The Breadipus Effect

“If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” — Robert K. Merton

Fearmongering?  Or yet another sign of the times?  From the pages of today’s New York Sun, we find the following article:

Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket Of The World

Major retailers in New York, in areas of New England, and on the West Coast are limiting purchases of flour, rice, and cooking oil as demand outstrips supply. There are also anecdotal reports that some consumers are hoarding grain stocks.

I can provide one of those anecdotal reports, come to think of it.  My colleague’s family (specifically, her parents from the Old Country) has taken to stockpiling bags of rice as a hedge against future shortages.  She came home from work the other night to find that her parents had piled fifteen bags of rice in the garage.

“Where did you get all this rice?  And why?” she asked, incredulous.

“Don’t you pay attention to news?  Rice will be gone soon!” they answered indignently.  “We save up now!”

“But fifteen bags?  It takes us, like, two months just to get through one.  You’ve bought two and half years’ worth of rice, Mom.  Really.”

“You’ll thank us when all your other friends are complaining they have no food!  You’ll thank us when everyone coming to you saying, ‘You so smart to buy rice when you still can!'”

To me, this story doesn’t say “ZOMG, we’re all running out of food tomorrow!!!!11!1!  Must stockpile cans of soup!!!!” as much as it says “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Which brings me to ask the question: are we really, truly, honestly facing the prospect of Soviet-style bread lines, as The Independent erroneously tried to lead people to believe earlier this year?  Or is this simply another scare tactic employed by the media to sell more papers and generate more interest in the doom-and-gloom, apocalyptic scenarios that people have always so readily bought into?

Your call…

…and KUDOS to you if you caught that pun in the headline.  We’re officially best friends now.  Just FYI.

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Quiere Algo, Cabron?

I wish my local Jack In The Box had horchata

Courtesy of everyone’s favorite Latin King of Comedy, George Lopez.

In tangentially-related (but not food-related) news, how hilarious is it that there’s an entire Wikipedia entry on “Spanish profanity“?  Oh, the places you could go with your new vocabulary…

10th Annual Best Taste In Town

If you like to eat and you’re looking for something to do this Thursday night, then look no further:  the 10th Annual Best Taste In Town is being held Thursday from 5:30pm to 9:30pm at the Grand Houston Plaza Hotel on Kirby.

According to their website:

The popular Best Taste event is simply a “must-do” experience for all foodies. With a mouth-watering selection of tastes from numerous restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, and other food and beverage providers from the Greater Southwest Houston area, the 10th Annual promises to be bigger and better than ever.

The event will feature around 25 great restaurants and stores (well, “great” might be a little subjective, considering the inclusion of Aramark on the list).., including local favorites The Bombay Brasserie, Berryhill Tamales, Hungry’s Cafe & Bistro (a childhood favorite of mine that’s transferred nicely into adulthood) and the Texas Tamale Company.  Also present will be local brewers Two Rows and the multiple-award-winning Saint Arnold.

Tickets to the event are $30 and can be purchased at the Best Taste website.  Your ticket nets you the opportunity to sample food to your little heart’s delight and then vote for your favorites at the end of the evening.

Unfortuately, I won’t be able to attend since I have sinfonietta rehearsal that night (odd as it may sound, I do actually do other things besides eating…), so I’m counting on some of you social foodies to make it out there and report back.

Happy eating!

World Beer Cup 2008

The results from the prestigious 2008 Brewers Association World Beer Cup have been announced.  The squees of happiness that escaped my mouth upon seeing the number of winning Texas microbrews elicited a frightened series of barks from our poor dog, Daisy.  But…look!  We did good!

American-Style Wheat Beer

Silver:  Shiner Dunkelweizen, Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX

Vienna-Style Lager

Gold:  Vienna Lager, The Covey Restauarant and Brewery, Ft. Worth, TX

German-Styler Hellerbock/Maibock

Bronze:  Rahr’s Bucking Bock, Rahr & Sons Brewing LP, Ft. Worth, TX

Strong Scotch Ale

Gold:  Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 4, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Houston, TX

…and my all-time favorite, the IPA that all other IPAs aspire to:

International Pale Ale

SilverSaint Arnold Elissa IPA, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Houston, TX

Squeeeeee!  Okay, so it’s only the silver this year.  But the fact that a small, local brewery like Saint Arnold placed twice in a competition this huge is amazing.  And it’s always heartening to see the beloved old warhorse, Shiner, make a showing.

If you live in the Houston area and you want to help the Saint Arnold guys celebrate, or just enjoy a few pints with some friends, the latest pub crawl is being held this coming Friday, April 25th in Midtown.  Details (i.e., approximate pub locations, since the pub crawls are always a little “mysterious”) haven’t come out quite yet, so sign up for their newsletter if you want to keep abreast of all the upcoming events.

