Saturday, March 31, 2018


You know, nobody in the history of eating has ever said, “That was a really great BLT.  There was just SO MUCH lettuce.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


It’s good to know that the Badatz Haeda Hahareidit in Jerusalem is looking out for me; not for me personally and not only me, but it seems that it (or possibly they) have supervised the making of a special edition of Lay’s potato chips, which are kosher and just right for Passover, and I suppose also for Easter. Who doesn't love a special edition?  They’re even made in Israel.

Looking up “Badatz Haeda Hahareidit” on the internet hasn’t got me very far, but I gather Badatz is a court of justice, which in this case presumably offers kosher certification.
I’ve said before on this blog that I think the very best potato chips are deep fried in lard, and obviously I wasn’t expecting that here, but these chips were great.  They looked much like any other potato chip, maybe a little thinner and more fragile, and they tasted somehow lighter and more subtle, and also a bit greasier than some other chips, in a good way – that would be the palm fat and oils according to the pack.

I didn’t feel chosen (I know I'm not - strictly Preterite) as I ate the chips, and I didn’t feel blessed, but I did feel perfectly content.  
The mysteries of kosher are still not an open book to me but at least I know (per Seinfeld) that it’s not all about the way they kill the pig.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


The old joke, of course, is that an alcoholic is somebody who drinks more than his or her doctor, but I’m pretty sure my own doctor doesn’t drink at all.  I'm never sure where that leaves me.

I was told the story, supposedly true, that when the poet Taner Baybars (who I knew very slightly) went to live in France towards the end of his life, his drinking got out of hand.  He wasn’t in the best of health anyway, and so he went to see a French doctor who asked him how much he drank.  Taner answered truthfully that he was now up to three bottles of wine a day, and anticipating the doctor’s reaction said he was prepared to reduce his intake, but didn’t think he could get down below one bottle a day.  The doctor replied that getting down to one bottle a day was probably unnecessary but he really should try to limit it to two.

I’ve been thinking about doctors and drink because I’ve been reading Jim Thompson’s The Alcoholics, published in 1953.  I was seduced by the pulp jacket, shown at the top of this post, though actually I read it in this version:

As is usually the way with Thompson, the book’s a bit all over the place, and it contains this description of the way alcohol works:
“Everyone knew that when the the alcohol in the bloodstream reached a small fraction of one percent, the person through whom that bloodstream flowed became a corpse.  His heart stopped. He smothered.  Everyone knew that alcohol rose up the spinal canal to the brain, pressing harder and harder against the fragile cells until they exploded and their owner became an imbecile.”
         Now Thompson knew what he was talking about when it comes to drink – he spent time in clinics trying to dry out - but I really don’t know what he’s up to there.

The Alcoholics is set in a clinic run by one Dr. Murphy, and there’s a bad nurse who (if I’m reading it correctly) is also a bit of a nymphomaniac.  There are some curious similarities to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, though Thompson’s  biographer Robert Polito says the book's “a pale rewrite” of Behind the Door of Delusion, published in 1932 under the pseudonym “Inmate Ward 8.”  The jacket here seems to have been designed by a bright 10 year old:

 There are also vague similarities to parts of The Long Goodbye, specifically Dr.
 Verringer’s clinic where the writer Roger Wade ends up.  Maybe Chandler also knew Behind the Door of Delusion.

Chandler certainly knew what he was talking about when it came to drink, and digging around on the interwebs I found this, from the Daily Independent Journal, Thursday Feb 24th 1955 (I think we can assume Chandler might have consumed a gimlet or two):

Still, what a time to have been alive, when writers made the news simply by being carted off to the funny farm.

Saturday, March 24, 2018


What you have below are two half half-sandwiches served at Langer’s Deli, 704, South Alvarado Street, in Los Angeles.

On the left hand side of the plate is half a “#3 – CORNED BEEF, SWISS CHEESE and SAUERKRAUT sandwich” and on the right side is half a “#19 PASTRAMI and SWISS CHEESE Russian Style Dressing,” though without the dressing. 

Russian dressing is one of those American internationalist inventions like the English muffin, the French Dip – and I suppose French fries – which are not nearly as international as they sound.  Russian dressing was apparently invented by one James E. Colburn of Nashua, New Hampshire.  Today's versions contain mayo, ketchup and pickle relish and often other stuff too, and they're kind of revolting (IMHO) – though I know other views are possible.  What it had to do with Russia isn't at all clear.  Some sources say the original version contained caviar, which strikes me as unlikely, but the affairs of Nashua, New Hampshire are not an open book to me. The Langer dressing was only “Russian-style” – but I didn’t want to take the risk.

Langer’s is situated just a latke’s throw from MacArthur (formerly Westlake) Park, and it’s been pretty well established, i.e. Jimmy Webb has said, that he wrote the song of that title, in 1967 or so, because MacArthur Park was where he used to meet his girlfriend for lunch.  The relationship was doomed, the girlfriend’s name was Susie Harton, and she worked in an office nearby.  This is how she looks today:

And this is Jimmy back then having a special moment with Richard Harris:

History doesn’t tell us how often Jimmy and Sally met for lunch, or what they ate,  (I guess they didn't eat the cake that had been left out in the rain) but I’d like to think they had a sandwich from Langer’s at least once or twice.  Call me an old romantic.
Oh, and romanticism aside, this is my 666th posting on Psychogourmet - bestial, eh?