In the Scene editorial department, we have a file cabinet where we dispose of excess food, promotional swag and other things that we feel guilty about chucking--like those misguided booze-flavored potato chips that made some of us puke in our mouths.
On a recent stroll past the File Cabinet of Despair, I caught sight of a name that made my food-loving heart skip a beat: Escoffier. The name synonymous with modern French cooking was emblazoned on the spine of a shiny hardback book entitled Bigger Than Life.
Expecting a page-turning biography of Auguste Escoffier, creator of Peach Melba and Melba Toast, among other culinary innovations--I grabbed the book to spirit it away to my office, to place it on the shelf with the Joy of Cooking, Larousse's Gastronomique and other treasures gleaned from the file cabinet over the years.
But just as I was walking away with my booty, I realized booty, indeed!
This was not a volume of culinary literature about or by the legendary Auguste Escoffier. No, this was Bigger Than Life: The History of Gay Porn Cinema from Beefcake to Hardcore by Jeffrey Escoffier, author of Sexual Revolution and American Homo.
Just as I was turning red with embarrassment, Mr. Pink rounded the corner by the file cabinet, no doubt looking for some margarita-flavored potato chips or some of his beloved Pub Corn.
When I hurriedly began to over-explain why I was clutching a volume with a naked male torso on the jacket, Mr. Pink said only, "Well, you'll still get coq au vin." To which Brent Rolen added, "Or at least coq et vin." Fun-nee. See if I share the next alcohol-flavored snack item that passes my way.
Seems like a 1969 Farm Journal predicted the outcome of 40 years of research and endless cultural feuding. The magazine came from a distant family reunion in the Midwest earlier this summer. Reunion of my distant family: It was once owned by the brother-in-law of my grandmother's sister. Along with the story "Lamb Weights Still Climbing," and an item about a family who raises 1,000 head of cattle is the article "Do Animal Fats Really Cause Heart Attacks?"
Faced with a film produced by the American Heart Association that urged viewers to leave whole milk, butter, cheese, fatty meats and eggs behind and choose vegetable fats instead, Farm Journal posited that perhaps high cholesterol levels are the symptom of heart attacks, not the cause.
OK, well, that turned out not to be true. But the article did cite several studies that didn't find much link between high-fat foods and heart disease. And it did point to studies that inactivity, junk food, smoking and stress seem to be the culprits, illuminated by drawings like this one, apparently of P.J.Tobia at his desk.
And although it took 40 years of research to work it out, and a marketing firm to come up with the name, it seems like The French Paradox--how a fat-eating, smoking, drinking nation has less heart disease--may first have been reported by a magazine in the Midwest.
Ladies, you already knew that the only thing that will ever make you truly happy is a man. But did you know that the path to that happiness was lined with cream cheese, while an idyllic brook of milk babbles alongside? Didn't think so.
Scene intern Caroline Hallemann contributed this post.
I was in high school when I first heard of The Gallon Challenge, a dairy dare to drink a gallon of whole milk in under an hour. While the notion of such lactose excess would repulse most people, keep in mind that 11th grade guys are not most people. In their testosterone-addled minds, the statement that a human cannot ingest that much milk in an hour without regurgitating morphed into a modern-day sword in the stone.
Rumors flitted of mere mortals who had achieved such a feat with 2-percent milk, and fueled by that spurious evidence, the brave and the stupid took up their yellow jugs. I have never seen so much vomit in my life.
A few weeks back, I penned a review of Cantina Laredo that received an unusual amount of feedback. The funny thing about the responses was that some of them said I was too harsh on the Gulch's shiny new Mexican chain--with its high-dollar margaritas and tableside guacamole--while others complained that I had effectively given a bye to an insipid and overpriced interpretation of Tex-Mex.
Therein lies a crystalline critic's dilemma: The food was good, fresh, plentiful. In and of itself, I enjoyed it. But was it a groundbreaking spin on--or even a faithful interpretation of--the indigenous food of our Southern neighbor? Not so much.
So how should it be judged? Against a standard of what it is, or against a standard of what it could be?
It's safe to say I'll continue to wrestle with that question, and I appreciate the opinions of Scene readers who feel strongly about my reviews. Please keep them coming.
In the case of the Cantina Laredo review, I actually felt like I had been a little harsh. I haven't checked, but I'm guessing management didn't exactly laminate and post my review, which predicted that Cantina was "not going to change the way you think of Mexican food, except maybe how much you think it costs," and likened a grilled steak to a "small steel-belted radial." But such criticisms weren't enough for some people, including one reader who rebutted that Cantina Laredo was "a pseudo-Mexican take on Shoney's where you feel like you should wear better clothes."
