Shake Shack fries

The fries at Shake Shack are what I hoped Micro Magic fries would taste like, in my boyhood:

Anybody ever eat things?  The packaging was attractive.  They fooled me quite a few times.

Perhaps they failed in attempting to live up to an idea of a “fry.”  A fry is firm, and Micro Magic just couldn’t get there.  But they were making a salty mushed potato product that might’ve been attractive on its own terms.

A taxonomy error, perhaps.

Google led me to that image of Micro Magic fries on the website of New Adult Contemporary Romance author Jennifer Friess (don’t know if it’s a coincidence that her name is fries)

There was really a period there where the expectations put on the microwave were insane.  Supermarkets were full of hallucinatory projections of what was gonna come out of the microwave.


Quite reasonable

Mark Bittman in Grub Street’s omnibus interview.



the article that set me off was:

which caused my eyes to roll out of my head.  I was just in Portland, and the food was awesome!  It’s a “foodie paradise” because it’s in the Willamette Valley, on the Columbia River, near the North Pacific Ocean, one of the most bountiful regions on planet Earth, plus it’s prosperous and full of creative and interesting and diverse people.

Seemed hysterical to me to claim it had been ruined.

you’re telling me this place is ruined?

When I first heard the headline version of the story of the Portland Taco Cart Willamette Week Interview Fiasco, I thought “well that’s silly, how far are we taking this idea of cultural appropriation?  of course you can make tacos.”  But when I heard the details it was like oh ok that’s not very cool.

There was good discussion of it on “Good Food” with Evan Kleiman.

Following which I drove around for an hour or so doing my errands and thinking about it.  Sometime later it comes up, shot my Twitter mouth off and RIP my mentions.

Twitter user put my response to McArdle better than I could:

Also gave me more to think about.  I myself took advantage of the easygoing legal rules on map copying in my book, and used Google Maps as the basis for my hand-drawn maps.  It felt fine, although I was surprised nobody protects cartographers.

Because there’s no legal protection for Mexican ladies making burritos who are trying to keep their recipe secret, that’s why it made people so mad.  Kinda think Connelly and Wingus crossed the line, but whatever, maybe they just made an unfortunate remark in an interview.  They don’t deserve death threats for heaven’s sake.  Let’s wish them well and hope they make some cool new kind of burrito in the future that everyone can eat joyfully and without compunction.

Like Austin Kleon points out, there’s stealing and stealing.

Reviews of different milks (ongoing series)

2/5 udders.  Weak, watery milk.  Love the labeling, and “Forager Project” is powerful branding for these times.  But I taste no evidence that God intended for us to milk the cashew.   

A surprising 4/5 udders to filmjölk!  I despise yoghurt, from its name to its texture to its sour bite it repulses me, but a shot of siggi’s filmjölk in the morning has been invigorating and probably good for my guts.

Would love to find some chestnut milk, which Charles C. Mann describes as “ambrosial”!

Dictionary of National Biography

When you come across this book, it’s fun to take it down and open it at random and read about some guy.  For instance, Caleb Jeacocke, debater and roll-maker:


Deluxe mac & cheese costs LESS than regular mac & cheese?

There must be a term in economics for where the fancier version is less desirable than the regular ol’ version and ends up less expensive.

I’ll pay more for minions, sure.



How did you manage the historical setting?


Well, I’m a bloody colonial, aren’t I? London is not my place and Britain is not my country. How was I going to have the authority to invent London in 1837? First I had to know something that’s different from what anybody ever thought about the period. I couldn’t steal from literature even if I wanted to—for the most part metropolitan literature takes the place for granted. So I spent a lot of time reading about people visiting London from abroad. They’re going to see things that would not occur to the Englishman. There was a German visitor to London, for instance, who spends all this time describing this weird English breakfast that turns out to be toast. That was terrific—the familiar defamiliarized. I was trying to imagine—what was it really like? We generally think of London in that period as gloomy and sooty and filthy, but in the New York Public Library I found an account by an American visitor who described London as ablaze with light. That’s not how anyone thinks of that period, but if you came from Australia or America at that time it was bright. I thought, that’s it—this story will start at night, and it will be blazing bright. That’s the first way in which I can colonize London for myself, take imaginative possession of the territory.

from the Paris Review interview with Peter Carey


Beyond Meat Bolognese

Used some Beyond Meat to make a bolognese.  I used more or less this recipe from attorney and new mom Michelle.

Shoutout to Filip H. for teaching me the secret to sauces is using this particular brand of crushed San Marzanos.

As you can see I still used 4 oz. of pancetta – baby steps, right?

Used one package of “beefy” flavor and one package of “fiesty” flavor Beyond Meat.

Gotta say it was pretty darn good.

Starting to become a believer in Beyond Meat.


Beyond Meat

Grilled some Beyond Meat burgers yesterday (over a combo of mesquite briquettes and mesquite chips).  As a noted burger enthusiast I declare this: pretty darn good.

