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  1. THE DUCHESS BAKES A CAKE and THE PERFECT PANCAKE by Virginia Kahl. Also, all mentions of nursery food in the Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand and with dark and moody illustrations by Edward Ardizzone. The woman in the painting The Sleeping Gypsy by Rousseau looked to me when I was little like she was made out of licorice ropes and such. Yum.
  2. Steve, sure, we could get a booze check and a separate food check, but we don't really need to take the calculations to that "level", as you put it (did you mean to use the word "circle"? ). Pre-dinner drinks often end up on the dinner check, so it's six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other to get two checks. Double the work for our woozy math-man - why bother? Maybe I have not explained myself clearly- our accountant pal does not give us minutely detailed and itemized invoices - there's a lot of rounding off and approximating (who knows exactly how many glasses of wine one has had with partial refills? Life's too short -total accuracy is not important here.) We don't nitpick about it. It's a shame that in your experience you have seen resentment caused by people paying for their own meals - I would be delighted to sit down with you over a good meal and then let you pay for ALL of it, just to be EXTRA nice. I think your experience is not the same as mine. I think you are thinking that we are micromanagers and details people who have a guy with a receipt-spitting adding machine telling us down to the farthing what we owe (hey, I wouldn't want to eat with folks like that either!) - not at all. We just have a designated adding guy who mucks about with the bill and does his best to save us the tedium of the reckoning. He's totting up dinner with friends, not doing our taxes! Call us backward if you like, but it works for us. And that's my final answer. You're welcome to join us someday if you like - we'll be sure to divide the bill by 11 to honor our guest. EDIT: My apologies to jaybee for drifting off topic!
  3. OK, Steve P., I'll bite.... Firstly, it is Bux with whom you should take issue with the idea of "circles" as I was responding to the term as he used it in his post. I run in no circles unless you count the crop circles near the airport... and the only 50s here are on the damned thermometer which can't break 55 for love or money today. Ok, thinking cap on (I knew there'd be a test): 1. No it hasn't occurred to us to split the bill equally - we do what works for us. Why change that? 2. Yes, the cost results would definitely be different - unlike us, our friends are enthusiastic drinkers and lavish wine buyers. As more than half of most of our group dinner check consists of booze, hubby and I would undoubtedly be paying for much more than the 1 glass of wine I limit myself to. I would not want our friend who is living on student loans to have to shell out anything for the dinner of our seven-figure earner, anyway. 3. No, in fact we have never discussed it - participating in this thread has made me notice that. It naturally evolved, I suppose, and everyone seems happy with the arrangement. 4. If we tried it differently and I paid significantly more than I would have otherwise (say 50% more), I might feel mildly gypped but I wouldn't fret about remedies. Would I complain about an extra $5 or $10? Of course not. If I came out ahead and felt I had underpaid, I would probably make up the difference with an addition to the tip. 5. What does this custom say about my relationship with my friends? That we like our system. That it works for us. That we all pull our own weight, I guess. Gosh, it seems odd to be defending that when the original argument in this thread was about folks who don't pull their own weight. 6. Would I feel differently about them if we were to change our routine? Absolutely not - we are friends first and foremost. I would feel neither closer to nor distant from them because the money's not the point. Friendships are not transactional. As I described in another post in this thread, friends worth keeping are more than just "non-reciprocating dinner guests" or "middle-splitting fellow restaurant patrons." 7. Admitted? This isn't Diners Anonymous I was just offering my 2 cents (Canadian cents, so about 1.2 cents US) about a method that works for us and our friends so successfully that it eliminates thorny issues of resentment and perceived entitlement from getting in the way of spending enjoyable time together. Getting 5 couples out for dinner on the same night requires the effort of planning a lunar landing - we value our nights out. It would be a shame to go home miffed about money. I absolutely agree with Margaret Pilgrim (well said!) - friends are either "liked because" or "loved in spite of". I would add that sometimes they're just plain liked and it is rewarding to avoid the possibility of messing that up with small matters.
