Smug Apples

Smug Scout just received an amazing gift from a friend who went home to the East Coast for the weekend: a half peck of Macoun apples. This gift made Smug Scout reflect on what used to be her favorite season before she moved to Los Angeles fourteen years ago: fall. Where fall used to mean crisp, chilly, smoky air and leaves turning beautiful colors, here it means wildfire season with foul, toxic, smoky air and leaves (not even to mention the entire landscape) turning black and ashy. Wildfire season also means NO Macouns. As far as Smug Scout is concerned, Macouns are the only apples worthy of passionate praise, and they only grow in a limited area of the East Coast, specifically in what is known as the tri-state area, or, for those from other regions, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. It is a bounteous region whose specialties cannot be grown or replicated anywhere else. (Yes, Smug Scout is exactly that kind of impossible ex-New Yorker. Please do not even get her started on bagels, pizza, and corn on the cob. She is absolute in her condemnation of any impostors that come from the west–and be warned, that means west of New Jersey.)

Well, it seems Smug Scout has digressed from her topic of the only truly Smug apple, the Macoun. She is not sorry. There are simply times that she needs to express her contempt for L.A., though she does not forget that she can eat local, organic strawberries while her tri-state area family and friends are shoveling snow off their turnips.

So, if you are from their privileged region, you know what Smug Scout is talking about. Otherwise, here are the reasons that Macouns are as Smug as Smug Scout herself.  You could even say they are the Smug Scouts of the apple world. Why is that, you ask?

  • They only grow in three states. You can see they have chosen well. They have not chosen new states. They have not chosen poor states. And they most certainly have not chosen red states. How arrogant and aristocratic of them!
  • They only grow from the end of September till the beginning of November. They give you a time limit because they refuse to spoil you with excess or overindulgence. They know all about the contempt of overstaying one’s welcome. You can see they know all about Granny Smith.
  • They do not keep well. They despise cold storage. You will not abandon them for months in some dark, overcrowded hole. They prefer light, space, and plenty of reclaimed wood for display and sale. If you do not give them what they want, they will punish you by turning to flavorless mush.
  • They do not like to travel. They refuse to travel in steerage class, which is gloomy, cold, and inhospitable. If they must fly, they prefer to be in their own comfortable half-peck bags, ideally hand-carried onto the plane by a tri-state native to her longing friend on the West Coast.
  • They simply will not be degraded into cheap products or mass distribution. You will not see Macouns in commercial apple sauce, conventional baby food, public school free lunches, or absolutely any fast food or chain restaurant. They leave those proletarian duties to their sadly inferior working class relative, the Red Delicious.

There you have it. While you may have thought apples were too pedestrian and American to be Smug, you can see how Macouns even outdo the likes of wild arugula and organic persimmons. Now, if you will excuse Smug Scout, she needs to go eat one immediately.

Smug Farmers’ Market Find: 10/7

Smug Scout was tickled to go to the Mar Vista farmers’ market this morning and see that one of her favorite backyard farmers had a massive pile of oyster mushrooms. She bought one pound of them because she has made a miraculous discovery: when she marinates them in local organic olive oil and Santa Maria BBQ spices, then roasts them in the oven till they are dark, shrunken, and brittle, they taste very similar to bacon. This is important because Smug Scout does not eat pigs. She does not eat pigs because pigs are smarter than most American voters. She is sorry for pigs that their stomachs are so delicious. She is also sorry for pigs because a manic, insatiable bacon craze has struck Smug big city restaurants (not so much in L.A. due to the greater popularity of anorexia) and forced chefs to corrupt formerly meat-free dishes, such as salads, vegetable sides, and even desserts, with that one ingredient whose first name is spelled every single way except O-S-C-A-R.  Hipsters and gimmicky chefs do not say bacon; it is pork belly, smoked jowl, fatback,  pancetta, porcetta, prosciutto, guanciale, lardo, lardons, serrano, or Speck. Sometimes it is even pig’s tail, snout, trotter, or eyeball for a very special genus of hipsters, those unique Smug-epicenter-dwelling male specimens who suffer from what Dr. Smug Scout has diagnosed as “toothless machismo.” This condition leads them to believe they would go out and kill their own animals if only they were not pale, spineless, and glued to their MacBooks all day.

