Monthly Archives: February 2010

now what?

dark idol ~fin~

Andddd….if I continue the New York trajectory, honing my bully prose into a concentrated lazer beam, I can hope to one day rip up restaurants like this dude. (I kinda love him.)

dark idol, 2

I’m dazzled by the concision in New York Magazine‘s restaurant write-ups. In no more than a paragraph, they cover a lot of ground, while never seeming terse. If left unchecked, I can be a chronic blah-blah-blaher, so I try to emulate New York‘s brevity in my own food writing.

I also like the subtlety of their snarkiness. Read this seemingly positive review of a cafe I went to recently, and you almost don’t notice they panned the food. Snake in the grass!

dark idol

I’m reading Bill Buford’s breakneck food memoir Heat, wherein the former New Yorker fiction editor quits his day job and signs up to be Batali’s bitch. It is an ode to cooking, and Buford chronicles a passion bordering on sexual through his effective, upbeat prose.

Yet I’m more compelled by sections of the book where the author manages to scathe. Wearing the genteel kid gloves of a literary nobleman, he knows how to quietly convey ferocious disdain. For instance, though Buford is sometimes repulsed by Batali’s boorish showboating, he never overtly critiques his subject. Rather, he makes short, sharp incisions to the chef’s persona, pulling out before the reader notices blood was drawn.

I could have a flair for this kind of surgical wordplay.* I’m already prone to causticity couched in wit. It’s a natural leap to think I’ll someday flex my mean muscles on the written page.

*though I’m obviously light years behind Buford’s talent

awful offal

As a palate cleanser for my day-job whinging (“wah-wah-wah, I’m bored!”) here is a fascinating article on…eating guts.

get in my lap

This morning I sat in the chintzy Brooklyn Bagel near my house, talking on the phone. A sesame bagel sat half-uneaten, awash in gobs of bacon scallion cream cheese. I sipped loudly on a Tropicana no-pulp. Outside, snow dominated the streets… (Get to the point, Hirsch.)

The phone conversation was a life-changer. In short, I was given total editorial control of Edible Queens magazine. At a rate of pay my teacher says is quite fair, I will now:

-hire freelance writers and photographers
-assign stories
-edit all features
-choose all photos

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m getting the bends here.

love that dirty water

Is there something in the food writer code that says I can’t get a dirty water dog from a street vendor every day at 5:30pm?

Passing Jewish

Well! From the brink of a NYTimes-based kibosh, my Haiti chocolate factory story went live yesterday, to mixed results. My food writing teacher (see nacho video below) wrote an e-mail to say:

Got my newsletter this morning – some nice work you’re doing there! The piece on Madelaine Chocolates was a great example of those local food world stories the Edibles are so good at telling.

When I told her about being scooped, she suggested I start pitching my own stories to the Times! I told her the thought made me sick with fear and she said, “Take a few more laps in the pool, then do it.” Okay.

On the flip side, the head of marketing at Madelaine Chocolates called to ask why their Hannukah gelt (traditional chocolate coins) were the first product I wrote about. She said “We make lots of things, from chocolate Easter bunnies to Santa Clauses…” At first I thought she was implying that I was pigeonholing the company because it is Jewish-owned.

Upon further reflection, I think she suspected me (last name Hirsch) of touting my own culture’s confections at the expense of more popular Christian treats. Ha! My last name is a misnomer- I have a little Jewish blood but have been to synagogue exactly once, and I’ve never celebrated a high holiday with my family. I chose gelt over Easter bunnies because they sounded more substantial and less frivolous for a story about Haiti. Maybe an odd choice but certainly not a biased one.

But I just got to thinking, is there any way to exploit my last name to get me into secret Jewish parties? With snacks?

Quest for El Dorado, 1

Let’s talk about foods that I want, but can’t have. First on the list is Green & Black’s butterscotch bar. I was reading an interview with British pop sensation Kate Nash (please shut up), where she raved about this high-end chocolate bar, her favorite sweet treat. Because Kate Nash is my secret girlfriend, I decided to follow her lead.

But alas! The Internet had bad news. First, I read the laments of American foodies who could not find these butterscotch bars in the States. They could find the Green & Black peanut, mint, hot chili, just not the legendary butterscotch special. Then I decided these idiots didn’t know how to use the Internet so I started searching around. And sure enough, for some reason there was a trade embargo on the G&B butterscotch. Not A SINGLE SITE would ship them to the U.S.

Nonetheless, every time I’m in a yuppie market, I look through the Green & Black selections on the incredibly improbably chance they will have the butterscotch. And apparently SK scoured the universe trying to get me one for our anniversary. She asked her roommate Claudia to hunt for them on a recent trip to Europe and even had direct contact with the G&B Corporation, begging them to make an exception for her. No dice.

Isn’t it amazing that in this modern age of global connectivity, where everything is accessible with the click of a mouse, there is still a product I CAN’T HAVE?

weekend food for thought

Columbia Journalism Review published an excellent article about the history and future of food writing in New York City. With greater knowledge and eloquence than my recent Edible Swag posts, it explores the ethical questions surrounding free food for food writers, as well as other ways the industry has changed over the years. Enjoy!