Just eat

I am sitting here eating a whole grain (really?  I have got to check the box information) pop-tart and drinking Red Rose tea with a shot of milk.  Gourmet snack of choice, of course.  My children are having 1. a kid box of apple juice, 2. a sippy cup of half juice and half water, and each gets one granola snack bar (bought at the local market in the “date off” bin).    For breakfast we had scrambled eggs with fresh mushrooms and the cheese left over from last night.  Milk and tea included.

Why do I detail this?  Because we got the Dean and Deluca Thanksgiving 2008 catalog yesterday (I am not sure why) and I flipped through it as I had my snack.  The photos and descriptions are entertaining, quite pretty even.  BUT– $45 for 16 caramels of normal, pop in your mouth size?  Nothing special thrown in like gold flakes (for that you go to Neiman Marcus), just cooked sugar and some food coloring.  So you get four of each color.  See?  Special- right?  12 cents worth of ingredients, 20 dollars worth of labor, 3 dollars of packaging, say a percentage of marketing that we’ll account for at 1 dollar, for a 26.12 total.  That’s generous too, especially on labor (let’s hope they cover health insurance).  So 25 of what you pay may seem to be profit (we are not discussing shipping and shipping profit cuts here).  BUT,  D&D are the middlemen.  They do not make the items they sell.

Whom ever buys these things should contact me.  I can put you together a killer gift basket or make you something from scratch for less.

Other items in the catalog? How about a small (2.4 pounds) sweet potato pie for $65?  Or sixteen cut out and simply decorated cookies of small size for $65?  A 13.5 pound hunk of prosciutto (that’s Italian for dry aged ham- which I can get locally, organically, for much less) for $400 (that’s over $28 per pound folks)?  Or how about an assortment of tired dried out, prepackaged appetizers like the ones off the Schwanns truck- 24 spanakopita (philo dough triangled with feta cheese and spinach, $45), 8 crab and lobster cakes the size of a quarter ($84), mashed potato toast (I kid you not), chili cheese tartlets, or seafood thermidor puff pastries in frozen packs of 48 pieces for $45-75?  How about a 7” diameter chocolate cake with a pretty candy cane colored frosting for $160?  Or a “13 desserts plate”, of a handful (small, very small handful) of almonds, dried fruit, nougat, (13 average snacks, about 1 oz. each) and so forth for $58?  Or an 18 pound “heritage” turkey for $160?  Granted, it’s organic and not the overbred white variety, but I got a 14 pound, free range turkey for FREE at my local grocery with the coupons I had collected.  Even last year when we blew the budget to buy an organic, free range heritage bird from a local bird man and had it butchered THAT DAY, it only cost us about $100, and it weighed about 24 pounds.

All I can say is “what the heck?”  Who buys this stuff?  I know D&D is used for corporate gifts, it says so on the back of the catalog.  But still—what?  Like the airplane catalogs that advertise for corporate gift giving?  Do they just tell their secretaries to order something, the grunts pull a catalog, and order it on a P.O.?  When others get it, do they say “send a thanks” and then pass it along to THEIR grunts?  What a cycle.  D&D are not the manufacturers either, they are the middle men.  So all the items are made to ship, a time sensitive problem for food.  Just go to the sources people!  There are plenty of high-quality bakers, wineries, and other high quality food producers who would love to sell you their goods directly.

I guess it is a niche in this capitalistic country, because upon searching the internet there are so many middle-people-corporate-gift companies in existence. 

Call me crazy, but I still go for quality and craftsmanship in items as well as good value.  My husbands art?  The materials are usually extraordinarily expensive (gold, silver, etc.) and he mostly uses recycled materials (including his stones), and even when not so expensive (bronze, nickel, etc) he is a painstaking craftsman who spends hours drawing and making an item.  He always seems to sell his work at a loss, and this is not unusual for most artists.  Even the good ones, unless they are very well known.  It burns us up that many who are just good marketers of their work (and the work is often complete crap both technically/craftsmanship wise as well as design and concept related) make money well above it’s real worth.

In food, knowing how to cook is an asset because nothing, absolutely nothing, is as good as fresh, homemade food.  It seems to be the thing no restaurant can duplicate no matter what the signs say.  Husband is an expert apple pie maker, having honed his skills over the years and cross applying his craftsmanship orientation to the process.  He also selects the freshest, local and good apples, and uses real lard in the crust.  It is the best apple pie I have ever had, anywhere.  I think it is worth, say a 9’ diameter deep dish, about $1000 a pie.

Anyone buying (I’ll even ship same day for an added cost)?