The Even-Movie-Characters-Gotta-Eat Puzzle

ratatouille

I fell asleep during this movie, so I didn’t use any quotes from it.

We haven’t had a puzzle around these parts for some time now, and since this is the season of free outdoor movies in New York (enabling me to see Sharknado for the first time last week–divine), how about a little silver screen brainteaser to send us all into the weekend? Name the movie from which each of these finger-lickin’ food quotes is taken. Be warned: some of these are tough nuts to crack. (I didn’t use “Take the cannoli,” or “I’ll have what she’s having,” because I respect you more than that.) For bonus points, name the actor and character who uttered each line.

  1. Lunch is for wimps.
  2. Yes, these crackles are made of synthetic goose and these giblets come from artificial squab and even these apples look fake, but at least they’ve got stars on them. I guess my point is, we’ll eat tonight, and we’ll eat together.
  3. Sometimes the spaghetti likes to be alone.
  4. But you know what does bother me? You know what makes me really sick to my stomach? It’s watching you stuff your face with those hotdogs! Nobody–I mean nobody–puts ketchup on a hot dog!
  5. And you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris?
  6. Red wine with fish. Well, that should have told me something.
  7. What’s tiramisu? Some woman is gonna want me to do it to her, and I’m not going to know what it is.
  8. When I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs / Ev’ry morning to help me get large / And now that I’m grown I eat five dozen eggs / So I’m roughly the size of a barge!
  9. Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke.
  10. Annie, there’s a big lobster behind the refrigerator. I can’t get it out. This thing’s heavy. Maybe if I put a little dish of butter sauce here with a nutcracker, it will run out the other side.

Don’t click Continue or scroll down until you’re ready for the answers.

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In Search of Lost Time, Episode of the Pale Ale

It's true.

It’s true.

With apologies to Proust, I reflect on my history in beer. A long, meaningful, and eventful relationship.

In the small town where I live, everyone knows everyone. People who don’t know my name know my profession, and I answer to “Hey, Bookstore Lady,” on a regular basis. Without fail, the second thing people remember about me is that I like beer. A lot. Most of them do not know that my memory is stored in six-packs and cases like so many bottles of beer at the corner shop.

Time and devotion have ingrained beer in my life. The way others can mark their history by food or travels, I can with beer. The taste of certain beers will take me back to a memory as fast as any smell or song can. One sip of Labatt Blue and I’m a senior in college again, Thursday night pitchers with a basket of unshelled peanuts for $6 at the CI. Toss the shells on the floor, carve your name in the table.

A Harpoon IPA shuttles me to Boston faster than a speeding Chinatown bus. It was my go-to beer at every less-than-fine establishment I frequented. Its high hoppy buzz reminiscent of every dinner I drank at Charlie’s, a diner a block away from the bookstore where I worked. It reminds me of every boy I sat next to at the counter there, wishing they would just kiss me, and the black-and-white tiles, the chrome, and the lobster tank in the corner.

One night in Boston’s Publick House, I drank five Great Divide Hercules Double IPAs, much to the astonishment of my friends, and realized I wasn’t going to marry the man who had stayed at home that night. To this day it tastes of revelation. Continue reading

Quick Dinner Sandwiches: Torta Riffage and Beauteous Red Onions

This is onion overkill.  I had to remove probably two-thirds of these to get the taste proportions correct.

This is onion overkill. I had to remove probably two-thirds of these to get the taste proportions correct.

I love immigrants.  I’m convinced that if anything is to save the U.S. from its tech-tweaked obliviousness and proudly-uninformed politics, it will be immigrants coming here to kick ass and remind the rest of us how it is done.  There are two primary personal experiences that actualize this feeling of love.  The first is the rare experience of taking a cab (always driven by an immigrant) and leaving soothed by the reminder that people all over the world still see this as the place to come and work your ass of in relative peace and safety.  The second is the torta.

The torta is the ultimate combination of Mexican gastronomic glory and that ultimate form in American dining: the sandwich.  Its bread is white-bread hero rolls, and I don’t even care.  We eat beans a lot in our house because 1) they’re super tasty, 2) they’re super inexpensive, and 3) they’re super inexpensive, and after paging through cookbooks looking for something out of the ordinary to make for dinner and getting distracted by a recipe for marinating onions, I decided to riff on the torta motif with those onions as the primary ingredient. Continue reading

Pimp My Potluck: Spicy Southwestern Potato Salad

southwestern potato salad

Also makes a great side dish for a night at home, with leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

One of the beautiful things about New York City in the summer is that the abundant sunshine drives people out of the tiny, winter hovels they call home and forces them to interact with the outside world. Hence, the plethora of outdoor concerts and events, to say nothing of the potluck, picnic and barbecue invitations that begin to pop up in one’s inbox.

