g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Saturday, June 21, 2008
17:18 - I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my life-style

(top)
Something that has been bugging me ever since I got to New York is that pickles just aren't the same here.

Sure, I know I'll be lectured that pickles are better here—after all, New York is known worldwide as a mecca of pickle connoisseurs, what with the "sours" and "half sours" and imagery of barrels of garlicky brine lining the sidewalks of Delancey and Bleecker Streets being waved tantalizing at the corners of vision.

Trouble is, I've tried these allegedly legendary pickles. I've had them in halves and wholes at any number of authentically New York delis and diners over the last four months, whether served on top of a bowl of cole slaw or dished up in chips. And... well, maybe I'm just a West Coast philistine, but—those aren't the pickles I want.

These pickles they have here are all a pale, sickly light green color, with a dark contrasting rind. They look like this:



But they're not Claussens, though they might look it. They're something else. Something without a brand name. Something highly regional, and apparently backed and cultivated into the local culture by mysterious dark forces, because everybody has themexclusively.

And they taste like cucumbers. Maybe slightly salty or sour or garlicky cucumbers, but cucumbers. I know that's what they once were, but... that's not what pickles are supposed to taste like. They're supposed to taste like pickles.

They're supposed to look more like this:



You know, the bright neon green, brined to translucency, with the skin almost the same color as the inside. The kind of pickles they have at fast food places. McDonald's. Wendy's. <cough> In-N-Out. The kind of pickles you find in giant glass jars at supermarket deli counters at 69 cents a pop—eight inches long and too big around to grasp in one hand—or else available in nice regular stackable slices, for those put off by oblique crude innuendo.

I don't care if they make faces at me:



I want these pickles so I can make my sandwich.



Failing that, I just want them to put on burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches—or just to eat with Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds. I'm sorry, but these pallid little ovoids of acridity just don't do it for me. There's nowhere near enough salt. Nowhere near enough vinegar. Nowhere near enough green.

I spotted a Fuddrucker's today, and I thought, "Hey! Fuddrucker's! They have a serve-yourself condiment bar! Featuring the all-important neon green pickles I so crave!"

Well, it was a Fuddrucker's, all right—in every respect but one.

That's right: a giant metal serving tray of limp, pallid, ghostly New York pickles.

I tell you, my heart sank into my shoes at the sight.

I really think there is no such thing here as the kind of pickles you can get in giant gallon jars at Smart & Final in the West. There is no hope for me, except perhaps mail-order—and Smart & Final's generic store brand ("Chef's Review") turns up no hits online. I haven't even had any luck finding an equivalent of Smart & Final here—no restaurant supply places, no bulk food, nothing. There's Costco, but that's all name-brand stuff: Vlasic, Del Monte, Claussen. That's not what I'm after. I want cafeteria-grade, industrial pickles, the kind you fling against the red plastic tile roof of Tommy's and watch them scoot slowly down into the azaleas on a hot Pasadena night.

I don't know what my options are here. I'm feeling at my wits' end.

I mean, the big fast-food chains use the kind of pickles I'm after, no matter where in the country they are, right? McDonald's has their own distribution network that trucks in their pickles in giant refrigerated mobile food assembly units so they're the same whether you're in Oregon or Florida or Moscow. But if places like Fuddrucker's are held to the capricious whims of the local pickle constortiary... then what hope do I have as a lowly consumer of finding my fix?

I've been able to find reasonable substitutes for most things since I've come here. Sourdough bread is difficult to come by, but there are places that will make it, on occasion, though they might fix you with a gimlet eye if you ask for it, and it will turn out heavy and chewy-crusty and not so much "sour" as "sullen". Chipotle can be had if I'm willing to travel an hour by train to the city. In-N-Out is but a dim fond memory, but the ubiquitous diners around here make some fine and creative burgers that at least calm the craving. Round Table Pizza I miss, but there's a fine consolation in the person of authentic New York brick-oven pizza—as different from Round Table style as Round Table is from Chicago deep-dish, but at least there's an apotheosis of the craft just around the corner from me. And I've found a few new pleasures in which to indulge, things virtually unknown back home: roasted red peppers in sandwiches and wraps; Roumanian skirt steaks; Cuban sandwiches; delis run by amiable guys with weird accents who respond to the word "hero" instead of "sandwich roll".

But pickles... pickles elude me. I feel the creep of despair beginning to gnaw at my ankles, and I fear—for Google fails day after day to deliver me any indication that anyone out there on this coast shares my need—that Western neon green pickles will become an avatar for my persona and self-worth, and once I've forgotten the quintessence of the pickle with which I've come for so long to identify, I will in turn have forgotten my own self.

I'm not ready to let go my identity just yet. I gotta have my pickles!



14:07 - Dear John
http://yahoorezinr.com/

(top)
Brilliant.

Monday, June 16, 2008
11:46 - Captain Unibrow Rides Again
http://www.autoblog.com/2008/06/16/top-gear-usa-hosts-announced/

(top)
Sweet: Adam Carolla will be co-hosting the U.S. version of Top Gear.

The press release after the jump also reveals what each host drives, and as you would imagine, Carolla (who will now be referred to as Jezza Jr.) sports a garage full of Lamborghinis, Maseratis, two Ferraris and an Audi S4. Foust makes do with a simple, tricked out BMW M3. Stromer... a Camry Hybrid. Something tells us Stromer better come equipped with a thick skin. So what do you think? Does Top Gear USA now appear better suited for success or does the show have Bucket of Fail written all over it?

This could work.


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© Brian Tiemann