Plus: an extraordinary award, the dinner to end all dinners, and appliances that are actually worth it
We’re doing something a bit different this week: We handed off our podcast feed to podcaster and host extraordinaire, Rachel Belle, of Your Last Meal with Rachel Belle (it was a finalist for a James Beard Award), and she’s doing the same.
On the episode we’re featuring, Rachel interviews the outstanding comedian Margaret Cho, who is also a social activist and an extremely successful stand-up comedian who opened for Jerry Seinfeld when she was in her late teens, and has acted in many of your favorite tv shows and movies. And she loves to cook.
It is really hard not to like Margaret Cho, and it’s really hard to not like Rachel. So enjoy this, and we’d love to hear what you think! Next week, we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming. Marksisms below!
This Week’s Marksisms
The Privilege of Grace and Elegance
I was happy, even ecstatic, about two things this week. First (and foremost), my accomplished partner (I would say brilliant, but I’m being restrained), Kathleen Finlay, won a Rachel Carson Award from the Audubon Society last week. That was pretty cool. Just sayin’.
To celebrate, I took her to Jean-Georges, where I hadn’t gone for a kind of blow-out since, well, before Covid. The cooking was beyond sensational, one inspiringly delicious and beautiful dish after another: Coconut semifreddo with caviar and dill; Japanese snapper ceviche with turmeric; the classic spring pea dumpling with morels .… Just one thing after another, almost endlessly.
It felt odd, almost anachronistic. The grace, the service, the elegance are all things I once was accustomed to; now they feel – as they should – a downright privilege. It’s one I wish everyone could experience.
The (Few) Appliances That Changed Our World
I’ve always felt that appliances had to earn counter space. There are a number of innovations that are either too big (the pressure cooker) or too useless (the bread machine) to be granted counter space in any kitchen I’ve ever had. In fact, when I think of what’s been invented in my time as an active cook, only the food processor has been a game changer.
The content below was originally paywalled.
I remember when I got my first “Cuisinart” – the brand name was the generic name in those days, as there was no competition – and the excitement was palpable. The slicing, chopping, mincing, and heavy-duty mixing capabilities were out of this world. It was a game-changer when my friend Charlie Van Over refined techniques for kneading bread dough with it. And I write all of this because I pulled out the julienne blade the other day for yet another version of a beet-and-potato hash, and it was, actually, amazing.
Of course there’s over-promising: It can’t truly puree; it can’t dice, functionally; it can’t grate Parmesan as well as you can with a good grater. And as much as manufacturers try to tell you otherwise, it’s still pretty much the same machine, albeit with some refinements, as it was in 1980. If it peels, or dices, or whisks, it does so with more trouble than it’s worth.
Amazing as it is, as much as it deserves that counter space, I was trying to imagine what it was like when people started buying refrigerators. Most households had iceboxes, but these were simply insulated cabinets, no more sophisticated than your cooler, and probably less efficient. Suddenly, everyone who had electricity (or even gas, because you could almost as easily buy a gas-powered model) had the ability to keep lettuce, milk, fish, and so on, effortlessly, for days or longer. Talk about a game-changer.
Of course, you know, both running water and hot water on demand are also relatively new innovations. Most of us are totally spoiled.
Two Stories Worth Looking At
One. Guess what? Food companies are not above price gouging. Surprise!
And To Leave You With
Yet another variation on rice with egg.
See you next week!