Finally, my new laptop is here. And look, I’m not going to lie to you: as much as I’d like to be that person that’s not the worst, I grumbled loudly and often about the fact that it took so long. But really! How does anything take two weeks to get to you in the mail anymore?
While my access to my own setup and files was cut off, at least I could still read other people’s stuff. Although… am I alone in always feeling like an absolute degenerate doing anything the least bit involved on my phone? I mean, obviously downloading porn to your phone feels seedy (watching smut on a proper computer is just the natural order of things), but I even feel gross just idly browsing on my cell, or reading any article beyond the stubbiest stub.
Nonetheless, I stuck it out, because I’m a real trooper—and because what the hell else was I going to do, go outside? (No really, the heat index was over 100 degrees for a week at least, and we’re gigantic babies about that up here.) So here are some of the things I’ve been (furtively, for some reason) reading:
1. The Eddie Huang Thing. Man, I love Eddie Huang. I don’t agree with him any more or less often than the next guy*, but I’m glad he’s around. His blog, populated largely by analysis of basketball games and episodes of Girls, is one of my favorites. And recently, he’s been ruffling people’s feathers by talking about what has historically been one of the touchiest subjects in this country: cultural appropriation.
Given that you’re reading a food blog right now, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already seen some or all of this. I think I linked before to the first wave of this, in the discussion Francis Lam published on Gilt Taste. In my estimation, that article was actually pretty well-received. Plenty of people commented that it was “dumb,” but like, welcome to the internet, right?
More recently, the New York Observer published a Huang-penned review of Marcus Samuelsson’s new book, in which Huang jumped at the chance to lambaste Samuelsson and his Harlem spot Red Rooster. This one, maybe in part because this time Huang was addressing issues outside of his own race, didn’t go down quite as easily. Samuelsson responded to it himself, and Serious Eats published one of the most widely-read responses from one of his friends, Lolis Eric Elie. Andrew Zimmern apparently discussed it on his podcast, which, um, I am totally going to finally get around to listening to right now, I swear!
And, obv, plenty of people took to Twitter to express their outrage. Michael Symon’s responses elicited the most eye-rolling from me, and so much the better when, after one of Huang’s followers on Twitter said she had missed Symon’s response, he summed it up like this:
Look, I’m white, and I’m very decidedly not looking to opine on the issue at hand. If there’s anything feminism has taught me, it’s that you speak up when people are being robbed of a voice—but when they’re already talking, it’s usually best to shut the hell up and listen. At the same time, it takes some balls to go on the record and put your name on an honest and forthright piece. Whether Eddie Huang is right or wrong (or, more realistically, both right and wrong), I love when people demand that conversations like this take place. People can cry foul about being mean or calling someone out unfairly, but iconoclasm is always productive and never comfortable.
2. The Mark Bittman Thing. As far as I’ve seen over the years, Bittman has always been a polarizing figure. Many people look to him as the ultimate authority on no-nonsense cuisine, but many others just can’t get past what’s perceived as runaway arrogance. This opinion piece about milk certainly isn’t helping on that front.
If you’ve ever encountered a vegan, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard many of the arguments against milk—some of which I think are really solid, some less so. (Eater [rightly] questions some of Bittman’s sources.) Here, Bittman goes one further by detailing how giving up milk cured his heartburn, then recommending the treatment widely on the basis that it also worked for 50% of the two of his friends who tried it. He’s right, it can’t hurt. But what credibility can we really ascribe to a piece that seems so transparently based in the idea that Mark Bittman is better off without milk, and therefore so are we all?
I guess, if the average reader of the piece has never questioned where their milk comes from, then this may do some good. Or, maybe the questionable logic and sourcing will have the opposite effect on that segment of the audience.
For my part, I don’t drink much milk outright, though I use it in my cereal and my coffee, and I do consume other dairy products in quantity. I will agree that we probably don’t “need” it, but I also think it’s a bit more of a nuanced issue than that, both ethically and nutritionally. I do think Bittman’s right that we shouldn’t shrug off the reality of commercial dairy operations (or factory farming of any stripe, for that matter), and as such, my preference is for raw, grass-fed milk from a trusted local farm.
3. HOLY HELL ALBRECHT MUTH. Aside from opening with a pretty compelling depiction of a dinner party, this doesn’t have much of anything to do with food. Still. This NYT Magazine profile on Albrecht Muth and Viola Drath is… well, engrossing. To say the least.
4. While we’re at it (and by “it” I mean being wildly off-topic), I’ve also been mulling over this kinda sobering NYT op-ed piece since last week. In itself, it’s not really food blog fodder, but worth a glance nonetheless.
(And, um, for the record: I do also read under other circumstances. I swear.)
* Actually, no, that’s bullshit. I just remembered who the next guy usually is, and I definitely agree with Eddie more often than that dude.