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January 24, 2009

Feasts and revels

Filed under: American Food,Holidays — Mr. Henry @ 1:04 pm

Wakening refreshed from a mid-morning nap, Mr. Henry realized that for a dozen days he has neglected to post remarks on his obligatory blog. For this oversight he blames our President.

It seems that New York Times reporters cannot manufacture a single story unassociated with the Obama team, the Obama nation, or the Obama wardrobe. (But weren’t the girls adorable in their J. Crew coats?)

Television is all Barack, all the time.

Against this Barack barrage, how can Americans re-focus on the essentials? How long must the country wait before once again re-embracing its own wants and needs, its comestibles and digestibles? Where did our sense of entitlement go?

The “me generation” has been vilified long enough. Service to the country is all well and good in its proper place. Standing together against terrorists, attorneys, and the like is most commendable. But after a fine morning’s aerial bombardment cooler heads anticipate a return to everyday pursuits of life, liberty, and whatever it is we’re fighting for.


A fitting sense of proportion requires the country to concentrate once more on feasts and revels.

The problem now, and it is not at all a small problem, is that there isn’t any money. When fired for incompetence, titans of banking and finance took it all in bonuses.arties.jpg

The rest of the country is searching for interesting recipes using dried peas or beans.

For those not prepared to soak beans overnight or to make their own stock, at $4.95 per bowl Artie’s Delicatessen white bean and pastrami soup remains New York’s best restaurant value. Sadly, however, Artie only serves it on weekends.

Wines from $10–$20 per bottle remain great values, too, but for cocktails or after-dinner drinks can Rainwater Madeira ever supplant a proper Highland single malt?


Under their own label Citarella sells a Puglian olive oil which is better than expected – a buttery, dense, fruity all-purpose oil, mildly spicy and without bitterness.  At $14.99 per liter, it’s less than half the price of good Tuscan olive oil.


After a spell of offering upbeat suggestions for economical meals, Mr. Henry’s enthusiasm flags. Even when deliciously bathed in sherry, saffron, and the subtler aromas of green olives and raisins, how many Andalusian chicken thighs can you consume weekly?

Do what Mr. Henry does. Have a friend take you out for lunch. Order three courses. Eat heartily.


  1. I’m trying to lose weight, so I’m on what I call the diva diet. I only drink or eat fattening food when someone else pays for it. Unfortunately, I’m going through a spate of personal popularity and have gained five pounds!

    Comment by raincoaster — January 26, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  2. Alas, good raincoaster, what is good for the bottom line may not be good for the bottom.

    Likewise Mr. Henry has gained weight. He blames Barack once again because every evening Mr. & Mrs. Henry watch what the President did today. The maddening experience of witnessing the world fall apart must be accompanied by goat cheese, Eli’s olive rosemary crisps, and a bottle of wine.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — January 27, 2009 @ 8:13 am

  3. One of the most wonderful regional dishes in Italy uses cavatelli or other simple rolled up pasta, white beans and mussels. A few cherry tomatoes added the last moments. It’s the Pugliese oil of course that raises this to paradisaical. I buy 5 liter tins to drag home, but they are only 40 euro in Puglia.

    Comment by Judith in Umbria — February 3, 2009 @ 9:40 am

  4. Thank you, Judith, for affirming the opinion that Pugliese olive oil is superb.

    If you who live in the midst of sacred Umbrian olive groves find it to be true, Mr. Henry feels he can forego taste testing more of the stuff coming from California and New Zealand, all of which is far more expensive than the utterly delicious Pugliese, and all of which so far has fallen short in his taste estimation.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — February 5, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

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