  4. Whoops, sorry, Bux - I'm a bit late in the thread to respond to your questions about the routine of bill-splitting. Yes, our group of ten splits the bill based on actual cost regardless of the calibre of the venue. We have done it at Bishop's (Vancouver, $$$$$) and at Sami's (Vancouver, $$) and even at hot dog stands in Stanley Park ($). We split wine with little trouble also - we divide all bottle prices by 5 for an approximate "per glass" price and then we each announce how many glasses we owe $ for. Our concussed accountant sorts out the rest. I have lived in and have friends in several large North American cities and have found this experience to be the same in all places. Dear me, Bux, do I belong to the Wrong Circles? I hope I am not giving the impression that we are obsessed with equitable spending; in fact it is such a natural and agreeable thing to us all that it is as subtle as if everyone were to toss credit cards in a heap and leave the server to divide the total by their number. We enjoy each other's company without secretly grumbling that we are being charged for it.
  5. Ohhh, I see - yes, Robert, I understand now - what a shame that your fellow diners appear to be ordering top-dollar items in anticipation of a split-down-the-middle bill. Eeek. Of course you are right that it is not a huge problem but it is a fascinating observation. Thank you for the clarification. I do not think that I have experienced this - over the years, I guess we have always dined with "Dutchmen". Typical of my experience is the example of my aformentioned group of 5 couples. We always spend a good ten minutes with the bill calculating each couple's actual total. I like this as I drink little, my husband drinks not at all and we never bother with apps (Hubby Vlad makes up for it by ordering prime rib whenever he sees it.). That we have a tax accountant with a surgically attached calculator in the gang is to our advantage - that he plays hockey and suffers frequent concussions may not be, however. Another advantage to actual bill-splitting is that there is no group decision about the tip. We tend to be lavish tippers as we both were servers in past lives and know that rewards are hard-won regardless of the state of the economy. I never cease to be grateful that I just get to sit there while someone brings me bread, water, wine, dinner, dessert, more water etc. in a million little trips. Thank you, all you dear servers out there. Of course, going as Dutch as we do also relieves all of us of the rotating responsibility of entertaining at home (and of that devilish problem of reciprocating! :). Of the 5 couples, we are the only ones with adequate seating and kitchen facilities for us all. I would not ask the remaining gang of 4 to have us over were we to have them. (Say....here's a question - if I entertain four couples in one night, would I therefore be 'entitled' to 4 invitations back? Who does the math on all of this? Not my hockey-playing chum, clearly.....)
  6. Jaybee, as you have been close friends with this couple for several years, you are undoubtedly quite fond of them for more than just making dinner plans. You are right that it is unfortunate and awkward that they do not see the discrepancy in their dining habits, but they undoubtedly offer you something other than that, like companionship and shared interests and surely a good laugh or two along the way. I am (as I usually am) in agreement with stellabella - a blind eye or ear would be of great comfort to you, because it would free you to see what it is otherwise that you like so much about them- they are surely much more than non-reciprocating diners to you, they are your friends of many years. That is not to say that a light-hearted and playful, "So when are you having us by for dinner?" would not be inappropriate here, unless you are too attached to the answer. I say just try to love the other things that they DO do for you. As for couples matching the cost of their menu orders I have never seen it - doesn't everyone go Dutch? I would be interested to hear from Bux and Robert Schonfeld about the circumstances of such events. Are they corporate dinners, expense account dinners, special celebrations? Robert's experience of seeing fellow diners "order the most expensive items on the menu, just to be sure they're getting their money's worth out of the evening" mystifies me. Aren't the extravagant diners paying for their own dinners? Yoikes - call me small town, but in the 10-person group with whom my husband and I dine periodically, each couple pays for itself, regardless of who invited the gang out. We offer a "perk" to the person who calls in the reservation - we buy him or her one drink. It's a silly little thing but it's a good motivator and it costs us each only as much as $1. Back in husband's corporate days, we ate out on the company nickel frequently, whether for entertaining out-of-town clients or recruiting potential hires. We always ordered from the middle of the menu and noticed that our guests almost always did the same.
