Wednesday, August 15, 2007

DiSpirito DiSses Cuban Buns

Possums, who says Anthony Bourdain's the only chef who likes to live on the edge?

Sure, travelling to Third World countries and feasting on entrails and snake-venom soup and whatever other delicacies are supposed to testify to one's omnivorous machismo carry certain dangers. But in our humble, yet knowledgeable, opinion, nothing Bourdain has ever done compares in sheer death-wish lunacy to what Rocco DiSpirito pulled only yesterday: dissing the Cubans and their food.

We had planned a little screed on the subject ourselves, right around the time of the "Latin Food" challenge--a harrumphing exploration of what factors, including racism and exoticism, make particular cuisines trendy, and of the fallacy of the concept of "Latin" food, putting arepas and chimichurri in their rightful place, revealing what other Latin Americans think of the Cubans and the Argentinians (hint: not good), citing Mario Vargas Llosa, Ugly Betty, Richard Condon, Diana Kennedy, and Shakira, and containing verbal red rags such as, "Garlic pork and fried plantains do not a cuisine make"--but cooler, less foolhardy, heads prevailed. Miss XaXa reminded us that we couldn't go and risk having our throat slit with a Buena Vista Social Club CD since we hadn't even made out a will. And so we kept silent.

Rocco DiSpirito, however, must have received better estate planning advice, if this bit from his blog is anything to go by:

Howie, true to his Miami roots, suggested Cubanos. Everyone thought a Cubano was a great idea. Is it? Never been to Cuba so I may not know any better, but I haven’t had that many good Cuban sandwiches in Miami or anywhere else. The Cubano might just be the most overrated sandwich on the planet. A great sandwich is a pastrami on rye from Katz’s Deli or a prosciutto mozzarella panino from St Ambroeus. I chuckled when one of the late night revelers complained about the bread being the wrong kind. Since when is Cuban bread the stuff that legends are made of? Cuban cigars? Yes. Cuban coffee? Of course. But not the bread. Lets not celebrate the bread.

Well, possums, as we said, Rocco posted this yesterday. By now, we suspect, his body must have been found, a Cuban roll stuffed in his rather fetching little mouth. Tragic, really, after all the promise Bourdain said he possessed.

What may be Rocco's final blog entry ever also contained other valuable insights and revelations, including the fact that Rocco has watched Sex and the City and that he thinks "white stretch Hummer limo[s]" are tacky. Finally, he has some parting words for Bourdain:

Tony how are we so different? After more than 20 years behind the stove you left the restaurant business--so did I. You author and sell (admittedly much better written) books--so do I. You’re on TV--so am I. You write blogs--so do I. You speak your mind and have dedicated your life to entertaining people and so do I.

I was stunned when I read your comments comparing me to Eric Clapton. I am grateful and didn’t know you felt that way about me, but I am still confused. Now it’s my virtuosity behind the stove that makes me such a loser? Don’t you see--it’s as absurd for you to insist I open a restaurant as it is for me to ask you to do the same. It’s not that I refuse to open a restaurant (who knows given the right situation), I just don’t need to cook at a 40-seater in a bad neighborhood to become the sunshine of your love again. You can enjoy my cooking anytime, no reservations.

"No reservations"? Aw, snap.

On a completely unrelated matter, Ted Allen was sporting a tee shirt from the New York gastropub The Spotted Pig on last week's episode, and this week Rocco has posted a picture of himself in a Spotted Pig shirt on his blog. Oinkydink?


Anonymous said...

"I just don’t need to cook at a 40-seater in a bad neighborhood to become the sunshine of your love again. You can enjoy my cooking anytime, no reservations."

At first I thought this was a personal invitation from Rocco to Bourdain, but then I realized it was just a blurb from a Bertolli Frozen Dinners ad....

Anonymous said...

Why don't you write about people on shows that we care about such as "The Girls Next Door" or "Scott Baio is single and 45!"

mumblesalot (Laura A) said...

"Miss XaXa reminded us that we couldn't go and risk having our throat slit with a Buena Vista Social Club CD"

Still chuckling over that one.

Ms. Place said...

Dahlings, as always your snide remarks inspire me. Rocco shoulda just kept his mouth shut. I read his blog with my mouth open. And, no, it wasn't a good experience.

Anonymous said...

it is amazing how much more of an asswipe rocco becomes every week..


I never really had all that much respect for Rocco, especially after watching his show The Restaurant years back, but I did always find him somewhat entertaining. And I thought he was a pretty decent chef, until now.

Having grown up in Miami I've had plenty of Cuban sandwiches. And being born in NY and being a jew as well, I've had plenty of deli sandwiches. Now that I live in LA, I've had numerous prosciutto mozzarella paninos. But man, Rocco is dead wrong here.

A Cuban is only as good as the ingredients that go into it. I watched that episode with my roommate (also from Miami) and we were STUNNED that Howie (who's from Miami) didn't seem to care that he altered a real Cuban sandwich. I mean, if Fresh Market didn't have any available at that time of night, he could have easily gone to 1 of any 1000 of 24 hour Cuban cafeterias and picked up some real bread. You need Cuban bread to make a Cuban sandwich. Plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rocco. (Ducks head and comments anonymously.)

Anonymous said...

All ingredients had to be purchased at the Fresh Market, right? I don't think Howie had any other option.

Anonymous said...

I think Rocco should be the last person on earth to talk about anything being over rated. He is not that great as a chef, extremely unoriginal when it comes to his dishes. He is also horrible at reality TV.

Anonymous said...

My first thought when presented with my first Cuban sandwich:

"But this is just a bunch of ham."