A time to kill

Thai Noodle Jump


CHEAP EATS It's a question of balance. If I brag, it's because I also put myself down a lot, and I wouldn't want anyone to think me insecure. That's not it at all. I am capable of saving the day, but probably more likely to trip over a milk crate with a crunched, empty can in it. My fuck-ups are occasionally spectacular and always well documented. You don't have to read Cheap Eats. Just look at my shirt.

I mean, read Cheap Eats, by all means. The thing about failure is that it makes better copy than success. That almost has to be a saying already, and I'm either an idiot for repeating it or a genius for inventing it — in which case I'm a braggart for pointing it out and an idiot for bragging. It's a question of balance.

For some reason there was this idea afloat that, if the puerco pibil came out great, we would have no choice but to kill Earl Butter. I know, I know. It didn't make sense to me either, because he was the maker of the pork — and the chief advocate for killing the cook.

If it was a suicide attempt, it failed. Maybe a cry for help?

I think not. It had something to do with bisexual people's favorite film ever, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, starring Johnny Depp and Salma Hayek. I never saw it.

My favorite movie is Vernon, Florida. Still! Almost thirty years later! I've worn out two video tapes already, and it's the only movie I ever made a CD of, so I could listen to it in my car, the visuals having long since been stamped onto my brain. Some day, after I finish film school, I'm going to do a remake of Vernon, Florida starring Johnny Depp and Salma Hayek as the couple who sits on their steps and talks about sand. Nobody ever does remakes of documentaries, I've noticed. Why is that?

Don't think too hard. That's my job. And you can rest assured I'll do it. As soon as every other restaurant reviewer in the world is writing about movies, their friends, cars, sports, and chickens instead of restaurants, I'm going to go to film school and start making remakes of all my favorite documentaries.

The beautiful thing about Once Upon a Time in Mexico, according to Earl Butter, isn't Johnny Depp or Salma Hayek. It's pork. Specifically, puerco pibil, the marinated, slow-roasted pork dish that Johnny Depp's character just loves. And, if you think following Cheap Eats can be tough, check this out: apparently if a chef's puerco pibil tastes too good, Johnny Depp kills him.

I never understood why people complained about violence in movies, until now. You can't kill someone for cooking something real good! Not even in real life. I just saw No Country for Old Men. Didn't like it, but I have to admit that you can kill someone for losing a coin toss, pissing you off, trying to kill you, being married to someone who pisses you off, just for fun, or for no reason at all. But killing someone for cooking something too good, that crosses the line. I didn't even see Once Upon a Time in Mexico and I'm going to have nightmares about it.

Well, Robert Rodriguez — writer, director, producer, editor, music maker, cutie-pie, and complete bastard for making me have nightmares — puts on a little cooking show at the end of the DVD, according to Earl Butter. You also can watch it on YouTube. That's what I did.

Earl Butter followed the director's directions, I believe, except for the banana leaves. He invited seven people over for dinner: one was me and none was Johnny Depp.

But he's out there somewhere, you gotta figure, and for all we know he reads Cheap Eats as faithfully as everyone else in the world. So at the risk of reviewing my best friend's cooking, the pork was quite ... hmm, good? But not great. A little dry. And perhaps not spicy enough. Middle of the road.

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