Thursday, February 28, 2013


 The above photograph has been doing the rounds online lately, causing a lot of hilarity and disgust.  I tend to join in the hilarity.  Can you get them WITH bones?  And what are the advantages of inverting them?  As for the disgust, well of course I don’t really get it.  How is pork rectum philosophically or existentially any more disgusting than a pork chop?

The image seems to have first appeared on the website – “Taiwan’s Global Online Community” - and it was posted by somebody called 5000 CB, based in Taipei County, Danshui, and was taken outside a “local dumpling shop.”  Assuming this is all what it appears to be, the obvious inference is that American pork rectums are being exported to Taiwan, which is surprising, but a great triumph for international trade.

And of course it seems that Taiwanese customers have no time for euphemisms.  As the diagram below shows they might equally have called the product “bung,” or “fatend,” though sensitive souls might think that wasn’t a huge improvement.

As an occasional sausage maker I’m well familiar with the parts of the pig that sausage filling gets put into, admittedly from rather higher up the alimentary canal.  We call them them hog casings – a name, and a euphemism, we can live with.

Naked Lunch – “a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”  Well yes, but it’s not just a  matter of what you see.  It’s also matter of what you call it.

Monday, February 18, 2013


I went to Stonehenge last year.  It’s run by English Heritage who are doing their best not to ruin the place, and perhaps in order to retain a sense of history, the catering facilities look like a throwback to 1960s England; an old fashioned wooden kiosk with a serving hatch at the front, although for that true historical flavor I think they ought to be serving Bovril and potted meat sandwiches, rather than espresso and baguettes, which is what they actually offer.

I didn’t buy anything from the kiosk, I waited till I was back in town and could explore the culinary joys of Salisbury.  I was a fool. I ended up in a branch of the West Cornwall Pasty Company: it didn’t seem such a terrible idea at the time, since Cornish pasties are a thing that I do occasionally crave and can’t get here in LA, and maybe the fact that the one I had in Salisbury was a bit dry and tasteless was all part of the English heritage too, but I think I could have eaten better.  

Afterwards I realized I should probably have gone to a pub, maybe this place, which if nothing else has a good sign outside.

At the time I obviously didn’t think the gourmet delights of Stonehenge and Salisbury were worth blogging about, but now I find the memories come flooding back since I went into my local supermarket here in Hollywood and found this:

Takes a while to realize it says Sconehenge rather than Stonehenge, doesn't it?  And they’re evidently playing up the Englishness – English monastery indeed - though as you see, they’re in fact made in Berkeley. 
             My mother made scones every Thursday, every week of the year, all the time I lived at home.  She always made them absolutely plain, without fruit or spices, served with a spread of butter, though nothing else.  It wasn’t a big hit with a kid, as you can imagine.  I’m sure she’d have thought blueberry scones were not just bizarre but positively sinful.

These Berkeley Sconehenge scones were pretty good, pleasantly doughy, not too sweet, no complaints at all.  Poking around online I find there’s quite a tradition of making models of Stonehenge from Twinkies, sometimes bacon-wrapped Twinkies.  I’ve been trying to think of some psychogourmet alternatives: Stonehenges made from blood sausages, or pigs’ trotters, or marrow bones; haven’t quite got there yet.  Sounds like a job for Bompas and Parr.  Meanwhile I'm rather taken by the good taste and clean lines of this version  - cheese and cracker henge, by "food artist" Prudence Staite.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Above is what I’m sure will be one of the more extraordinary things I eat this year.  It was listed on the menu as “wood sorrel, blueberry” which is true as far as it goes – both those ingredients are there on the plate - but there’s also a surprisingly sweet blueberry puree in there as well, wonderfully undercut by the amazingly intense tartness of the wood sorrel, like the juice from a whole lemon concentrated into a leaf.

I was eating at Trois Mec, the new restaurant about to be opened by John Shook, Vinny Detolo and Ludo Lebfevre, in an old pizza restaurant in a fairly bleak mini mall at the corner of Highland and Melrose.  They haven’t taken down the old sign yet, so it looks like this:

And the word is they’re planning to leave the sign there so that the restaurant will be, in some sense specialized of the word, secret.  I imagine lots of people will drift in wanting to order a cheap take out pizza, which may be amusing at first, though I imagine it’ll get old very quickly.

Also on the menu were roasted radish in sake butter with sea urchin, and “charred potato, buttermilk, pea” (that's it above) which involved doing something unprecedented, unfathomable and deeply wonderful with a potato, though I couldn’t tell you what.  Still, nothing quite beat that sorrel and blue berry starter. 

I love sorrel and I actually grow it in my own garden, and when I told this to John Shook (he’s the untattooed member of the trio) he said, “I’ll buy all you can supply.”  Truth to tell, my sorrel isn’t wood sorrel – it’s just plain old sorrel (possibly French sorrel); and in any case I’m not sure I want to get into the restaurant supply business.  I’m sure I couldn’t live up to their high standards.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Honestly, it did cross my mind to write a post combining something about the British horsemeat scandal, with the line from Shakespeare’s Richard III, but I see somebody has already done it, and probably better than I could have.  So hurrah.  As is the way of things found on the net, I don't know who originated it - but respect to you dude or dudette.

The one thing I’ve learned from this whole horsemeat issue is that the drug they’re complaining about - “bute” - doesn’t sound like such a bad thing.  It was originally used in humans as an anti-inflammatory and anti-gout medication.  So you could eat all the red meat you want and still be gout-free.  Then they decided only horses should be allowed to have it.  But it seems to me that if ALL red meat contained anti-gout medication, the world might be a much less gouty place.  That'd be a good thing, right?