Frankly, Smug Scout wonders what could happen if this bacon-by-any-other-name furor continues to grow. She imagines the following nightmarish scenario at  a favorite Smug restaurant:

  • Smug Server: Good evening. Do you have any questions about the menu?
  • Smug Scout: Yes, I see you have a multi-national array of bacon products in every dish I can comprehendThat does not strike me as very inventive.
  • Smug Server: I did not hear a question.
  • Smug Scout: Correct; you heard a critique. Here’s the question. I am wondering what this is: “Candy-striped beet salad with goat cheese, organic micro-greens, and бекон.”
  • Smug Server: That is a beet salad with Russian bacon.
  • Smug Scout: Does it taste like vodka?
  • Smug Server: Actually, most customers think it tastes like bacon.
  • Smug Scout: I see. How about this one: “Wok sautéed long beans with purple cauldron garlic and 熏肉.”
  • Smug Server: That is beans with Chinese bacon.
  • Smug Scout: Does it taste like soy sauce?
  • Smug Server: Actually, most customers think it tastes like bacon.
  • Smug Scout: Oh, really. How about “Grilled local lemongrass tofu with red quinoa and เบคอน”?
  • Smug Server: That is tofu with Thai bacon.
  • Smug Scout: Let me guess: most customers think it tastes like bacon. I will be having a liquid dinner. Please bring me a Knob Creek Bourbon Manhattan. Please try not to put any bacon in it.

Final reminder: To be on the cutting edge of Smug, cut yourself loose from that slavish, shopworn Brooklyn hipster cliché and eat local organic oyster mushrooms. Just do not eat them raw. You will not think you are eating bacon. You will think you are eating a sponge.


Smug Household Tip: Wine Bottle Ziploc Drying Poles

Smug Scout is not a natural housekeeper and has virtually nothing to share on Smug topics like green cleaning or time and space wasting European kitchen gadgetry. She will not apologize for any of that. She is not a Smug jack of all trades. However, because she has a small kitchen with what she is sure is an illegally small amount of counter space, she has been forced to improvise to meet certain needs. One of her most Smug needs is reusing Ziploc bags until the plastic becomes cloudy and wrinkled, perhaps toxic. Since she brings her lunch to work every day, and her lunch often features local organic heirloom cherry tomatoes, she must wash at least one Ziploc bag per day. But a dilemma presented itself: how could she dry them to prevent mold from befouling the interior? The solution arrived in the form of wine bottles she lazily left on the counter and did not immediately recycle. Smug Scout ingeniously turned the bags upside down and put them on top of the wine bottles; they dried in record time. Here are the Smug benefits:

  1. You will not need to buy Ziploc bags more often than once every ten years. In fact, Smug Scout does not even remember how many years ago she bought that box of Ziploc bags. She also still has every one she ever got from a friend, though her friends may no longer recognize them in their current form. She will not ask them to try.
  2. You will need to continue to buy expensive and limited production local wine, so that you will have sufficiently Smug wine bottle Ziploc drying poles. You do not want a wine bottle Ziploc drying pole made from cheap swill of suspect provenance, like any house label of a certain eco-hostile supermarket chain (all that plastic!) known for its $2 wine, which Smug Scout considers unfit for human consumption.

Tip: do not let any flagrant wastrels make fun of your antique Ziploc collection. If that happens, use the diversionary tactic in this sample dialogue to develop a response:

  • Flagrant wastrel: Those bags are disgusting! What are you, some relic from the Depression?
  • Smug Scout: Maybe so. What is the last bottle of wine you bought?
  • Flagrant wastrel: I got a great deal on a French red from Trader Joe’s. It only cost $4.99.
  • Smug Scout: I see. You have vulgar taste and clearly no gag reflex. I would only drink that plonk through an IV line.
  • Flagrant wastrel: You’ve just insulted me!
  • Smug Scout: True, but I hope I insulted Trader Joe’s more.

Just ask Smug Scout if you need a bottle or two for your Smug wine bottle Ziploc drying poles. She will not share her Ziplocs, however. You will have to age those on your own.

