Saturday, July 28, 2007

On the other hand - schmaltz

Not much one can say to argue the health benefits here. Chicken fat - even Kosher chicken fat - just isn't good for you. Unless of course pleasure is itself good for us. There's simply nothing else like it - properly prepared schmaltz is sublime. My modern, medically informed culinary super-ego doesn't permit me to make much use of it - but it is good.

For some reason now, I'm reminded of that night at Sammy's Roumanian Steakhouse on Chrystie St. - Glaciers of frozen vodka, schmaltz on the table top, veal chops that - while very good - crowd the limits of geometric plausibility for veal (to say nothing of the plate). My brother's last meal before a long and debilitating bout of hepatitis. Clearly, he was going down regardless, but imagine the insult to the liver.

Stream of conciousness-wise, this brings me to the observation that Russians (and to judge from Sammy's, Roumanians) understand vodka. Best consumed immoderately and frozen. I'm not sure as I write/read that if what's to be frozen is the vodka or the drinker. Let's be safe and say both. Yes, that's the ticket, be in (or from) a cold climate and drink frozen vodka in prodigious quantities. Garnish with a glass if you must. Salty, fatty foods are good at this point too.

Irresponsible advice you say? Well, this post is "On the other hand..." We're not here to promote healthful practices. This piece is about things we know are bad for us - but for which there is no substitute. Schmaltz. Frozen vodka by the litre. Summer blockbusters.

Seem to have jumped the groove again. OK - why not. I've actually been to two first run movies in the past week. A genuine rarity. But there it is. I was dragged (under heavy protest) to see Transformers. Come to think of it, it was a Russian neighbor's recommendation that drove us there. He had seen it and insisted we had to. Wretched. The worst. Truly. Others have covered this ground so I'll desist. But I can't help wondering now if vodka figured somehow into the genesis of the recommendation. Moving on - Last night we saw Hairspray. Great fun. If somebody tells you they don't make them like they used to - send them to see Hairspray. Highly recommended. Now here's the curious part. What does it say about blockbusters generally, and Transformers in particular, to observe that between the two, Hairspray was the wholesome choice? I mean (even as a third generation remake) we're talking about John Waters material here. Divine - a three-hundred pound transvestite - played the mother in the original movie. Now it's Travolta in drag-cum-fat suit. And it's the wholesome offering today. Not a close call. Which brings me back to schmaltz.
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