"Pizza is like sex--even when it's not great, it's still good." is just one of many words to take to heart from the documentary Pizza! The Movie. (Pete thinks there is really good pizza though.) The film contains not only interviews with the owners of iconic NY pizzerias like Spumoni Gardens (great atmosphere, but the sauce is too sweet for Pete), Lombardi's (okay, Pete prefers John's of Bleecker Street though), and DiFara's (lives up to the hype and then some), but it also manages to make fun of Midwesterners (which is another iconic NY thing to do, especially when people from the Midwest that have lived here for, like, three years are doing it), explain the history of California Pizza, and introduce us to the superstar of the competitive pizza world, Tony Gemignani, who makes pizzas like Tom Cruise made drinks in Cocktail and is certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as having spun a pizza dough across his shoulders 37 times in 30 seconds--as well as being the biggest tool currently walking the planet. Watch his team, World Pizza Champions, perform their gold-medal winning acrobatic dough throwing performance here; and yes, they are doing an homage to the Matrix. You should definitely pick up some Pizza!--it is as funny as any Christopher Guest mockumentary and the pizza place that Pete worked at in Raleigh, NC, is featured in the movie, too.
Jesus spent 40 days walking in the desert denying the devil his due and thus laying the groundwork for one of the world's longest-running shams (bigger than Cats even!), and, now, everybody just loves him--they wear "I heart Jesus" t-shirts and bracelets, put "My heart belongs to Jesus" bumper stickers on their cars, and they wear "I love JC" slip-ons. Meanwhile, Pete has been as dry as the desert, aka not had a drink, for over 40 days and all he gets is four new pairs of shoes (Is it possible that there is always only one pair of the shoes left that Pete wants from Zappos?), one pair of brown jeans that don't fit (Are you supposed to try jeans on first?), one tattoo, 206 pins knocked down in a single bowling game, 200 cups of coffee (a tenth of them from Abraco, Pete strongly recommends their cordato (it's pretty) as well as their strawberry vanilla cake (it's tasty), one broken iPod (see planned obsolence), 20 ice cream cones--the salted caramel from General Greene and banana peanut butter from Blue Marble were Pete's two faves--and one roundtrip ticket to Paris. Thus, Pete will be going on hiatus for the next two weeks so all two of you out there reading this will have to find another way to spend your extra ten minutes of free time--Pete suggests attending an e-learning conference. But Pete shall, hopefully, return with sordid tales of bread, wine, cheese, berets, and whatever else. So until then, bonjour!
Joseph Conrad wrote colonialism is "a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly." I wonder if Joseph Conrad would have felt this way if he had had a chance to taste the byproduct of French colonialism--the bahn mi--at Baoguette Cafe on St. Mark's Place. Eschewing the classic pork and pate sandwich, Pete tried the spicy cat fish (sic) bahn mi (Pete asked for it "very spicy," which means extra Sriracha and jalapenos; which means it was so hot that it made Pete hiccup; which means Pete should've noticed that all the Asian people in front of him ordered theirs either mild or medium); it comes with cucumber relish, pickled red onion, and honey mustard aioli and is served on a crispy baguette from Tom Cat Bakery. A purist may turn up their taste buds at the authenticity of a cat fish bahn mi, but Pete thinks the cross-cultural interplay of French, Vietnamese, and American ingredients make for a much more delicious sandwich. Also thinking outside the baguette and jumping on the bahnwagon is Thai Me Up on 14th between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Their twist on the bahn mi adds standard Thai ingredients like wok-fried cabbage, carrots, baby corn, broccoli, onion, and bean sprouts; Pete highly recommends getting one with hanger steak and black pearl sauce (tangy soy sauce with scallions). Pete is by no means suggesting that colonialism is/was a good thing, Pete's just saying if you can look past the genocide, racism, loss of culture, etc., there are some mighty tasty sandwiches out there to enjoy as a result of it.
This weekend, Pete memorialed those that I have giving up their lives for him so he could live his bitter and cynical existence by taking part in the boiling alive of thousands of innocent crawfish--Pete prays they don't have nervous systems--in a vat of of cayenne-peppered flavored bubbling water that had corn, potatoes, onions, and garlic bobbing on top. There was also: red beans and rice with Andouille sausage; pulled pork sandwiches--Pete tried one with guacamole, he may be on to something--spicy barbecue chicken; kielbasa; burgers; fruit salad; bean salad; salad salad; cole slaw; banana pudding with Nilla Wafers; pecan pie; cupcakes; chocolate chip cookies; watermelon; a really drunk, really annoying Irish guy; a discussion of famous last words ("I packed my own chute."; "What does this button do?"; "You told me this bar was gay friendly!"); cajun dancing; and the kids put on a pots-and-pans parade (one of the parade participants showed Pete love by hitting him on the head with a wooden spoon every time she passed by).
