January 27, 2006
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I caught a wretched cold at eN6, and I've had to spend most of the week on accounting and admin, and there's no time for food even if I were eating much. Which I'm not.

One thing I've been pondering, trudging between the accounting software and lying in bed dreaming of the accounting software, is the absurd attitudes people bring to software prices. Read the VersionTracker vitriol that's being heaped on Yojimbo, a cute little utility from BareBones for managing clippings: people denounce the company as greedy because they're charging $40 -- about the cost of a couple of entrees at the East Coast Grill, or (for that matter) a pair of nice racks of lamb from the Cambridge Museum of Fruits and Vegetables.

At the end of Dining Out, one of the restauranteurs points out that Americans are slowly becoming willing to pay for really good food. You can buy a chicken for $4, or a better chicken for $10: nowadays, stores can actually sell some of those $10 chickens. They taste better, they're better for you, they're probably better for the chickens and the environment. Life's too short.

And there's a place for the $4 chicken, too. Don't get me wrong: there are times when supermarket tomatoes and chicken and dried spices are just fine. It's good to have the choice.

First lesson: I bet a lot of the people who comment on VersionTracker don't do much grocery shopping. Not to put too fine a point on it, I wouldn't be surprised if most of them depend on Mom to buy the groceries.

Second lesson: In Gosford Park, there's a scene when a man whose life and marriage are falling apart sneaks belowstairs and is found by one of the servants in the pantry, seeking (and finding) consolation from a jar of the cook's wonderful, homemade preserves.

How could jam -- the stuff we buy at the supermarket -- be that good? One reason, of course, is that they didn't have fruit all the time: you got an orange for Christmas and strawberries were a couple of weeks in summer. And, probably, jam was better then -- maybe it still is, if you take the trouble and know how.

Anyway, I blew $8 (ouch!) on a small jar of blackberry jam from Stonewall Kitchens. It's pretty good.