  7. Ahh, Andy Lynes reminds me of a wonderful example where I have seen life imitate art. When I lived in Toronto, my husband and I used to frequent a restaurant by the name of Mildred Pierce. It was a dark and funky room in half of a small warehouse in a deliciously gloomy, Cain-ish part of the city. The owners were inspired by the book and film to open it. It was fun at the time - very 90s, very Toronto (everything-as-a-Napoleon, sauce painting and cocoa dust, yada yada). I was a little disappointed at first that it was not more greasy-spoonish and shadier but was much consoled when there took place a rare and unexplained shooting in the area (injured fella wouldn't talk - Cain would have been proud.). I have heard of a new film but have not seen or heard enough to determine if it qualifies as a food film - Rare Birds stars wooden William Hurt as a restauranteur who spreads a rumour about the sighting of a rare bird near his restaurant in the hope of saving his flagging business. Has anyone seen it? Do they actually make him COOK??? Mr. Lynes, the idea of iguanas purging their bowls is a trifle hard to imagine. Perhaps you meant to say BOWELS? I suppose you did - how icky. Does one then have to "skim" the cooking liquid? Cringe, cringe.....
  8. ckbklady


    Col Klink, if you feel an urge to experiment, try the Keller's butter (which is Plugra under another name) at the Mercer Island Albertson's (and pick up a kosher chicken while you're at it - they have the best chickens I have ever cooked). Or get Plugra under its own name at Trader Joe's at 156th and Northup Wy in Bellevue. I agree that the Tillamook butter is sensational (I used to slice it like cheese and eat it to the horrified gasps of husband) but Kellers is mind-boggling. Ahh, buttery reverie... in college I dated a Dutch student whose family ran a dairy farm. On weekends, we went out to the farm to help out his father. We made fresh butter (now THAT'S a date!) and ate it on the spot, smeared on saltines I kept in my pockets for the horses. Fresh butter has a simply celestial taste - sweet and tangy. I will recall it on my deathbed, I am sure. At my house when I was a little kid, we used butter like a spread rather than a condiment. We used to spread 1/4 thick layers between Arrowroot biscuits and squeeze then to extrude "butter worms" from the holes. Many's the day I wish I'd been born 100 years earlier before all of this nonsense about cholesterol, cancer and heart attacks. Of course, then I would also have to do without my computer and all you dear eGulleteers.
  9. Hello Steve klc - how gracious you are. Not in a million years would I feel that you stating your opinion was "coming down hard on me". I am glad that you find so much in the Bras books that makes you clearly so happy and so inspired. I am delighted that there is such variety of taste out there and that there is such variety of opinion here. Egullet is truly egulletarian. I am afraid that what meets my eye in Bras' book is beyond first blush - I have been studying it with care (as I do with all cookbooks I bring home) for three days now and wish I could love it. I find too many quirks that prevent me from losing myself in it. I think we must agree to disagree about Bras' use of some of his quotation marks - I understand your assertion about his playfulness and whimsy, and do agree with you that the "licorice powder" example is reasonable; indeed, most of the examples in the book make sense. However, the use of "Papa" is simply painful. Is he referring to his Papa or not? Or to whose Papa is he referring? Is he referring to something made "in Papa-style" in the same way as Sauce Grandmere? (Quotation marks mine.). It might seem pedantic to dwell on this, but it is the sort of thing that irks reviewers and comes back to haunt even the best cookbook writers. Keep in mind that I am reading from an uncorrected proof (and yes, it is Essential Cuisine, not the notebooks) and cling to the notion that such peculiarities must have been smoothed out in the final text. I would add that I would be distinctly unnerved were I to read a menu listing such things as "beurre noisette" "sandre" "lait de poule" in inverted commas. If my dish includes "beurre noisette", is it beurre noisette or isn't it? Worse, if it isn't beurre noisette, what IS it? Isn't a chef obliged to inform his diners of what they are eating? My chief instructor at culinary school used to rap us students with his long wooden spoon if we dared to apply a classical name to an invention or variation. I agreed with him then as I agree now. Bras has a recipe in the book called Loin of Lamb with "Florentine" Onions in Saffron Bouillon. "Florentine" anything should contain at least a whisper of spinach for it to be called Florentine. There is no spinach to be seen in the recipe. I checked the recipes before and after it in the book to see if Bras was having a wee joke by putting the spinach "near" the recipe. (See? I'm getting the idea of whimsy!) No such luck. Moreover, there is no spinach in the entire book! Now, if I, as a diner, look at a menu and see Something-Something Florentine, order the dish and get no spinach, what does that say about naming conventions? Isn't that like making up street names when giving strangers directions in the street? Irish-born dairy girl that I am, I still find no charm and daring in the use of milk skin. That you do is to your credit - you are undoubtedly a rather agreeable diner. At least the milk skin really IS milk skin - no euphemisms here, at least. For all that, I can see why Bras is an inspiration - the food world needs fresh ideas and he is full of those. I have rooms of cookbooks of all genres and can see that he is innovative and artistic. He puts surprising ingredients together (jus of bread, egg and vinegar, lobster with dried candy apples) and each sounds exciting and is undoubtedly delicious. I am just sorry that my advance copy has such murky B/W pics of Aubrac - I will be sure to look at the real thing in a bookshop soon. Perhaps it takes a more prettily appointed book to present successfully Bras' message?
