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Is It Possible To Take Food Too Seriously?

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I'm so tired of there not being enough vegetables in meals. Sure, I can spend $8 or $10 to add a side of brussel sprouts (always with bacon). And I can order a salad. But I don't really like salads.

Even when I'm traveling in a foreign country, I check out Chinese restaurants because I like veggies in my diet. Most cuisines don't offer enough tasty veggie dishes. I especially can't stand overcooked flavorless broccoli.

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If, instead, a diner is seeking nourishment, comfort, well-cooked familiar dishes, or a flavorful inexpensive meal, the choice of dining destination is obviously the key. Maybe a desire to visit the latest hot restaurants with famous or trendy chefs and a homey, healthy meal are mutually exclusive goals.

I think a diner might be seeking something even beyond food. A social setting, an experience. Now, you're talking to a guy who usually eats at a public bar rather than at a private table, but the plate can only offer so much. There's the rest of the dining experience to be had as well. Alot depends on what attitude the diner brings to the table: a spectrum starting at "I'm here, entertain me" and ending at "I'm here, and I've brought my share of fun." Dining isn't meant to be like watching a movie.

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As young chefs think of themselves as artists and struggle in a crowded scene to distinguish their uniqueness, high-end dining becomes more about the chef's expression with "the products" and the diner's appreciation of the meal is supposed to include their "getting" the chef's artistry. An esthetic entertainment as well as gustatory experience.

If, instead, a diner is seeking nourishment, comfort, well-cooked familiar dishes, or a flavorful inexpensive meal, the choice of dining destination is obviously the key. Maybe a desire to visit the latest hot restaurants with famous or trendy chefs and a homey, healthy meal are mutually exclusive goals.

I was on the verge of agreeing with you when a single word came to mind: Fiola. Then I thought of The Restaurant at Pawtomack Farm. In both these places I've had food that was satisfying, entertaining, and showcased the chef's artistry.

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I was on the verge of agreeing with you when a single word came to mind: Fiola.  Then I thought of The Restaurant at Pawtomack Farm.  In both these places I've had food that was satisfying, entertaining, and showcased the chef's artistry.

In this case, your two exceptions may prove the rule. I can understand that you would like more restaurants to give you all that you get at these two places, but expensive disappointment is in store if you expect it.

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Miracle Whip anecdote.  In my older formative years, I lived and worked in New Orleans. I always kept my Hellman's in the refrigerator at work for fear of botulism.  A co-worker informed me that one must NOT keep one's Hellman's in the fridge because it would CAUSE botulism, but, contrariwise, one MUST keep one's Miracle Whip in the fridge.

She was a member of the species Yat, genus Homo New Orleansis.

Not entirely sure if I ever ate Miracle Whip, surely I did, but we always have a big jar of Hellman's IN the fridge, today and every day, thank you, Best Foods.  If there is anything better on a homegrown Brandywine tomato, please let me know.

I worry about the Hellman's because it's made with soybean oil, an industrial oil, and I worry about my LDL, but it tastes really good to me.  If you turn your nose up at something not because of the way it tastes, but for some other reason, be it political, medical, social, economic, or political, that's not food snobbism.  Far from it.

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If there is anything better on a homegrown Brandywine tomato, please let me know.

Olive oil and sea salt.

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On 5/27/2005 at 8:58 AM, DonRocks said:

One day an apparition appeared before me, and made the following offer: you can have the best sex you've ever had in your life, IRA sex, the kind of sex where you'd cash in your entire retirement account to experience just one time.

"Cool!"

But there's one hitch…

Nervously, I asked, "what's the hitch?"

It has to be in a dark room.

"Are you kidding? Bring it on!"

Are you sure?

"Am I sure? I'm a guy! Of course I'm sure. Bring it on!

And so I showed up at the appointed hour and location and waited in the dark. I heard a door open, and then shut.

For the next two hours I was in a state of euphoria. Afterwards, I was exhausted, content, uplifted beyond my wildest dreams, and everything seemed right with the world. Then the lights went on.

"nnnnoooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!"

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!"

I awoke with a start and sat up in my bed, panting, drenched with sweat, in a state of disorientation and total panic. It was 2 AM, and I had just had an unspeakable nightmare.

The next day I was shopping at Whole Foods, and I picked up a beautiful-looking watermelon marked "Conventional," and thought about my horrible dream the night before. I immediately put it down and went over to the boxful of more-expensive, slightly lesser-looking watermelons marked "Organic," picked one up and put it in my cart, and continued my shopping.

One day I stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in the rural mountains of Virginia. For breakfast, the hostess served up a marvelous egg dish, something like a strada but not quite the same. She had sat down at the table, we were all enjoying the conversation, and I was commenting on how much I liked this dish. A smile came across her face, a coquettish smile, the kind of smile a child would have when he wants to tell you a secret, but also wants to keep you in suspense. She said, proudly, "it has a secret ingredient that makes it so good." "Well I would love to know what it is," I said, picking up my fork. And just as I put the next bite into my mouth, she chirped: "It's Miracle Whip!" All of a sudden that ethereal, subtle flavor that had so intrigued me became painfully clear, and this dish that I was enjoying so much instantly because as pleasurable as downing a mouthful of castor oil. I then had to sit there and finish the entire breakfast with her in front of me, beaming, and talking about all the things she does and all the inexpensive ingredients she uses to cut corners, and that nobody can ever tell the difference.

I propose that "tastes good" is a necessary but insufficient requirement for greatness. How something tastes is not enough. There must be substantially more behind any great dish than the illusory fallacy of "if it tastes good, it is good." A flawed-but-honest dish is always superior to something cunningly manipulated to "fool the diner" into thinking that it's good. And with that, I invite your comments and disagreements.

Cheers,

Rocks.

"There's No Copyrighting Taste, Rules EU Court in Dutch Cheese Case" by Laurel Wamsley on npr.org

Without reading a word of this article (yet), there could be an interesting argument made for "taste" having the same rules as "sound." Think about that: You can't make your song sound *too much* like another song.

But if this is about cheeses, "taste" on its own is only part of the mimicking equation, so if some chemist in Newark can recreate the taste of Gouda, well, this is sort of what they've been doing for many decades.

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