Why the long shorts?

When the Bistro was on the road recently, I happened upon a copy of USA Today (June whiteredseersucker12, 2014), that printed thing whose lack of journalism is compensated for by colour. In it, an etiquette and style writer criticized how short men’s shorts were becoming. After all, she wrote, who wants to see a man’s thighs?
The photo that accompanied it showed this mid-thigh pair of men’s shorts.


Seriously, USA Today?
He is wearing a pair of pink seersucker shorts, for crying out loud!
Your problem is its length?

At athletic events, of course, the longer shorts of the time are coupled with high athletic socks, giving us a look like this:Lionel Messi (L), Bruno Alves (R)

Which is not too different from this:victorian bathingsuit

bruce_jenner_wheaties_boxI certainly am not an advocate of short shorts.
Somehow, Bruce Jenner came back, but we certainly don’t need his  I’m not really that big of an advocate of shorts in general. They are comfortable in warm weather, but not very high on the fashion totem.
But this: mid-thigh being considered “too long?”
or even long? Not exposing anything but the knee?

This is a little crazy— especially when we think about the standards for women’s shorts.

Among the ancient Greeks, the male body was a symbol of Netuno19bpower—virility and action rather than a passive, vulnerable object—and therefore depicting it nude was a symbol of power.
By contrast, in our culture, clothes are power, so the more power a man wishes to project, the more he puts on—business suits, hunting cammo, or Teflon armour.
So maybe length does matter.
Of course, the gaze we fix upon women’s clothes is much more sordid.

We have always been ludicrous when it came to women’s bodies, but here in the 21st century, when we should have been getting away from our hang-ups and cultural expectations are we going to start worrying about not exposing men’s thighs?

Our Nation’s founders all had bodies, but two centuries later, American’s are as obsessed and repulsed by them as ever.

Men’s thighs— OY!
Have a bialy— it’ll do ya’ good.

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On New Year’s Eve, we listened to an article on NPR about a judge who made his own bialys. I recall having heard or read the word thrown around a few times, but hadn’t really pick up on them. When he said warm chewy roll crisp on the outside with sautéed onions and poppy seeds, he had my rapt attention.
Beets & Bialys jan 21 (2) (1202x808)A bialy shares some common qualities with its cousin, the bagel, but is so much more fun. It has a thick, high-gluten dough like a bagel, but isn’t boiled before braking to make the outside so chewy–it is just baked. It is also filled with onions & poppy seeds–not unlike an Ashkenazi Mini-Pizza.
The bialy epicenter in this country is the Jewish bakeries of the various boroughs of  New York City. Originally, the bialy is believed to have been called Bialystoker Kuchen, and they came to this country with Jewish immigrants from the beautiful Polish city of Białystok. Many of these Immigrants came for economic reasons, or to escape Tsarist Progroms like the one in 1906. Going into the 20th Century, the majority of its residents were Jewish, but the 20th Century took a devastating toll on the Jewish population of Białystok.

A good source for this history is Mimi Sheraton’s The Bialy Eaters. This recipe was modified from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from The Bread Bible.


For the dough:

  • 2 cups King Arthur bread flour
  • 2 Tbsp wheat gluten
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • pinch sugar
  • a little less than a cup of warm water
  • 1 tsp salt

For the onion/poppy seed topping:

  • 2 Tbsp butter (or more)
  • ½ small chopped onion
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds (or more)
  • ½  tsp course salt (kosher would make sense, kids.)


Step 1, Prepare Ye the way: Assemble all the ingredients, rummage around the pantry to find your poppy seeds, run to the store because you are out of butter, &tc.

Step 2, Sift & Leaven: sift the flour and gluten into a separate bowl (I like the chewier texture the gluten gives it, but I’m sure you could omit it–FOOL OF A SCHNOOK!!). In your mixing/bread-making bowl, add the yeast & the sugar to the warm water, whisk & let it rest a bit.

Step 3, Come together & knead: gradually add the flour into the yeast. Before it Bialy dough (3)becomes too thick, add in the salt. continue to add flour (maybe more than 2 cups?) until it is very, very, very still–downright resistant. Knead, knead, knead. This is the weirdest dough I have dealt with; like the Golem, I hope it’s on our side.

Step 4, Rest & Rise: coat the dough with olive oil, put in a large bowl and allow it to rise. For best results, this would be a slow rise, several hours, but it can be rushed in a warmer place to an hour or so.