Final warning: be proud of your Smug wine bottle Ziploc drying pole. Try not to let Smug friends bamboozle you into squandering $20 on a reclaimed wood plastic bag dryer from Vermont, even though this is clearly a very Smug object. Smug Scout in fact just found herself out-Smugged by a very Smug friend in Portsmouth who first took pictures of her reclaimed wood plastic bag dryer, pictures that featured Smug iconography such as MacBooks, hand varnished reclaimed wood tables, and an “earth-sensitive” pinot noir (a bottle that still had wine in it, pointedly not to be used as a wine bottle Ziploc drying pole), only to brag that she could not take a picture of this contraption “in use” because she simply “doesn’t use much plastic.” Wow! Out-Smugged on two counts! Now Smug Scout knows when she is down for the count, but she would like to point out that it is much more sensible to spend that $20 on a bottle of wine than an object you then become too Smug to use.

Smug Stuffed Animals in Portsmouth

Though Smug Scout prefers Smug grown-up company, she knows there are many Smug children under five (such as the ones who congregate in boisterous packs at the Portsmouth FM) whom she recognizes as future Smug scouts in miniature form. Smug Scout recognizes that they possess certain abilities and inclinations she happily lacks, such as the operation of felonious babysitting gadgetry like iPads and iPhones.

Smug Scout is grudgingly aware that Apple products, like actual organic, local, heirloom apples, are very Smug, but she would like to dispense with the lot of them, or bushel if you prefer, and advise parents to focus not just on distracting their miniatures with addictive carnival screens that will turn them into anti-social automatons but also on truly Smug old-fashioned children’s playthings: handcrafted stuffed animals. Thus, she dedicates this post to her young readers.

Hello, miniature Smug scouts under five! Aunt Smug Scout knows you do not really want to waste your young life pressing your sticky little fingers onto greasy screens. Yuck! Smug Scout knows you really want Smug stuffed animals that are fun for both play and Smug stature among your friends. She suggests you bring your Smug parents to Nahcotta, which is a Smug local arts, crafts and sustainable products store in Portsmouth, NH. There is a whole section devoted to shoppers in your demographic, so you will have no trouble spending your Smug parents’ money on superior products. Smug Scout recommends Earth Friendly Creatures, which are small, simple, barely identifiable stuffed animals that cost around $16.  Use the below tips to negotiate with your parents (who may not want to pay so much on something they like to believe they could easily craft themselves–if only they could just finish that nasty organic vegetable canning project).

  • Made by underpaid, uninsured artistic adults in Massachusetts, rather than underpaid, uninsured, non-artistic children in China
  • Body is made of locally milled “EcoSpun” recycled materials from Massachusetts, rather than toxic materials from China
  • Eyes and noses are made from recycled bottles from Massachusetts drinkers rather than recycled bottles from California drinkers that arrived in China via container ship
  • Tag is tied on with a chopped off shoelace from Massachusetts rather than a plastic tie from China
  • Only available at Smug arts and crafts stores in New England rather than anywhere else in the world, including China

Warning: if your parents are the type of New Hampshire residents to say “Mass-holes,” please replace “Massachusetts” with “local New England artisans.” Otherwise they could refuse the purchase on nonsensical geographic grounds, no matter how often you point out that Massachusetts is more local than China.

Tip: if you do not live in New England, please tell your parents to schedule a vacation there immediately. Choose Portsmouth, NH, or Portland, ME. Smug parents will just love it!  There is reclaimable wood everywhere, and you’ll notice that some of it is still in an exotic form known as trees.  In fact, tell them that reclaimed wood is so popular that Smug restaurants are even named after prized varieties of it, such as a legendary establishment known as the Black Birch Kitchen & Drinks. Point out there are cocktails made with macerated local black birch tree bark. No one would dream you made that up. 

Final note: If your negotiations fail, try telling your parents that if they will not buy you an Earth Friendly Creature, you will embarrass them by lying down and playing dead in front of the next corporate chain you see.  Pick Starbucks, for example. Your parents will be mortified to be stopped and spotted near dangerously multi-source mongrel coffee.