Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ortolans

Washington, D.C. & New York City
1879


Ortolan is the French common name for a finch-like bunting that is a native of Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. Even though there are strict laws protecting these migratory birds, they are a great delicacy still being captured in nets in southwest France. Weighing less than an ounce, the tiny songbirds are first kept in a lightless box, prompting them to instinctively gorge on millet, grapes, and figs. Once the bird has quadrupled in size, becoming nothing more than a four-ounce lump of richly-flavored fat, it is drowned in Armagnac, plucked, roasted, and flambéed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mad Men

Coney Island, 
1902

The fifth season of the television series “Mad Men” will begin on March 25. Despite leaving you with an unsettled feeling at the end of each episode, this soap opera about New York’s advertising industry in the 1960s is addictive. You keep wanting for everything to just return to normal, but the drama never works out that way, mostly because the constant philandering only serves to further compound the problems. The two-hour debut is sure to deliver a double dose of dysfunctional behavior, leaving the viewers in the same disquieted mood as when the show last aired seventeen months ago. Therefore, we should take advantage of this tranquil interlude and return to the beginning of the last century, remembered in popular culture as a time when life was simpler and more wholesome, perhaps even for those working on Madison Avenue.