Pete has been getting a good chuckle lately from the over-the-top descriptions on menus. For instance, the hot chocolate at the Chocolate Room is "...designed to satisfy both your inner child and refined taste (sic)"--Ms. Baconista enjoyed it but thought it was like eating a drink (Pete agreed)--while the Cafe Torino (hot chocolate, espresso, and steamed milk) is "...5 oz. of chocolatey wakey up!" Pete--and Oprah too apparently!--enjoyed the three-layer blackout cake; though after being forced to eat the whole thing by himself, Pete felt as if he should join in on this fight between the two legendary skinny/fatties, Oprah and Elvis. And then there are these beauts from the extremely overrated Van Leeuween Artisan (Red alert! Red alert!) ice cream truck: The beans used in the espresso ice cream "...grow in the moist, temperate foothills of the Andes, where the combination of high altitude and moist climate (make) for an an especially rich flavor."; and the mint chip derives its peppermint flavor from the "rich volcanic soils of Oregon" and the "real magic of (our) chocolate chips" is that they "melt very quickly in the mouth, as opposed to thick chips...which are usually swallowed before their true flavors become exposed through melting." Pete doesn't know how many times he's heard someone say: "The ice cream was nice and creamy--but the lack of proper melt factor of the chips sort of ruined it for me."
But this is supposed to be about Pete's lunch, so if Pete's lunch was on a menu, it would go a little something like this:
The macaroni and cheese gets its base hue from the red pepper that is sourced from a small farm on a monastery in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, each grain of pepper is handpicked by a blindfolded monk whose eyes have never seen the light of day; the red of tranquility is complemented by the green of sentiment that emanates from the frozen peas, peas a color of which reminds one of the mermaid that saved them from drowning as a small child--and whose emerald eyes have haunted their dreams ever since; the scent of the sea wafts to the olfactory from the salmon that has never been touched by human hands--a fakir on a fish farm in remote Montana simply plays a sweet tune on his Zamfir and the fish swim directly into the can. This dish is like breathing in the earth. The wind. The fire. And then exhaling the heavens.
The biggest cliche of them all is that all cliches are true; which, like a snake eating its tail, proves its own premise--and is its own conclusion. The fact of the matter is that all cliches are true: don't put all your eggs in one basket; a penny saved is a penny earned; brevity is the soul of wit; the book is better than the movie; you don't know what you got until it's gone; every rose has its thorn; it's not the heat, it's the humidity; beauty is in the eye of the beholder; the hooker has a heart of gold; the secret love affair between the head cheerleader and the dorky nice guy that is tutoring her in chemistry; the forbidden love affair between the rich girl and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks; the janitor/mechanic is secretly a genius; the wise old black man; naughty girls need love too; in a horror movie when the car won't start you always give it one last try; the best thing since sliced bread; there is no such thing as a free lunch. Wait a second, Pete may have jumped the gun. Because Pete's co-worker won 20 burritos from Chipotle for the second time in the past year--does lightning strike twice? And if free lunches do exist, then maybe everything that Pete thought was true is actually the opposite of true--not true? Maybe Pete should put all his eggs in one basket; maybe Pete shouldn't bring home the bacon; maybe Pete shouldn't wake up or smell the coffee. Pete's world has been turned upside down by this strange turn of events--or maybe it has been turned right side up by this normal turn of events. Pete just doesn't know anymore, he's as clueless as a man wearing a Bluetooth headset on a date.
Everything ye olde is ye new again--flu epidemics, economic recessions, boat shoes, pagers, Sony Walkmans, being the first in the line, etc. So after touring the world's first subway tunnel, Pete headed to the ye olde-school, nose-to-tail meat-butchering restaurant Prime Meats in Carroll Gardens for a smorgasbord of meat, cheese, and more meat and cheese. The interior is a beautiful re-creation of a pre-prohibition era speakeasy and the 1920s vibe is further accentuated by the slightly contrived, slightly Steampunk stylings of the waitstaff--it's not too hard to imagine the waiter pulling his iPhone out of his flannel pants held up by suspenders and then tweeting about his new newsboy cap while taking a break in the kitchen. (He did break from character at least once-- the usual "Pardon me, sir, mayest I fill your water glass perchance." was replaced by a snide aside to Pete, who was not enjoying any of their fancy cocktails, only water, about his "... understanding the importance of hydration.") Pete and company started out with the homemade pretzels dipped in a spicy Bavarian mustard and the three-cheese plate--one cheese made from raw goat's milk; one from raw cow's milk; and one from sheep's milk, so as not to discriminate against any our deliciously edible farm friends--that's served with bread, nuts soaked in honey, and strawberry jam. We showed our meatalitarian (like egalitarianism, but with meat) side as well. Aside from the herb spatzle with gruyere cheese, Pete and company chomped on weisswurst (a German sausage made from veal and pork bacon), pork belly, Thuringian bratwurst, calf tongue, knackwurst, and a beef brisket in red wine, vinegar, and juniper berries--and just to get a little vegetable in the mix, there was also sauerkraut, braised cabbage, and potatoes served. Pete's only complaint is that shortly after finishing eating, Pete and Stretch both wondered: "What are we going to have for lunch?" (The portions are pretty small.) Luckily, there was a typical shitty Brooklyn street fair in progress, so it was easy to fill up on funnel cakes, mozzarrepas, and corn on a stick (Aww Shucks), as well as purchase a Sham Wow!, which the barker declared, "Makes sponges and paper towels obsolete."