Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, April 15, 2021

Eric Gower is a “breakaway cook”. Not sure what that really means, other than that he’s parlayed that status into getting a couple of cookbooks published.

I’m sure that cred has something to do with him eschewing knife-and-fork and using chopsticks for his everyday dining.

Only rarely are knives set out at my table. I do not wish to cut or saw anything when I am sitting down to eat. All cutting, slicing, and carving takes place in the kitchen; I don’t want to pick up a big piece of meat with chopsticks and begin gnawing away at it-I cut it into bite-size piece before serving it. In fact, I don’t want to mess with or manipulate the food in ANY way. I just want to eat it, not mess with it. Knowing beforehand that the meal will be eaten exclusively with chopsticks can change the meal’s whole dynamic.

I’m assuming he breaks down and uses a spoon for soup — albeit a wooden or plastic one, owing to his aversion to metalware.

I share his preference only in the most narrow of instances: When I eat East Asian food like sushi or General Tsao Chicken. In fact, I’m at the point where I can’t really partake in those dishes unless I use chopsticks; it just doesn’t seem right to use a fork on them. Call it an aesthetic quirk.

Naturally, such foods are optimized for the twin-sticks. Accordingly, I find I can eat them faster when using chopsticks as utensils — which is probably the opposite intent.

What I can’t figure out, though, is why the Chinese places in my area never automatically provide you with chopsticks with you order. From the Village up to Columbus Circle, whenever I order takeout, I always have to remember to ask them to include a set of chopsticks for me. Why? Do they just assume that, unless you’re physically sitting in a Chinese restaurant dining area, you don’t want to bother with the traditional eating implements?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/15/2007 11:32:36 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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The modern American melting pot seems to have a distinctly secularizing aspect to it. Research on Hispanics, particularly immigrants, suggests that they are abandoning church services even as they remain religious.

This mirrors the mainstream American norm. Combine that with the formerly weekly-plus attendance these same Hispanics maintained in their native countries, and you come to this conclusion:

Before Mirna E. Amaya and her husband bought their restaurant, Palacio Latino, three years ago — and when she lived in Maryland — she went to Mass every Sunday. Now she says she is working too hard to go, even though she says she misses it.

“In El Salvador, people went to the church because there’s nothing much else to do,” Mrs. Amaya said.

The frenetic pace of life in these United States — owing to a more vibrant socioeconomic environment — puts a premium on spare time, and attending a staid church service doesn’t rate high enough, priority-wise. A way to counter that would be to present traditional church Sundays as a calm oasis from the everyday grind, a chance to slow down and contemplate; I’m sure that’s appealing to many who still go, but not to everyone.

It’s small wonder that the megachurch phenomenon is succeeding with supersized religiosity. Adding audio-visual effects and staging services in arena-sized venues transforms the Sunday regimen from a chore to a spectacle — and makes it stimulating. More a commentary on our collective need to be entertained, no matter the context.

Back to the Hispanic trend: I have some perspective on the immigrant dynamic at play. In my upbringing, amongst a tight community of Greek Americans, church was (and is) a centralizing force. While everyone worked and went about their business the rest of the week, Sunday was for reconnecting with your own kind. Faith was the occasion, but the unifying factor was just to see familiar faces and speak the language.

Have the same pressures affected the Greek Orthodox Church in America? I wouldn’t be surprised, but I’m betting it’s not to the same degree. There’s a simple reason for that:

The Hispanic community has a wider cultural net for its own reference and sustenance. Catholic church services in Spanish is just one option among many for demonstrating ethnic heritage, along with media, community groups, etc. That comes with a numbers, i.e. the sheer demographics of Hispanics in most part of the country. All that provides outlets for expressing the culture and — most fundamentally — keeping the Spanish language alive. Contrast that with Greek-American life, where the numbers are a lot thinner on the ground. Church is the only option as a cultural glue. Indeed, the major factor among my relatives for still attending church is to (hopefully) get their kids to learn Greek, as little else in the support structure will foster that.

Ultimately, churches have to compete in the mindshare arena to keep up. Given how religion among all strata of American society is increasingly integrated into an individualistic framework, it’s a big challenge.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/15/2007 08:31:04 PM
Category: Society
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what's in a number
Today’s league-wide tribute to the 60th anniversary to Jackie Robinson’s major-league debut, manifested by dozens of players (including whole team rosters) wearing Robinson’s No. 42 uniform number for the day, is a shining moment for baseball. That the uniform idea came about organically, instead of being a commissioner’s-office edict, makes it an even more special touch.

Not to subtract anything from Robinson’s legacy, and not that it’ll ever happen, but I’m waiting for a similar tribute to the late Curt Flood, and how his stand brought about free agency and the rise of today’s big-ticket sporting experience.

In fact, for Flood, I think every major sports league — NHL, NFL, NBA and of course MLB — should acknowledge the debt. He played baseball, but his off-the-field actions touched every pro athlete.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/15/2007 02:59:03 PM
Category: Baseball, SportsBiz
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I don’t know if Spike Feresten got a taste of the “Seinfeld” syndication cash windfall that made the stars of the show rich-rich-rich. Since he was only a writer, I doubt it.

Still, things can’t be too bad for Feresten. He’s got an eponymous talkshow that’s building buzz on the hip-o-meter. And prank-arcs like Spike’s Crappy Neighbor can only help.

Basically, Feresten took a problem — an inconsiderate neighbor who insisted on carrying her toy dog down the street to Feresten’s lawn in order to take a poop — and built it into a video odyssey of revenge tactics. High point: The creation of a “crapapult”, a poo-flinging contraption you’d expect to find in the Kramerica Corporation catalogue. (Too bad it was never used, despite Feresten going out of his way to procure elephant dung to use as ammunition.)

Actually, now that I think about it… Feresten probably did end up with some “Seinfeld” money. How else would he have so much time to pour into this kind of nonsense?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/15/2007 12:24:52 PM
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, TV
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Silly me. I thought that when I moved away from Florida, one of the things I could leave behind was the annual extreme-weather panic that came with hurricane season.

No hurricanes here in New York, but a late-arriving nor’easter has stirred up a familiar jitteriness:

In the New York area, heavy rains are expected. Officials are worried that the combination of high winds and high tides could cause coastal flooding. “Let us hope it doesn’t happen, but we have to prepare for the worst while we’re hoping for the best,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a news conference yesterday.

The mayor said evacuations were unlikely, but in a cautionary move, city emergency planners have identified possible shelters in the highest-risk areas and have alerted hospitals and nursing homes there to be prepared to relocate patients and elderly residents in the event of severe flooding.

I’m all for cautionary measures, but come on — we’re talking about a load of rain. Waterproof your ass, and move on. Heck, it’s not even a lightning storm, so no threat of your household grid getting fried.

It is pretty ugly outside at the moment, and I’m certainly not inclined to leave the house today if I can help it. But I’m not prepping an evac kit, either.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/15/2007 11:39:23 AM
Category: New Yorkin', Weather
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