More Thank Yous

I’m starting to get spoiled from my secret, impossible to find “Buy Me Things” section. Two more readers sent me gifts this past week: I received Barefoot Contessa Family Style (my Contessa collection’s complete!), More from The Magnolia Bakery, and The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook. Thank you readers for buying me things! You are the best!

I Started School Again

In case you’re wondering why this blog has been so quiet this week (Gourmet Survivor II notwithstanding), it’s because I started my final year (and I mean FINAL year) of graduate school. Among my classes, I’m taking a class in animated sitcom with the guy who wrote the Marine Biologist episode of “Seinfeld” (he’s also a staff writer on Law & Order), I’m taking a class at the Public Theater with Oskar Eustis who was the first to produce “Angels in America,” and I’m doing my masters thesis with Marsha Norman who won the Pulitzer for ‘Night Mother. It’s been a great week! And a busy one. But now I shall blog for you a bit…

Blog And You Shall Receive

Last week I received a very nice e-mail from an editor at National Georgraphic Traveler. He told me that he enjoyed my website and that in his line of work he received many stacks of food books that just lay around. Would I like him to send some to me?

I wrote back: “Yes, Oh God, Yes Yes Yes!”

I can be very enthusiastic over e-mail. Today I received the package:

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Let me walk you through the contents:

First, there is a CD (not photographed) called “Sahara Lounge.” I have yet to listen to it, but it features such savory tracks as “Soap Kills” by Dub4me and “Toufic Farroukh” by Yasmine Hamdam. The latter is good, but nowhere near as titillating as “Yasser Habeeb” by Elama. I’m just saying.

Then there are the books. The first book (on the lower left side of the photo) is Robb Walsh’s “Are You Really Going To Eat That?” This is actually a legitimate, newly published and well received book hot off the food stands. So in terms of things in the package I’ll actually read, this is highest on the list. So if you were to ask “Are You Really Going To Read ‘Are You Really Going To Eat That?'” I would answer: Yes. Unless it was over e-mail, in which case I would answer: Yes, Oh God, Yes Yes Yes!

And then there are the others. Moving counter clockwise, there is “The Unofficial Guide To Ethnic Cuisine and Dining in America.” This book seems useful, until you read (or, in my case, skim) the Preface. Here is the money quote: “Western European cultures have a tendancy to look down on societies that eat with their fingers, although they themselves only gave up the habit–reluctantly–a handful of generations ago….Eating with the hands slows you down, makes you concentrate on and enjoy your food more, so you actually eat less.” I find it highly offensive that these authors undermine western civilization by assuming we will react with disdain when it comes to hand eating. But allow me to speak for all of western civilization when I say: ewwwwww! That’s so sick, dude!

The next book up the pile is “Blue Trout and Black Truffles” by Joseph Wechsberg. The subtitle is: “The Peregrinations of an Epicure.” The Peri-what-ations? Let me look this up.

According to Dictionary.com, peregrination means: “To journey or travel from place to place, especially on foot.” In my mind it means: “to use really pretentious words on book covers.” And for that reason, we’ll toss this one aside.

And yet, when we see what remains we claw our way back to the Peregrinations. The last book–“Indonesian Street Food”–is such an atrocity, that it’s difficult to believe anyone invested time or money in its production. The inside cover looks like a cross between a brain and the Print Shop “Paisley” design from my AppleIIgs.

To be fair, the book contains recipes, journal entries from trips to Indonesia and a CD-ROM. To be sassy, though, the recipes are for strange things like “Bakmi Goreng” “Sambal Goreng Jipang” and “Oseng Oseng.” Does using these names to humorous effect betray my own hidden xenophobia?

Perhaps, but listen to this guy’s prose: “I am listening to a growling conversation in my stomach as I gaze out the open window of a crowded bus headed for Malang in Eastern Java.”

Or: “A cool darkness has fallen. The bus pulls into a station and screeches to a halt. We all rise and ride a human wave down the aisle, out the narrow door, and several meters along the gravel pavement.”

Now, call me a prose snob, but Joyce he is not.

And, should this review paint me ungrateful, please erase that impression from your brain. I am anything but! I am simply being thorough. I will treat all other things sent to me with equal thoroughness. So please do not be discouraged from sending stuff. In fact, I encourage it. For more information, e-mail me by clicking the button “E-mail Me” on the left.

Thanks George at National Georaphic Traveler! I’m off to make some “Sambal Goreng Jipang.”

Public Apology: Marshmallow Chronology

It came to my attention last night, by way of site reader Seth, that my Marshmallow film: “How To Make Marshmallows In Reverse!” has a serious flaw. The film, as most of you know, plays backwards: beginning with the eating of marshmallows and ending with the preparing of the pan. Well, that is until at the very end you see me holding up a reassembled torn-up piece of paper that says: “THE END.” That’s where Seth (and other readers, perhaps) have a problem: if the film is told backwards, this should be the beginning! “The End” should come at the start!

I shall now publicly acknowledge that this is indeed an oversight. For those of you who were troubled by this inconsistency, I apologize. If it’s any consolation, at the end of “Memento” they play the credits. Think about it.

Another Milestone!

Today, our site hit the 200,000 mark in total visitors. Pretty crazy for a site only 4 weeks old!

[NOTE: For those of you savvy enough to click my sitemeter on the lower left, it will seem that I’ve only received 91,485 visitors in total. That’s because we installed sitemeter after the first huge influx of Janet Jackson cupcake visitors. The 200,000 number comes from Typepad which has been there from the beginning. Thank you.]

Thursday Night Dinner Song: DELAY

Due to extenuating circumstances (my roommate is sleeping and I just got home) the Thursday night dinner song will not be available until tomorrow.

In it’s place, however, may I present the sultry stylings of one of the world’s greatest singers: Wing!

Here’s her version of last week’s dinner song: Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.

Coming This Weekend: The Amateur Gourmet Goes To Florida!

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go. My Airtran Flight leaves tomorrow afternoon from Hartsfield to West Palm Beach. My parents will be waiting for me at the airport and our weekend of eating will begin. I plan to keep you updated continuously: minute by minute, bite by bite.

Here are some meals for you to look forward to:

– Dinner at Cafe Max in West Palm Beach. Apparently, my mother told the maitre’d that her son (moi) is an important food writer. That should be interesting.

– My parents favorite Boca haunt: New York Prime. A steakhouse that features sizzling steaks and eccentric clientele, including (but not limited to) Don King.

Those are the biggies. Check back here for updates on my weekend of gluttony.