Perhaps the disconnect between what I wrote and what I thought I wrote about Cantina Laredo could be summed up in this characteristically hilarious article from The Onion, in which the kid-gloved reviewer is--at least in his own mind--one bad mo'fo on a warpath of gastronomic ass-reamings.
Something to aspire to...
I wish I were making this stuff up folks: First, Carl's Jr. wanted you to conflate a milkshake with a little handjob action. Then Burger King wanted you to deep throat a seven-inch burger. Now Hardee's is dangling a sweet pair of biscuit balls right onto your face, and would like very much if you would munch on them. Hey, they're drizzled in a money shot of white icing!
The ad above asks would-be customers to "name their holes." I, for one, think it's great when commercials bring us all together. Just as everyone can have a Coke and a smile, now we can all embrace our stunted 22-year-old inner douche together, as a community, in service of the one thing we all agree on: Only fratty, 20-something brohammers eat fast food, but everybody wants to be in on the hazing party. So thanks, Hardee's, for allowing the rest of us to lick your balls, too.
"Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame-grilled with the new BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER," the ad copy reads, while a pallid, blow-up-doll like model opens up wide and ready for intake. It's so over the top I almost didn't believe it, but here's a link to the shot of the ad in Singapore. I guess if Hardee's and Carl's Jr. can invoke handjobs to sell a milkshake, why can't BK offer a BJ in their ad to move burgers?
Hell, I'll even forgo the expected feminist reading and just ask these assholes to level the playing field. (Oops--I guess asking for a level playing field is kinda feminist.) Women are constantly sold products using sex as well, only we're shown in casual slacks "getting off" on the Herbal Essences shampoo, or the scent of Febreze, or our husband's laundry-fresh scented polo shirt. Commercially, it seems our greatest sexual pleasure is being romanced by an old mop. Always relegated to the domestic realm, our only pleasure's a moment of respite from our real passion: clean houses.
Can you imagine an ad with a woman eyeing a vacuum cleaner like its vibrating power might do more than pick up dust mites? Or stopping mid-scrub of the bathroom tiles when she sees that sleekly powerful new shower head? How about this same BK ad targeted to women, but with a hot dude, oh, I dunno, fingering some chicken nuggets? What? Too tacky?
Hell, our supposedly torrid romance with ice cream could produce at least one ad with a young, tan, ridiculously attractive beefcake giving an ice cream cone a promisingly naughty lick, stopping an otherwise harried executive lady dead in her tracks.
Nah, leave all the fun to the boys. I'd rather be told how to find an exciting new way to prepare chicken tonight.
Ladies and citizens of Gaymenistan! Are you hot? You are? Then you need a License to Chill.
From Del Monte comes this ice treat to fill the hole, so to speak, in the adult ice treat market. And to look incredible doing it--it's modeled on the world's most famous torso. That would be Daniel Craig's. Mmmmmm.
Here's the plan. Take it to the bathtub and reenact that scene where he's emerging from the waves in, uh, whichever 007 film that was.
The limited edition also looks good on you: It clocks in at less than 100 calories. Insert swallow joke here.
Well, apparently not everyone loved the Scene's Summer Guide. Tallahassee May (pictured above), for one, objected to the use of Delvin Farms as a backdrop for beefcake instead of as a centerpiece in and of itself.
May, whose Turnbull Creek Farm partners with Drury Family Farm to create Fresh Harvest Co-op, drafted a response to the Scene's cover story in a May 23 posting on her blog. You can check out her rebuttal and get a gorgeous photo tour of life on a farm during the growing season.
(Tally, you may not know this, but it's thanks to you that Yvonne Smith, a.k.a. the Traveling Vegetarian, graces the Scene's cover this week. That's because I first met Yvonne two years ago when we were both picking up vegetables at Fresh Harvest on a Wednesday afternoon at the corner of Sharondale and Hillsboro.)
Call it Tongue Trouble at La Hacienda. I like the taste of tongue, so on our last visit to La Hacienda, I ordered the tongue plate. But my tongue isn't as cannibalistic as it used to be. When the lengua was judged to be too tongue-textured, as well as tongue shaped, my tongue said "Basta!" Eating it involved emotional duress, which is the opposite of what comfort food is supposed to be about.
Next time I get a taste for tongue, it's tongue tacos, cut up and modestly wrapped so they're unrecognizable.
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Stones River Total Beverage in Murfreesboro and Divine Wine and Spirits in Smyrna both carry…
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I haven't had any problem finding Rittenhouse...