But what exactly to contribute to these events can be a sticky problem. Beer is almost always welcome, but what if you need something edible in concert with the potable? Forget about baking whatever you took to those holiday parties months ago; turning the dial on the oven is a dangerous proposition that could result in instant HIC (Heat-Induced Coma). Salad is often a good idea, but no one like the sight of something brown and wilted giving up the ghost in the middle of the table. I think that’s how potato salad became a potluck staple, but I tire of both the mayonnaise-y and vinegary varieties pretty rapidly. Here’s a variation that has a refreshing citrus kick but is still hearty enough to carry you through the most taxing games of cornhole.

Spicy Southwestern Potato Salad

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste Continue reading

When Good Food Goes Rogue: Allergy Mysteries

peanut picture

I found this whimsical peanut shower by Lou Beach in the New York Times. Yes, that New York Times.

While visiting my homeland of Ohio this week, I learned that my youngest niece has developed an allergy to chestnuts. Chestnuts! Victorian open-fire roasting events and turkey-stuffing festivals will never be the same for her, that’s for sure. And then just a couple days later, my friend Dave was laid low (very low, sadly) in the middle of a wedding celebration due to his unfortunate exposure to pine nuts. It seems that everybody has an allergy to something these days, which begs the question—what exactly is going on here?

To be sure, food allergies are not a new phenomenon. Sir Thomas More implies in one of his books that King Richard III knowingly used an allergic reaction to strawberries to accuse one of his lords of poisoning him, and subsequently demanded his head on a platter. Yeesh. In more recent history, Bruce Lee, the martial arts star who may or may not have suffered from a family curse, died from an allergic reaction to aspirin.

But if you think that allergies seem like more of a problem now than they were, say, when you were a kid, you’d be right. Continue reading

The Beer of My Dreams

High Ball Stepper

High Ball Stepper

Obsessions are only unhealthy when they keep you from your daily tasks. Truly I had the best of intentions to write a treatise parallel to Jason’s last post about local foods, exploring beer’s place on the spectrum of America’s beverages. I meant to discuss craft beer’s struggle against elitism versus regular ol’ beer’s place as the working man’s brew. The snob who one-ups me versus the the guy in line with a tall boy who scoffs at my nine-dollar four-pack. But I got hung up on the Jack White part. Lately Jack has been a constant companion of mine, specifically the Jack on the cover of his new album, Lazaretto.

Recently I had a conversation with a friend and her teenaged daughter about how men could be sexy without being particularly good looking. We used Jack as our prime example. The teenager wrinkled her nose. My friend winked at me and I went to that special place in my head where Jack and I have a beer together and he is so inspired that he writes a song about me right there.

dubheWait, this isn’t about beer at all! But what beer could I have possibly drunk with this modern master, you ask? What beer am I obsessed with enough that it would appear in my fantasies? As I’ve previously mentioned, the most appropriate beer to sip with Mr. White is a black IPA. Not out of irony, but necessity. I imagine his calloused fingers around a bottle of Uinta’s Dubhe, long, guitar-plucking nails clicking on the bright label, a small smile on his bowtie lips. What better beer to share than one named after a star?

What other sexy beers are out there to obsess about? On this steamy summer day, this list will have you racing for a cold one. Continue reading

American Eats: Locavore Bonnaroo as Pop Community

IMG_1246Food is culture, that’s a given.  But what about food as pop culture?  Is there a second tier of American food, an equivalent of The Bay City Rollers occupying some déclassé rank beneath Flannery O’Connor, Mark Rothko, Paul Robeson?  And what do we do with that which is both, people like Chuck D. and Jack White, pizzas topped with baby arugula and farm-fresh cheese, hamburgers made of Kobe beef? Is the cuisine of the United States spread across the low- to middle- to high-brow?

At Bonnaroo this year, Mr. White twisted the universe into songs simultaneously brand new and immutably old, smudging all concepts of sonic social class out of existence.  The food for sale, however, presented a more complicated arrangement. You could at the beer stands spend seven bucks on a tallboy of Coors, but also spend eight on one of dozens of microbrews in the Broo’ers Festival tent. You could spend six bucks on a slice of pepperoni pizza or eight on a bowl of green veggie curry over rice.  Bonnaroo’s food, vastly more diverse than that of most public events of this size, included both the low- and middle-brow.

