Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Recent reading: "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly"


Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (audiobook read by Anthony Bourdain)

Gotta admit, I never watched Bourdain's TV shows so I never realized what an incredible storyteller he was. I figured that at out about one paragraph in. I'm also glad that I got the audiobook - this story really has to be heard in his voice.

Bourdain isn't kidding about the "culinary underbelly" thing. As opposed to the polite behavior you see on TV cooking shows, Bourdain's description of a day in the life of a working restaurant cooking isn't for the faint of heart. It's a tough life that you have to be totally committed to, and Bourdain was wholly committed. He also had a number of sad tales of restaurant owners who got into the business for all the wrong reasons. Warning: just because you're a good cook and entertaining host, don't listen to your friends when they tell you that you should open a restaurant. Just don't.

One thing that was tough about listening to Bourdain read this book, which was released in 2000, was knowing that years later he would take his own life. When you realize what an amazing life he led, it's even harder to fathom why he would give up on it. There were two stories in particular that were sadly ironic. In one, he described being in a taxi with three of his druggie cohorts and blurting out that only one in four addicts who go to rehab will actually kick drugs, and he made it clear that out of the passengers in the cab that night, he was going to be that one. The second was even more ironic, when he had to talk down an employee who had to fire a guy in the kitchen who wasn't hacking it, then was consumed with guilt when the fired guy went home and committed suicide. It's understandable that the only person responsible for the death is the person who committed it, but it's also understandable that the guy who fired him felt terrible about it. Bourdain - at the time, anyway - had no patience with this. Again, hindsight is 20/20. It would have been a sad story even if Bourdain was still with us. It was even sadder knowing why he isn't.

Even though a lot of the foreign cooking terms that roll off Bourdain's tongue might be unintelligible to most readers/listeners, I still highly recommend the book. Bourdain led a wild life and a fascinating one. There's a reason this book made him a star.

Pretty much every paragraph in the book is quotable, so I'm just going to have to pull one at random:

I saw a lot of bad behavior that first year in P-Town. I was impressed. These guys were master criminals, sexual athletes compared to my pitiful college hijinks. Highwaymen rogues, buccaneers, cutthroats, they were like young princes to me, still only a lowly dishwasher myself. The life of a cook was a life of adventure, looting, pillaging, and rock and rolling through life with a carefree disregard for all conventional morality. It looked pretty damn good to me on the other side of the line.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Truthiness in advertising - Taco time!!!

If you've seen the Burger King commercials touting their new $1 tacos, you've probably had the same thought as me: "As much as I don't want to embrace tacos from a fast-food burger joint, those actually look pretty damn good. Really good. And only a buck. I might have to try those."

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Delish checked them out and like so many things, what you see isn't what you get: We Tried Burger King's New $1 Taco - Here's What We Thought.

Just to give you an idea of what they thought, the subtitle of the article's title is Basically they're catfishing us.

Remember those beautiful tacos from the ads?

Pic from Burger King's Facebook page.

What's not to love, right? Here, take my money! I'll take twenty!

Not so fast - here's what they really look like.

Pic from Delish's BK order.

Anyone else think these things look like the deep-fried Jack-in-the-Box taco's less attractive sibling?

Right now I wouldn't be surprised if Burger King execs and admen are sticking pins in Delish voodoo dolls right now. Their ads all but guaranteed a big jump in business, but the Delish article - especially the pictures - just brought that to a screeching halt. I know I'm no longer tempted. In fact, the article includes a poll and 88% (myself included) have voted for "Not going to try them". Somewhere, McDonald's is laughing their ass off and Taco Bell is heaving a huge sigh of relief.

Just in case those pictures don't scare you off, per the article one customer complained that the tacos "Look like dog food in a crusty tortilla shell". Yep, that's an appetite killer right there.

Luckily, Delish has also provided a palate cleanser: Taco Bell Turned This Gorgeous Beachfront Location Into a Boozy Cantina.

Since the 1980's, one of the most beautiful Taco Bell stores has been open in Pacifica, CA. Located steps from the Linda Mar beach, it's a pretty iconic spot to eat a Chalupa. And now there's even more reason to visit: This summer, T. Bell turned the restaurant into a cantina, meaning it officially serves local wine, beer, and Twisted Freezes, which are spiked versions of frozen Taco Bell drinks like the Baja Blast.

According to the article this is far from the first Taco Bell Cantina, but it's the first I've ever heard of it. Plus, it's just so dang pretty and right on the beach!

Note the surfboard parking in front.

All pics snicked from the Delish articles.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Recent Reading: "A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight"


A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight by Victoria Lincoln

This is more than just another look at the notorious Lizzie Borden ax murders. Lincoln not only grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, Borden's hometown before and after the murders of her father and stepmother, but in the same neighborhood where Lizzie bought the home that she would live in for the rest of her life. Lincoln's parents and grandparents traveled in the same society and professional circles as the Bordens, and as a child she'd had some minor interactions with an older Lizzie.

