The Bruni Digest

In which I sit on a dirt mound somewhere in Brooklyn with my ears pricked, waiting for New York Times head restaurant critic Frank Bruni, who I imagine to be a Venetian count in a huge ruffled collar, to dole out stars from the inside breast pocket of his brocaded chamber robe. This blog is predicated on the suggestion that every Wednesday, in the Times Dining Out section, Frank lays a huge faberge egg of hilarity.

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Location: New York, New York, U.S. Outlying Islands

I am fiscally irresponsible, which means I have weak bones and a dorsal fin. And a penchant for dining out, even though I am, in the words of many rich people, a "poor people". I make a different face when speaking each of the foreign languages in which I am shittily proficient.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Barbes: Old Man Couscous Just Keeps Rollin'

At the 2005 Carbie Awards this year (which occurred entirely in the opening paragraphs of Frank’s review of Barbès this week), Frank presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for Most Undervalued Carb to Couscous.

All you cynics out there who might snort and claim that Frank was only looking for an excuse to type while wearing a D&G, split-to-the-hooha awards gown need only to remember that Frank doles out big fat gold stars when he sees Atkins-defying kitchens. You may remember the Wednesday we opened the door to his bedroom and interrupted him sloppily making out with an Idaho spud.

"Frank said he loved me! He even gave me this tiny Birkin bag as a token!"

So it was heartfelt this week when Frank, who apparently had not been told that he would be actually reviewing a restaurant until halfway into the article, wove elaborate tributes to the carbs we know and love:

“RICE runs rampant. Always has. It does a pantomime of subservience, deferring to the sliver of hamachi astride it or the lobster tail and chorizo in its saffron embrace. But playing humble is easy once you've already insinuated your way into so many dishes and cuisines.”

If you are allergic to personification, P.S., this is where you jump ship, unless your trachea has already closed completely and your eyes are shooting water. Frank describes Rice’s culinary prevalence resulting not from its status as the main subsistence for over half of the world’s population, but from its FAKING subservience and humility only to WORM ITS WAY into peoples mouths.

"Well, I was GOING to have a Hot Pocket, but then I remembered that Rice had offered to mow my lawn for free yesterday, and when I had gone to say 'thank you,' it had stabbed itself in the heart, screaming, 'I AM NOT WORTHY OF THANKS, I AM ONLY RICE!!!!' So it was really its overwhelming humility that won Rice its place in my face."

As for Pasta, nobody really knows why it’s so famous. It has nothing to do with the taste or texture of the stuff, but rather with its uncanny knack for self-promotion:

“And pasta? An unsinkable showboat. Few carbohydrates could have triumphed so handily over Atkins and South Beach. But pasta thrives, insistent and ineluctable, like Paris Hilton.”

It’s funny, isn’t it, to think of the snot-colored, 2-cent, water-flour-egg mixture spanked together and stretched out at the palms of leathery Italian grammas everywhere as the culinary equivalent of a hyperflashy Six Flags Great Vagina ride like Paris Hilton? It makes little sense. However, it does result in a sentence I will be SURE to repeat: “Pasta? An unsinkable showboat!” I will never eat pasta again without saying that.

Friend: I can’t decide between the veal or the pasta.
Jules [in Countly baritone]: Pasta? An unsinkable showboat!
Friend: So you would do the pasta?
Then I will laugh like Santa. Seriously say it out loud. I am literally in tears over this.

“Your cavatelli, ma'am?"
"I ordered mine manned with turn-of-the-century singing slaves, this can't be mine!"
"Ah, quite correct!"

So finally the award goes to couscous, but actually the award really goes to Barbes, in the form of 2 stars.

"Couscous, on the other hand, needs lessons in self-assertion, a better publicist, maybe even its own reality show on Fox. There's no reason it should occupy such an underexposed niche among starchy, grain-based canvases for meat, fish and vegetables. And it's all over the menu at Barbès, a Moroccan-French restaurant that attracts notice for that reason among others."

Actually, not really for others. This place didn't really seem to dazzle him aside from their willingness to serve a carb. Next week: Frank presents Taco Bell with the Heisman Trophy.

And with that, I'm literally late for a flight! Gotta Go! I'll be writing from Finland next week, so if I sound unusually ham-fed and peasant-like, that's why!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've given me the strength to carry on. Thank you.

10:28 AM, July 15, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

You know who else carries on? PASTA! THE UNSINKABLE SHOWBOAT!

6:09 PM, July 15, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

omigawd....I have the hiccups and I cannot stop laughing. My boss is threatening to send me for a psych eval, and I think I have to steam clean the cloth seat I am sitting on. I can't see. Oh shit. Jules, you little retard, I live for you!!!

3:17 PM, November 12, 2005  

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