Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Marcus Samuelsson, You Have Been Chopped

Marcus Samuelsson (chef, restaurateur, and frequent Food Network face) just launched a site called Food Republic. My love of food goes back 80 pounds and my love of food media goes back to watching Yan Can Cook on PBS after school; I’m also a reader of blogs like Grub Street and Eater and check Epicurious daily and a fan of sites like Cooking Issues, but I don’t know of any celebrity chefs who’ve tried the blog thing and I was curious to see what Samuelsson was up to.

Here is a direct quote from the About Us page:

This is the site for men who want to eat and drink well, and to live smart.


* Men are underserved in today’s conversation about food

Let’s just say I disagree with that. Let’s just say a certain someone has become my least favorite Chopped judge. Let’s just say I’m a duck breast simmering in a sous vide bag of piss and vinegar.

Men are far from under-served in today’s conversation about food. Men still make up the majority of professional chefs and restaurateurs, celebrity chefs, and food personalities. Who are your big food television stars? Bobby Flay. Tom Colicchio. Anthony Bourdain. Emeril Lagasse. Jamie Oliver. Mario Batali. Out of 62 chefs listed on the Food Network “Our Chefs” page, 41 are men. You could easily argue back with the popularity of Rachael Ray or Sandra Lee, or even Ina Garten, but to that I say: Padma Fucking Lakshmi.

To say that men are under-served in the televised conversation about food is to turn a blind eye to the entire dude food genre, the frat house of food programming geared specifically toward men; bacon-wrapped, burger-filled shows hosted by dudes like Guy Fieri. There’s Man vs. Food with Adam Richman and Meat & Potatoes with Rahm Fama and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Feasting on Asphalt with Alton Brown and two Bobby Flay grilling shows and that is just on the Food Network alone. Move over to the Cooking Channel and there’s stuff like Food Jammers for the young hip dude in particular. This is not even taking into account all of the shows that turn cooking into sports—Iron Chef, for example. The secret ingredient there is usually at least a dash of testosterone.

For the record, I enjoy a lot of this stuff. But is it geared to me, a lady, who has an appetite and an interest in food? Absolutely not.

And that’s just TV! Men own the print conversation about food as well. Mark Bittman. Michael Pollan. These are the people steering today’s discussion about food politics. Look at your New York restaurant critics: Sam Sifton from the New York Times. Robert Sietsema from the Voice. Again, are these specifically directed toward men? No. But men are under-served in today’s conversation about food? Fuck you.

The part that really chars my poblano is that I am otherwise completely behind the content on the site. I immediately clicked on a front page advice post about carnivores dating vegans. There is good stuff here. It's just this pervasive cultural attitude that stuff by men is for everyone (food writing and programming included) and stuff by women is just for women that makes someone like Marcus Samuelsson think this site is necessary. I am a lady -- why shouldn't I enjoy Bizarre Foods? But at the same time, why shouldn't a dude watch the Barefoot Contessa if he needs a lobster roll recipe?

If men are unwelcome in any part of food culture, it is in two particular conversations under the vast umbrella of food media. I will give you that dieting and cooking for a family are completely focused on women. These are the conversations "under-serving" the male audience. You know what is "under-serving" the female audience? Virtually everything else that has to do with Capital-F-Food: food politics, the food documentary, the Michelin food, the competitive food, the MOF. The minute you want in on Hungry Girl, calories, 30-minute meals and tablescapes with Sandra Lee, you lemme know, Samuelsson. Otherwise, PLEASE PACK YOUR KNIVES AND GO.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

South Dakota

"Women need to just be reminded of the fact there is a natural, legal relationship between them and their child."
-Rep. Roger Hunt

Required waiting period before a woman can get an abortion in South Dakota: 3 days, under the new law.

Required waiting period for a person to get a gun in South Dakota: 0 minutes, 0 hours, 0 days, if they have a permit.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

100 Greatest Times I Gave My Computer the Finger

The practically perfect in every way Tiger Beatdown linked to this list of the 100 Greatest Female Characters in film history.

