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Is It Possible To Take Food Too Seriously?

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No disagreement here, in fact, perfectly said. Now, if we can expand this topic to "Is it possible to take a restaurant too seriously?" I think I know one restaurant that would definitely fit the bill...

 
Alinea?

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Oh, and Mark: Not bad, but I do mine with ground beef, half an onion, caremelized, and some garlic, then mix a little dijon mustard and a few tablespoons of salsa, into the 'sauce'. I use Annie's mac and cheese mix, though. There's nothing wrong with mac and cheese out of a box! tongue.gif

 
I was referring to mac and cheese made according to the directions, not something "adjusted" beyond all recognition. Sounds like you keep the dried pasta and throw away the "cheese" packet. I could go with that. wink.gif

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Yes, I think some people can be "food snobs", especially when it comes to wine.

These people either take themselves way to seriously or are trying to impress others or both.

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What a fascinating subject! I do dislike the word "foodie" with a passion; it smacks of snobbery to me in the sense that people place themselves in the "foodie" category with an implication of possessing superior knowledge, when all they possess, in reality, is a mouth and a set of opinions. But for lack of better word, this term has come to mean someone who enjoys food and sees it as something more than a sum of calories.

Example. Took a friend to Komi and was predictably showered with mouth-watering morsels and bits out of the magic kitchen of Chef Monis, delivered and presented by the fabulous Sebastian. Raved to said friend about consumed dishes. At the end of the meal, the friend (a perfectly serviceable fellow otherwise!) took my hand and said, "You realize, my love, this is all lost on me."

Diagnosis: Not a Foodie. 

A food snob, on the other hand, is someone who has specific tastes in food and believes himself superior based on perception of knowledge. Someone who won't bend his preferences no matter what circumstances dictate. "I would NEVER eat a hotdog. Are you MAD?" 

Example. A conscientious H&D would call, cheerily, "How was your dinner??" to the departing guests, and would actually like to know the answer. Most people would smile sastifiedly and say, fine, amazing, okay, fantastic. A few months ago a couple, upon hearing the question, stopped and said, "Well, your foie gras was flat. And the ingredients in the risotto did not marry well. The whole experience is just so dated."

 
Dianosis: Food Snobs.

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In my long and checkered wine career, I've had the good fortune to drink Ramonet Montrachet, Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne, Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Eiswein, Trimbach Clos Saint-Hune, Haut-Brion Blanc, Chave Hermitage Vin de Paille, Chateau d'Yquem, Krug Clos du Mesnil...

...but in my lifetime, I'm certain that the greatest white wine I've ever had was a carafe of Cinque Terre Bianco at an outdoor cafe in Spezia, served with a gnocchi al pesto, after a long day of hiking on goat trails by the sea.

now we are getting somewhere. the snob would have ripped that wine to shreads and not just enjoyed the moment. they would have spent the time comparing and contrasting the wine to others they have had as well as the gnocchi (Is it better than Palena's?) and let the moment slip by.

food is my work and passion, but it should be an accent or a harmony to lifes song...not be the song itself.

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mktye, in her May 27th blog entry, writes:

(So using the Miracle Whip incident as an example... theoretically speaking, you make the dish and as one of the components use:

-- Fresh eggs, gathered just that morning from free-ranging chickens, first-press olive oil, the finest imported mustard, sea salt from the shores of Brittany & some cane sugar, all whipped together until they form a nice emulsion.

-- Organic eggs from Whole Foods, organic safflower oil, organic mustard, sun-dried sea salt & minimally-refined sugar, all whipped together (by hand with a whisk) until they form a nice emulsion.

-- Eggs from the grocery store, Wesson oil, mustard, salt & sugar, all whipped together until they form a nice emulsion.

-- The finest "gourmet" mayonnaise from Dean & DeLuca

-- Hellman's (or Best Foods for you west coast readers!) brand mayonnaise

-- Miracle Whip

So at exactly what point does it become unpalatable?

Here's my short answer: when you wouldn't want to consume the individual components that make up the final dish (with different individuals having their own threshholds of tolerance, of course).

Suppose you've been using a babysitter for the past five years, thinking it was a perfect business relationship. Then you hook up a nannycam one day and see that this person has been stealing from you...

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So at exactly what point does it become unpalatable?

 
The answer to this question will vary from person to person. One person we all know and love would not be able to get past the first recipe. As for me, when I'm camping with my kids, I take Hellman's. I never buy Miracle Whip. The reason they call it "Miracle" whip is because it's a miracle anyone buys that stuff.

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The answer to this question will vary from person to person. One person we all know and love would not be able to get past the first recipe. As for me, when I'm camping with my kids, I take Hellman's. I never buy Miracle Whip. The reason they call it "Miracle" whip is because it's a miracle anyone buys that stuff.

