The title of this post is not capping on poor dead John Paul......No:
Stupid Food Tricks...........''Sherman....set the Wayback Machine for February of this year...."
I am just back from San Sebastian...still tasting the local baby squid....melt on your fork...forget your mouth. Wham bam, thank you ma'am....Poof!! I am not in Spain, but in Pebble Beach, cooking breakfast for the Hatfields. I arrive at 5am....to be all set for the boys' early tee-off time.
The Hatfield's house (one of their six......) looks out at Japan. All morning, as I am setting up, I see the brilliant bright lights of a squid boat a couple hundred yards off of Pebble Beach.....by The Pinnacles. I know it is a squid boat because my dive buddy Captain Yid (he claims to be the only Jewish sea captain on the West Coast) tried to float a Night Squid Dive.......Bright lights offshore attract thousands of squid, dump the barneys over the side into the ''school?''. Psychedelic diving. Cap'n Yid loved it himself. It was bizarrely fascinating, I must admit........the general unwashed, though? Well, you didn't exactly hear about it in Condé Nast....not a popular romantic escape for the well-to-do dive couple, the squid night dive in Monterey.....
Anyway, the squid boat was still there at 7am when I called the Tringali's at the Wharf. How do I get Monterey squid? And, while we're at it....squid ink?
Well.......you can't. It is BIG BUSINESS...all the squid is shipped immediately to Salinas and flash frozen. Small quantities are not worth the trouble.
Well, today I found out the ''Rest of the Story'', as Paul Harvey would say. It turns out the squid is indeed frozen in Salinas......then shipped to CHINA, thawed out, cut and trimmed by the fine Chinese work force......and shipped BACK! Then it is resold to the highest buyer......Some of whom are in.........CHINA!!
There was a time when every living sea-thing caught anywhere near Monterey was brought to Monterey, and brought before a squad of Sicilian chicks with sharp knives. Those chicks are now the grandmothers and great-grandmothers of our locals......Then it was the Filipinos: wives of the loyal Navy stewards in WW2......and then the Koreans and Vietnamese. Now, apparently even our most recent and dirt-cheapest immigrants are too pricey....even in an era of crazy energy prices. It is more cost efficient to ship the stuff 18,000 miles to be cut by folks with no health plan...than it is to be cut here by folks with no health plan.......And I still can't by fresh, local squid.....at ANY price. What the f**k?
Wait.....there is equally dumb stuff inland.
I have long had a serious walnut oil problem....I need a 12 step program. I still lust after the walnut oil-duck-endive salad of the eightiews. I hate the walnuts (well maybe except with '49 Warres and Stilton)....but love the oil. When I first hit Californie, the first thing I did was try to buy local walnut oil. Panetta Road (as in Leon Panetta......Clinton's chief of staff, former Rep. Panetta, etc) is buried in walnut trees. Carmelo Panetta....now a heart surgeon....was my bus boy, and he walked to work. One of our favorite clients, Gordon Rosenburg, owns a whole TOWN full of walnuts.......San Ardo. Well.......turns out that the walnuts are all sold in advance. The only walnuts that go to oil are the INEDIBLE ones....for whatever reason. Maybe they fall on the ground on their own, rather than be shaken down. Because the walnut is inedible, the USDA says the OIL is also inedible.....Can't be sold as food in USA.
What to do? Well, turns out the French are happy to buy our inedible walnut oil.......And.......what do the French do with our walnut oil? Put it in 16oz containers, multiply the price by 100, and SELL IT BACK TO ME!!! See, because it is now French....it is no longer inedible. Wait....stop....hold that thought.....Is there ANYTHING in France that isn't edible?.......NEVER feed me straight lines.......