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Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.

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August 6, 2008 12:55 PM

Food ink: Tattoo me

Posted by Nancy Leson

Call me an ink-stained wretch if you must. It would be no word of a lie. Long fascinated with the number of local food-professionals who wear their heart (among other things) on their sleeves, I've finally joined the club:



But unlike Josh Henderson of Skillet Street Food , who wears the Morton Salt girl on his arm. . .



And umpteen other chefs (including Scotty Simpson) sporting various versions of the "butcher's cut" on theirs. . .



. . .I can remove my tattoo with nail polish remover, or just wait till it wears off in the shower. That's because I just got my hands on the hottest thing since the advent of the tramp stamp: Temporary Tattoos for Food Lovers. I picked mine up at my favorite bookstore for $7.50, but you can stop by Archie McPhee in Ballard for yours (or the University Bookstore, Shakespeare's Den, the Red Balloon Co and Pirate's Plunder among other venues).

And speaking of Archie McPhee, here's a word from Archie's main man, Mark Pahlow, seen here taking a bath:



Here's how Pahlow explains the genesis of his hot new product, distributed by McPhee's novelty-oriented mothership, Mukilteo-based Accoutrements -- creators of everything from Devil Duckies to Nunzilla to my favorite, the shushing Librarian doll:

"The advent of the celebrity chef has finally done away with the idea that food is made by effete snobs in ivory towers -- ivory kitchens? -- who only enjoy `fancy food,'" Pahlow says. One of his favorite foodies is that cig-smoking, cookbook- and memoir-writing, foul-mouthed hunk of beefcake Anthony Bourdain. Pahlow says his inspiration for the book-o-tats came after watching Bourdain get a real tattoo in a Malaysian jungle in one of his TV-show episodes. "When he travels to foreign lands to eat fantastic roasted pork as he sits cross-legged in a dirty hut, he reveals the true spirit of the foodie," says Pahlow. "Food lovers are adventurous and passionate people, so the idea of tattoos for them is a natural fit."

The food-lover's faux-tattoo book is "perfect for those who love food or are in the food business, yet don't have the nerve to face a real tattoo needle and live with the result the rest of their lives," Pahlow says. Uh, that would be me. And I was especially pleased to learn that he calls my choice of the bacon heart -- among the 18 options in the pack -- "the one 'must do' tattoo." It's the foodie equivalent of the mom-heart with the arrow through it, he says. Plus, "Bourdain often jokes about pork products being a gateway-protein leading to addiction."

In additon to pork products, Pahlow and his creative crew at Accoutrements turned to the "politically incorrect" fat and alcohol tattoos. "Why has butter earned such a bad reputation?" the man behind McPhee wonders. "Food shouldn't just be the fuel you use to run your body, it should be a source of pleasure." The tattoo proclaiming "Eat or Die" is not only a motto for the foodie, "but also literally true," he says, while "`Eat Fresh, Buy Local' echoes the thoughts of a thousand chefs about how to eat well."

I'll ink to that!

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Food for Thought | Nancy Leson on KPLU

Listen to Nancy at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. during Morning Edition, at 4:40 p.m. during All Things Considered and again the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during Weekend Edition on KPLU 88.5.

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