Not sure exactly what kind of patronage those patrons are providing, but I have more than a suspicion the original audience for this delightful poster were denizens of the demimonde.
UPDATE: I am reliably informed that this comes from Dark Horse Comics’ series Devil Chef, which I must now keep an eye out for on Amazon.]]>
For those of you who, like me, find the entire Occupy Movement to be really well-intentioned, justified, and (indeed) not a moment too soon, but also somewhat dry (The General Assembly is the Filboid Studge of participatory democracy) we have some good news! Occupy Wall Street’s Liberty Plaza General Assembly has taken a lesson from the mainstream media and spiced up its hard news Committee Reports section (is that Spokes? Or Tranches? Who can keepWall Street terminology straight anyway?) with some food-and-spirituality-related entertainment.
If you’re at all like me (and who would admit it if they were?) you’ve got a stack of Self magazines head-high taking up the space where your life-size Aragorn used to stand proudly, and what have you got to show for it except an exhaustive knowledge of the phytochemical composition of any grocery item, the ability to perform a flawless plié squat, and about ten million pictures of Women Laughing Alone With Salad.
Well, now you can put that collection to practical use as the model for a cheap and un-constricting Halloween costume! Bonus cultural literacy points for timely meme reference that only about 25% of your friends will get, even if you’re all on Tumblr.
If putting on and keeping on a happy face is too much for you, then you could always fall back on our suggestion of last year.]]>
30 days’s worth of celery pills for the sake of your cartilage OR
Be honest. Who doesn’t like a good wanton pork now and again?]]>
In 1936 the mayor rose up in anger against immigrants clogging the streets hawking wares from push carts. Your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore? Phooey. LaGuardia thought them positively unsanitary.
Today, in spite of all the specialty food online, push cart peddling has returned. With only an occasional foray to Citarella or Zabar’s, Leyla manages to shop principally from farmers markets. Wednesdays and Sundays are Union Square. Saturday is Columbus Avenue beside the Museum of Natural History. Shlepping milk 80 blocks takes a lot of time and trouble, but her table is set with the freshest, tastiest foods.
It’s all local – Ronnybrook Dairy milk and yogurt, artisanal sheep and goat cheeses, dark wintered-over greens, bosc pears, and apples of every description. Recently Mr. Henry has fallen in love with Quaker Hill Farm honey and eggs (goose eggs, no less).
When La Guardia insisted that push cart peddlers take up residence in covered market stalls, the grocery business began to consolidate into mom and pop stores run chiefly by Italians. These in turn consolidated into a few large chains. Then in the 1980’s came the Korean-owned fruit and vegetable markets featuring salad bars, the go-to solution for harried office workers.
Now Fresh Direct trucks clog city cross streets, hardly an improvement over the push cart of yore. The very best fruits, vegetables and dairy can be found once again on sidewalk peddler carts. Weathered panel trucks with New Jersey and Pennsylvania plates sidle up and disgorge large ice chests of the most remarkable goodies imaginable. Sic transit gloria mundi.]]>
What does Christina Hendricks eat? Anything she likes, it seems.
On her divine frame those extra winter pounds find graceful placement.
While winter sinks its chill fangs deep into our bones, a fortunate few may take comfort in knowing they can sink their own teeth into a hearty meal without worrying too much about over-indulging.
In winter it’s more difficult to find fresh vegetables with exciting flavor. More than in the warm months, meat dominates the menu, perhaps more than it should. The menu’s balance shifts towards foods dense in calories and fats.
It’s a great time for big red wines, a good digestive aid, but the craving for greens remains. Salads are a mainstay, and that’s fine. But what do you do when even the lettuce is boring?
Parsley has intense chlorophyll. It’s a natural cure for bad breath. Even the Henry’s noble hound Pepper loves it. (By the way, it cures bad breath in dogs as well as in people.)
But when chopping parsley with a knife, sometimes the little leaves lose their appealing shape.
The solution is to use a simple pair of kitchen shears. Wash and dry the parsley well before snipping so the leaves will be crisp enough to cut.]]>
Christmas holidays likewise bring forth a perpetual wellspring of objects seeking new ownership – apple corers, nutcrackers, scented candles in matched sets, cherry red windbreakers and frightful neckties.
Holidays also bear gifts of depression, indigestion, intestinal cramp, bloat and a throbbing gall bladder. Each year Mr. Henry swears he will leave for the holidays because too many around him take leave of their senses, and because despite his renowned self-control at the table, during holidays he abandons all sense of moderation and proportion.
Christmas tradition revives bad food habits from the storied Middle Ages, blithe era of famine, contagion, and dogma. Eggnog (vanilla nutmeg ice cream in a glass!), triple cream cheeses, bon bons wrapped in sparkly foil, preserved fruit, mincemeat, liqueurs, layer cakes, assorted chocolates with cream filling, and nuts roasted in peanut oil, palm oil, or coconut oil. Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, fat was a good thing.
Today these caloric gut-bombs serve as anti-depression medications self-prescribed to remedy seasonal affective disorder, better known as the blues and the blahs, horse latitudes of the soul.
