Not being especially fond of hops, or burping, I'm not much of a beer drinker. Take that as a starting point when I say I liked Trader Joe's generic suds, Simpler Times.
A six-pack bought for research purposes turned out to be not Big Fella's cup of tea, so to speak. That left five beers from the six pack for me. Served really cold, it was light, dry and refreshing, which is what I like in a beer. Maybe it was a little like Pabst, but the beer it most reminded me of, the Proustian wave of familiarity, was Pearl, the beer from Texas.
It's been more than a decade -- no, two decades -- since I drank a Pearl beer, but there's no denying that happy homecoming between Simpler Times and my tongue.
Recaling that there's no accounting for taste, what's the popular verdict on Simpler TImes?
Over at Pith in the Wind, Ashley Spurgeon expounds on how the New York media have caught on to this culinary revelation: You can bread poultry, fry it in hot oil and eat it! Honest to God!
I don't want to kick off some broiling debate about whether vegetarianism is smart, or kind or stupid or unrealistic, but I would like to point you to an elegant essay on the subject of wrestling with vegetarianism by novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. If you know his stuff--his first novel Everything Is Illuminated angered as many as it fascinated because the author was a mere 24 when he wrote it--you know he's a funny, thoughtful writer. Here, Foer takes on the complicated relationship humans have with animals and food, and particularly, the very compelling anchors that foods become in our most cherished memories with family and friends. (For me, that's biscuits and gravy--for him, that's chicken and carrots.) He talks about giving that up, and about what you gain in the meantime. What you non-vegetarians (and I'm one of them) will find so pleasurable about reading this story is Foer's honesty: He doesn't pretend not to miss meat.
While the cultural uses of meat can be replaced--my mother and I now eat Italian, my father grills veggie burgers, my grandmother invented her own "vegetarian chopped liver"--there is still the question of pleasure. A vegetarian diet can be rich and fully enjoyable, but I couldn't honestly argue, as many vegetarians try to, that it is as rich as a diet that includes meat. (Those who eat chimpanzee look at the Western diet as sadly deficient of a great pleasure.) I love calamari, I love roasted chicken, I love a good steak. But I don't love them without limit.
Elsewhere, he confronts all the attendant paradoxes that the act of eliminating animal protein raises, whether it's explaining to irritated relatives or questioning children. But in the end, it's a choice that changes entire family histories and requires embarking on a quest for new ones. Will his children, never having experienced his grandmother's chicken and carrots, establish equally profound memories over veggie burgers? It's a salient point for anyone who knows both worlds--much like those of us who remember a handwritten-letter, pre-Internet romance.
Remember all those Activia commercials--with Jamie Lee Curtis as spokesgoddess, hawking yogurt at grocery store display counters? If you recall, they promised "a positive effect on your digestive tract's immune system." Now that they've been sued successfully for false advertising and are settling by paying out $35 million dollars--up to $100 bucks per settlement-joining customer--they're not going to be putting that euphemistic language on containers anymore. Guess what they're going to be saying instead?
Gosh, I miss the days when former Scene editor Liz Garrigan would break from her normal daily routine of dog-cussing politicians and treat the newsroom to a forwarded email containing really cute pictures of kittens and puppies getting into mischief.
In the spirit of those days, I offer Evian Roller Babies.
Sun-kissed and road-weary, I just returned from the beach, where the pristine cleanliness of the vacation-rental kitchen inspired a purging of the Fox fridge. After unpacking the mildewed swimsuits and dustbustering the sand from my duffle, I attacked the icebox, jettisoning my body-weight in moldy blocks of cream cheese, calcified bricks of cheddar and half-empty jars of relish. (Yes, Pollyanna, they were half-EMPTY.)
I even poured steaming water on the glass shelves to melt away the crystallized pools of last summer's Breeden's Orchard peach preserves. The exercise left me feeling about as good as any other painful constitutional--à la the annual prophylactic dental cleansing or license tag renewal--and my empty, gleaming Kenmore is a sight to behold.
The Family Procurement Officer is on his way to Kroblix to start afresh. With such an unprecedented opportunity to start with a clean slate--a clean plate, even--I want to get it right. What should I put on his shopping list?
By now, we know that Hardee's can put an ejaculatory spin on anything involving their latest line of grub. Well, step right up, 22-year-old stunted adolescent male--it just keeps getting better! The latest oh-oh-OH! offender: the new Hardee's French Dip Thickburger.
