Wednesday, June 09, 2004


It is Wednesday, and there are a few things we need to discuss before my return to the desert. Most importantly, Frank Bruni debuts with an attempt to restore order in his review of Babbo. It is an auspicious start, I would say, though I do wonder how it is possible to penetrate a gantlet. [Seriously, please do not tell me the answer, particularly if it includes the word "tailhook"]. Relatedly, Robb Walsh talks to J.-G. V. about his recent adventures in the Houston Press, Andoni Luis Aduriz interviews Basque "celebrity" chef Juan Mari Arzak [via Sauté Wed.].

Elsewhere, Robert Birnbaum finally publishes the interview with Jim Harrison he's been talking about for weeks:

JH: I am doing a food piece for [the NYer] of a peculiar origin. A friend of mine, a book collector/dealer in Burgundy, France, had a lunch for a group of friends that had 37 courses in November and took 11 hours. [both laugh]

RB: I thought you swore off these kinds of indulgences?

JH: No, I just picked at the food. Nineteen wines. It was a nice lunch. [both laugh] This was all food from the 17th and 18th centuries. He is a great bibliophile of ancient books on food and wine. So he made tortes of pig�s noses, you know. Old timey stuff. It was interesting, of course, the origins of dishes.

More lit. than food, but nevertheless interesting.

Also, you need to read about the latest USDA mad cow fuckup/coverup.

In the better-late-than-never dept.: 1. you really should join slow food [thanks J.!]

2. Although everyone who is likely to buy the Fergus Henderson cookbook probably already has, allow me to offer further inducement: his writing. One recipe begins:

Even just writing this recipe down, its soothing qualities have quite restored me from the fragile state in which I was.
If that doesn't make you want to bake a fish pie, I don't know what will. Then there is the famous haggis recipe
...Do not be put off by the initial look of your ingredients
(I will spare you further details, except to say that they include the words "pluck," "lights," and "windpipe"), not to mention the "miracle," with which the book ends, "a cure for any overindulgence," which will undoubtedly be the first recipe I end up testing.

And in the miracle-of-life dept., cherry season is already winding down here, with all of the attendant intimations of mortality, though these are offset by the appearance of the first real tomatoes of the year. It does, however, give me occasion to advise you to take advantage of your own cherry season, when it finally arrives in your less meteorologically pleasant neck of the woods -- it will be over before you know it, so don't waste any time.

Appropriate non-food things to read this week include Bonzo's remembrances, and Mencken's [the latter via Thompson's via t-muffle], particularly instructive for those of you who cling to the idea of progress:

Bryan came very near being President of the United States. In 1896, it is possible, he was actually elected. He lived long enough to make patriots thank the inscrutable gods for Harding, even for Coolidge. Dulness has got into the White House, and the smell of cabbage boiling, but there is at least nothing to compare to the intolerable buffoonery that went on in Tennessee. The President of the United States doesn't believe that the earth is square, and that witches should be put to death, and that Jonah swallowed the whale. The Golden Text is not painted weekly on the White House wall, and there is no need to keep ambassadors waiting while Pastor Simpson, of Smithville, prays for rain in the Blue Room. We have escaped something -- by a narrow margin, but still safely.


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