March 26, 2009
While I know that the whole world is in crisis mode, economic crisis this and economic crisis that, I have to admit that it is tough to think that we may have to brace up to hear this kind of talk for a long time to come. I am not being glib, in fact I am more or less out of work at the time, and am personally feeling some of the effects of the economic downturn either directly or indirectly. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s all I want to talk or read about. Drawing a rather obtuse connection to this statement, I might say that I was either a.disgruntledly amused b.annoyed or c.bored by Frank Bruni’s latest NYTimes article entitled: Comrades at Arms: Two Food Writers in a Kitchen Smackdown , about a challenge between two of the culinary staffers to create the best possible meal for 6 people on a 50$ budget. I guess I’m mainly just surprised that this appears to be such a challenge to these folks, and perhaps not the best example to set during these tough times. While I myself am definitely of the “spend all my (former) paycheck on delicious ingredients at the market” persuasion, 50$ is plenty of money for a delicious meal for 6, and more than what most people spend in general for a daily meal. I think that a truly fun and challenging thing would maybe have been to set the bar a bit lower, maybe 20 dollars, 10? I’m also supposing that this 50$ limit would not have included drinks for example, maybe requiring that enough wine for everyone be included in the budget could really spice things up. It is tremendously rewarding to find a delicious 2 euro bottle of young wine from Navarra or La Mancha for example – although maybe this is one of the advantages of living in Spain. In any case, I also don’t agree with the fact that “the best way to disguise a limit and leave guests feeling pampered was to present a long sequence of treats”, as stated in the article. At times there is nothing more rewarding than a delicious plato unico as they say in Spain, a hearty dish reminiscent of those many dishes that in fact originated or were staples during tough economic times: polenta, migas, paella, etc., and there’s no reason that this cannot be gourmet on a tight budget. In any case, taking a line from an aspiring small town politician, I’ll give it some thought and get back to ya.