I’d like to air some grievances.

1. There are eight child roles included on this list. Drew Barrymore as Gertie in E.T.? Really? One of the hundred best female characters ever committed to film? Among the notable omissions from this subset of this stupid list is Jodie Foster as Iris in Taxi Driver. They even use her as a reference to justify including Natalie Portman as Matilda in The Professional. Also, just for a sec, I’d like us to take a second to wonder to know how many child roles would be included on a list of 100 Greatest Male Characters in film history.

2. Or, for that matter, how many sex workers. This list has four, including, inexplicably, Rose McGowan as Cherry Darling in Planet Terror.

3. Or, once again, how many of the 100 Greatest Male Characters would be cartoons. There are six on this list. Six. In fact, Lady (as in “and the Tramp”) beats Scarlett O’Hara.

4. Here’s one giant fuck you for including Audrey 2 at number 86. This is a plant. Voiced by a man. Fuck you.

5. Another fuck you? Zooey Deschanel as Summer Finn in 500 Days of Summer. TO QUOTE DIRECTLY: “Director Mark Webb intentionally made Summer a man's-eye view of the perfect girlfriend, but that's not exactly difficult when Deschanel is so adorable.” Fuck you.

6. I’d have to go back again to make sure that I’m right about this, but I think the only characters of color on this whole list are both played by Pam Grier, once in her role as Coffy and once as Jackie Brown.

I realize the futility of trying to put together these top lists of 100 anythings, and the stupidity of this endeavor in particular as it is a vague amalgam of character and actor playing that character and quality of the film in which that character appears. But this list is literally the worst. I mean, it is so bad I want to write eight or nine theses about gender and film studies right now and nail them to the Door of The House of Internet Jerkbags Who Make Misogynist Lists. One would be about how this list, not including the children and cartoons, but actually sort of including the children and cartoons, is basically a list of the characters on film that manage to not let being interesting get in the way of the very important job of being pretty. Then I would like wing DVDs of the following films directly at the author's forehead:

1. Precious (for Gabourey Sidibe as Precious)
2. Norma Rae (for Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster)
3. Harold and Maude (for Ruth Gordon as Maude)
4. Monster (for Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuernos)
5. Welcome to the Dollhouse (for Heather Matarazzo as Dawn Wiener)
6. Wendy and Lucy (for Michelle Williams as Wendy)
7. The Color Purple (for Whoopi Goldberg as Celie and Oprah Winfrey as Sofia)

And, I mean, those are just off the top of my head and I am not a film critic and my knowledge is hardly encyclopedic and I really only enjoy horror movies and indie films and anything involving a mental institution and oh my god, I am choking on my rage, or coffee, or whatever, I am sputtering and I should stop doing that lest I not make it onto the list of 100 Most Attractive People Ever To Write Blogs About How They Are Mad About Something.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kathy Cacasem’s American Top Five Things I Like This Week

5. Coming in at number five this week is Kings, the drinking game. I have a keg-sized hole in my collegiate career that apparently should have been plugged with cans of Natty Light and flipping cups and ponging beers and stuff, but I just plain never heard of or played Kings until like six months ago. My hatred of card games is on my permanent record, so I was completely voting nay on this one until Tuesday when I gave it a shot and it was actually pretty fun. Homework assignment: play Kings until you get to be the questionmaster, and then write 500 words on how awesome that was. Bonus assignment: write another 1000 words about how I am far too old for this.

4. Moving up several spots with every post is The Hairpin. I started off a Gawker, and then I’d call myself a Jezebel, and now I’m firmly held in place by The Hairpin. Everything is so good. Everything! I want to bottle what these writers can do and fill a bunker with it just in case.

3. Holding steady at number three is hedgehogs. They are BOTH prickly and soft-bellied. They are puppies in leather jackets, guys. Lambs in wolf costumes. Olivia Newton John at the end of Grease. Quirky pet of my dreams. Hedgehogs. Get into it.

