Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Cheer

Megan McArdle's holiday gift guide has already been thoroughly mocked, but never let it be said that I ignore my duty in my (self-appointed) task. To the mocking, away!

Presents For People Who Haven't Done You A Favor

McArdle gives us a list of "stocking stuffers," for those relatives and friends who will dig deep down into their stocking on that happy morn and immediately have to be rushed to the hospital because some idiot decided to turn their Christmas stocking into a Bag Of Knives. Evidently McArdle puts a grater, a ceramic slicer, coffee grinder blades and a hand chopper into her loved ones' stockings instead of small presents. She should throw a head of cabbage in there as well. McArdle also gives egg separators. I'm not sure why. Why not those wood chopsticks that come all stuck together, or a box of plastic knives, or an orange plastic shrimp deveiner? Be creative!

Presents For People Who Might Do You A Favor

These presents exist mainly to impress McArdle's good taste and kitchen skill upon her audience. She must have lose tea leaves, not bagged. She is a (kind of a) chef and must have good knives and a knife block. McArdle has finely and highly developed taste buds, and must have good wines, freshly ground coffee, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, exotic spices, and lighter, more delicate baked goods. We all like good foods if we can afford them, but her salt is about $20 a pound.

Right now I'm using Maldon sea salt for most things, and pink Himalayan salt for dishes that demand a lighter flavor.
Then she's using a very expensive salt in cooking, in which the nuances of the flavors will be lost. Cook's illustrated says you're better off using an inexpensive sea salt and save the expensive stuff for table use. As for the Himalayan pink sea salt--as a Tbogg commenter points out, it's actually rock salt from Pakistan, for which she pays about $15 a pound.

Himalayan salt is a marketing term for rock salt from Pakistan, which began being sold by various companies in Europe, North America, and Australia in the early 21st century. It is mined in the Khewra Salt Mines, the second largest salt mine in the world, located in Khewra, Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan, about 300 km from the Himalayas, about 160 kilometres from Islamabad, and 260 kilometres from Lahore, and in the foothills of the Salt Range.

The salt sometimes comes out in a reddish or pink color, with some crystals having an off-white to transparent color. It is commonly used for cooking similar to regular table salt, brine, and bath products.


More recently, large crystal rocks are also used as Salt lamps. A salt lamp is a lamp carved from a larger salt crystal, often colored, with an incandescent bulb or a candle inside. The lamps give an attractive glow and are suitable for use as nightlights or for ambient mood lighting. The largest producers of this product are located near to the source in Pakistan, with Poland and Iran also offering variations.


I'm getting bored, so let's speed this up. She also recommends knives that will explode into razor sharp shreds when your kid drops one while washing the dishes, says you should have a wood cutting board so you can grow a nice variety of food-borne diseases, discount dented cookware, and a mixer she travels with so she can lecture relatives about their appliances in person.

Presents For People Who Have Done You Favors

These are a bunch of very expensive items for people who do a great deal of cooking and entertaining. People who do a great deal of cooking and entertaining know what will work best for them and don't need a wanna-be Sally Quinn to tell them.

Ultimately McArdle has my sympathy, for it seems all her culinary efforts fall on deaf ears, so to speak.

A smaller oven also heats faster, cooks faster, and uses less energy than a big stove, particularly if you're using an electric. Peter, whose affection for crunchy frozen things far outstrips mine, uses [the countertop oven] practically every night.
Do they enjoy their Himalayan pink sea salt on their pizza rolls and bagel bites?


Clever Pseudonym said...

I like how she advises her readers to pass on versatile things like kitchen torches and bread makers (which make much, much more than just bread) to save money and space, but recommends a huge, garish-looking electric potato peeler.

I can't wait for the electronics edition.

Ken Houghton said...

Not to mention the ridiculously-large Rabbit.

"It is mined in the Khewra Salt Mines, the second largest salt mine in the world, located in Khewra, Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan,"

So the salt is mined by poor Pakistanis and sold to McMegan for $15-20/lb.

So the profits go to the elite of Pakistan: that is, those who support terrorism.

Why does McMegan Hate America?

Kathy said...


ALL salt is sea-salt. I know there are inland "salt mines" b-b-but they were once, long ago, oceans. And Salt is Salt- it isn't 'purer' or "stronger" from this or that place.

Thats all for now. I've been moving furniture in my garage to give to a homeless shelter (puff, pant) and its 3-degrees out there. and 1 ft snow outside. Was I winging and moaning about NO SNOW last week? Surely not...

Kathy said...

I know ALL about SALT because I saw a documentary on one of those intelexshutal channels. It was about the 'salt works' near the Dumbarton Bridge (SF bay) near -uh Fremont.

"You don't know what you got till you get it"

Kathy said...

Well, perhaps I was wrong- Wikipedia says salts can have added minerals which change the flavor and color. But the salt stays the same. Pfff.

M. Bouffant said...

Yes, salt is salt. (And salty.) I'd bet one could make one's own "fancy" salt by adding a few minerals, & do it for less than $15.00/lb., too.

I remember those salt piles next to the Dumbarton from my misspent childhood. Glad they're still there & that some things remain unchanged.