  10. Don't all start throwing things, but I picked up an advance proof copy of this book at a sale a couple of days ago and am puzzled about the fanfare. Little Miss Muffet would like this guy - what a lot of uses for curds, foamy whey and (can I bear to write this??) milk skin. Ick. I must admit that I do like his use of edible flowers which look pretty even in the grainy B/W prints. I am however puzzled by the peculiar use of quotation marks in his recipe names, such as in the recipe title of Roasted Sweet Onions with "Licorice Powder" and Vinaigrette au Jus or the recipe title of Caramelized Quinoa Crusts with Jam like "Papa" made... (Yoikes! Was he only a simulated Papa??) Perhaps the quotation marks are not in the final copy? Never mind, I suppose that not all books are meant for all readers. C'est la "vie".
  11. Alas, Tommy, that is indeed sad. I will pretend that the restaurant in RESTAURANT was the one in which I had the Cioppino, I will hug my Acton close and I will dream of better days.
  12. Thanks, Tommy - I'll risk my $5 then. The film was made in Hoboken? How I like Hoboken! I bought an astonishingly underpriced copy of Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery In All Its Branches at Hoboken Books on Washington Street in 1990. If I recall, I also had a sensational Cioppino at a bar/bistro down the street shortly thereafter.
  13. Another new cinematic offering this week comes to us via Pay Per View on Canadian cable TV (stop snickering, everyone - we DO have television in The Great White North. We use reindeer's antler for TV antennae - why do you folks use rabbits??). As I was surfing the preview channel for a glimpse of yummy Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast, I came across a preview for a film called simply RESTAURANT. It seems food-rich and plot-thin. Roughly, it appears to be your typical "hardworking waiter makes good and gets girl" film. The only "star" in the film is Elise Neal from the sitcom The Hughleys. It may be super, it may be awful, but I can report that of the 4-minute preview, every shot was set in a busy restaurant kitchen with marvy closeups of frypans and salamanders. If I can bear to plunk down my $4.99 I'll view it and report back, but it won't win a film face-off with Lagaan, Story of India (4 hours of cricket and Indian pop music - heaven.) so they'd better not be on at the same time.
  14. Good films all - thanks everyone. markstevens, I believe that Dinner Rush has come quietly and gone already to video. A friend saw it on a British Airways flight back in March. robert brown, sorry, but it's Cookbook Lady, not Checkbook Lady. (Although my husband might disagree.) As a Canadian, I would have to be "cquebklady" to be Chequebook Lady. Besides, I usually pay cash. My favorite food film is Frankie and Johnny - endless shots of the greasy spoon kitchen never fail to drive me into my own kitchen and dive into a fry-up.
  15. Cabrales, I believe the answer is yes AND no. In my experience, eating slowly permits me to eat more. In husband Vlad's experience, eating quickly permits him to eat more. We must eliminate factors such as competition for remaining food to address the question. I would suspect that it depends on what it is one is comsuming. I would bet that no one begs for third helpings of pasta, however quickly or slowly consumed, yet the equivalent weight of three helpings of chicken soup could be easily polished off by most at either speed. I can think of no food that inspires me to Vladify, except for raw oysters - horrible. Get it all over with pronto. If I cannot have them pan-fried in butter, I'll do without.
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