Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Against the Cupcake

The Cupcake: An Abomination to the Dessert Genre

When I started writing for NPI, I knew I was going to take some unpopular positions. But, never did I anticipate taking a position as unpopular as this one is going to be. I am against the cupcake. Cupcakes are a poor man’s cake and an even poorer man’s muffin.* Cupcakes are to desserts as The Marriage Ref is to Jerry Seinfeld or what Derek Bell is to the 2000 Mets. Cupcakes are an embarrassment to the dessert genre.

*Occassionally, they attempt to be an impoverished-man-on-the-brink-of-bankruptcy-and-death’s brownie, but these cupcakes make up such a minority of the cupcake population that I’ll leave them out of the equation.

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Aught Lang Syne: The Decade in Nonfiction, Part II

In case you missed Part I of our analysis of the decade’s best nonfiction, you can check it out here.

9/11, Pirates and Emperors, Hegemony or Survival, Failed States, et. al. – Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky has always been prolific in his political writings, but the aftermath of 9/11 saw an increase in the relevance of his criticisms of American foreign policy. As an unabashed radical and critic of American interventionism, Chomsky’s writings express points of view that are virtually unrepresented in the mainstream discourse. For those who agree and those who disagree, Chomsky represents important challenges to American foreign policy that need to be addressed, given the country’s ongoing role in violent global affairs.

–John S

Moneyball - Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis is arguably the best nonfiction writer of the Aughts, and Moneyball is one of the best nonfiction books of the Aughts. Lewis made Billy Beane and sabermetrics (i.e. baseball statistical analysis) into a superstar and super-method. No other book has had as much effect on the general management of a sport than Moneyball has had on baseball. OPS shifted from undervalued to properly or even overvalued (and, you know what’s next) and teams continued to hire Art Howe (well, that wasn’t a good thing). More than simply chronicling Beane’s (general) managerial philosophy, Lewis extracted meaningful themes from it such as capitalism’s push for efficiency as reflected in baseball and overcoming the deleterious effects of dogmatic insiders.

–Josh

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Pabst Blue Ribbon: There is No Good Reason to Drink This Beer

PBRPabst Blue Ribbon has undergone a catastrophically successful rebranding over the last decade. What was once a heartland, working-class beer, brewed in Wisconsin and enjoyed by the Walt Kowalskis and Frank Booths of the world, has now become the beer of choice among hipster 20-somethings. In fact, the change has been so successful that the charitable organization that owns the Pabst Brewing Company is looking to sell it (since a charity cannot own a for-profit company and retain nonprofit status) for $300 million, despite the fact that the brewing company doesn’t actually brew anything. The Pabst Brewing Company mainly operates as a marketing company for the beers it sells, specifically PBR, which has significantly upped its sales figures recently.

Now, I suppose the company deserves credit for PBR’s recent success, but I’m reluctant to credit people for simply knowing how irrational American consumers are, particularly the brand of consumers commonly known as “hipsters.”

I’m reluctant to criticize hipsters because they are an ill-defined, much-maligned breed; like “racists” and “partisans,” “hipsters” are almost universally condemned, even though nobody can agree on what exactly makes one a hipster (although it probably involves skinny jeans).

With that said, we all know who drinks PBR, and it’s not people who like how it tastes. These are people who are trying to send one of the following cool, but factually incorrect signals to those seeing them drinking it (and the fact that PBR is rarely on tap means people generally will know what you are drinking): Continue reading

Deep Dish Doesn’t Cut It

Deep Dish

I previously reviewed the original Pizzeria Uno, offering a slightly negative opinion but remaining fairly agnostic (with an admitted New York bias) on the issue of deep dish pizza in general. It took a few months to overcome my bloatedness of that evening and to bring myself to eat deep dish again, but I did it. I ventured downtown and tried another Chicago staple, Giordano’s, which gets immense praise from foodies and common restaurant-goers alike. I still went in with some trepidation given my Pizzeria Uno experience; nonetheless, I really wanted to be won over. I wanted to start on a path towards loving Chicago’s specialty so I could reap the benefits of that love for a few years.

However, I moved in the opposite direction. I’ve become convinced that, in general, deep dish pizza just doesn’t cut it. The concept of deep dish is flawed philosophically. The philosophy underlying deep dish is a philosophy of excess. Let’s stuff as much mozzarella cheese and as many other ingredients of your selection as possible between the tomato sauce and the crust at the bottom of the pizza. And, let’s use a ton of dough, so much that the crust alone will virtually fill you up after one slice. Continue reading

Joie de Vivre: Praising the Bretzel

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Yes, you read that correctly. If you thought I was actually writing about “Braising the Pretzel”* and became enthused, then I sincerely apologize for causing false excitement.

*Nonetheless, an article on such a topic does not make much sense so I would question your logic if you did indeed become enthused. I would still maintain an overall apologetic tone though.

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Dear Wendy’s, Bring Back the Pita

wendys

You will hear me defend agnosticism, insular arrogance, irrational anchoring, and the Second Amendment before you will hear me offer a general defense of the food quality of American fast food chains.

As a child not very into the burger, going to fast food restaurants was a tough experience. While my peers salivated at the mere idea of a Quarter Pounder with fries, I shrugged with indifference. Whether you’re a child or an adult, you should be able to comprehend the frustration that comes from the vast majority of others appreciating something far more (or far less) than you do (e.g. Fireworks!).
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What Common Human Behavior Will be Viewed as Mistaken in 100 Years?

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I’ve heard a variant of this question posed many a time, most recently by John S. If you look back at any slice of history, there were certain human behaviors, beliefs, and institutions that are now viewed as obviously wrong. Slavery, racism, and geocentrism are a few examples.* What is next?

*These examples are generally thought of as examples where we have made progress. Realizing that slavery and racism are immoral and that geocentrism is false represented a movement towards truth and rightness. I don’t endorse Condorcet’s view that history is always moving in the right direction: It is possible that we can move in a wrong or neutral direction (the stronghold that religion still has is one example that certainly would have disappointed Condorcet). Hence, my prediction is purely predictive/descriptive and I’m not making a moral judgment.
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