Thursday, September 01, 2005

Going through the motions

As previously noted, I was born in a hurricane that hardly deserves the same name as the monstrous shitstorm we just saw, although it did make life interesting for my parents. Disasters like these are really incomprehensible except insofar they can be related to oneself; so I ate oysters last night* in mournful contemplation of my stupidity in never having visited New Orleans before its destruction. And gratitude for not being made to live in the Astrodome.

The whole armageddeon thing has cast a bit of a pall over my efforts to exploit the internet for cheap laughs, but like a moth to a flame, I did eventually fly from the weather porn to the blinding light of the food section.

In particular, I was blinded by Johnny Apple's belief that you can find "Mex-Mex" food in Santa Barbara, both because it is not true, and because it is based on a fallacious fetish of exotic authenticity. Furthermore, although La Super Rica is indeed super rica, their "salsa bar" is home to both foodborne bacteria and the allegedly lacking "dips". And then there is the discussion of the Hitching Post in the absence of Santa Maria barbecue, which is either lazy or stupid. One expects better from Apple.

And about the whole "chowder" travesty: if you want to make a soup and call it a chowder, fine. But someone is going to have to admit that it's not really chowder. And keep your bacon away from my fucking clams.

I admit it: mostly I just wanted to say "fucking clams." But there is no bacon in chowder.

On the other side of the country, Charles Perry flirts with authenticity and bacteria at LA's taco carts. And Emily Green has no difficulty describing the right way to make a burger:

It turned out that Huntington's lean mix has 5% fat, its standard mix 10% to 15%, but what they fondly called "Nancy's blend" has more like 20% to 28%.

"That's what gives the flavor," said the butcher. "Coarse ground, right?"

Some of the toppings are suspiciously SoCal, but you can't go wrong with enough fat. As they certainly know in Texas, where one can find The Squealer in the middle of a very large spectrum that ranges from delicious to terrifying. Also see: Whataburger.

August does seem to be the month when the Times unveils its shoddiest food writing, but I cannot do justice to this earnest humorlessness. See La D. instead. With, however, the following caveat: whatever the problems with "ethical consumerism," and they are manifold, a distinction needs to be maintained between tiresome good intentions and the much more detestable denial of pleasure in the service of some kind of arbitrary, terrorized ideology of "health". There are plenty of latter day macrobiotics around, and orders of magnitude separate them from recyclers.

Notwithstanding the Lees' good but not great tomato breeding article, it is becoming more and more difficult to avoid the conclusion that Bruce reached some time ago: the LA Times is superior to its "rival". All the more impressive when you consider what's happened to the business end in the last couple years. And I'm not saying that to curry favor. Speaking of: big ups to Pim for the linkage.

* Since it was technically September, Central Time, I violated no oyster consumption rules, though generally I wait for October. The rest of the evening went roughly like this.

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