File this under: Long June news you can use.

Campfire cooking

Something Biblical about roasting lamb chops right on the fire.  A true al pastor.  Plus it seemed to honor(?) the local fauna:

Of course you need a charcuterie plate.

Working on taking campfire cooking to the next level.  HT various campmates for the photos and ideas.

Some notes:

  • Foil packeted onions and peppers came out pretty well.  More elaborate foil pack meals have been a bust for me.  I tried some stew meat / potatoes sitch once, pointless.  Keep it simple.
  • Wrapping a potato in foil and putting it in the ashes is such a crapshoot.  You have to leave it in there for a good hour I believe.
  • You always want the cheapest hot dog buns you can find.
  • Enjoyed reading these camping experts’ recipes from and would like to try Cristina Lash’s cast iron apple cinnamon oatmeal.

Man vs. nature. A tie, in this case.


The War Between Mochi and Sake

Chipotle food safety


Do you trust Chipotle again?  What if I told you Cyclops’ dad was their head of food safety?

Chipotle began looking around for a food safety expert to hire. The company landed on Dr. Marsden, a soft-spoken man who had recently retired from teaching at Kansas State University. (He is also the father of the actor James Marsden, best known as Cyclops in the “X Men” film series.)

via the NYT via our Rhode Island office.

DISCLOSURE Helytimes is a CMG shareholder and encourages you to eat Chipotle!  



How to interpret this unsettling trend?

hot dog chart

Bad name!

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sent in by our Boston correspondent.

Jim Harrison

Briefly shared a publisher, Grove/Atlantic, with Jim Harrison, which made me feel cool.  Some gems in his New York Times obituary:

There was the eating. Mr. Harrison once faced down 144 oysters, just to see if he could finish them. (He could.)

“If you’ve known a lot of actresses and models,” he once confided with characteristic plain-spokenness to a rapt audience at a literary gathering, “you return to waitresses because at least they smell like food.”


Mr. Harrison had his detractors. With its boozing and brawling and bedding, his fiction was often called misogynistic. He did himself no favors with a 1983 Esquire essay in which he called his feminist critics “brie brains” and added, in gleeful self-parody, “Even now, far up in the wilderness in my cabin, where I just shot a lamprey passing upstream with my Magnum, I wouldn’t have the heart to turn down a platter of hot buttered cheerleaders.”

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Can’t front like I was the world’s biggest David Bowie fan in life, but reading about him after his death I’m getting more and more into the guy!  From The New York Times:

After he became Ziggy Stardust, and a huge star, Mr. Bowie found refuge at the West 20th Street apartment of his publicist, Cherry Vanilla. In her memoir, “Lick Me,” she recounts how he would do brain-sizzling amounts of cocaine and drink milk for nourishment (no solid food in those years), and they’d rap about “power, symbols, communication, music, the occult, Aleister Crowley and Merlin the Magician.”

Says Cherry Vanilla:

David liked my apartment on 20th Street, and he also liked Norman Fisher’s coke, something for which he’d recently acquired an insatiable appetite and for which I had, of course, hooked him up. And since my days were winding down at Mainman, I guess David felt comfortable getting high with me and opening up about anything and everything that was on his mind. He spent many an evening, often an all-nighter, sitting in one of my canary-yellow enameled wicker chairs, doing lines, drinking milk (he never ate at all during this period), and telling me one crazy story after another — Defries and Adolf Hitler were buddies . . . Lou Reed was the devil . . .he himself was from another planet and was being held prisoner on earth — going on and on about power, symbols, communication, music, the occult, Aleister Crowley, and Merlin the Magician. I never did any of David’s coke (and, what’s more, he never offered). I just sat there, smoked my pot, sipped my Café Bustelo, and got totally into his rap. This was probably the period when I was most in love with him.

Sometimes David would busy himself with my record collection — Duke Ellington’s Live at Newport and the Ohio Players’ Skin Tightamong his favorite LPs. And occasionally he and I would have sex in my mirrored, mosquito-netted, dycro-lit, pink-satin bedroom, taking everything a bit further than we had that first time in Boston, and utilizing the many new sex toys I’d since acquired. One time, after I’d arranged for him to shop privately at the new Yves Saint Laurent boutique on Madison Avenue and get the most fabulous black wool overcoat, he came up the five flights of stairs to my apartment, and fucked me without ever taking off the coat and then left immediately to hang out with Mick Jagger. Bowie liked my bedroom so much, he even brought Claudia Lennear and Jean Millington (the other sister from Fanny) there for sex on occasion. I didn’t participate, but I got off on how much he appreciated the setting.

