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Challenge: Reconstructing Dinner


legant
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I’m often reluctant to post in the dinner thread ‘cause a “pasta salad” just doesn’t seem to cut it with this crowd. However, when you deconstruct the menu, it really is quite “common.” For example:

Pea soup = Chilled fresh pea soup with mint

Grilled chicken w/ mushrooms = Charcoal-roasted, herb-brined Sunnyside Organics chicken; Charcoal-grilled spiced portobello

Asparagus and beans = Favas and asparagus with Meyer lemon olive oil and roasted garlic

Grits = Creamy cheese grits

Wine = 2006 Turkey Flat Rose

Now, that looks more like my dinner menu. (I am by no means dissing Zora. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for her because: of the degree of casualness she demonstrates in developing such meals and the drool factor she induces.)

Tonight’s dinner was a pasta salad: soba noodles with tofu, snow peas, carrots, cabbage, broccoli and a rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil dressing topped with sesame seeds and green onions; Toll House cookies; and, Lindemans Cabernet. Oh! And, the nieces stopped by which necessitated a scoop of Reese’s peanut butter/chocolate ice cream.

How would you reword/translate this menu, so that it is worthy of the “Dinner” (rather than the "What are you eating now") thread?

The Challenge: Do you need help rewording your menu? Did you enjoy your hamburger tonight yet would feel more confident posting your menu if you could describe it as: home grown-shitakes, pancetta, and artesian cheddar atop angus-beef burger with homegrown lettuce and heirloom tomato on homemade whole-wheat buns? (a.k.a. cheeseburger, with mushrooms, bacon, lettuce and tomatoes.)

There should be no reason for you not to post if dinner was a PB&J on Wonder Bread with 2% milk and marshmallows. Yet how would you describe it? Do you need help? It's all about the adjectives.

Again: I am not a “hater”; I’m simply bemoaning my inability to describe food in such an artistic fashion.

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I’m often reluctant to post in the dinner thread ‘cause a “pasta salad” just doesn’t seem to cut it with this crowd.

Tonight’s dinner was a pasta salad: soba noodles with tofu, snow peas, carrots, cabbage, broccoli and a rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil dressing topped with sesame seeds and green onions; Toll House cookies; and, Lindemans Cabernet. Oh! And, the nieces stopped by which necessitated a scoop of Reese’s peanut butter/chocolate ice cream.

How would you reword/translate this menu, so that it is worthy of the “Dinner” (rather than the "What are you eating now") thread?

Now, now legant. There is nothing at all wrong with the above description -- EXCEPT why call it a pasta salad? I'd call it an Asian noodle salad or even more high-falutin', a "Soba noodle salad with a tofu and vegetable melange, sesame-tamari vinaigrette, scallion chiffonade and toasted sesame seed garnish." Then your dessert could be "bittersweet chocolate-chunk butter cookies." And you forgot the vintage date of your vin plonk. ;-D

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I’m often reluctant to post in the dinner thread ‘cause a “pasta salad” just doesn’t seem to cut it with this crowd.

There should be no reason for you not to post if dinner was a PB&J on Wonder Bread with 2% milk and marshmallows. Yet how would you describe it? Do you need help? It's all about the adjectives.

I enjoy the dinner thread for the community aspect of it. I like to know what people are eating. Maybe it's the anthropologist in me. ;) It doesn't have to be menu-worthy prose, so I'd say don't worry about it.
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I LOVE IT! :P Wanna be my ghostwriter?

"Soba noodle salad with a tofu and vegetable melange, sesame-tamari vinaigrette, scallion chiffonade and toasted sesame seed garnish."

Now... doesn't that make you drool? ;)

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I don't post more in the dinner thread because of my cooking ability. When I make the effort and somehow manage to come up with something that tastes good, damn right I'm going to post about it in flowery prose!! ;) I find the posts, particularly that of Heather and Zora, to be quite inspiring. I may not be able to replicate their meals, but I like hearing about their compositions. When the time is right for me to cook more often and simply better, I'll be ready thanks to these posts!

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I think it depends a lot on the person writing the description. My fancier descriptions tend to be if I'm following a specific recipe with an elaborate title (or that has a traditional name attached to it), or if I have particular ingredients or techniques that I'm highlighting because they really stand out. Think of the variation in the way restaurant menus describe foods. Look at how spare the Central menu is versus a place where they give you the lamb's biography and the provenance of each leaf of lettuce. ;)

If I make macaroni and cheese with muellers elbows and cracker barrel cheddar, I'm going to feel rather silly including those details. I could, but I don't see the point (unless it's irony). If I'm using some very distinctive cheeses or adding truffles, I'll make note of that, though. If I'm using button mushrooms in something, I'll just call them mushrooms. If I'm using shiitakes, I'll identify them. If meat or produce is from a particularly noteworthy place, I'll include it in the description. Occasionally, I'll mention getting something at Safeway, but that's usually because it's unexpectedly good :P.

