Monday, September 19, 2005

Unfulfilling Filler: The N.Y. Times Provides A Journalistic Pork Barrel

What's For Dinner? Answer better suited for "Lost" survivors than the rest of us
Nobody expects penetrating journalism to emerge from Men's Fashion supplements. But it wouldn't hurt if the copy that's strung between the ads would have at least some substance or relevance to some readers.
The N.Y. Times fails to understand this. Yesterday's male fashion book -- and it had enough ads to qualify as such -- was replete with pitches for clothing that even many Times readers either couldn't afford or wouldn't be caught dead in, assuming they weren't like the androgynous, underfed models who donned the duds in question.
But the supplement also featured ostensible lifestyle pieces, including a food piece that focused on eating wild boar, as if that was something available at the local Gristede's to whip up for the gang.
Even if you were going to schlep to a gourmet butcher for some boar, the recipe itself warns that it's not easy, will take hours to execute, and requires equipment most kitchens don't have.
So what's the point? Exactly.
How about putting in a recipe for something that even the above-average guy has a chance at pulling off? But that would be too easy. That's not in keeping with a fashion spread replete with $3,000 suits, $200 t-shirts and $500 ripped jeans.
Which can only mean the Times never had any intention for anyone to follow through actually making this gamey abomination, let alone expect anyone to read this unmasterful missive penned by someone named Oliver Schwaner-Albright except for his name-dropping a few celebs who enjoy a good hunt for their dinner.
And you can be sure they're not wearing any of the clothes featured in the supplement when they're blasting that boar to bits. Somehow, Ted Nugent and Versace in the same sentence just doesn't sound right.


Oliver said...

My name is Oliver Schwaner-Albright, and I wrote the piece on wild boar for T. I’d like to clear up a couple of issues raised by Steve Gosset. I respect Gosset’s blog, but I think he misunderstood some key points.

Gosset writes that the recipe calls for equipment most kitchens don’t have, but it only asks for a knife, cutting board, a wood spoon, and a cast iron enamel pot. You cook it in the oven, and any oven will do. It's fairly standard kitchen equipment.

I don’t think it’s fair to pigeon-hole Florence Meat Market or Staubitz as gourmet. Both are small family-run neighborhood shops staffed by hard-working artisans. They charge fair prices, often less than what you’ll find at a supermarket. (There are great butchers all over New York City, and I mention them because they’re two I know well.) Boar isn’t an expensive cut of meat. The boar shoulder at Florence costs $7 a pound, which is about the same as lamb shoulder. Rib eye is expensive, and can cost anywhere from $15 to $25. By comparison, beef chuck is usually $3-$5 a pound, skirt steak $7-$9.

The wild boar population in the US is exploding, and many farms shoot them because the animals dig up roots and ruin crops. They usually burn the corpses, and one Georgia pecan farm I visited destroys 40-50 a year. I think that’s a waste. Most chefs won’t cook with boar because it’s a tough and unpredictable cut of meat, but this year I had the best wild boar of my life at Avec in Chicago. The chef there was so cool and enthusiastic about how to get the most flavor out of it. I worked hard to take her recipe, which uses the daunting infrastructure of a restaurant (they have a wood burning oven), and adapt it to what you could do at home (in a standard domestic oven).

The article is not about going to a supermarket and feeding yourself on a budget. That’s everyday stuff we all do. The article is about cooking for a special occasion, and hopefully being really happy with the achievement. I think spending $65 on ingredients to serve a mass of boar to six people is reasonable. It’s something I’d do for my buddies.

Or, if you happen to pass through Chicago, go to Avec, sit at the bar, and treat yourself.

Anonymous said...

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