The best diners are the dirtiest.
Determining the authenticity of a diner proves difficult in a town
like Cooperstown; a proliferation of tourist traps confuse the eye and
bewilder the tongue; main street, three ice cream parlors, a wax museum
of baseball legends, the hall of fame: everything dances wildly between
the bases of reality. Nevertheless, somewhere between the Triple Play
Café and a hidden ballpark hot dog joint the Cooperstown Diner takes a
daring leap. No gimmicks, no cheap tricks, no sideshow thrills. This
diner is “dirty”—the tablecloths feel waxy and get a quick wipedown
after each guest (a hint of stickiness remains), and dinge crowds the
walls with a veneer of shabbiness. A fly buzzes idly and then nosedives
into a recently poured cup of coffee, drowning. The Cooperstown Diner
feels dirty without the actual grime, age and wear accumulating a
palpable presence. It is deliciously authentic.
Who knew that Baudrillard hated foodies?
More precisely, Jean Baudrillard, intellectual celebrity, dead
Frenchman, and “radical thinker,” hated collectors. Finding that they
“invariably have something impoverished and inhuman about them” (The System of Objects 114),
Baudrillard launches an extensive critique of collecting based on his
“system of objects” theory and a psychoanalytic grab bag. As I will
argue that foodies engage in the active collecting of restaurants and
dining experiences, by the transitive property of philosophy, foodies
must have something impoverished and inhuman about them. Yes, I read
Baudrillard for fun. On my vacations. What that indicates about my
personal richness and humanity remains inconclusive. Continue reading
Vermont is where farm-to-table kitsch comes to die.
In New York City, restaurants oftentimes emphasize their connection
to local markets; they are “market restaurants,” “farm-to-table,” or
participate in “sustainable foodways.” Still, eating fresh produce
sequestered in a metropolitan fortress of steel and concrete feels
disingenuous. Knowing the name of the farm that grew those ramps or
raised that rabbit means little without context. A name is only a name
when stripped of the named object. So we go to the farms, the
creameries, the foragers, and the fishermen, seeking the intrinsic
narratives of the food we consume. So we go to Vermont. Continue reading
When I think about futurist art, I think of a sub-chapter in the
high school art history textbook, describing a few works most likely by
Umberto Boccioni. The books always use “Unique Forms of Continuity in
Space,” a bronze casting created by Boccioni in 1913, as their prime
(and often only) example. Boccioni’s sculpture captures motion through
space, speed personified in a cubism-influenced rendering of speed blur.
Pork tenderloin gets a bad rap.
“Dry.” “Flavorless.” “Lackluster in every imaginable way.” So I’ve
heard this cut insulted. I, however, disagree. When properly prepared,
briefly cooked over heat equivalent to the surface of a star and then
finished in a gentle oven, pork tenderloin transforms into an insanely
tender dish. With hints of luxurious liver and musky pig, this narrow
sliver of protein plays well with fruit.
Craving some pork—who isn’t—I wanted to develop a recipe that would
sauce the admittedly lean meat with acid and sugar. Although June seems
early for peaches, I figured that the recipe would perform well
throughout July and August, even with slightly under ripe fruit. A
lonely onion camped out in the vegetable drawer, so I decided to craft a
savory-sweet marmalade to provide a summery dressing. Originally, I
intended to prepare a buttery sunchoke mash, rough and nutty, but the
local megamart had no little knobbly roots lurking on the shelves. So I
picked up a parsnip, similar in flavor profile, and roasted it in thin
slices to generate a chewy, crispy texture.
If only I had a kitchen in my dorm next year, I could cook for myself
every night. Or at least until I got tired of the work, since this meal
(while technically easy) took around 45 minutes. For less than $10
though, I felt I got my college money’s worth.
We live and die in a batch of pie dough.
For years, Theresa H., one of my mom’s best friends, provided my
family with the best blackberry pies. Overflowing with gem-like fruit,
these pies were like playing in thick honeysuckle bushes on a summer
day: fragrant beyond the bounds of expectation or propriety.
Individually deep ruby, the berries formed a purple-ebony mass stuffed
into a tanned crust.
Only clichéd adjectives serve to describe that crust: flaky, buttery,
unprocessed to perfection. Intuitively, I knew that Theresa’s
blackberry pie required a summation of simplicity. But I remained
content, at least until recently, to live in ignorance of those quiet
facts, those ratios of water, flour, and fat. When she offered to show
me how such a pie came together, how could I refuse?
Wednesday, Josh Ozersky tweeted: “The next time you think we’ve how far we’ve come read this:http://www.slate.com/id/2256610/ And Slate wasn’t ashamed to run it! 2:53 PM Jun 16th via web” (I’ve made the link active for your convenience.)
Reading this tweet, I immediately considered what heinous content Slate
might have published. An advocacy of factory farms perhaps? A polemic
against sustainable fishing? Praise for high fructose corn syrup,
dangerous food additives, fast food, obesity, and all that “foodies” (I
hate that word) consider wrong with America? To misquote King Lear, No, no, no, no, no, and no. Slate‘s article, “Shoe-Leather Reporting,” explains the “history of well-done meat in America.” Continue reading