 
Hellman's is a lovely product. I like things that bring out the best.

Me no like Whole Foods canola oil crap.
Me no like Tofuya. Or whatev.
Me no like whipped miracles.

Miracle whip sounds pornographic or like unplanned parenthood.

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[sigh.  Posted on eGullet 2003-2004]
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.

Doesn't the context count for anything here? A B&B in rural VA? If Miracle Whip was used in a dish at a serious restaurant, I'd be taken aback, perhaps even angry, but it was just a B&B. The woman who served it up wasn't trying to pull one over on anyone, she was just serving up the recipe her dearly departed aunt Gerty came up with 25 years ago and her whole family enjoys. So what? BFD. In a setting such as this, if you're enjoying it, it's good food.

And with that, I'm a ventworm. So you can attribute the above to my newly acquired nuts.

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Doesn't the context count for anything here? A B&B in rural VA?

 
To this day, I regret using this as an example. As much play as this essay has gotten, I should have come up with something a whole lot better.

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I never buy Miracle Whip.  The reason they call it "Miracle" whip is because it's a miracle anyone buys that stuff.

 
I grew up on the stuff because it's what my dad grew up using. My dad's family was from the OK panhandle (moved from the "dust bowl" to LA), and MW was more popular that mayonnaise there - probably because it was cheaper. My mom was in the mayo camp but bowed to dad's preferences because that is what one did in the early 60's.

I don't use it a lot, but certain things just taste like "home" with it. It certainly doesn't keep me up at night wondering about my "foodie" cred. rolleyes.gif

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I grew up on the stuff because it's what my dad grew up using.  My dad's family was from the OK panhandle (moved from the "dust bowl" to LA), and MW was more popular that mayonnaise there - probably because it was cheaper.  My mom was in the mayo camp but bowed to dad's preferences because that is what one did in the early 60's.

I don't use it a lot, but certain things just taste like "home" with it.  It certainly doesn't keep me up at night wondering about my "foodie" cred. rolleyes.gif

 
Don't get me wrong, it was in the refigerator when I was a kid growing up as well. I didn't like it then and because they called it "mayonaise" it took me a long time to like real mayonaise.

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Don't get me wrong, it was in the refigerator when I was a kid growing up as well.  I didn't like it then and because they called it "mayonaise" it took me a long time to like real mayonaise.

 
Same here. Real mayonnnaise was gross until I got to cooking school and had to make it.

The estimable Mr. Dente said it best. If it tasted good, why get offended? BFD.

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In my long and checkered wine career, I've had the good fortune to drink Ramonet Montrachet, Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne, Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Eiswein, Trimbach Clos Saint-Hune, Haut-Brion Blanc, Chave Hermitage Vin de Paille, Chateau d'Yquem, Krug Clos du Mesnil...

...but in my lifetime, I'm certain that the greatest white wine I've ever had was a carafe of Cinque Terre Bianco at an outdoor cafe in Spezia, served with a gnocchi al pesto, after a long day of hiking on goat trails by the sea.

 
And Breadline sandwiches don't hold a candle to eating tuna fish sandwiches (made with Hellman's tongue.gif ) with Lay's potato chips while watching my kids experience the beach for the first time.

Context...

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Lately I have been troubled by the foodie term. But really, is there a better one? I guess the difference between loving good food and other hobbys (reading, music, art) is that everyone consumes. Though I dislike the baggage of haughty superiority that the term carries, there really ain't much better.

I think Robb Walsh is a great example of a true foodie -- someone who appreciates food in any context and in any situation to realize its merits. It doesn't need to be served on linens, decanted into crystal, or presented on fine china. Good food is good food.

Jonathan and DonRocks, thanks for your stories -- that's kind of my point exactly. I ate what was basically a potato latke, Tibetan style, at 12,000 feet, piping hot, out of a newspaper cone from a street vendor. And I can still taste it.

Kanishka

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Lately I have been troubled by the foodie term. But really, is there a better one?
Kanishka

 
I like " Gastronaut " . cool.gif

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Boy, there's so much here to chew on.

I'm thinking particularly of some things that Jonathan and Nadya had to say. 50% of the time, I'm one of those people who say, when asked how my meal is, "Oh, fine, thank you." That's usually when I'm not expecting that the server nor the kitchen gives a shit.

The other 50% of the time, I give a serious answer about how I am experiencing the dish. That doesn't mean that everyone is going to think the same thing that I am. But I think there are certain restaurants that we all eat in where they really do care what the guest thinks about it.

I mean, why bother spending the time to use certain ingredients, to put said ingredients in certain combinations, to put it on the plate with "oh-so-much-care" if you didn't give a shit about what you were doing and hoping that the diner understands the forethought that went into the dish.