OK, so even a reviewer who typically likes Hardee's burgers said it tasted like water, salt and black food coloring. But the egregious ad campaign Hardee's cooked up to sell this Merdeburger is even more tasteless. Stereotypes include: regular maids are old and fat (OMG, like that is SO true, you guys), French maids are all totally babelicious smokin'-hot hotties (yea-UH), and everything French is just better. Wait, now I'm confused. Red-blooded meat-eating American douches like France again? I thought that country was, like, as gay as it gets.
But I digress. Hardee's isn't just content to offend us online, on TV and in radio spots. According to a press release, they're now sending "four gorgeous* French maids" (from France! who love sports! with names like Sophie, Antoinette, Gabrielle and Isabelle!) to ride around on Segways passing out coupons at key sportin' and drankin' events 'round town next week. Now, do they play the same kind of football in France they do in the good ole US of A? Who cares--did someone say "hot chicks feeding me"? Boing-g-g!
Anyhoo. Check out the clip above if you don't get my meaning. Only safe for work if your boss is cool with you "popping your toast" in your cubicle. (Hot dripping icing not included!)
Nashville stops and locations after the jump, mais oui.
* "Gorgeous" has in fact been universally defined, so you can be sure that no matter who you are, male or female, you'll agree aesthetically with Hardee's selection of meat--er, women.
In an essay in New York magazine, writer Hugo Lindgren argues there's a new leading economic indicator:
The hotter the waitresses, the weaker the economy. In flush times, there is a robust market for hotness. Selling everything from condos to premium vodka is enhanced by proximity to pretty young people (of both sexes) who get paid for providing this service. That leaves more-punishing work, like waiting tables, to those with less striking genetic gifts. But not anymore.
An interesting theory. While I would argue that journalists in Nashville are getting hotter and hotter, I can't speak for the local waitstaff. How about you? Have you noticed an uptick in the pulchritude of your servers? Does it help compensate for the decline in your 401K?
I found a hair in my noodles the other day. I'm not pointing fingers, because, hell, we all shed. And as far as bodily detritus goes, hair's certainly not the worst. I mean, it's not fingernail. And for further perspective, I once toured restaurants with a health inspector who didn't even flinch at dead cockroaches, because--she pointed out--they're dead, which means the restaurant has the proper roach-killing systems in place. Hurray, I guess?
Looking around the restaurant where I found the hair, I could identify the long-maned servers from whom the offending strand likely exuviated. They looked like a well-kempt cast of Bumble & Bumblers, so that hair was probably every bit as clean as the fork that I was so blithely licking.
In the end, I abandoned my hairy noodles, leaving about 80 percent of the dish on the table. Frankly, I could stand to do that at more meals, so it was a BMI-beneficial event, at least.
When the server asked if anything was wrong with my food, I really wanted to say--at the top of my lungs--"YES THERE WAS A DAMN HAIR TANGLED UP IN MY NOODLES--CAN'T Y'ALL WEAR NETS OR SOMETHING? GROSS! GROSS! GROSS!" But I said nothing. For one thing, I don't really like looking at people in hair nets.
What would you have done?
If your name is Jonathan, and you were the server for a table of three women at ChaChah last week, I'd like to apologize on behalf of all of us and thank you for your patience and help.
Southern women usually say, "Oh, I'll eat anything." But that wasn't true for our party of three. First of all, we couldn't decide how much food to get. No one wanted to overeat, but we were highly motivated to order because we couldn't have more drinks until we ate.
The bargaining began. We couldn't agree on big plates or small ones. One of us wouldn't eat lamb or octopus. One of us wanted the stuffed dates. One of us would not touch dates. One wanted sausage and potatoes. Another refused to eat potatoes. Two small plates and one big racione didn't seem like enough. The bargaining began again over which additional racione, then, we should order.
Then the wine selection. A sparkling pink was summoned from the bar. Too sweet. A non-sparkling pink was summoned from the bar. Somewhat vinegary. The wine list was brought out. Red? Or white? One only drank white, one drank red or white, one got headaches from Chardonnay, one found pinot grigio too tasteless to pair with food.
For the record, the barbecue bison was the entrée, with pinchos of crab fritters and lamb meatballs, plus the three-dip selection. Hours later, everyone left happy, possibly the happiest being our server.
Servers, do you dread seeing that table of Southern women?
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