Bogged Down in Manhattan

New York magazine has a brief item on superchef Ming Tsai’s visit this week to Rockefeller Center. Awaiting him, courtesy of Ocean Spray, is a massive artificial cranberry bog.

As a regular commuter through the bogs of Wisconsin, I’ve found it’s easy to forget that most people don’t get the opportunity to see cranberries in a natural—or, in this case, a simulated natural—state. It’s therefore exciting to imagine several hundred thousand Food Network viewers from Iowa pushing blindly through a scrum of Ecko windbreakers to get the opportunity to see (if for one fleeting, glorious moment) a giant swimming pool inhabited by what appears to be a dwarf in rubber waders.

And, of course, the berries, bobbing majestically like a fleet of tiny red basketballs on a stagnant sea of frigid water.

Some advice for tourists: bring a large thermos and cart off as many as you can steal. No amount is too large. My fiancée’s parents, no strangers to good eats, buy roughly 50 pounds of berries a year while they’re in season and then freeze whatever they don’t rapidly convert into delicious cranberry sauce. The rest crop up periodically in cobblers and apple pies, lending a zippy tartness to desserts that might otherwise wilt under their own insipid sweetness.

Load up, and let the two-month holiday cooking season begin!

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