Except Bonnaroo is always trying something new, and this year a few lucky folks jumped on the festival’s first high-brow dining experience open to the general public. Bonnaroots, a four-course, farm-to-table dinner made entirely of ingredients sourced within 100 miles of the site, was a collaboration between the festival, Oxfam, and a non-profit named Eat for Equity. Eaters sat at long tables beneath an arbor while on a nearby stage a woman in a frog-green bodysuit played trumpet to the beat of a drummer with more hair than “Islands in the Stream”-era Dolly Parton. Cultural tiers converged. Continue reading

The Way of the Mushroom

Found 'em!Here are two truths that I have come to realize. 1) There are people out there with a natural affinity for finding mushrooms. You will know these people when you happen upon them, because at some point in the conversation, they will not be able to control themselves, and they will tell you about the massive morel supply they scored the previous day. When they go hiking, they practically trip over puffballs and hen-of-the-woods. If physics allowed for the sparkle in their eye to be mushroom-shaped, it would be. 2) I am not one of these people.

this is not going to work.To explain how I learned this, we need to back up a step, to my birthday last month. My friend Mignon gave me a mushroom box from Back to the Roots, out of which you can grow your own delicious fungi. It was a lovely gift, and one that filled me with trepidation, since Jason and I had bungled a similar gift a couple years ago. Twice. But this one did feature smiling children, oohing and aahing over their mushrooms, on the back of the box, which boosted my confidence. I can do most, if not all, of the things a four-year-old can do. And yet, when I found myself balancing cat food cans in order to anchor a wobbly and submerged bag of peat, I had little hope that this experiment would actually work.

Enter my brush with some mushroom folk at Bonnaroo. Continue reading

Recipe for Ladies’ Beer Club

Beer Club Apparel by Kate: eyes down here, fellas!

Beer Club Apparel by Kate: eyes down here, fellas!

Ingredients: Ladies (three or more), Beer, Snacks

Step 1) Get a beer. Get it in a good beer bar. And preferably one where they know you by name. The bar my friend Kate and I go to is one door down from my bookstore. This makes it both very convenient and very dangerous. They usually have a good selection of bottled craft beers as well as some exotic cocktails including the Gin Basil (which is also very dangerous). After my first beer, the delightful Baba from Uinta, I begin to feel a certain largesse and order this beautiful, basil-flecked martini, shaken exactly 100 times before strained into my glass. “Llalan, can I get you another Gin Basil?”

Step 2) Stick with ordering beer and discuss the purpose of your beer club. We start a list. We’re good at lists.

  • Drink good beer
  • Try new beer
  • Discuss said beer
  • Do all of the above in the company of good women
  • Tighten our relationships with said good women

Every club worth its weight in Gin Basils has a mission statement that makes it sound important, so here we go: We strive to explore the world of beer and spread the culture of beer within the context of an open and friendly environment of women only, to preserve the historical context of the beverage and minimize the incidents of mansplaining. Continue reading

Wearing Your Food on Your Sleeve

banana guy

For those days when a t-shirt is simply not enough.

It’s been a slow blog week, dear readers, but I swear we have a good excuse. We were recovering from another fun year at Bonnaroo, where Jack White and Neutral Milk Hotel rocked my socks off. And while, sadly, the primitive skills guy was not there this year to impart his wisdom on mystical fox goodies, food was never far from my mind.

If there was one dominant theme in the t-shirts I saw people wearing at the festival, it was definitely…kittens. (Jason spotted two different kitten/Jaws poster spoofs, one that said Paws! and one that said Claws!). But taking a close second place were food-themed t-shirts of many flavors. And so today, let’s look at the ways you can let your foodie flag fly with your choice of garment. (I’ll link the photos to where you can buy these beauties, in case you want to bolster your summer wardrobe.)

Bonnaroo prides itself on its politically engaged audience. For instance, I saw a pretty awesome “Stand Up for Your Food” shirt at the festival, which I coveted but have not yet been able to find online. Anyway, why not make a statement with your tee, whether your opinions run toward supporting local farmers or force-feeding more geese?

TS-0804FRM-M-2FoodieShirts_GrowFood_1024x1024foie-2-large

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