Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thursday Mix

Well, while all that was happening...

  • My use of cheap plonk to cook with has been validated by the New York Times. Those little $5 4-packs of Sutter Home are mighty handy.

  • Wolfgang Puck has jumped on the bandwagon and announced that his restaurants will no longer serve foie gras.
    Foie gras, produced by overfeeding ducks and geese through tubes slipped down their gullets during the last two weeks of their lives, has long been championed by Puck as an ingredient. But keeping foie gras on the menu, Puck said, would have undermined his stand on what he considers the more significant issue of confinement rearing, a practice he said he abhors.
    Sigh. All well and good, I guess, but I think this is a case of misplaced activism. I'd love to see some dust being kicked up over factory-farmed chicken, which is an industry that causes much, much greater suffering than the raising of ducks for foie gras. (The force-feeding is of course kind of icky -- after visiting a foie gras farm, an American Veterinary Medical Association delegate likened it to taking the rectal temperature of a cat -- but it's nothing to what your average Perdue chicken goes through.) The current stink over foie is ultimately going to impact just a handful of small farms, while the really evil disgusting practices going on in the big bad world of meat will be unaffected. What if Puck announced that he wouldn't serve chicken anymore?

    In the meantime, I plan eat as much foie as I can as often as I can while I still can. Well, actually I already eat it as often as I can, which isn't much. Alas.

  • I've found a new and very, very cool food blog, The Slow Cook. Highly recommended.

  • I just finished reading China Miéville's Un Lun Dun, which is fantastic. It's his first attempt at young adult fiction, and he clearly had a blast writing it. I'd file it right up there with The Phantom Tollbooth and A Wrinkle in Time.

    Today I was trying to find Miéville's essay wherein he describes Tolkien as "the wen on the arse of fantasy literature," but it seems to have gone away. I did, however, find Michael Moorcock's excellent discussion of Tolkien, Lewis, and other fantasy authors, "Epic Pooh." Definitely worth a read.
    I sometimes think that as Britain declines, dreaming of a sweeter past, entertaining few hopes for a finer future, her middle-classes turn increasingly to the fantasy of rural life and talking animals, the safety of the woods that are the pattern of the paper on the nursery room wall. Old hippies, housewives, civil servants, share in this wistful trance; eating nothing as dangerous or exotic as the lotus, but chewing instead on a form of mildly anaesthetic British cabbage. If the bulk of American sf could be said to be written by robots, about robots, for robots, then the bulk of English fantasy seems to be written by rabbits, about rabbits and for rabbits.
    This essay makes at least the tenth time I've run across Philip Pullman's name in the last two weeks. Somehow I totally missed reading any of his stuff while growing up a science-fiction-and-fantasy-obsessed teenager. I'll make up for that soon.

  • Dinner tonight: since Sara got me all excited about shrimp last weekend, I made shrimp and grits, roughly following the recipe for “Shrimp My Way” in Bittman's How to Cook Everything -- cut 3 fat cloves of garlic into slivers and cook them in 2 tbsp. olive oil over low heat till golden, add ¼ tsp. cumin, ¾ tsp. paprika, maybe ¼ tsp. salt and ten or so grinds of black pepper, and a half-pound of peeled and deveined shrimp. Stir, then stick the pan under the broiler till the shrimp are pink, 3-4 minutes or so, stirring a couple of times. Dump the pan out on top of a mound of grits, and just try to restrain yourself from licking the plate once you’re done hoovering it all down. I had a couple of glasses of gmörk with it.

    Mmmmm. Gmörk.

Addendum:
Tes suggested I put this quote from the Moorcock essay on the blog instead of burying it in the comments:
Like Chesterton, and other orthodox Christian writers who substituted faith for artistic rigour, [Tolkien] sees the petit bourgeoisie, the honest artisans and peasants, as the bulwark against Chaos. These people are always sentimentalized in such fiction because traditionally, they are always the last to complain about any deficiencies in the social status quo.
Which has a lot to do with what squicks me about Garrison Keillor, homophobia aside.

8 comments:

T said...

Pullman, like Mieville, is new on the scene--definitely writing stuff that I don't think would have 'flown' as "young adult" fiction when we were kids (even though it's less sexy, I think, than a lot of what else is out there now).

But in any case, you HAVE to read the His Dark Materials trilogy.

Rob said...

Ah. That explains why he escaped my voracious teenage appetite.

Some other authors I need to get into are Michael de Larrabeiti (whose work apparently was a huge influence on Mieville), M. John Harrison, Ian R. MacLeod, and K.J. Bishop. And others. I list them here just so I'll remember them.

T said...

Hmmm...another is Alastair Grey (Gray?)--I only read one of his, but really liked it. Have you run across him?

Rob said...

No, I haven't. Ten Tales Tall and True, right? I'll add him to the list.

At the risk of continuing to savagely rain blows on the dust of a horse's bones, as I was rereading that Moorcock essay I realized that he hits on the element in Garrison Keillor's work that has always kind somewhat rankled me, even back when I was kind of a fan: "Like Chesterton, and other orthodox Christian writers who substituted faith for artistic rigour [Tolkien] sees the petit bourgeoisie, the honest artisans and peasants, as the bulwark against Chaos. These people are always sentimentalized in such fiction because traditionally, they are always the last to complain about any deficiencies in the social status quo." That's Lake Wobegon all over. It makes me wonder how real rural Minnesotans feel about Keillor.

T said...

Yes, he's the one. The book I read was Poor Things.

Hey, don't bury that fabulous quotation in your comments--put it up on the blog itself!

Di said...

Not that this is really the point, but I would just like to raise my hand as a devout Christian who supports gay marriage, stem cell research, and a woman's right to choose. Just saying. Sigh. The world is too much.

Rob said...

T: Good thought. Done.

Di: Noted and appreciated. I think if I were a Christian, I'd be getting into a lot of fistfights with my righteous brethren who hate for Christ. Feelings would be hurt. Bones would be broken. I'd be in jail.

Mike said...

And that's why you're our minister.

m & hsempl