Some MAJOR News from Crunchwrap HQ
My second book(!!) + a groundbreaking recipe for chicken parm
Happy Friday and welcome back to The Crunchwrap! First of all, I want to thank you for all your kind birthday wishes last week. As one reader from California texted to point out, there is nothing more desperate that forcing a captive audience to acknowledge your birthday.
Still, it was a great and memorable one in large part because, just hours before my birthday, I sold my second book!
I’m still thirsty and it’s still my birthday month, so you’re going to have to hear all about it now.
So here are the nuts and bolts about the project:
The book is about the defining role of work in American history, culture, identity, and politics. It’s also about the various crises that this mythology all fuels in the here and now.
The title, after Thomas Edison’s famous maxim about industriousness, is 99% Perspiration. It’s going to be published in mid02024 by Pantheon Books, which is part of the Penguin Random House kingdom.
But…where are the nachos?
Now I know a few of you (as long with the projections of the various voices that I carry around in my head) may be confused. After all, you signed up for Baja Blast news, not an exploration of the failure of America’s foundational promises! And I get that.
But, for me, an early lightbulb (if you will) first tuned on while I was driving across the country reporting about fast food in 2015 for my first book Drive-Thru Dreams. One Groundhog Day-esque experience involved meeting franchise owners, industry leaders, and corporate figures, many of whom believed, with unshakable conviction, that they arrived at the American Dream strictly by the dint of their whatever-it-takes work ethic.
Their war stories (often about starting on the fryers at age 15 and working their way to massive wealth) were taken as articles of faith, even as they cut against those of their own employees, many of whom were also tirelessly scrambling—not to win Horatio Alger Awards, but to barely keep their lives together on minimum wage. This is a familiar picture across all industries, not just the ones serving dollar burgers to a stressed and overworked customer base.
For me, the progression of the themes from Drive-Thru Dreams and fast food to 99% Perspiration is a straight and natural line. So I apologize if you’re here strictly for saturated fat and general whimsy; I promise there will be more of that to come(!), but bringing these other themes into the foreground is going to help me grow as a writer and person…or failing that, keep me from becoming a depressive version of Guy Fieri who spends too much time on Twitter.
Needless to say, I’m so excited about this. I love you and I’m so grateful for your support.
Snack of the Week: Chicken Parm Alla Vodka
Among the many benefits of the endeavor is that we ended up with a surplus of delicious vodka sauce. One evening, left to my own devices, I used it for a chicken parm.
I didn’t have a recipe per se, but here’s one that would work. Basically, I made a layer with the sauce, shredded parm, and grilled chicken breasts I had on hand and then made two more layers of the same with torn mozzarella added and then threw it into the oven at 400 for 35 minutes. Here was the result:
I know not breading the chicken is heresy in these quarters, but this was a meal made of leftovers! And upon digging in, I will say that the final product was pretty good!
HOWEVER, it tasted EVEN BETTER the next day after having sat in the fridge overnight. If I’d known better, I’d have thrown it into a toasted ciabatta and had a big nap!
All hail the vodka sauce.
Okay, I’m honestly way too excited to finish the newsletter, but I didn’t want you to go hungry so that’s it for now. Thanks as always for reading!