New Orleans

I have a bone to pick with my brother, Neal (or Boozhie, as he is more commonly known).  A few days back he opined the following thought:

Shallots are for babies; Onions are for men; garlic is for heroes.

I’m unsure of the origin of this quote: whether he found it somewhere or composed it himself.  And, grammatically, I am impressed.  A big fan of creative and appropriate semi-colon use, I applauded the architecture of the sentence.  However, the message, I fear, is inaccurate.

Not to say that babies shouldn’t eat shallots, or that garlic isn’t for heroes, but the flow of the sentence implies a hierarchy whereby shallots are inferior to onions, which is, in turn inferior to garlic.  It seems as though your implication here, is that shallots are for wussies.  This, sir, I cannot abide!  I raise my sword in defense of the noble shallot, and will not permit her name to be sullied by someone I otherwise respect.

Therefore, Boozhie–consider this my response. My dropped gauntlet, as it were…

The admittedly three-day-old roasted vegetables that I am about to tear into for lunch at work today.  Pardon the crummy presentation.

The admittedly three-day-old roasted vegetables that I am about to tear into for lunch at work today. Pardon the crummy presentation.

Since I’ve moved to New York, where the Farmer’s Markets persist year round and seasonal eating has become a way of life, I’ve become enamored with a very simple fall dish: roasted vegetables.  There are a few keys to this dish:  oil (I’ve taken to grape-seed over olive), diversity (that is to say, the adequate balance between root vegetables–unpeeled, of course–and non root vegetables), a simple array of spices (salt, pepper, thyme, and, if I’m feeling adventurous, a little fresh rosemary), and, last but certainly not least: the onions/garlic.  Clearly, an entire bulb of whole peeled garlic cloves is essential, but recently, I have begun to appreciate the spectacular flavors of whole roasted shallots, particularly when paired with turnips, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.

If you care to endeavor garlic’s superiority over shallots, I challenge you to eat this dish.  Sure shallots are a little more expensive, but, I would insist, they’re worth the investment.  And I hope that you reconsider your otherwise witty remarks, and make room for the noble shallot.

And please save some room for leeks in your semi-colon-spattered taxonomy.  They’re also well worth the inclusion…

New Orleans, 2005

On the New York Times website today was an articleabout the failed effort by thousands of New Orleans residents to hold the Army Corps of Engineers resoponsible for the flood damage to the homes and properties affected by the three seperate levee breakages soon after Katrina.  Read the article, and read the Judge’s statement.  Though I approve of his language in chiding the Corps for a number of magnificent failures–both calculated and unknown, the fact that he was powerless to rule against the Corps on the basis of an 80 year old law (the Flood Control Act of 1928) is despicable.  For a state to forcibly divorce itself from any legal liability shows the real lack of public accountability that the U.S. Government has to its citizens…as though that hadn’t been proven a mere two days after the hurricane!

Read the judge’s dismissal order.  The flaccidity of the decision (due to the Flood Control Act) is genuinely depressing. 

In all seriousness, how else than by an unjust law can a passage like the one below occur in a dismissal order?

“This story–fifty years in the making–is heart-wrenching. Millions of dollars were squandered in building a levee system with respect to these outfall canals which was known to be inadequate by the Corps’ own calculations. The byzantine funding and appropriation methods for this undertaking were in large part a cause of this failure. In addition, the failure of Congress to oversee the building of the LPV and the failure to recognize that it was flawed from practically the outset–using the wrong calculations for storm surge, failing to take into account subsidence, failing to take into account issues of the strength of canal walls at the 17th Street Canal while allowing the scouring out of the canal–rest with those who are charged with oversight.

The cruel irony here is that the Corps cast a blind eye, either as a result of executive directives or bureaucratic parsimony, to flooding caused by drainage needs and until otherwise directed by Congress, solely focused on flooding caused by storm surge. Nonetheless, damage caused by either type of flooding is ultimately borne by the same public fisc. Such egregious myopia is a caricature of bureaucratic inefficiency.”

I’d write more of a complete reaction to this, but I really should get back to work…