Lincoln incorporates the societal mores and quirks of Fall River into this telling of the Borden family dynamics, the murders, Lizzie's trial, and how the town viewed the accused before, during and after her trial. She also has some keen insight on Lizzie's personality and character, and how that was shaped by Fall River society. Being a local, she was also able to uncover some previously unshared records that helped expand the story.

One thing I found jarring was how Lincoln for some reason felt compelled to repeatedly insult Abby Borden, Lizzie's stepmother. Simply pointing out that she was obese once would have been sufficient, but multiple times this victim is almost vindictively described as "fat", and in other passages as "dismally uninteresting" and "a lonely, self-pitying glutton". I'm not sure what Lincoln was going for by insulting this poor woman time and time again, but it was distracting.

A Private Disgrace was published in 1967 and won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for best non-fiction crime book. Apparently Lincoln had wanted to write about Lizzie Borden for some time but was discouraged due to the sheer volume of books available on the subject. Fortunately, she didn't listen to the naysayers.

When I was small, I was shy with other children but quick to make friends with grownups; yet I never got far with Lizzie. Occasionally I tried to talk to her while she was out filling her bird-feeding station and feeding the squirrels, but she never quite seemed to see or hear me. It damped conversation.

In school, I began to make friends of my own age, and observed with interest that one was supposed to shudder and giggle when Miss Borden's name was mentioned. I asked Mother why.

"Well, dear, she was very unkind to her father and mother."

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A dream is a wish your heart makes...

I moved away from this beautiful place exactly one year ago today. Because I am an idiot. And I miss it so. I'd give anything to be back there in June 2012 when I first moved in. Anything. So, like the rest of my life, I could do everything differently. I would so still be there.





In the past few weeks it's starting to feel like it was all a dream. Did I really finally make it to that beautiful place that I'd been coveting for so many years? It almost seems unreal now, that I had all that - a beautiful apartment in such a gorgeous location - and I walked away from it. How could that happen? What the fuck is wrong with me? How could I be so ungrateful for what I'd finally attained?





I love and miss you like crazy Marina del Rey. And I will be back. Oh yes I will.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Fun with signage

You can spare three minutes for these hilarious signs.



H/T to Boomer Nation on FB.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy Birthday, America!!!

Land that I love!








All pics snicked from the internet over the years. Let me know if one is yours so I can give credit where credit is due for your beautiful images!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Missing out

Always loved watching the fireworks over the channel in Marina del Rey.

2018. Scheduled the move so I'd have one last...

2017. We had the moon as a backdrop to the fireworks!

How did I fuck that up? It was so wonderful having the fireworks right behind the apartment complex. It was a beautiful place and I had a great deal on it that I didn't realize until after I moved away. And then it was too late. And that sucks.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

For when you really, really need a good laugh

Like me next week, when I find out how much my dental work is going to cost.

Apparently this has been around for a while, but this morning was the first time I'd seen it (H/T to 60s 70s 80s 90s Memory Lane Bible on FB for making my day)



I don't know how these guys pulled this off, but sadly, it seems that the video was uploaded on April Fool's Day and that helium beer isn't actually a real thing. Too bad, I would have bought some. Can you imagine the party you could throw with that stuff? Not to mention, how much fun would it be to hang out with these guys?

Sunday, June 30, 2019

June Words of Widsom

There is nothing so bad that politics cannot make it worse. --Thomas Sowell

When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. This misinformation will feel unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth...just like you did. --Jill Blakeway

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. --Buddha

Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work. --Gustave Flaubert

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself. --Hermann Hesse

One of the most pathetic - and dangerous - signs of our times is the growing number of individuals and groups who believe that no one can possibly disagree with them for any honest reason. --Thomas Sowell

All you need to do is write truly and not care about what the fate of it is.
--Ernest Hemingway

He lived a life of respect and kindness and graciousness and gentlemanly manners and thoughtfulness all the time, regardless of whether or not he thought someone was watching. --Peggy Grande (on President Ronald Reagan)

Friday, June 28, 2019

This is why you need to live at the beach. Because vacationing at the beach is dangerous.

21-year-old South Bay woman killed by sharks in the Bahamas. What an awful way to go. I feel so bad for her family having to witness that.

Death toll for American tourists in the Dominican Republic up to twelve.

Marina del Rey

Venice Pier, Venice Beach

Playa del Rey

I've never been much of a travel buff, mainly because for most of my adult life I couldn't really afford it. But even now, unless I'm going to a writer's convention, I like staying close to home. Good thing too, because it's probably safer that way.