Cherry Vanilla

photo from Cherry Vanilla’s website attributed to Arlene Pachasa

The Dilbertito


Dilbert creator Scott Adams has many interesting ideas.  Reader Mike Yank put me on to his analysis of Trump:

The $10 billion estimate Trump uses for his own net worth is also an “anchor” in your mind. That’s another classic negotiation/persuasion method. I remember the $10 billion estimate because it is big and round and a bit outrageous. And he keeps repeating it because repetition is persuasion too.

I don’t remember the smaller estimates of Trump’s wealth that critics provided. But I certainly remember the $10 billion estimate from Trump himself. Thanks to this disparity in my memory, my mind automatically floats toward Trump’s anchor of $10 billion being my reality. That is classic persuasion. And I would be amazed if any of this is an accident. Remember, Trump literally wrote the book on this stuff.

Over the holidays I read Scott Adams’ book:


which was full of interesting stuff as well as plenty of boring stuff.  Scott Adams practical, experienced-based ideas on what you should eat, for instance: he talks about how he has found that white starches and potatoes (my two favorite foods) are nothing but energy saps.  Adams also suggests you drink as much coffee as you want.  He also makes a good case for “systems instead of goals.”

On Friday at work I got into an argument because I brought up Scott Adams, and a female co-worker was like “that crazy misogynist”?  And indeed Scott Adams has written some stuff that could justifiably make steam come out of ears:

Women have made an issue of the fact that men talk over women in meetings. In my experience, that’s true. But for full context, I interrupt anyone who talks too long without adding enough value. If most of my victims turn out to be women, I am still assumed to be the problem in this situation, not the talkers. The alternative interpretation of the situation – that women are more verbal than men – is never discussed as a contributing factor to interruptions. Can you imagine a situation where – on average – the people who talk the most do NOT get interrupted the most? I don’t know if the amount of talking each person does is related to the amount of interrupting they experience, or if there is a gender difference to it, but it seems like a reasonable hypothesis. My point is that men are assumed guilty in this country. We don’t even explore their alibis. (And watch the reaction to even bringing up the topic.)

It’s an ongoing issue in his writings.

I can’t and don’t want to defend everything Scott Adams has written, but I tried to make the case that maybe Scott Adams isn’t a misogynist, he’s a nerdy weirdo who’s working out ideas and we should cut him some slack. I read all kinds of weird thinkers, it’s healthy.  I follow The Federalist on Twitter — they like Ted Cruz over there, but sometimes they make some interesting argument I’ve never thought about before.  You can read The Federalist and Mother Jones and subscribe to Ann Friedman’s newsletter and go see the Entourage movie.

Somebody somewhere on Twitter directed me to this piece by Ryan Holiday:

Any publicist will tell you this. A scandal is awful while you’re in it, almost unbearably awful as the headlines from bigger and bigger outlets pour in. But as time passes, whatever those headlines said begins to blur, the pointed words lose their potency and the residue that’s left, that residue is raw fame. And fame is a precious resource that most people, companies, and causes will never have but always seek.

And while people have always been willing to debase themselves to get famous, this mindset has metastasized through our more important institutions—from journalism to government.

The Gawker’s of this world publish the most vicious and shameful story of 2015, and as long as  their writers can successfully pretend they didn’t do anything wrong, they can get right back on their high horse and blog like it never happened. A Donald Trump can make serious—even alarming—progress towards the nation’s highest office so long as he refuses to laugh at the joke of it all.

One can imagine these folks surfing a large and monstrous wave of attention. It looks dangerous and indeed it is, but they know—having been on or watched others on such waves before—that if they can just ride it out they’ll emerge intact, ever the more famous for it, since so few have.


Anyway this all a long way of getting to the interesting trivia that in the late ’90s Scott Adams used his Dilbert money to try and launch an all-in-one superfood product called the Dilberito:

First announced in The Dilbert Future and introduced in 1999[1] the Dilberito came in flavors of Mexican, Indian, Barbecue, and Garlic& Herb and was sold through some health food stores.

Said Fortune in 2001:

Adams’s invention, the Dilberito, is sober and utilitarian. It’s a tortilla-wrapped comestible consisting of vegetables, rice, beans, and seasonings that contains all of the 23 vitamins and minerals that nutritionists say are essential.

The product was not a success.





Lemon meringue pie from

from writer and Obama pal Marilynne Robinson in the Paris Review Interviews Vol. 4:

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Merry Christmas, everybody!  Remember to let your kids smoke a cigarette!

Whole Foods didn’t have the mezcal I like


You can call that the ultimate #firstworldproblem.  But I bet not being able to find your favorite alcohol is a relatable problem in every nation on Earth, among every race* and at every level of wealth and poverty.

* how many races are there?  is this a useful way to categorize people?  was it ever?  (was thinking the other day about “Asian/Pacific Islander.”  Are a Tongan and a Han Chinese in Beijing any more related than a white guy from Dublin and a black man from Senegal? )


2001 food 2 The food in 2001: A Space Odyssey is what I’m looking for.  Four nourishing mushes you eat with a monofork. 2001 food