What brings out the holiday nuts? After four scotches nutty Uncle Jack dressed in plaid jim-jams slips on the patio black ice and cracks his humerus. Ha! Not so funny now, Uncle Jack’s funny bone.
Brother Clifford treats his seasonal disorders with sour green juice of fresh barley grass mixed with V-8. It puckers the gums mightily, but also promotes good digestion and cures bad breath.
Clifford subscribes to the philosophy of a ph-balanced diet, that is, eating foods that promote an alkaline environment in the blood. Contrary to expectations, preachers of the ph-balanced way do not necessarily extol foods that are themselves alkaline. Lemons and limes are recommended, for example. Wine and vinegar are forbidden, as is coffee. Leafy vegetables are encouraged. Meat is discouraged. It’s hard to keep up. You’d better buy the ph bible.
Clifford claims it cured his incipient diabetes, chronic headache, chronic backache, and fatigue. If you add hoarseness, cottonmouth, snoring, dropsy, flatulence, hip pain and plantar fasciitis, you’ve got old age pretty much covered.]]>
What accounts for the ascendancy of this idea?
Is it wrong to dine upon the flesh of sentient creatures? Granted, the noble pig is clever. Like Mr. Henry himself, a pig can admire its image in a mirror. But what about the chicken, the sheep or the cow? What pull do they have on our heartstrings?
Ever since Mr. Henry watched a video in the Monterey aquarium documenting an octopus delicately tasting the arm of its beloved handler and then erupting in pulsating colored stripes of delight, he has foregone pulpo on the menu. What a glorious creature, the octopus, prince of invertebrates, capable of unscrewing a mason jar. Show me a pig that can do that.
Why can’t people live in harmony with animals without resorting to the barbarism of slaughter?
The answer is time. While a pig has all day to root around for the tastiest tubers, modern persons like ourselves need to cook something dense with food value, get it done, and get going. It is damnably difficult to find satisfaction in vegetables alone if you are cooking in a hurry, unless you happen to be one of those raw-diet enthusiasts, in which case you and the pig share the same diet and possibly the same flavor profile (hence the South Seas nickname for tasty captives, “long pig”).
And what can we say about the inevitable smugness that clings to vegetarians? It’s maddening when a table guest announces that meat is vile succor. Perhaps South Seas cannibalism started right there. A local chief just had enough of that superior attitude.]]>
Overlooked, maligned, misused and abused, okra are African stepchildren still relegated in western cooking to a subservient role either smothered in fry batter or subsumed in spicy gumbo.
In fact okra is a versatile and appetizing vegetable, its flesh nutritious, its seeds rich in oils. Prepared whole it can be fried, grilled, broiled, steamed or cooked in a microwave. Sliced okra releases a unique mucilage that thickens and binds a braised dish with or without meat. Okra can be pickled or eaten raw. Even its leaves are edible.
Because certain valued family members, despite clear evidence to the contrary, insist okra to be disgusting, Mr. Henry usually cooks them for his own pleasure by nuking a single bowlful and eating them plain. Sometimes, however, he sautées whole ones or runs them under the broiler, a quick and foolproof method for cooking almost any vegetable.
Mr. Henry enjoys the interplay between oily, crunchy seeds and soft green flesh. Such elegant little nibbles, they even come with dainty stems ready-made to grasp between thumb and forefinger. (Might this be the origin of their nickname “ladyfingers?”)
Along with sorghum, millet and watermelon, okra was one of man’s first cultigens in sub-Saharan Africa. Okra is a staple food in India as well as in China, southeast Asia, and the Caribbean. Its curious stickiness creates a medium in which spices blend harmoniously.
Why, then, at the western table can there be no rôle for okra? Is there simply too much goo?
Baby okra can be eaten whole just as they are. For larger ones, take a paring knife and, without piercing the pod’s interior, peel away the rough exterior of the cap. Then scrape away any little hairs along the ridges of the pod. If you want to use sliced pieces without drawing too much mucilage, slice the okra into rounds and let them dry in the air. The slices will seal themselves.
Courtesy of Nadia, here is a marvelous okra stew, a Tunisian recipe called Ganawiyeh after the Gnaoua, a Saharan brotherhood of itinerant musicians:
Okra stew Ganawiyeh
1 lb. London broil, skirt steak, flank steak or sirloin steak cut up for stewing.
1 medium onion, grated
2-3 cloves of garlic chopped or pressed
3 tbs paprika, 2 tbs dry coriander, 1/4 tsp cayenne, salt and black pepper
1/3 cup or less vegetable oil
1 cup strained Pomi (or any other tomato purée)
1 red pepper sliced in strips
Handful of pearl onions (optional)
2 or more cups okra (Fresh is better, but you may also use frozen.)
Place meat and oil in a stew pot
Pour onion, garlic and spices on top
Brown the meat well
Add tomato purée
Reduce for about 15 minutes
Add enough warm water to cover
Cook meat for 1 hour or more covered until almost fork tender
Add red pepper and onions
For the last 20 minutes of stewing, add okra
All told the meat should cook for about two hours.
This recipe serves four persons and should be eaten with bread.