Tonight’s dinner was a pasta salad: soba noodles with tofu, snow peas, carrots, cabbage, broccoli and a rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil dressing topped with sesame seeds and green onions;
I'd probably call that an Asian noodle salad with sesame and vegetables. Zora's description is great, but it's not the way I'd describe it.
Toll House cookies; and, Lindemans Cabernet. Oh! And, the nieces stopped by which necessitated a scoop of Reese’s peanut butter/chocolate ice cream.
I'd call them Toll House cookies--since that's a classic recipe--accompanied by Peanut Butter/chocolate ice cream (Reese's being optional).
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Farm raised pork medley cooked au petite-ondes, served in a hearth baked artisan soft baguette and topped with the sweetened quintessence of fresh sunned tomatoes and pureed sinapsis hirta extract.

Microwaved hot dogs with ketchup and mustard.

The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little pratice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog! -Calvin and Hobbes

Just because you're not using exotic ingredients doesn't mean your recipes need to be inflated. Better that we understand what you had. It's not a competition, and you shouldn't feel intimidated. Hell, I've never used anything as "exotic" as soba noodles. It doesn't mean that the burgers I grilled yesterday are any less worthy of my drool than one of Zora's singularly unrivaled creations. ;)

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I'm often reluctant to post in the dinner thread 'cause a "pasta salad" just doesn't seem to cut it with this crowd.

There should be no reason for you not to post if dinner was a PB&J on Wonder Bread with 2% milk and marshmallows. Yet how would you describe it? Do you need help? It's all about the adjectives.

Again: I am not a "hater"; I'm simply bemoaning my inability to describe food in such an artistic fashion.

The fact that this thread even needs to exist shows a problem. Don created this website for everyone, of all cooking levels. People should feel free to post that they had PB&J. We don't all have the time, skill, and/or motivation to cook as others do every night. But that shouldn't stop Everyone from posting whatever they ate, regardless of whether it is mac and cheese out of a box to some fancy shmancy, high falutening meal that make your mouth water.
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Tonight’s dinner was a pasta salad: soba noodles with tofu, snow peas, carrots, cabbage, broccoli and a rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil dressing topped with sesame seeds and green onions; Toll House cookies; and, Lindemans Cabernet. Oh! And, the nieces stopped by which necessitated a scoop of Reese’s peanut butter/chocolate ice cream.

How would you reword/translate this menu, so that it is worthy of the “Dinner” (rather than the "What are you eating now") thread?

It already IS worthy, truly.

Personally, I would begin by talking about the underreported problem of impotence with stud bulls, how it is trickling down as a quasi-subsidy to the tofu farmers, and take it from there.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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The fact that this thread even needs to exist shows a problem. Don created this website for everyone, of all cooking levels. People should feel free to post that they had PB&J. We don't all have the time, skill, and/or motivation to cook as others do every night. But that shouldn't stop Everyone from posting whatever they ate, regardless of whether it is mac and cheese out of a box to some fancy shmancy, high falutening meal that make your mouth water.

I don't think there's a problem-- legant was being light-hearted when she started this IMO. She and I have something of a "mutual admiration society" going on. This is more about how to write about food more descriptively than what food to post about.

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I post about macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, tuna casserole... ;) Here's a notable meal at the Shorter house from last summer:

Hot dogs & corn on the grill

Cole slaw with homemade buttermilk dill dressing

Potato salad

Cold beer :P

Watermelon

Berry shortcakes

I don't usually describe what I'm cooking, unless it's a new or espcially notable recipe.
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Aw com’on! I spent more time wording my description of dinner than actually cooking the damned thing. This is what I came up with:

Sautéed shrimp and mushrooms wrapped in whole-wheat crepes topped with a Mornay sauce

String beans sautéed w/ garlic, onions and mushrooms

(How'd I do? ;) )

I read the Dinner thread to get ideas for my own cooking ventures. I’ll pass over a “pasta and veggie salad” and drool over a

"Soba noodle salad with a tofu and vegetable mélange, sesame-tamari vinaigrette, scallion chiffonade and toasted sesame seed garnish.”

I can't begin to tell you how many times I've PMed someone to ask how he or she made his or her polenta. With input from just about everyone who posted a polenta dish in the last three months, I'm now quite satisfied with my polenta (and can stop manufacturing injuries/illnesses to ensure home deliveries of creamy polenta). Aside from photos, descriptions induce the “drool” factor. And, they inspire me to think outside the box. When Txaggie posted her menu, I was curious enough to (1) ask about potato rosti and (2) attempt to roast my first whole chicken. I served it with hash browns, of course, but if anyone asked, I had “rosti”… despite having no idea how to pronounce it: rows-ti… raw-sti… roh-sti.

My $0.02: food and cooking is/should be fun. Why not share your enthusiasm for your dinner by describing it in a way that rocks the “drool” scale? And, if you need a little help along the way that's why we're here.

Personally: nut butter with strawberry jam on a baguette grabs my attention a lot quicker than PB&J. And, with my curiosity piqued, I PM you for the recipe and you tell me it’s actually Jiffy with Smucker’s all-fruit… well a tip of my toque to you.

[Yes… I did Google au petite-ondes before I realized you were pulling my leg. Hey! I learned a new word!]

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