All of us here rave or pan certain dishes, restaurants, etc. We don't do it because we're snobs. I don't think I'm a snob. But I do know that I eat out a lot more often than the average bear. And I know that I eat a larger variety of food styles than John and Jane Doe. And I know that I drink wine regularly with my meals, which is more frequently than Joe Sixpack.

Is a surgeon a health snob because he knows how to clean out your arteries or do a better kidney transplant for you than the dude at the 7-11? No. He's studied it and he spends more time doing it than the average bear....(not to mention that school and licensing thing).

The other night, I'm at one of our favorite restaurants. I asked for a wine recommendation and went with it. It didn't hit me as well as it did my companions. When I was asked about it, I was up front about my impressions. I didn't dislike the wine, but to MY taste, it didn't match what I was expecting.

Taste is individual. I know that the person who recommended that wine to me has excellent/superb taste. 99 out of 100 things this man can offer me will knock my socks off. This one didn't. I don't feel that this person is any less qualified to offer me suggestions because I didn't like this one item. At the same time, I'd have felt I'd be doing a disservice to him if I decided not to share my feelings about it.

I would like to hope that service personnel really do want to hear honest opinions about what's being put in front of them. I don't believe for an instant that I'm a food snob if I tell a chef that the ingredients in a risotto didn't marry well. Hell, Jared from Sonoma is asking us for our true thoughts on the meals ready to come from that kitchen. Would it be helpful to Jared to ask someone who regularly eats nothing but McDonalds and Cheesecake Factory? Probably, but maybe not as much as someone with a finer tuned palate whose had more experience eating a wider variety of ingredients in wider combinations.

I'd hate to see the point where restaurant personnel are such "artistes" that "if you don't like it, then fuck you." Or diners are too wimpy to speak their mind about their true feelings about a dish. I know that when I share my feelings about a meal, as I did with that wine the other night, I don't do it to show off or to make others feel bad. I do it because I believe that in the kitchen there is a chef who takes pride in his/her work and I am respectful and serious about what they do. If I don't share my opinions on something, then I feel like I'm doing them a disservice.

And if you don't like it, then fuck you! :lol:

(and with homage to Al Dente, with that, I'm a grouper. Do groupers have nuts? Salted or roasted?)

Edited by CrescentFresh

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I mean, why bother spending the time to use certain ingredients, to put said ingredients in certain combinations, to put it on the plate with "oh-so-much-care" if you didn't give a shit about what you were doing and hoping that the diner understands the forethought that went into the dish.

I do think there are chefs out there who don't really care that much about the diner. Their main desire is to make exquisite food and the customers are simply a means to pay the bills so they can continue to do what they love. The incentive for them is not to please others, but to overcome the challenges of environment/ingredients/abilities and create masterpieces of culinary perfection.

And if you don't like it, then fuck you!  smile.gif

So what do you really think? wink.giflaugh.gif

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Here's a scenario for you: You discover a really nice recipe and it becomes a "company" dish you serve when you are looking to make people happy.

I have such a recipe, which was published in the Post years ago in the Food Section under the "Dinner Tonight" feature. It sounded so bizarre, I had to make it. I am talking the "Chicken with Peaches and Basil." This stuff is just delicious and a perfect summer dish when peaches are at their peak. (I long ago substituted raspberry vinegar for the balsamic originally called for.)

You haul peaches and basil on a plane and make this for people who have been enormously helpful to you. Then you hear "I like PLAIN food." What does this mean? Am I being too "serious" about food? Am I supposed to throw a chicken breast on a plate and skip the peaches, basil, shallots and cream? Is this an example of someone not being serious ENOUGH about food?

The payback to all this is that my late mother looked forward to my visits because I did most of the cooking. And my Aunt, who lives in this area, said at dinner one night to Craig, "I have never had a bad meal in this house." (She was lucky, of course. Craig can tell you about the inedible stuff I've made from time to time. Fortunately for us, the Astor is just up the street and stays open late.)

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(and with homage to Al Dente, with that, I'm a grouper.  Do groupers have nuts?  Salted or roasted?)

 
Congratulations on your Grouperhood! I wasn't so sure about the nut posession status of groupers myself. I can only assume ventworms have nuts due to Mr Rockwell's often-mentioned familiarity and presumed expertise with them. Apparently, they're real delicacies amongst the food snobnoscenti-- expecially when presented atop a generous dollop of Miracle Whip which is often referred to as "fauxni aioli".

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``I would like to hope that service personnel really do want to hear honest opinions about what's being put in front of them.

If I don't share my opinions on something, then I feel like I'm doing them a disservice.`` copypasted from the post above...

I wish everyone could think like this.

There are alot of people out there who will smile at your face and go think how bad their experience was.

Edited by Ferhat Yalcin

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