Friday, 06 November 2009

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Tea-V-Parties It must have been difficult to be a conservative last night. On the one hand, you threw your muscle behind your perfect candidate and he lost a district which last went Democratic back before the Half-Breeds and the Stalwarts fought for control of the GOP; on the other, you got a television show made especially for you! The remake of V is an exercise in allegorical drift-correction: the original series was supposed to be based on Sinclair Lewis's novel about creeping government fascism, which was itself an allegory about demagogic dangers posed by the likes of Huey Long and Father Coughlin, who were themselves perceived to be homegrown Hitlers, but then Star Wars happened and the network demanded Space Nazis, so the fascists became lizards and, instead of wanting to rule America, they wanted to eat Americans, meaning they cured diseases for the same altruistic reasons we pump cattle full of antibiotics. That, as they say in the business, is some mighty powerful drift, and it requires some equally unsubtle mastery to correct course. In the original series, the Nazi parallel was made palpable via regalia and youth groups; in the remake, they do so via a Maddow-esque Scott Wolf asking the leader of the Visitors if they offer universal health care. Note the slight shift in the assumption required to move from alien to fascist? The expert in fictional fascisms did:I simultaneously loved the "universal health care" line and thought it was a bit hamfisted. I do like that it all bothers Jonathan Chait so much, but I think they could have been a bit more subtle. However, it's worth recalling that the visitors in the original series promised to cure diseases as well. I think Chait goes overboard too when he says the show is a loveletter to the Tea Party movement. Jonah Goldberg is, it goes without saying, wrong, but in this case his error is understandable because he was instrumental in creating the conditions that made it possible. The only people for whom universal health care signals a creeping fascism are 1) people who were convinced by the "arguments" proffered in Liberal Fascism, and 2) people who believe Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are the future of the Republican Party. Granted, there is a substantial overlap between those camps, but my point is that unless you share core beliefs with, broadly speaking, the Tea Party movement, that reference fails to refer. The allegory only works if universal health care is a link in the chain that secures space lizards to fascism. UPDATE: todd. makes a suggestion and (with one minor revision) I heartily agree. From now on, "JGIGWOSIW" it is. (If only because that's the noise my brain makes when I read something he's written.)
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Recipes from the Headless Chef: Chorizo Cilantro Chili The one thing even long term readers might not know about me is that 1) I do all the cooking and 2) am quite good at it (if I do say so myself). (And I do.) I am not, however, good with following recipes or remembering how I improvise on them. In order to preserve how I prepared meals worth making again, I'm going to share them with you. They're largely variations on recipes from the only cookbook that's also an education: The Professional Chef by the Culinary Institute of America. It weighs in at 7.8 lbs. and is every bit the beast an almost eight-pound book should be. In it you learn what equipment to buy (one good chef's knife can replace an assortment of space-cluttering gadgets); how to use that equipment in the most effective way possible (the time people spend cooking can be cut in half by the knowledge of how to cut an onion); how particular flavors are produced (both in terms of spicing and preparing dishes); how certain textures are achieved (especially important in soups and with meats); and I could go on but you see my point: this is the book to purchase should you want to learn how to cook. I'm going share recipes in its spirit: not only will I tell you what to do, I'll also explain why I'm doing it. Chorizo Cilantro Chili Mexican (pork) chorizo (or substitute with soy chorizo) Unripe (green) serrano chilis (for back heat) Ripe (green) jalapeño peppers (for front heat) Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (for round heat) Gebhardt's Chili Powder 2 bunches of cilantro 1 bunch of green onions 2 medium yellow (or 1 large Vidalia) onions 4 cloves of garlic 8 Roma tomatoes 3 cans of pinto beans (12 oz.) Molasses Brown sugar 3 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock Kosher salt Pepper Prelude: A word about those peppers. I didn't specify how many you'll need because that depends on what kind of heat you desire. If you prefer your tongue and the roof of your mouth on fire immediately, go heavier on the jalapeño peppers because they have front heat. Front heat also overwhelms all the other flavors in a dish, meaning a bottle of quality hot sauce can make mediocre food edible or mask an off-note in what would otherwise be a ruined dish. (I like Cholula. The pequin [30,000 to 60,000 Scoville units] and arbol [15,000 to 30,000 Scoville units] chili combination provides pure flavor-masking front heat.) If you want to taste the flavor of your ingredients before you taste and feel the heat, go heavier on the back heat-providing serrano peppers. One word of caution when producing back heat: when you taste the progress of your dish, you need to taste a little more than you normally would to fully register the back heat. If you fail to feel its full effect, you can easily produce a dish that tastes wonderful in your mouth but burns holes through your throat...

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