Step 5, Shape & Rise: divide the dough into 6 balls (fewer if you want them big, Bialy dough (2)or more if you want them small). Flatten the balls with your hands on a parchment sheet–the shape you are looking for is a flattened roll with space in the middle to hold filling. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth, and let rise for another 30 minutes or more.
Note: some also prefer the bialy more flat & dimpled. You can also play with cheeses & pizza toppings, &tc.

Step 6, Heat & Toppings: preheat the oven to 475 degrees. If you have a stone to bake them on, that’s great. In the mean time, chop and sauté the onions in the butter on a low heat–you want them soft, but not browned. Take it off the heat and stir in the Poppy seeds & the salt.

Beets & Bialys jan 21 (4)Step 7, Put it all together: press the middles of the rolls down a bit more and cover this indentation with the onion mixture. Put tem in the oven for 10 minutes, or until them are golden brown.
Mother's Day 2014 (4)
Step 8, Take them out & Enjoy: allow them to cool a bit, but they are best fresh. You can eat them plain, or with a little schmear (cream cheese) maybe some capers. They are great as a side to Beets & Bialys jan 21 (3)salad or to Borscht.

They make wonderful gifts –I mean, as soon as you say butter, onions & poppy seeds, most people are ready to go–at least the sort of people I hang out with.

I also like to use them as buns for sandwiches. Black Bean Burgers on Bialy Buns with Fries (5)
My favorite is with Black Bean Cheeseburgers and Fries.
In fact, that’s what Wode, Mousy & I will be having for supper later this evening, if you wish to drop by.



Dr Bear is rather busy at the moment, and behind on his deadlines (no surprise there). I have never been exactly clear on the rationale behind mowing lawns; it seems like such a waste of time. However, I decided to burrow in and give it a try.

On Easter, we had a sweet discussion with Alex, our fantasy IT girl, and some really cool girl (Katie? Maybe?) about tweed.

Tweed (15)Tweed is a rough surfaced woolen cloth, generally marked by irregular variations in color. The predominant colors are natural and earth-tones, especially the browns and grays of traditional wools and woolen dyes. The threads of the wool are wide and irregular—twills of wool that probably gave tweed its original name. The epicenter of tweeds is along the Tweed river in Scotland, but tweeds are woven throughout the British Islands.

The main differences in tweeds are the colors and the designs of the weave.

There can be a fairly straightforward weave.

There can be one with the weave more pronounced, Tweed (5)often called “barley-corn” tweed. These are usually marked by contrasted colors on the little bumps or barley-corns.

A Donegal tweed, from the northern counties of Ireland where Dr Bear’s people came from, is a little more regular than the more over-the-top barley-corn, in regular little patterns.

The next pattern is a check. Tweed (25)

This can be small or big,
subtle or less so.

It can be gradations of the same color, sympathetic colors, or even contrasting colors.

If you want loud, wear Argyle or Tartan, not Tweed.

If you want ugly, wear Madras, and please stay far away.

Another design is Herring-boneTweed (8)
tweed, named because the alternating diagonal patterns
look like fish bones.

This is classic, and probably my favorite.


Another is hounds-tooth, Tweed (17)an irregular design vaguely resembling a dog’s tooth. (shudder.) This one on my left is a tan and brown summer weight, so it can be worn in warmer weather.

B&W Houndstooth
A well-known non-traditional variation on this is the iconic black & white hounds-tooth. Which is classy, but mostly for women’s wear.

It makes me think of Audrey Hepburn, which is always good. sigh.

Tweed (24)
And, as I said, any design can come in different colors, like this blue herringbone tweed.
Unlike gray and brown, blue is not a conventional tweed color, but I suppose we would not expect conventional from Dr Bear.


Also, you can alternate patterns, Tweed (10)like check and hounds-tooth, to get new combinations.
This one alternates a wider hounds-tooth with a smaller one (pups-tooth. Yes! Really! giggle.) and is woven with a light bluish over-check.

In the 19th century, many of the great country houses had their distinct house tweed, created by alternating patterns in a set way. This is called Estate Tweed.
Not at all the same as tartan.
Classy, but tied to hunting, so uncool.
Having the participants well-dressed certainly does not dress up a blood sport.

Gratuitous Cumberbatch
It is warm, and surprisingly water resistant, having many of the natural properties of sheep wool. It is classy, although not formal—never a business suit, or dinner-wear. It is the material of Sherlock’s Deer Stalker.


It also looks great with bow-ties.

Until next time….