through obsessive testing of food preparation techniques, can the metabolic necessity of eating be made tolerable."
This is clearly a case not of who is right, and who is not, but who has lawyers on retainer, and who does not. It is a variation on a SLAPP suit.
Also, this is potato fucking salad. Kimball is not sitting on a cure for AIDS, which, if patented, would make him rich beyond all worldly imagining. Chris Kimball, Cook's Country, and Debora Broide Publicity, (their PR jackals) can all piss up a rope, as far as I'm concerned. Here's an email address for the PR people, if you have questions: DeborahPub@aol.com