Fugu, or Risk

Ankimo, a silken Japanese small-dish prepared from the scarce monkfish's hefty liver, gives up a rich, accordioned delight that we usually associate with love or art and rarely with death. First, there's the elegance of its miniature presentation. Then, with the slightest pressure between mouth and tongue, the steamed morsel becomes something neither liquid nor solid and takes hold in two places at once: your fragrance-poised inner nose, and your texture- and temperature-sensitive mouth, which is beginning to be fretful about when the luscious … [Read more...]

The Potato Song

If, as has been irrefutably shown, restaurants are theater, then it follows that food is part of the entertainment. Usually, when the marriage of food and arts is trotted out, the dog-eared Western menu automatically opens to glutton Petronius, food-face Arcimboldo, and sundry other library-cafeteria standards. But we 21st-century eaters out there should have our own edible cast -- and not so long ago, the nightly news, sourcing YouTube, provided not just one, but a "Spudding Taternacle Choir" of potatoes, in a video (by John Porter McMeans and … [Read more...]

The Frozen Sound

Do Children Still Hunger for the Past? My brother and I were early TV-babies, and the family's first set, a blond-wood Zenith, had a screen the size and shape of a salad plate. Although he did the usual little-brother things like bite me on the leg when he was mad, Les and I watched everything together, making fun of sitcom characters (like handsome but prim Mr. Boynton in Our Miss Brooks) or singing dirty-word versions of theme songs and jingles. All that seems normal, but we also did something with TV that I really can't explain. When those … [Read more...]

With Friends Like These

Sascha Radetsky of ABT. He'll meet you outside. Tight Deadline There's a peculiar first-person piece in the latest issue of Newsweek, odd as much from an editing point of view as from a writer's or reader's. "Don't Judge Me by My Tights," offered as a "My Turn" column, is a credo by American Ballet Theater soloist Sascha Radetsky that can be summed up in one short swipe: Don't think I'm a sissy because I dance ballet. Those limp, nancy cliches, he writes, have nothing to do with what he really does: On an average day at the job, I handle lithe, … [Read more...]

But Some of My Best Friends …

Someone, 20 years ago, suggested a discreet tattoo the site [sic, or pun] of which would alert the prospective partner to the danger of proceeding as had been planned. But the author of the idea was treated as though he had been schooled in Buchenwald, and the idea was not widely considered, but maybe it is up now for reconsideration. -- from "Killers at Large: AIDS Carriers and Their Victims" by William F. Buckley Jr., National Review Online, Feb. 19, 2005 … [Read more...]

Save the Deli

Many traditional foodways are at risk, and this sharp site focuses on an important one: Save the Deli. Scroll down and check out Alan Richman's 2nd Avenue Deli blog review for GQ: he nails it (which means we agree). … [Read more...]

Why Pastrami Is Always More Than Pastrami

The old sign A Tale of Meat If you're not interested in a New York story, you can stop now. It may be annoying even if you are, because I'll be talking about a lifelong relationship with something a number of readers may never get to know -- which usually sounds like a brag. No one ever said the 2nd Avenue Deli had the best pastrami. Most mavens pit Katz's on Houston Street ("Send a salami to your boy in the Army" -- the history-heavy sign dangles from the ceiling) against Langer's Delicatessen on South Alvarado in L.A. My own feeling is that, … [Read more...]

Make Me a Superartcritic

The two host-judges (foreground) and initial contestants on Make Me a Supermodel Sincere congratulations, media scribblers, on a righteous strike. During your absence, TV critics sneered at the temporary dominance of reality shows. But I had never understood their genre distinction, aware that those purportedly callow shadow-plays are scripted with the best of them. OK, semi-scripted. OK, employing a form of method acting, one without method. I have praised the primitive, addictive, and unexpectedly sweet Project Runway in print before and, as … [Read more...]

Just Friends

"Up-and-coming studs" Bob, left, and Jasper, far right, just before their breakup in 1961 (from "The Art of Code") A piece of canvas covers its surface like a blanket except for portions at the bottom, where Tennyson's name appears in murky stenciled letters, and the top is vertically bisected, suggesting two pillows. Mr. Rondeau sees the work as a response to "Bed," which Mr. Johns's close friend at the time, Robert Rauschenberg, painted three years earlier on the quilt and sheets of his actual single bed. -- Roberta Smith, in a New York Times … [Read more...]