Nice shortish profile of Anthony Bourdain in yesterday's New York Times: Forget Star Chef; Think Professional Eater. It seems he's no longer behind the stove at his New York restaurant Les Halles and is pretty much full-time traveling the world, eating and drinking local foods and beverages, for the television program "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" on the Travel Channel. Professional eater! Now that's a job I could get into!
Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita was published fifty years ago yesterday, and there's an interesting article in the New York Times, Forever Young, about its history. I hadn't realized Nabokov struggled to get it published, though of course that makes sense. Anyway, an interesting look at one of my favorite books.
Something has happened to my language skills and by something I mean they've begun a precipitous decline. Occasionally I use a similar, but incorrect, word when speaking, e.g once I used "disposed" instead of "deposed" to refer to a Latin American leader, an error which, at the time, I attributed to the fact that I lived in Mexico and rarely spoke English. But now this mixing-up seems to be worsening! And fast!
Yesterday while walking with a friend and discussing some serious blisters on my baby toe, I joked that it would fall off and I'd "regurgitate" a new one. Today when I was asked for permission to use one of my photos on Flickr, I mentioned to Jason that I'd allow it, but only if I got "retribution."
Regurgitate, regenerate. Retribution, attribution. What's the difference, really? By this time tomorrow, I might not be making any sense whatsoever when I speak.
Who knew all this about my favorite cupcakes? The history behind the Magnolia Bakery and its off-spring is detailed in NY Metro in The Sticky Tale of Buttercup vs. Little Cupcake. Regardless, I still love Magnolia's cups. My favorite is chocolate frosting on yellow cake. Soooo good!
It's like those jackets that come with built-in shirts, only it's built-in socks for your jeans! Yes, that's right, no more bagging or cramming or scrunching your jeans into your [insert hip type of boot you wear] boots. Check out Stocking Stuffer: built-in socks for girls who tuck where Thirteen Denim's sock jean is Item of the Week.
These ingenious jeans from Thirteen Denim feature a built-in sock that eliminates baggy knees, bunched fabric, and–worst of all–broken zippers. The line comes in several fits and washes, and two different sock lengths for different boot heights. Everything you need, in other words, to keep on tuckin'.
Check out the collection online at thirteendenim.com. Now what would really be cool would be to wear those jeans without knee-high boots, like say with a pair of ballet flats. Knickers meets leg warmers! Trends collide!
An interesting article in the New York Times, Why This Band Plays On, examines the continued popularity of the Beatles after all these years.
But fun on the level that the Beatles managed to achieve – at least in those days – implied more than a collective, thrilling scream. We remember the Beatles for their music and spectacle, but we celebrate them because, when they stood before their American audiences in 1964 and 1965, we witnessed the social and cultural power that a pop group and its audience could create and share. From there, I guess, you measure how much we've learned, or how much we've lost.
The Beatles broke up before I was even born, yet from the time I was little I've been a huge Beatles fan. In fifth grade some girls asked me in the locker room what my favorite song was and I remember telling them, "Either 'Ob-la-di Ob-la-da' or 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand'," torn as I was between my first love for early Beatles and my then-developing love for their later work. The girls scoffed and said something about old music not counting. Apparently I was supposed to like some song by Rick Springfield or something. Take that fifth grade girls! I don't see your precious Rick Springfield being mentioned in the Times these days!
Ages ago my mother gave me Is There a Nutmeg in the House?: Essays on Practical Cooking with more than 150 Recipes by Elizabeth David. I read some of it, and then put it down. The other day I picked it up again, and am enjoying it as much as I did the first time (I don't know why I ever put it down, frankly.) Her bold opinionated writing about food is refreshing and enjoyable and most interesting to me, it feels modern.
Though some of the writings in this collection date to the sixties and seventies, her opinions on whether one can substitute a bouillon cube when a recipe for stock ("Well, will a bouillon cube 'do'? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred it will do nothing."), the excessive gadgetry of a "dream kitchen" ("And too much equipment is if anything worse than too little. I don't a bit covet the exotic gear dangling from hooks, the riot of clanking ironmongery, the armouries of knives, or the serried rank of sauté pans and all other carefully chosen symbols of culinary activity I see in so many photographs of chic kitchens."), and the "ogres of factory farming…and all those who push the just acceptable at the expense of the best," sound like they could have been written today.
Great food writing is a joy to read. Great food writing that stands the test of time is all the more impressive, especially considering the trials and trends of the culinary arts on both sides of the Atlantic. But Elizabeth David is there to remind us that great food is simply great ingredients that don't get all muddled up in the kitchen. And for that, I thank her.
The blackberries are still growing along my road and after two batches of jam and one blackberry and peach tart, I was looking for something easier to do with the quart of berries my cousin and I picked yesterday. A quick search over at Epicurious yielded this delightful recipe for a Blackberry Slump, which is basically cooked berries with a slab of cake on top. Not the neatest or fanciest dessert but it was easy and tasty. Later we were discussing the other slumps one could make and agreed that an apple and cranberry slump, with cinnamon added to the batter, could be a delightful fall dessert. I'm adding slumps to my repertoire of homey yummy goodness to make.
A delicious article on langoustines from R.W. Apple in the New York Times makes me yearn to board the next jet to France for a trip to eat these yummy little crustaceans, Lobster's Little Cousin, and Its Envy.
What, you may well ask, is a langoustine? Shellfish nomenclature is a vexed matter, and nowhere more so than where langoustines are concerned. More later on the technicalities; for now, suffice it to say that they are slim, pink, thin-shelled relatives of lobsters, with bodies 3 to 10 inches long and skinny claws. (The claws are often as long as the bodies.) At its best the meat is heavenly, more subtle in flavor and delicate in texture than that of their huskier cousins from Maine.
Though not the same, the article reminds me of the smaller little lobsters I ate in Anguilla a few years ago. I think they called them langoustines actually, but they were larger than the creatures Mr. Apple muses about in this article. Either way, I want langoustines in my belly right now, even if they're not breakfast food!
Amazon also has an interview with Ruth Reichl on their site, Behind the Scenes at the Times: An Interview with Ruth Reichl in which she talks about writing Garlic and Sapphires, working at Gourmet and what makes good food writing. I only wish it were longer!