Wednesday, March 31, 2004

return to food

NY: The history of kosher food in America; NZ Lamb; Hot dogs and passover food in the Chron. In LA: more passover; Russ Parsons on the California Asparagus crisis, and how to cook them; Charles Perry remembers Alan Davidson.

Speaking of whom, I recently came across a truly stupid review of the Oxford Companion, written by the chowhound guy. In general, if you understand his prejudices and limitations, you can glean some rewarding information from his writing, and I guess this review is a good introduction to them. Apparently unfamiliar with the term "companion" (as opposed to dictionary), he gets lathered up about its lack of "definitiveness" -- by which he means principles of selection that differ from his own. Then he gets bent out of shape about the "britishness" of the writing, simplistically and, yes, stupidly, equated with both snobbishness and bad food. yawn. Here's a tip, Jim: the appeal to anti-intellectualism is not the best strategy for reviewing a reference book. The predictable point of the review is: I would like this book if I had written it. But the really tiresome thing is his pride in "debunking" allegedly recieved wisdom (an attitude that pervades chowhound): "perhaps the first-ever negative review of the much-touted OCF". How perspicacious of you to see through all the pretentious hype.

Rant over, I will say that the latest vacation disclosed some excellent Spanish food at Meson Asturias, a chowhound favorite in Jackson Heights; that "authenticity," however, does not necessarily equal quality, as we ate considerably better at a Batali property in Manhattan (an unfair comparison except in chowhound's parallel universe); that the best combination of the two was found at D.O.C., a sardinian enoteca in Williamsburg; and if I lived in NY, I would eat lunch at Peter Luger at least once a week. Also, Wylie Dufresne does not look particularly cool.

In other news, Bruce Cole has written a pretty good excuse to spend 15$/lb. on coffee. To his list of roasters, add: George Howell's terroir (Boston); Peaberry's (Oakland); Batdorf & Bronson (Olympia [it's the water]); update: duh, I forgot Colombe Torrefaction (Philly). And the California Rice Commission approved Ventria's application to grow GE rice that produces human proteins.


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