La-La Land

It’s been nine months since I stopped reading the local paper and several years have passed from listening to public radio.  My daily information comes from The New York Times, BBC online, WERS, London Review of Books, and Times Literary Supplement.  The result is that I feel gloriously alienated from routine life, and create a kind of structure based on observations and experience.  As far as I’m concerned, Boston is Roxbury, most people I meet are mentally ill and in hospitals or homeless, and food comes from a wholesale grocer or in the mail.

The best food writing nowadays is in the Business section of The New York Times and then on occasion on the op-ed page of the paper.

Today’s stories, respectively, were about chickens.

We’re back to chickens.

Nicholas Kristof wrote today about horrifying conditions on egg farms.  In the Business section of the same paper, an article described the huge percentage of chickens (48%) that have tested for E Coli.  Even if you don’t eat eggs, you do eat bread and cake, don’t you?

Personally, and here I must speak so, eggs and chickens are not really daily requirements.  Certain restaurants note on their menus, “a farm fresh egg,” even noting the name of the farm, but who cares?  Especially when the dish is 12 bucks.  Or so.

No, I think it’s best to stay home, boil that salted water, add dried pasta, and make a good, simple red sauce.

Penne Arabiata


Group On or Not to Group On

Shocking But True: On Friday, 4/6/12, at Symphony 8, a bar with a restaurant in Boston, I presented the server with a $40 GROUP ON that expires on 8/2/12.

“Sorry,” she said, “but we stopped taking these a month or two ago.”

There had no notification from GROUP ON about this.

What to do?

“Take it up with Group On,” she said.

On Monday, 4/9/12, I called Group On.  They said that as far as they were concerned, Symphony 8 was still accepting the Group On deal.  They refunded $10 in Group On “bucks” and $10 to my credit card.

But would I have ordered $40 worth of food on Friday?   Of course not.

Someone from the restaurant was kind enough to write me back today: “Sorry about the confusion. We do not accept anymore. We stopped receiving payment from them so we cancelled everything we have to do with them and we have had customers in the past contact groupon and they received their money back without question. Sorry about the inconvenience but from what I’ve been hearing we are not the only business canceling with groupon because of this situation.”

Oh, the troubles!  Oh, the crises we must face each day!  The struggle goes on!  A people united shall never be defeated!

Such are my thoughts.

Moving forward, I’ll cash that $10 GROUP ON and I will move on.  No more GROUP ON deals for me!

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Stock Photo - copyright criminal.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
fotosearch - search<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
stock photos,<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
pictures, wall<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
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Stock Photo - copyright criminal.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
fotosearch - search<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
stock photos,<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
pictures, wall<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
murals, images,<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
and photo clipart


Easter Bunnies

It’s true.  No rumor: I did see two bunnies near the corner of Channing and Brattle before 8 A.M.  One of the black dogs saw the bunnies, the other black dog did not see the bunnies.  The bunnies were on their hind feet and then they hopped off.

Did the bunnies know it is Easter?  For that matter, did the dogs know?

Doubtful.  Neither species is about holidays.

On the walk back home, I thought about the bunnies as well as the stunning rabbit pot pie I have had at The Dutch in NYC.  Folks, that is one mean rabbit pot pie!

I am not sure what Edward Luttwak would think of the bunnies, dogs, or rabbit pot pie, but I do know that he thinks a lot, and that his recent essay in the London Review of Books about Mitchell’s new translation of The Iliad was so well written that I picked up my Sarah Ruden translation and put it on top of the ziggurat of 15 unread books on the right of this raised drafting table.

But say that Luttwak is hungry for more than just knowledge.  Say he wants rabbit and he wants it now…

Take a skinned rabbit that’s been chopped into eight pieces.  Dust in flour.  Add salt and pepper.  Pan sear about an 1/8th of a cup of good olive oil and add two tablespoons of butter.  Add the rabbit.  Brown on both sides.  Remove from pan and lower heat.  Add one chopped celery stalk, one chopped carrot, one chopped onion, two chopped cloves of garlic.  Crank up heat and cook until done.  Put rabbit back.  Add 1/4 cup of white wine, 1/4 cup of water, a bay leaf, and parsley.  Place in oven preheated to 350 for 20 minutes.  Remove.  Correct the salt and pepper.  Serve hot with good, crusty bread and Belgian ale or a Malbec.

The choice is yours:

White rabbit in the farm Stock Photo - 11536919



Rabbit Meat

Nothing but Chickens in Here!

News all over the media about chickens.  First, a few weeks ago, Mark Bittman, born again as an environmentalist, having left behind his Plato’s Retreat version of food, writes about a soy factory in Holland that produces good facsimiles of chicken.  Sounds good too me.  I like tofu.  I like tofu skin (yuba), fried tofu, miso, dried miso, and what-have-you.

Then this week the FDA is talking about transferring its monitoring to the industry.  They want to reassign their field experts from inspecting the assembly line of CATBS (chickens about to be slaughtered) to other areas in the factory where the risk of microbes, diseases, and all sorts of bad stuff gets into the final, raw “product.”  Talk about letting the fox into the henhouse!

Ever see a fox in a henhouse?  Not a pretty sight, not at all.  Picture Scalia on the High Court and you get the idea.  Sort of.

Then today, in a near segue from the FDA story, Nicholas Kristof writes about a study that found caffeine and Benedryl in chickens in many slaughterhouses.  Seems the birds are drugged routinely.  It’s not what you think!  It’s not to keep them awake or to have a cup of Joe with that morning cigarette.  Nor is it to cut down on itching.  It’s to serve as an antibiotic.  Or something.  Anyhow, although the effects of the drugs are not found to be harmful, NK (Nicholas Kristof) objects to the bird tampering.  As well he should!

How to solve the problem?  Tofu or not tofu?

Wednesday’s NYT had the answer: Grow your own, man.  That balcony?  That backyard?  That rooftop?  Perfect for caged birds!  Um, OK, just try it.  Go ahead.  But don’t blame the NYT when you find yourself so attached to Missy, June Bug, Henrietta, and Queenie that you can’t bear to snap their necks, pull off all their feathers, scald them, tear out their guts, wash them clean, dry them, steam them, roll them in flour, add lots of salt and pepper, fry them in blazing hot oil, correct the salt, and then have them for dinner with a cold beer while watching the game.

This is not Ma Pa Tofu:

Chickens in the pen Stock Photo - 11463688



Operation Enduring Freedom

Like most of you, I have been catching up on my reading about the war in Afghanistan between bites of doughnuts and walking the dogs.  I’d no idea that the official military name for the war is: Operation Enduring Freedom. Previously, the name had been Operation Infinite Justice, but apparently had been changed since it sounds too much like a religious phrase and offends Muslims who, according to Wikipedia, are the majority religion in Afghanistan.  (That info about the majority religion is provided for those who may have thought that Evangelical Christianity was the majority born again religion in Afghanistan.  No, wrong!  These folks got it right the first time.)

What all this has to do with food is almost beyond me, but there is an explanation:  You may have noticed that this site was down the past 48 hours.  The result of a fierce fire fight between insurgents and the brave warriors here at Firebase Lilley in Shkin Valley on the Pakistani border.  The generators looked like Swiss cheese and we were reduced to K rations.  Thoughts of food turned to thoughts of war and survival.

We persevered.

It’s funny how being isolated here, moonlight and gray the two main colors, my thinking becomes clouded.  I don’t think so much about home, but instead envision HOME, an idealized place where doughnuts are the side of Buicks,  the only fire is for BBQ, and Swiss cheese goes with ham on rye.

Ham and swiss cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato on rye bread Stock Photo - 7432765