If you don’t live in the Houston area, then toast your favorite winning entry with a pint of their finest and enjoy the sweet taste of prize-winning brew.

Bacon Chocolate-Chip Cookies: The New Frontier

Bacon can do many things; breakfast things, lunch things, dinner things, salad things, appetizer things, entree things…you name it.

But can bacon conquer the world beyond savory food?  Can bacon conquer dessert?

Dan Phillips says “yes.”  Behold his latest creation: the Bacon Chocolate-Chip Cookie with Maple-Cinnamon Glaze.

Will this cookie’s popularity destroy the demand for other cookies?  Will Snickerdoodles go the way of the dodo?  Or is this simply a delicious yet passing fad?

If you can’t decide, the fine folks over at Fark will certainly try and sway your opinion, with hilarious results.

What do you say?  Bacon cookies are go?

Hooterzula: The Newest Mashup?

According to local Houston restaurant guru, Cleverley, the downtown restaurant currently known as Zula is set to undergo some major changes.  Among them, according to emails between Cleverley and the restaurant’s management team:

The new concept is: Going to Zula is about fun, lifestyle & youth. It’s going to be sexy without being sexual.

Zula restaurant will appeal to women who want to feel sexy, exciting and edgy.

Zula is expecting to host more live shows such as Las Vegas shows, bikini shows, model contests, fashion shows, and the list goes on, every Friday and Saturday night after 10 PM.

Our girls are dressing in tight uniforms (similar to Hooter’s) but more upper class.

Wow.

Where to even begin?

How about here: Bikini contests?  Those uber-tacky relics of MTV’s Spring Break specials circa 1994 to 1996?  Model contests?  As in, I’m going to model some ugly, cheap lingerie from Erotic Cabaret?  Will Zula also have a champagne room with “specials” for their “VIP” clients?  Jesus.

And how is any of that “sexy without being sexual”?  If anything, their plans are overtly sexual.  The only more sexual thing I can think of is for Zula just to move their kitchen straight into Rick’s or Treasure’s and offer free steak nights on Tuesdays.  I’m not one to get all pearl-clutchy about our city’s massive trove of adult-oriented clubs — to each their own — but…this was a serious restaurant at one time.  And what they’re suggesting for their future plans has about as much “class” as the sticky floors of your local adult theatre.  Tacky, tacky, tacky.

And how, exactly, may I ask, will eating at Zula make me — as a woman and, from their very odd statements above, their target demographic — feel “sexy, exciting and edgy”?  First of all, I don’t go to restaurants looking for an “edgy” experience; I go for — gasp! — GOOD FOOD.  Atmosphere is always important, but I’m certainly not in the market for a “sexy” meal.  I don’t know.  Maybe that’s just me.

But second of all, how will eating while surrounded by dozens of scantily-clad women make me feel sexy?  That’s exactly what every woman wants: trying to have a nice meal, while their date is completely distracted by the Hooter’s style uniforms of the waitresses.  Yes, that’s what makes a woman feel sexy.  Well-done, Zula.

I’m not the only one who thinks these new “developments” bear a worrisome resemblance to a strip club, however.  Zula management itself makes sure to note:

Our guests will be comfortable going in there, but they are going to get a Girls Gone Wild experience. However, don’t expect anything too wild. There will be no stripping, topless waitresses or filming in the restaurant.  We don’t have any partners that are related to men’s clubs.

Methinks the restaurant doth protest too much…

Top 10 Cheap Eats in Houston

As promised, Food In Houston has posted their newest Top 10 list of “Cheap Restaurants” here in town. And it’s a doozy…

Top 10 Cheap Restauarants in Houston

I am ecstatic — ecstatic, I tell you — to see Vieng Thai included on the list. Ever since Robb Walsh mentioned this place a few years back in a Houston Press article (yeah…I can’t say that I found it myself, unfortunately), I have been a devoted follower.

This is a double-edged sword, though. I have found Vieng Thai’s food to be so wonderful that now any other Thai food tastes sickly sweet and miserable to me. Their pad see ew (fried noodles with pork, egg and Chinese broccoli) is unparalleled, with fresh strips of Chinese broccoli (it irritates me beyond words when Thai restaurants use regular broccoli in pad see ew…) and a delicate soy-based sauce. Their som tam (green papaya salad) is transcendent and will make you question the reason that you ever used lettuce as a salad base.

In addition to the Top 10, there are so many other great suggestions on Anonymouseater’s runners-up list that you could happily eat your way through some of the city’s best restaurants without ruining your budget. Go check out the rest and happy eating!