PRATIE PLACE

Thursday, June 14, 2007

When arugala salad is not enough

Reading this, I instantly remembered "Supersize Me" - the guy was so tired of the kale sandwiches his organic vegan girlfriend devotedly put on his plate, well, I think he decided to make the movie just so he could stuff his face with cheeseburgers.

It also reminds me of the old song, "Everything old is new again..."

So anyway, the ad next to this article demanded of me, or promised me: "Be your thinnest this summer!" Which reminded me that the battle between arugala salads and cheeseburgers is just another reflection of Wall Street's axiom: that we are prisoners of fear and greed. Fear, in this case, that we might someday (gasp) die - or get fat, which may be worse - and greed for delicious drippy meals.

So will the wheel turn? Will a figure like Marilyn Monroe's ever come back in fashion? Maybe not, but I bet eventually images of today's beauty queen - which is to say, some incredibly thin woman with huge breast implants stapled under her skin and a botox forehead - will make folks hoot with laughter.

Extracts from
Fat, Glorious Fat, Moves to the Center of the Plate
Frank Bruni for the New York Times, June 13, 2007

These are times of bold temptation, as well as prompt surrender, for a carnivorous glutton in New York.

The menu at Momofuku, which also opened last year and seems to capture the culinary zeitgeist as well as any restaurant, has not only sweetbreads ... but also a veal head terrine that resembles a gelatinous amalgam of everything your mother ever told you to trim from a chop and shove to the side of your plate. That same description applies to a terrine of oxtail and pig's foot at Trestle on Tenth.

[At] the new restaurant Resto, some genius — and I am most certainly not being facetious — decided that deviled eggs aren't sufficiently rich on their own. No, they need amplification, and of course they need meat, so they're placed on rectangles of pork jowl. One more thing: these rectangles are deep-fried. At a certain point, I suppose, there's no turning back.

It's as if decades of proliferating sushi and shrinking plates, of clean California cuisine and exhortations to graze, have fostered a robust (or is that rotund?) counterculture of chefs and diners eager to cut against the nutritional grain and straight into the bellies of beasts.

Its Timothy Leary might well be David Chang, the chef at Momofuku, where steamed buns are filled with strips of pork belly. Or maybe it's Zak Pelaccio, the chef at the tellingly named restaurant Fatty Crab. One of its best-selling dishes, called the fatty duck, takes strips of a bird not exactly known for its leanness, dusts them with cornstarch and deep-fries them.

The "crispy pork" with pickled watermelon in a dish that Fatty Crab mockingly labels a salad amounts to cubes of fried pork belly, and the rest of the menu (pork ribs, small burgers doused with mayonnaise and aptly named fatty sliders) works a similarly clogged vein.

Resto's executive chef ... is a fellow cholesterol enthusiast ... In addition to putting pork jowl below deviled eggs, he grinds fatback into the restaurant's burgers and combines pigs' head meat with mayonnaise in sandwiches served on toasted brioche.

"Lardo is sought after, and it no longer raises people's hackles," [Maria Battali] said in a recent phone conversation. "People finally realize that fat is truly delicious, particularly pork fat."

There's also the Spotted Pig, a Greenwich Village gastropub in which Mr. Batali is an investor. The British chef April Bloomfield guides its kitchen, which turns out roasted pork sandwiches, hamburgers dripping with melted Roquefort and toast slathered with chicken liver.

Servers didn't bother to carve the mountain of meat. They didn't give us any delicate way to do it, either. They just plopped it in the center of the table, handed out sets of tongs, left us to our own devices and let the pig scatter where it may.

It was an ugly scene, and it was a beautiful one. We lunged at the flesh. Tore at it. Yanked it toward ourselves in dripping, jagged hunks, sometimes ignoring the lettuce wraps on the side so we could stuff it straight into our mouths. We looked, I realized, like hyenas at an all-you-can-eat buffet on the veldt, and I wasn't surprised to notice other diners staring at us. A man in one group flashed back to his two previous dinners. "I had suckling pig in Boston on Saturday," he said. "I had a pork chop at Inoteca last night."

He paused for a beat, then added: "It's a lifestyle choice."


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1 Comments:

At 9:10 PM, Blogger NinaK said...

I read this last week in the paper, and I thought it was rather disgusting. It was equaled only by the article in the same section by a cook who advocated making a raw lamb dish.

 

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