Been a minute. Based on recent events, I figure that this Thanksgiving might be the most difficult, since, like, the first one. There is plenty of anger and frustration to go around, and plenty of time to process it all.
Under the best of circumstances, Thanksgiving is a stereotypically difficult holiday, where various young people are summoned back from where It Gets Better to Small Town USA, where a nervous matriarch sets ground rules in hopes of keeping her kids from butting heads w/ Racist Uncle™, and leaving the meal in tears. The stakes on all of that are higher than they have been for some time.
If you are hosting, especially if you are hosting for the first time, you are facing a task that is one of those things the young people call "adulting." Even if you are an adult, it's a lot of work, and a lot of planning. Sam Sifton can help. This book demystifies and codifies a challenging task. I wish he would write a book for other Big Adult Tasks, like buying a house, or planning a parent's funeral. For now, there is this book, which will help.
The other piece of advice, for hosts and for guests, is to hold space at your table for people who need it. The cinetrix and I have been known to have a Friday Friendsgiving, and offer a place for folks for whom Thursday was an ordeal. There are other ways to do this, too -- serve at a homeless shelter, donate money to a food pantry, invite people from far away to join you, etc.
I bought chestnuts yesterday, and and plan to peel them while I watch football this evening. How are you getting ready?
6) I don't think that our reviewer is responsible for the Times Square location of Senor Frogs's shutting down, but considering that the entire connection between the critic and the restaurant is a result of the struggle of print journalism to stay relevant, it seems sort of tacky to react like this.
7) FWIW, if your broker calls and asks if you want to put your pension in NY Times stock, or Senor Frog's, my advice would be to stick with the margaritas.
Via @ghostssong, a revolting development from New Orleans. (H/T Rev. Melanie.) Part & Parcel, a new place in the CBD, (I guess sometimes even lovers need a holiday from Cochon Butcher, but I digress.) I ain't mad at sandwiches hardly ever, but the menu here has one absolutely fucked up item.
Yep, that's a baloney sandwich, named after one of the grimmest housing projects in New Orleans. In case you miss the joke, it comes with "gov'ment cheese." Welfare? LOL!! A twelve dollar baloney sandwich with a name that ridicules poverty at a sleek new spot in the CBD? Congrats to Part & Parcel for fitting so much of what is wrong w/ post-K new orleans on a brioche. FWIW, surprising that both Eater and Todd Price (whose story includes link to menu) overlooked this item in their coverage.
It's not November, but in a truer sense, every month is Pimento Cheese Awareness Month, and it's important not to miss a chance to bring the minner cheese to the people when you can. I As such, very happy to report that the Woodstock Farmers' Market, in Woodstock VT, is now making its own pimento cheese, based on the recipe I gave them. They have tweaked it some, but here is what I gave them, in the event that it is not convenient for you to visit.
Brother Jonathan’s Pimento Cheese
2 red peppers, roasted.
1 lb Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar, grated on large holes of box grater.
4 oz Duke’s Mayo.
2 Tb Korean red pepper flakes.
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika.
1 tsp Tabasco
Roast peppers in 450 oven, turning once or twice, until exteriors are blackened and blistering
(20 minutes or so)
Place roast peppers in bowl, and set bowl inside paper grocery bay, and fold down top.
Allow peppers to cool for approx. 30 mintues, and remove skin and seeds, reserving liquid from
peppers. Rinse peeled peppers if necessary. Chop peppers into approx. ¼” dice
Combine peppers and cheese in large bowl and combine with clean hands or mixing spoon until
Add mayo, using just enough to bind peppers and cheese, and maybe a little more for flow.
Add pepper flakes, paprika, Tabasco, and strained liquid from peppers.
Stir to combine, check seasoning, and serve with mini pretzels or crostini.