2. Coming in at number two: soy curls. Ate ‘em when I was in Portland, Oregon, and insisted every restaurant had given us chicken by accident every time I ordered them. They are suspiciously delicious. They are healthy. They are almost guilt-inducingly meaty. Put them on your nachos and eat them while reading the packaging over and over to make sure they aren’t actually chicken.

1. Snagging this week’s number one spot is Carla Hall, recently julienned from the rest of the cheftestants on Top Chef: All Stars. There are approximately 350,000 reasons to love Carla, but HOOTIE-HOO, lemme count some ways. 1. Her loony facial expressions. 2. She made vegetarian food AND WON because LO AND BEHOLD, COLICCHIO AND FELLOW HERBS, there is a world without lamb. 3. She came across as one of the most genuinely lovely people ever to compete on a television show. Yes I know that the circumstances of filming a Bravo show can be stressful (you’re sequestered from the outside world and away from your family and your business), but when it comes down to it you’re taken care of while doing something you love for a prize and that’s a pretty lucky break. She always seemed to relish the excitement of every challenge, whether cooking for kids or muppets or Jimmy Fallon. I love this woman. I love her. She is the best. Buy her cookies! They sound great. And lest you had any doubt, check out one of her slam-dunk-she-is-the-shit-high-five-SIKE-too-slow modeling shots from the 80s:

Thursday, March 03, 2011

South Dakota, Have I Got the Bill For You!

South Dakota continues its war on reproductive freedom today, as both its House and Senate have passed a bill that requires women to wait 72 hours before having an abortion and to seek counseling at a “crisis pregnancy center.” These are the same centers required by a recently passed New York City bill to accurately label themselves as propaganda pushing organizations with an exclusively pro-life view, not full service medical clinics.

If South Dakota has decided it is in the business of passing reproductive laws even slightly colored by God and His Will and His Feelings About Your Uterine Contents, then South Dakota should be regulating all medications and procedures that interfere with reproduction. Lucky for South Dakota, I’ve caught a grave oversight in their reproductive bill! So, lest the Lord bring down His Wrath upon their heads, I would hereby like to introduce:

The Male Reproductive Medical Non-Interference Bill

Whereas South Dakota has decided that God determines where and when life begins, regardless of the desires of the female vessel in which it incubates, South Dakota must also recognize those instances where and when God has determined life should not begin. Erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra and Cialis may facilitate the beginning of life in situations where God’s will did not permit reproductive tumescence.

The Male Reproductive Medical Non-Interference Bill will ensure total submission to God’s plan. According to this bill, any male afflicted with Intelligent Flaccidity (previously known as erectile dysfunction) must wait 72 hours from the point at which he would ingest a reproduction-altering drug and seek counseling before he may receive such a prescription. For example, if an Intelligently Flaccid man, perhaps after a few drinks on a Saturday night, finds himself desiring to copulate with a woman despite God’s decision that he should not be able to reproduce with her, he must immediately report to a doctor.

Please note, it is a doctor’s right to refuse to prescribe reproduction-altering drugs to the Intelligently Flaccid on the basis of his or her beliefs.

That doctor would then issue a prescription after a 72-hour waiting period, provided the I.F. man could provide proof he had received counseling at a Crisis Male Reproduction Center. Here, the I.F. man could be appraised of all his options, including adoption, frustration, praying, and ceasing his whining. He may then fill his prescription for reproduction-altering drugs at a pharmacy.

Please note, it is a pharmacist’s right to refuse to fill any prescription for reproduction-altering drugs to the Intelligently Flaccid on the basis of his or her beliefs.

Only then could the I.F. man ingest a reproduction-altering drug and copulate with the woman from at least 72 hours earlier. The 72-hour waiting period has the added benefit of permitting the woman to reconsider her part in denying God's will as well.

Further, the Male Reproductive Medical Non-Interference Bill would prohibit use of state funds to pay for reproduction-altering drugs, and state funds would not be given to any organization that prescribed, distributed, or defrayed the cost of reproduction-altering drugs.

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