That piece in the Times about how Jack Daniels is now engaging w/ how African-Americans played a role in developing their iconic whiskey is an interesting read, esp in terms of seeing mainstream journalism struggle with telling about the struggle to recover marginalized presences from archives. Glad to see they checked in w/ John T., who has been thinking, and talking w/ Tunde Wey about these debts. My reaction may be condition by being a 46 yo Yankee, who lives in the South, and now thinks about these things as a condition of maintaining some level of sanity, but the first thing I thought of when I read this news was Lynyrd Skynyrd. Specifically, their live double album -- One more for from the road. My big brother the pickler brought this record to my attention some time in the 1970s, and it captured my imagination on a variety of levels. Free Bird, of course, before a million wankers at a million shows made it a punchline, was epic, and almost always the last slow dance at 7th-8th grade dances. And! Sweet Home Alabama, a great tune that just keeps getting more complicated, not to mention Gimme Three Steps, and Saturday Night Special, IE two more songs questioning gun violence than there were on the last record you bought. But! Part of the fascination was the gatefold, which portrayed a world very different from my own.
It's a world with hot dogs, beers, guns, and bras, all pretty much absent from my early teen, bowlcutted existence. But also, the Confederate flag and Jack Daniels. The Jack Daniels label and the Confederate flag are both iconic, and seem often to keep pretty close company. (If you are some place that sells t-shirts with one, chances, they sell the other.) There are plenty of other times and places to rehearse the why and where for flying the Confederate flag (almost never, IMO) or what it means, (different things to different people), but among the other valences, the Confederate flag and the Jack Daniels logo both represent a form of white masculinity (throw the Harley logo in there too, if you like). It is too soon to know how energetically the Jack Daniels folks will tell this story, but it would be ironic if this icon came to represent recovered African-American history, don't you think? Play us off, lads.
It has been a Time here at the day job. The main administration building at Clemson has been occupied by students for a week. You can read how come here. The short version? People of color at Clemson are tired of being treated like stepchildren of the much vaunted "Clemson Family." I am pushing a little bit of my time, a few dollars of my treasure, and as much talent as I can steal from the Momofuku cookbook to the center of the table and cooking up some bo ssam tacos to serve tonight (Wed 4/20 at 6pm) - come by if you can. More important, if you have a minute, and you are behind these brave young men and women, add your name this doc, print it out, take a picture holding it, and send it back to me at email@example.com. I will put them together here. Thank you. Our administration seems a little bit overwhelmed by these events so some helpful guidance from our peers and friends would help.
Been a minute since I rapped at you, for which I am truly sorry. There is worse to tell, right on the same corner of campus, but, shouldn't we all stick to something, instead of noticing the raging dumpster fire all around us? Theoretically, I claim the proud title of semi-retired food blogger, so, food:
Here is a picture of the food truck that visited my day job today. I have probably complained a few times about working in a food desert, IE a campus w/ an Aramark food contract. Also, the physical layout of the campus means that it is impossible to park on public/IE not campus/Aramark controlled space, so there is not the robust food truck culture that some campuses have enjoyed for decades. Elsewhere in the United States, food trucks have been "hep" for a decade or so. In an effort to provide Clemson with the top-notch amenities Clemson deserves, it appears that in 2016, the year of our Lord, there is a spot for one food truck. But! It's the food truck arm of Table 301, the Greenville, SC restaurant group that controls most of the high-end spots in Greenville, (also many of the ones John Mariani inexplicably extolled in Esquire). This is the same restaurant group whose flagship hosted a fundraiser for a prominent dog abuser, and whose flagship embodies the antithesis of the Coco Chanel edict to get rid of one thing before you go out. And Table 301 restaurants were among the "downtown restaurants" that "felt threatened" by food trucks, and worked to enact laws to keep them out of downtown Greenville in 2013.
So! Fast forward to 2016, and the powers that be decide that occasional visits from a food truck are a good Amenity. (Aramark, one imagines, gets its pound of flesh.) Do they reach out to one of the actual food trucks? They do not. Instead, Clemson invites a fake, shades of Applebee's truck bankrolled by a restaurant group that doubles down on its rep for mediocrity and, drumroll, brings cheeseburgers and quesadillas to the people! This is the food truck version of astroturfing, which makes it just another Guiteau Monday.
It is Mardi Gras Day. I am 22 years, 589.9 miles, and 721 feet above sea level removed from living in New Orleans. Like many of you, I watched the Formation video over the weekend, and saw Beyoncé's halftime performance. There is a lot to think about. The world does not need more Formation thinkpieces, so I will keep this brief.
The video is anchored by Katrina imagery -- specifically Beyonce on a sinking NOPD cop car with flooded houses in the background. There is what looks like real post-K destruction footage. Elsewhere the video invokes New Orleans via American Horror Story: Coven / Pretty Baby iconography. After Beyoncé mentions Red Lobster, there is a cut to a shot of crawfish. Geographically and culturally, New Orleans is close to at the center of the persona Beyoncé produces here: "My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana. You mix that Negro with that Creole make a Texas bama."
"Formation" dropped around lunchtime this past Saturday, or as Isis was getting rolling, followed by Tucks.
Beyoncé's live performance of "Formation" occurred during halftime of the Super Bowl on Sunday. It was cool to see a Super Bowl halftime show that answered the question of "what if the S1Ws were women, and dressed like Black Panther reenactors"? That said, if you went to Bacchus, you probably missed it.
All of this is to say that on first and repeated viewing, there is something about seeing Katrina invoked as a trope in a music video -- even one as righteous as this -- that makes me a little bit uneasy. I can only imagine how hard it must be for some Katrina survivors to watch this. At the same time, I've not seen much pushback in this vein (I am sure there is some I missed). I have a guess about why.
Releasing a NOLA-themed video like this right in the middle of the climactic weekend of Carnival is a strange move, when most New Orleans folks are a) celebrating b) serving food and drink to revelers c) hiding out from the revelry -- but it makes a lot of sense if your Big Chief is the Super Bowl. Beyoncé drops the single on the Internet on Saturday afternoon, performs it in San Francisco at the Super Bowl on Sunday evening, and announces a tour on Sunday night (one that bypasses New Orleans). As she tells us herself, the best revenge is your paper, but I will be curious to see what New Orleans folks have to say about all this once Lent gets rolling.
And yes, it has been a while since I rapped at you, but that Awl piece today about the Pete Wells Per Se review has been getting some love on the internet today, and I am not sure why. I've been a fan of the Awl since its inception, wrote for it one time, and a fan of Alex Balk since TMF/TML. This piece, though, I do not get. As it happens, I'm teaching a class about criticism at the day job this semester, and mentioned Wells' Fieri review as an example of why negative reviews are more fun to read than the other kind. But this piece? IDK. I have not read much of Matt Buchanan's stuff. He is admirably well versed in the recent history of NYT restaurant reviewers, though I was sad not to see Grimes in the conversation.
As impressive as it is to see this knowledge, it bears on an argument that is rendered basically incoherent by its embrace of a single word -- the subhed is "The ceaseless downshifting of 'populism' in dining."
There are at least two completely different was that this does not make sense, which is something in itself. In both cases, "downshifting" is just not the word Buchanan needs. In a literal sense, to "downshift" is to shift from a higher to a lower gear. It's not a great word to use figuratively, because you might downshift a) to accelerate to pass a slower car or b) to use engine braking to slow your vehicle. Given the evident prominence of Uber in Buchanan's opus, it's likely he does not drive stick, and the nuances of this word escape him.
That said, if you get out of the car, and imagine that he is using "downshift" in the more literal (figurative?) sense of actually shifting something down, the article gets more confusing, because what is getting "downshifted" is "populism." If we assume that "downshift" means something like to "diminish" or "reduce," in the same way that men like Mike Gundy use "downgrade" when they mean "denigrate," it only gets more confusing. Is a diminished populism one that is more or less populist than the original? Eventually the piece gets around to something like the idea that maybe it's not so cool that a Michelin-starred chef getting involved in a fast-casual chicken sandwich place makes them William Jennings Bryan 2.0. Indeed, it is messed up to live in a world where a heavily capitalized salad chain can identify Greenwich Village as a "food desert," but it would help if we knew ahead of time if a "downshifted" populism was more or less elitist than the regular kind.